I have had quite a few questions of late that I just have not had time to answer individually so I am going to do a little questions and answers section here, if i get more questions then i may add to this section as i think it will be a useful post for a lot of readers so i will bookmark it in my sidebar!
where do you get your cello bags from?
I get most of my cello bags from eBay unless there are some half price offers in hobbycraft!
I tend to use 3"x5" bags for my sweetie bags - i ordered these recently
I use long 2"x9" bags often called pretzel bags for my Elizabeth Shaw mints and other little choccy gifts - i ordered these recently
For my cards etc I just get bags to fit from the best offer i can find, my top tip is to measure your envelopes and not your cards as I have had problems with measurements before!
I wondered if you could tell me your preference between the cuttlebug and the big shot and your reasons as they are very similar. Do they both take any make of dies or are all dies compatible with either machine? It would be so nice to have your honest opinion for all us crafters out there.
I get asked this question almost on a daily basis and this is the main reason for me doing this post.
as you can see from the list in my sidebar I have owned a lot of different machines, I am not sponsored by any manufacturers and the opinions I give are my own
If i could only have one hobby sized machine it would be my big shot, I feel that the big shot is the sturdier of the 2 machines (big shot and cuttlebug) and i really have put mine through its paces!
These days both machines will take pretty much all the dies that are out there, you just need the correct "sandwiches", plates and adapters. One thing i will say is that the opening of my bigshot is 3/8" wider than the cuttlebug, this may not seem a lot but with the launch of the grand nestabilities it does make a difference, for example I have the grand nestabilities labels four set and the largest die fits through my bigshot but will not fit through my cuttlebug.
Both machines will take all brands of hobby dies but i do think sizzix make this easier on the big shot with the multipurpose platform as it is just a case of flipping the tabs over and there are printed pictures on each tab as a guide.
Size and space is also a factor for some crafters deciding on a new machine and the cuttlebug wins on its fold up and compact size as the sides fold into the machine and on the new release cuttlebug the handle folds in too taking up about a 3rd of the space as the bigshot takes up. Size is not an issue to me as i leave my machines out in the craft room that i am so lucky to have, many crafters do not have this luxury and so need something that is small to store and can just be brought out when needed. The new sizzix vagabond machine (out in Feb 2011) has an electric roller like the bigshot express but it all folds away quite compact so this soon will be another option to consider
Both machines will cut a huge variety of materials including but not limited to: drinks cans, paper, card, foam, felt, fabric, sandpaper, leather, shrink plastic, cork, vinyl and chipboard
But it really depends on what dies you are using, i will talk about this more in another question further down the page.
All in all there is not a lot in it with the cuttlebug and the big shot, the big shot is my favourite but that is personal preference. I would advise anyone to really shop around as there are lots of places who do bundled offers, free P&P and also little extras with the machines
which if any die cutters can cut through wood?
It is not the die cutters but the dies themselves that would be able to cut through wood.
I have read various times that you can cut wood with the original (chunky) sizzix and sizzix bigz dies but i have never been able to find any wood thin enough that they will cut all the way through. I would think that you would need a very thin balsa type wood.
I have bought Marianne design dies but have a problem where the card stock gets stuck in the dies. Do you have any solutions for this?
I too have had this problem, i have tried a few tips like rubbing the die with talc or an old candle but for me this did not solve the problem. If you look at the top tips in the bottom of this post there is a little photo tip i have put together that works a treat!
Is there a die cutting machine that I can use to cut felt, vinyl and fabric
With the manual machines (bigshot, cuttlebug etc) it is not the machine but the die you put through it that will determine what materials it will cut. I am going to do a few more tests and experiments with both my range of dies and also my electric cutters using fabrics and felt so i can give you much more info but have listed the basics.
Firstly if you want to cut fabrics like cotton etc it would be easier if you put a bond-a-web type backing on it as it makes it much easier to cut and also stops fraying!
Basically the material a die can cut depend on the thickness of the die and the size of the cutting blade.
Sizzix bigz and originals dies (all of these dies are the chunky 5/8" thick dies) - will cut pretty much anything you could want to cut, if you do have any trouble with thinner fabrics sandwich them in between 2 sheets of copier paper, this tip is also great fro thin things like tin foil and parchment too.
Sizzix Sizzlits dies and Decorative Strips dies - These dies are limited to materials of a thin card and paper thickness, they should go through vinyl / Sticky backed Plastic as this is actually quite thin but it may depend on the intricacy of the design
Nestabilites - These dies are normally limited to materials of a thin card and paper thickness, they sould go through vinyl / Sticky backed Plastic as this is actually quite thin, and i have managed to cut felt with some of mine but it may depend on the intricacy of the design
Quickutz Dies - These dies are limited to materials of a thin card and paper thickness, they sould go through vinyl / Sticky backed Plastic as this is actually quite thin but it may depend on the intricacy of the design
Metal Cuttlebug Dies - I have cut felt, fabric and chipboard with these (basic shapes) but intricate designs may be limited to thinner materials
Electronic cutters: All electronic cutters will cut vinyl and garment vinyl without a problem as it is from the garment cutters that the idea for paper versions of these machines came from for us crafters!
I am going to do a bit of experimenting with fabric in electronic cutters (I will be using the Eclips, Cricut, Robo and slice elite machines for my experiments so keep your eyes on my blog for updates on these.
I've had a look online though and come across a sizzix sidekick which is really cheap would you recommend one?
To be honest i would say if you can afford it go for a big shot (or cuttlebug) because with the side kick you are so limited on which dies you can use and you will only really be able to cut paper and thin card. All the people i have known to get a sidekick have then upgraded to a larger machine so i would recommend saving a little more and getting a large machine to start with, you won't regret it