Cutting SVG Files with the Silhouette

I love my AccuQuilt die cutting machine for cutting fabric for applique. But sometimes there are shapes that just can’t be cut with it, and sometimes I need different shapes to do paper crafts with the children. I own both a Silhouette Cameo and a Brother Scan n Cut digital craft cutter. But the Silhouette Cameo (SC) is the machine that I use the most because it’s easier for me to work with the software and then send the cut to the machine.

It has taken me a long time to really understand which tool to use for cutting an svg file with the SC. And the reason is that I didn’t understand the icons exactly. This makes me a very, very slow learner as I have had this machine a couple of years. So, these images are provided not only for myself, but also for anyone else who is having the same issues that I have had.

In the images below, you will see the difference between the two cut icons/settings. The red line is the cut line and the black line is the line from the svg file. As you can see, the icon/cut setting you choose will also determine whether you get a cut that borders the edge of the shape, gives you two cuts on either side of the same line, or is the exact size of the shape. If it borders the shape, then it’s going to be just slightly larger than the placement line for the applique.If it gives you two cuts on the same line, then you’re going to have a raggedy edge on fabric (and maybe paper). But if it cuts in the center of the line, then you will get a fabric applique shape that fits the placement line exactly.

Look at the icons carefully. It is the second icon that gives the perfect cut from an svg file. The first icon is labeled “Cut Edge” and as you can see, that is what it does. The second icon is labeled “Cut” and it cuts exactly on the line.

And if there is any doubt as to where the line will cut, enlarge the shape on your screen until you can see where the red cut line is before you cut. And another option is to use scrap copy paper to make a sample cut for size before you cut your fabric.

Using the “Cut Edge” icon, you can see that the lines are on the outer edge of the svg lines and the cut shape will be larger than the placement lines for the applique.



Using the “Cut Edge” icon, again you see that the cut lines are on the outer edges of the svg line and the shape will cut with two lines creating a ragged, frayed edge on the applique shape.



Using the second icon for “Cut” the red cutting line is exactly in the center of the black svg line–just the perfect place for cutting applique shapes from fabric.




Notes Re Cutting Fabric with Electronic Cutter

Over time I have tried many different ways to cut fabric with the Silhouette Cameo and the Brother Scan N Cut and the Sizzix eCal. The machines and technology have changed over time–for the better. This includes information that you probably already know, with the hope that this will help some who are new to the machine.

This is fairly new technology for fabric cutting although it’s been used for many years for paper. When I first got my Silhouette I used fusible backed fabric, removed the paper, and adhered the fabric with the fusible side to the mat. This resulted in fairly good cuts after some adjustments. However, I realized after awhile that the mat was getting bits of fusible and some fabric strings left behind from the fabric. After washing the mat with soap and water to remove the fusible and strings, the stickiness returned–not as good as new–but acceptable.

After that I used fusible with the paper attached and was able to get very good cuts and the mat stayed cleaner longer. My preferred fusible is Wonder Under Lite. I find that the paper is more easily removable if it has “cured” for a day after fusing to fabric.

After reading some blog posts from various writers about using fabric without fusible, I tried that and have been able to get good cuts with the fabric adhered directly to the mat. It does leave strings behind that have to be removed, whereas paper backed fusible does not. It also leaves more “blade tracks” on the mat than paper backed fusible.

Different fabrics cut differently whether they are adhered directly to the mat or with fusible and paper attached. For me, batiks and tighter weaves give the cleanest cuts. After some experience, it is easier to guesstimate any adjustments you may need to make for different fabrics.

My recent experiment with the fusible side up and no paper backing didn’t work very well.

There is a difference in mats. The Brother SNC has a fabric support sheet that can be adhered to a regular mat. It is very, very sticky, and I like to use it when it is new and stickiest with paper backed fusible, and later as the stickiness is reduced, it is good for non fusible fabric. I have used the Brother SNC fabric support sheet on the Silhouette mat too. The Brother SNC will read only Brother mats. The Silhouette will accept any mat that is the right size and some people use other mats (cut to size) in their Silhouette machine. Both machines also have 12 x 24″ mats. Silhouette mats have improved over time and I find myself not worrying about the fabric support sheet so much any more.

And I have read about other methods that are used. For example, some have used page-sized label sheets as a fabric support sheet on the silhouette mat. That didn’t work as well for me, but just as in quilting, each person finds methods that work best for them. I don’t think I would try to cut fabric without a mat as I don’t know what that would do to the machine, although I do cut vinyl without a mat. Likewise, the Terial Magic that has been discussed sounds like a good idea–I haven’t tried it, but probably will.

These are my personal experiences, and I encourage everyone to experiment and find what works best for them. I hope this sheds some light for those who are just starting and answers some questions.

Today, I am drawing a Tyrannosaurus Rex in Art and Stitch for my 3-year old grandson who loves dinosaurs–and the applique shapes will be cut with an electronic cutter. Merry Christmas to all!

Novelty Fabric Motif Applique with Scan N Cut

Recently I gave a talk at Electric City Quilters Guild in Anderson, SC. One of the members there showed me a beautiful quilt she made for her granddaughter using a Princess novelty fabric. She cut the motifs out and appliqued them onto the blocks. I think this could very loosely be called broderie perse. While the motifs are not fussy cut like real broderie perse, it is a patterned motif appliqued to a background.

On my way home I stopped at Mary Jo’s and happened to see an adorable Mr. Potato Head fabric on the sale table. This was the perfect opportunity to try to fussy cut the motifs with the Brother Scan N Cut.

After scanning, the SNC would not create an outline of the motif because there was not enough contrast between background and motif. It would not even make an offset outline of the motif–again lack of contrast was the issue.

But, when at first you don’t succeed, try again! And the challenge was solved as follows.

1. Scan to USB.

Using the fabric motif attached to the high tack mat, scan the motif with Scan to USB. This creates a jpg file on a USB drive.


2. Trace in Art and Stitch.

Open the jpg file as a Backdrop in Art and Stitch Plus and trace an offset outline using the curve tool. I tried this using a scan setting of 200 dpi and 300 dpi. The backdrop opened in the exact size in Art and Stitch and I did not have to edit the backdrop. You will see that I lightened the scan slightly so that I could see the drawn line.

001 Trace PH

3. Print Outline and Scan with SNC.

Print the outline from Art and Stitch Plus onto white paper and scan it using the low tack mat and the SNC.

002 Print Outline

4.Scan motif as a background.

With the traced outline shape on the SNC screen, scan the fabric motif (attached to the high tack mat) as a background.


5. Cut motif.

On the SNC screen, use the stylus and move the shape so that it fits the background scan. Cut.

2014-07-10 07.28.40-1 (Custom)

6. Create embroidery file.

In Art and Stitch Plus, use the original outline that was traced for cutting. Apply the applique tool to create an applique stitch around the shape. I set the Placement line to 0, used a zigzag tackdown, and a motif cover stitch (emb_f073). Save as an embroidery file and stitch.

004 Applique Extra settings 003 Apply applique stitches

This is a photo of the first one I did that has been stitched. Isn’t it great?

2014-07-10 07.29.51 (Custom)

Summary: This takes several steps to complete. Could it be done faster if I simply cut around the shape and took it to the regular sewing machine and stitched a decorative stitch around it?—-Probably. But if I have multiple similar motifs (I bought two yards of the fabric and have six grandchildren), then this saves time in the end. And I love the motif so much, I think I may use some on t-shirts. They are so cute.

Where I think this would be worth all the effort is to have a motif on a white background that would scan exactly and then the motif could be fussy cut perfectly with the SNC. In addition, this is a case where the SNC trumps the Silhouette Cameo because of the background scan capability.

What do you think? Is there an easier way to do this?

Applique Alphabet Using Precut Shapes

The last couple of days have been spent fine tuning this video on how to digitize an applique alphabet using the True Type Font Artwork tool to create the letter artwork and using Art and Stitch to export the images needed for use in an electronic cutter for cutting the shapes.

This video covers:
Creating the letter artwork
Exporting the letter artwork to use in the ScanNCut and the Silhouette Cameo
Digitizing the Applique
Taking the letter artwork image to the ScanNCut and to the Silhouette Designer Software

Create Your Own Motif Stitches

Do you like to create your own motif stitches? It’s one of my favorite features in Art & Stitch Plus and here’s why. When I was a little girl, my Mom made all my dresses. And the only thing I wanted was a “store-bought dress”. Mother explained to me that my dresses had lots more fabric in the skirts, and I could twirl a lot better. And she was right. We wore those great crinoline petticoats in those days and my skirts stood out perfectly. The whole point of this story is that sewing always made me want my own unique designs, whether it is sewing, embroidery, or knitting. And that’s why I love that Art & Stitch Plus software allows me to create my own motifs.

You will find the instructions in the User Manual in section 4.13 for creating your own motif stitches. This morning I was inspired by reading the Pintangle blog post by Sharon Boggan and looking at some of the very old-fashioned crazy quilt embroidery stitches. That led to the creation of a very pretty Herringbone embroidery motif stitch to go into my stash of motif stitches. Here’s what it looks like.


Herringbone stitch

And yes, it is very similar to some of the other Art & Stitch Plus motif stitches, but this one is just exactly the way I want it. In creating it, I used a bean stitch instead of a run stitch and lengthened the stitch a bit. I found as I changed the stitch length, the stitch changed a bit on my computer screen. There will likely be more adjustments after stitching it on the machine, but this is a good start.

Create DXF Cut File from MEA File in Art & Stitch SW

This tutorial is based on a tutorial that is presented as an adobe pdf file which is downloadable. Please respect the author’s copyright.

These instructions describe how to create a vector graphics file in Art and Stitch Plus software that will be used as a cut file in the Silhouette Studio Designer Edition software. This vector graphics file can be created from an embroidery file in any machine format or from an ans artwork file.
Using Art and Stitch Plus, the embroidery file placement stitching lines for the applique shapes are separated from all the other stitches and converted to artwork. These shapes are then exported as artwork to a vector graphics file that can be read by the electronic cutter software. There are other ways to create and export a vector graphics file for this purpose, but the method described here is the easiest. The Silhouette Cameo Designer software accepts the following vector graphics file formats: gsd, dxf, svg.

NOTE: Bitmap files can be used to create cut files, however that is a different process than what is described here. The Silhouette Cameo software accepts the following bitmap formats: png, jpg, bmp, gif, and tiff. A bitmap file in one of these formats has to be outlined using the trace tool in the Silhouette Designer software before being converted to a cut file. The bitmap file has to be a high quality. This is a different process and is described elsewhere.

Step 1: Open the embroidery file.

01-open file

STEP 2: Save the embroidery file with a new name by using the “Save As” menu.
Name this NewFilename.ans

02-save as

STEP 3. Delete all items except outlines.
Delete all the colors/items in Sequence view except the thread color for the placement lines. This is usually the first color, however if there are layered appliqué shapes, there may be a placement line later in Sequence view. Be sure all elements except the placement lines for the appliqué shapes have been deleted.

03-acorn outline screen

04-acorn outline run stitch

STEP 4: Convert Run Stitches to Artwork

05-convert to artwork

  • Select the placement line run stitches in Sequence View and Convert to Artwork using the blue Convert to Artwork button on the tool bar.
  • Change the line color to black so that you can see the artwork lines.
  • Separate the shapes so that the edges of shapes are not touching. Group inner and outer shapes for any shape that has a cutout inside. All shapes must be closed.
  • Select all elements and record the measurements in millimeters and in inches in the Copyright notes box in the Properties tab or create a note for the measurements using the note tool.

STEP 5: Export Artwork to DXF file.
In the file menu, click export artwork.
Select the file format dxf and save the exported file with a unique name

06-export artwork

Your file is now ready to be imported into the Silhouette Cameo software
or any electronic cutter that will open or import dxf (AutoCAD) files.

Blanket Stitch Applique Tutorial

The last week has been spent working on this tutorial. This is a demonstration of the Art and Stitch Plus software used to digitize a blanket stitch applique using the AccuQuilt GO!® butterfly applique shape. Two different methods for creating the blanket stitch are shown here, one of them uses the new applique feature in Art and Stitch Plus 3.0.



This site is created with a goal of offering tutorials, information, and a dialogue about using precut shapes with machine embroidery. These precut shapes come in many forms. Sometimes we purchase them already cut, but more often we cut them with our die cutters or our electronic craft cutters.

Precut shapes work best for applique when we alter some of the parameters in digitizing and when we understand better how the shapes and fabric behave during the cutting and stitching process. This has been a learning process for me and I hope we can share our experiences in this space.