Sunday, May 3, 2015

Decorating Your Mortar Board (Graduation Cap) With Your Silhouette Cameo

I've been hearing lots of talk lately about decorating one's mortar board, or graduation cap, either for oneself or for a son or daughter who is graduating.  It's super easy to do with your Silhouette Cameo or other electronic cutting machine, and you have options, depending on if you want it to be permanent or temporary.

First, let me start by saying that you should check with your school before decorating your cap.  In my very limited experience, I've found that most high schools do NOT allow decorated caps, but many colleges do.

There's no reason to fear decorating your cap.  It's just a thin polyester material covering a cardboard square.  I used HTV (heat transfer vinyl) on my daughter's cap, but you can use Oracal 631 or 651 vinyl if you want a more temporary solution.  There's no guarantee that your vinyl will come off cleanly though, so do a test to see how easily and cleanly it comes off before using.  You can also use rhinestones, which I SO wanted to do, but my daughter said no to bling.  :(

  1. Measure your cap.  Mine is 9 1/2" x 9 1/2".
  2. In your Silhouette Studio software (or other design software) draw a 9 1/2" square.  Use the Rotate tool to rotate it 45 degrees to give you an accurate rendition of the workspace you'll have.
  3. You might want to find the center of your square (now a diamond) and draw a 3/4" circle. That's the button that holds the tassel and can get in the way of your design if you forget to take it into consideration.  (I had to modify my design because I did not have the button on my screen.  I ended up adding the exclamation point so the button would land in the middle of my D.)
  4. Start designing!  This is where you can let your creativity shine!  If you're stumped for ideas, Pinterest  is always a good place to start.
  5. Once you're happy with your design, you're ready to cut.  Remember, if you're using HTV, you must MIRROR YOUR IMAGE before cutting (in Silhouette Studio, select your image, then right click and select "Flip Horizontally.")  HTV is also cut with the shiny (pretty) side down on your mat.
  6. Weed your design.  If using regular vinyl, use transfer tape to lift your design from the backing.
  7. Regular vinyl can just be transferred onto the cap.  HTV is best applied using your iron and not a heat press because of the tassel button.  I just used my iron at high heat, used a piece of regular copy paper to protect it, and kept the iron moving, stopping just when it was adhered enough to peel the carrier backing -- 10 seconds or so.  My iron has a little cut-out at the tip for ironing around buttons.  That came in handy when ironing around the tassel button.

HINT:  Print out your design before cutting to make sure you like it and that it fits. 

That's all there is to it!  

Happy Crafting!


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  2. my school rents their graduation caps, so they said it was okay to decorate them as long as it's temporary/doesn't damage the cap. Any tips?

    1. Use cardstock and maybe double sided tape. Decorate the paper :) hope that helps and isn't too late reaching you

  3. 631 is temporary. I can't guarantee it won't leave residue or damage the cap, so it's best to test in a small area in the underside if possible.

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