Die Cutting Felt Series: Using Wafer Thin Dies

This is part 2 in the Die Cutting with Felt series!  We covered steel rule dies in part 1 and now we’re going to talk about wafer thin dies.  Wafer thin dies are exactly that; very thin metal shapes with a raised edge that cuts into your material as it passes through the die cutter.

Die Cutting Felt Series: Using Wafer Thin Dies

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Die Cutting Tools and Equipment

Die Cutter & Accessories

There are many brands and styles of die cutters on the market.  They generally all work the same way: A hand crank or motor draws the die+material through the machine, applying pressure as it turns and the die presses through the material.  (FYI a die cutter is different from an electronic cutter such as a Cricut machine.  More on that in another post.)

I recommend using the Sizzix brand of die cutter, and more specifically the Sizzix Big Shot Plus for felt.  There are different sizes and widths of die cutter, and I just find that the Big Shot Plus is the best size for working with 9×12 felt sheets.  There is a larger Big Shot Pro, but it is heavy duty and I would only recommend it if you are running a large business and have a dedicated space for die cutting.  The Big Shot Plus is more easily tucked away when you’re done with it.

Sizzix is a trusted brand in crafting. I recommend their die cutters for working with felt!

Typically when you purchase a die cutter it will come with the cutting pads and platforms that you will need for cutting.  Those items are necessary, so make sure that you have them  already or that they are in fact included in your purchase!  For cutting with wafer thin dies, you will need the Platform and Adapter A pictured here as well as a set of cutting pads.  Adapter B is used for other types of dies that don’t work as well with felt.

Sizzix cutting pads and platforms are necessary for die cutting felt.

Wafer Thin Dies

Wafer thin dies are chemically etched, thin metal dies with raised edges that are not sharp to the touch but will precisely cut through your felt.  Some wafer thin dies can be ‘hollow’ with just a thin outline of metal (like the leaf below) while other are a solid sheet of metal (like the heart).  Both versions are used in the same way and will cut beautifully through felt.

Wafer thin dies may be known by different names for different companies.  Sizzix calls their wafer thin dies “Thinlits“, I’ve also seen them called “Etched Dies” or simply “Wafer Thin”. They all work in the same way and they can only cut a single layer of felt at a time.

Wafer thin dies will easily and precisely cut through wool felt.

Where to Find Dies

Tracking down dies is not always the easiest task.  But I have done lots of research and I’m happy share my finds with you!

My local Michael’s craft store has a small selection of wafer thin dies but often they’re not of use to me either because they’re the wrong shapes or they come as a set with rubber stamps which makes them more costly.  I have been unable to find any steel rule dies locally.  (Read all about cutting with steel rule dies here!).  If you live in the US, I believe Joann’s has a selection of wafer thin dies, but I can’t speak to what you’ll be able find since I’ve never been to a Joann’s!

Instead, my one stop shop for all things die cutting is Scrapbook.com.  I have purchased my die cutter and many dies from that website.  It is reliable, with reasonable pricing and shipping options.  They carry many different brands of dies, not just Sizzix.  I’ve also purchased Echo Park, Little B, Paper Smooches and We R Memory Keepers brands of wafer thin dies from scrapbook.com and I would recommend them all as well.  (Typically dies and die cutters from different companies will be compatible with each other, but always double check!)

I’ve also had excellent experiences shopping at SimonSaysStamp.com.  They have a large selection of wafer thin dies, die cutting tools and accessories and their customer service is excellent.  They also sell die cutter machines and accessories as well as steel rule dies.

You might also be able to find the dies you want on Amazon.  But pay close attention to the brand, try to only purchase reputable brands and make sure the dies will be compatible with your die cutter.  I’ve heard that Ebay is the place to go if you’re searching for discontinued dies.

Using a Sizzix Big Shot Plus and various wafer thin dies to cut wool felt shapes.

ps. If you’re wondering about that cute little feather die, you can find it here.  🙂

Storage

Wafer thin dies can be a little tricky to store.  You can simply pile them in a small container, but I’ve tried that and I just end up forgetting which dies I have or else I can’t find the ones I want.  Instead I recommend purchasing a magnetic storage folder.  They come in two sizes, are inexpensive and are super handy for keeping your dies organized and easy to find.  Trust me, you’ll be so glad you invested in these things!

Keep your wafer thin dies organized with magnetic storage folders.

 

(If you would like to know the specific details of any of the dies you see in this post, just leave a comment and I’d be happy to give you the info!)

Using Wafer Thin Dies

Multiple Shapes at Once

One of the major benefits to using wafer thin dies is that you can cut multiple shapes all at once.  I like to do this when I’m cutting out leaves for floral arrangements, it’s a great time saver!  You can either use up bits and scraps you have left over or rough cut small sections of felt.  This way you can cut multiple shapes AND multiple colours at once!  Win!

Cut out multiple shapes and colours at once using wafer thin dies

Make a ‘Sandwich’

The bottom of your die cutting ‘sandwich’ is the platform.  Then add adapter A and one cutting pad.  Arrange the felt and dies with the dies face down and top it all off with the second cutting pad.  (If you are using a brand other than Sizzix, make sure you use the equivalent  platforms and adapters.)

When you run your sandwich through the die cutter, make sure that the edges of the layers are lined up perfectly with the edges of the machine.  Forcing the layers through on an angle could damage your machine.

How to die cut wool felt with wafer thin dies.

Efficient Use of Felt

Another big benefit to using wafer thin dies is that you can arrange them efficiently on your felt so that there is very little waste.  And if you’re anything like me, you feel great sadness at having to throw away those bits of felt that are just too small.  So the less waste, the better!

Wafer thin dies create almost no wasted material!

And I think that’s everything you need to know to get you started using wafer thin dies to cut felt!  If you have any questions just leave them in the comments and I’m more than happy to provide answers!  🙂


19 Responses to Die Cutting Felt Series: Using Wafer Thin Dies

  1. Leah says:

    Hi Laura, I have purchased a number of thin metal dies from wish.com and was wondering if they would cut felt with the sizzix big shot. Also, can I buy a deep cut blade to cut the 3mm wool felt?

    • Laura says:

      Hi Leah, Yes the thin dies should cut through felt with the big shot no problem. You can probably cut the 3mm felt with a steel rule die, but not the thin dies. You may have to run it through the machine more than once though. Hope that helps!

  2. Joy McHargue says:

    Hi Laura,
    I’m wanting to cut some felt doilies, and my first attempt was met with disintregating felt portions. I’m suspecting either the bargain felt from the craft store is to blame or the intricacy is too detailed.

    Would you let me know different types of felt that is more suitable for wafer thin die cuts? Also, if there is a thinness point at which any felt would fall apart.

    Thanks!

    • Laura says:

      Hi Joy,
      Yes, the acrylic craft felt is part of the problem. I only recommend using either wool blend felt or 100% wool felt. For a really intricate die, you could try fusing some iron-on light weight interfacing to the felt first to give it a little extra stability. The wafer thin dies can only cut through one layer of felt at a time, so you can’t fuse together two sheets like you could do if you were using a steel rule die. You could also try stiffening the felt a little before cutting it if you think that wouldn’t affect the results you’re trying to achieve with your project. I just wrote a post about stiffening felt that you could reference. I hope that helps!

  3. Lisa says:

    What is the difference between thinlits and framelits?

  4. Debbie says:

    Very informative post, Thank you. May I ask a question, please? I just purchased :
    Sizzix BIGkick Machine with Extended Multipurpose Platform. I’m interested in cutting felt and lighter weight wool felt. Will I receive the necessary cutting mats or do I need to order something else. I’m wanting to make Penny Rugs.

  5. Ana says:

    Hello! What are the dies from the first banner photo? Specially the 4 sided leaves one. Thanks so much for sharing this info!

  6. Athena says:

    Hi Laura, great post!! I wanna get the spiral flower die as Alayna mentioned in her comment. But when I checked its website, it said “It is for use with the BIGkick and Big Shot machines (requires a Cutting Pad and a Premium Crease Pad).” So do I need to buy the premium crease pad as well? Thanks!

  7. Alayna says:

    Hi Laura! Thanks for sharing all of this really helpful info!
    I’d love to know the name/details of the flower spiral die. I think it would save me a TON of time.

    Also – do you know if the Sizzix Big Kick can also cut felt?

    • Laura says:

      Hi Alayna, You’re so welcome! The die is Sizzix 656545, Flowers 3-D. I suspect the BigKick would work just as well as the Big Shot, but I’ve never tested it myself. 🙂

  8. Erin Reed says:

    felt is so fun to cut, thanks for the info!

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