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Crafting with cut files: Beginner’s Guide

Learn the basics to start crafting with cut files!

Cut files allow you to create amazing artwork in a very easy way. That is why in the last years they have become a very popular crafting technique.

In today’s article, we’ll explain you the basics of crafting with cut files. We will talk about the different file formats, software, cutting machines and materials that you must know.

If you are new to cut files and want to learn more before you use them, keep reading!

Main techniques

You can use cut files for many kinds of projects. Today, we will focus on the most common options. Depending on your hardware, you could cut another material like wood.

Paper Crafting


Cutting with craft files beginners guide.

A cutting machine is an amazing resource for those who love card making or scrapbooking. There are special blades that allow you to make very precise cuts on paper and cardstock.

Stencil creation


Cutting with craft files beginners guide.

If you need to create stencils for any projects, you can cut the outer border of your cut files. Something as simple as this can help you reproduce similar copies of the same design in different canvases.

Sublimation/Heat press


Cutting with craft files beginners guide.

You can use your craft files to cut materials like vinyl, and transfer them into textile or another material (wood, glass) by applying heat. This is a very popular technique with a lot of followers around the world.



Cutting with craft files beginners guide.

In a cutting machine, you can also place special markers instead of blades. This is a different technique that allows you to “print” your cut files by drawing them.

File formats


It is common to associate cut files with the SVG format. This association is only partially true. SVG (Scalable vector graphics) files are a great choice for cutting. Most kinds of software allow you to cut your SVG files without doing many modifications. SVG files are scalable, so we can change their size without impacting their characteristics. That makes them perfect to edit and cut for different projects (e.g. an adult’s hoodie or a baby’s romper).


PNG means Portable Network Graphics. It is a file format used for lossless image compression. It generates high quality images. We do not recommend it for large images, it can generate a large file size.


JPG is a compressed image format standardized by the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG). It is a common format in photography. JPG files are also suitable for cutting.

It is also possible to cut designs in another format, like GIF, DXF or BMP. If your files are not SVG, you will have to edit them before you directly cut them.

Edition software

To cut your files, you need to give your machine the proper instructions. So it is useful to learn how to use an edition software. Hardware companies like Cricut, Silhouette and Brother have developed their own tools. The advantage of these branded tools is that they have everything you need to operate with a certain cutting machine. This can be a great advantage for beginners.

Cricut Design Space


Cricut Design Space is a web-based edition software. It allows you to open a new canvas for every project you want to start. You can place your design in some product mockups, or pick a template from your library. This software will only allow you to work on a project at a time.
To get started in Cricut Design Space, you first need to create a new project. Enter https://design.cricut.com/ in your browser URL and create an account. You can download the program in your Mac or PC. You can also use the online version from your browser.

Silhouette Studio


Silhouette Studios is a desktop application founded by Silhouette America, and it comes in different editions. The basic version is free to use, but they also offer paid upgrades: Designer Edition, Designer Edition+ and Business Edition.

All you need to do to make use of the software is to download the Basic Edition, install it on your computer, and create an account.

Brother ScanNCut Canvas Workspace


Brother’s edition software is available on Windows and macOS. It allows you to create, edit, convert and send cut data to and FROM the machine. Brother ScanNCut cutting machines, incorporate a little screen where you can edit your files before cutting. The machine and the computer can exchange information through a wireless network connection, through an USB flash device or through an USB cable.

Cutting Machines


Cricut Maker


This cutting machine guarantees a pro-level DIY performance and visibility. It can cut materials with up to 12 inches width. It allows you to cut, but also to write and score (among other pro-level effects). You can manage it with a free design app and connect it to your devices through Bluetooth and USB.


Cricut Explore Air 2


This is the most popular model from Cricut. It is perfect for a wide range of DIY hobbies. Same as the Cricut Maker, it can cut materials up to 12 inches width. You will can cut, write and score with it. This machine is not as professional and high-level as the Cricut Maker, but it is perfect for crafting lovers that want to have a great cutting tool.


Cricut Joy


This blue little gadget has been the last release from Cricut. It is small, simple and compact. You can directly manage it from your tablet or smartphone. It is perfect for quick, everyday fun projects. It can cut a variety of 50 different materials. You can either cut or write with it. It works with Smart Materials for long, continuous cuts without a cutting mat. It also incorporates a Card Mat for quick custom cards.


Silhouette Cameo


Silhouette Cameo is a desktop cutting machine. You can use it with a cutting mat, but it also includes some matless cutting capabilities. You can drive it with the free version of Silhouette Studio. It is the fastest cutting machine of its kind. It can cut up to 30 cm per second.

Silhouette Portrait


This electronic cutting machine is for personal use. The device is smaller than the Silhouette Cameo, but it is a powerful machine. It is perfect for smaller projects and for an amateur use. You can connect it to another devices through Bluetooth and easily manage it from Silhouette Studio.

Silhouette Curio


This desktop machine is a complement to the other Silhouette devices. It allows you to incorporate new techniques as embossing and debossing, multiplying your creative possibilities. It is probably not the best option for beginners, but it is a very interesting gadget to take into account.


Brother ScanNCut 2



This cutting machine includes a built-in scanner. This innovation differenciates Brother machines from any others.You can scan drawings or even photos and cut them on different materials.

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