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Crafting with cut files: Beginner’s Guide

Learn the basics to start crafting with cut files!

On this article:

What is a cut file?
What formats can I use as cut files?
How to use cut files
What software do I need to edit cut files?
What is the best cutting machine for crafters?
Crafting with cut files: FAQ
Useful resources about cut files

crafting with cut files beginner's guide

Cut files allow you to create fantastic artwork effortlessly. That is why, in the last years, they have become a trendy crafting resource.

In today’s article, we’ll explain to 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.

What is a cut file?

 

Cut files are digital images that have been prepared to cut with a particular machine. Even though this technique is not new, digital cut files became popular since brands like Cricut or Silhouette started selling affordable cutting machines for crafters.

These files are usually associated with the SVG format. And this format indeed is one of the best and most common choices, but SVG and cut files are not synonyms. Not all SVG files can be called cut files. Cutting machines can not replicate some design features. Therefore, when creating cut files, designers must define every shape, detail, or path, so crafting software can recognize it.

What image formats can I use as a cut file?

 

SVG

As we said, SVG (Scalable vector graphics) files are an excellent choice for cutting. Most kinds of software allow you to use your SVG files without making any modifications. SVG files are scalable, so we can change their size without impacting their characteristics. That makes them perfect for editing and cutting for different projects (e.g., an adult’s hoodie or a baby’s romper).

PNG

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

JPG

JPG is a compressed image format standardized by the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG). It is a standard 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.

How to use cut files?

You can use cut files for many kinds of crafts. Your options depend on the hardware and the software that you can use. Here you have some examples of the most common projects that you can do with cut files.

Paper Crafting

 

Cutting with craft files beginners guide.

A cutting machine is a fantastic resource for those who love card making or scrapbooking. There are individual blades that allow you to make exact cuts on paper and cardstock.

Creating stencils with cut files

 

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 textiles or other material (wood, glass) by applying heat. Sublimation is a prevalent technique with a lot of followers around the world.

Drawing with a cutting machine

 

Cutting with craft files beginners guide.

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

What software do I need to edit cut files?

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

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 on your Mac or PC. You can also use the online version from your browser.

Silhouette Studio

 

 

Silhouette Studio 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 editing 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 tools, incorporate a little screen where you can edit your files before cutting. The engine and the computer can exchange information through a wireless network connection through a USB flash device or a USB cable.

What is the best cutting machine for crafters?

There is not a correct answer to this question. There are many   different machines out there, and all of them have different characteristics and functionalities. Keep reading to find a description of the most popular models.

Cricut Maker

 

 

This cutting machine guarantees a pro-level DIY performance and visibility. It can cut materials with up to 12 inches in 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

 

 

Explore Air 2 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 wide. You will 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 little blue gadget has been the last release from Cricut. Cricut Joy is small, compact, and straightforward. You can directly manage it from your tablet or smartphone, so 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 the Silhouette Studio. It is the fastest cutting machine of its kind: it can cut up to 30 cm per second.

 

Silhouette Curio

 

 

 

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

 

Brother ScanNCut 2

 

 

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

Crafting with cut files: FAQ

 

What is an SVG cut file?

A cut file is a digital image that has been designed and saved to be used with a cutting machine. SVG is a digital file format that stands for Scalable Vector Graphics, and it is the most common format for cut files.

Can I resize SVG files?

Yes, you can. The S in SVG stands for “scalable”. This means you can resize this kind of files without modifying their aspect. They will never look pixelated.

Can I resize PNG and JPG files?

You can, but you have to take into account that, in these formats, images are made of pixels. This means that the final aspect of your resized image will lose quality.

Can I use cut files without a Silhouette/ Cricut machine?

Yes, of course! If you’d like to learn how to make heat transfers without a cutting machine, check this tutorial.

How to cut out SVG files?

To cut out your SVG files, you’ll need to send them to your cutting machine. For that, you have to use some edition software. If you’d like to learn how to edit your SVG files, check the guides we’ve written for Cricut and Silhouette.

Where can I download free cut files?

You can find a wide variety of free cut files here at Creative Fabrica. Check our Freebies library!

Do you have cut files at Creative Fabrica?

Yes! We have a growing library with 28.000+ exclusive designs. Our cut files are tagged as Crafts, and they are only available under subscription. The cheapest deal is the Crafts Subscription: users get unlimited downloads for just $12 every three months. Check it here!

 

Useful resources about cut files

 

How to Heat Press – The authors of this blog are Naomi and Dan, two crafters that have turned their sublimation hobby into their business. Their site is full of exciting tutorials and helpful ideas for your next projects.

Cutting for Business – This site is one of the best blogs about cut files. Here you’ll find information about many topics related to this crafting technique (machines, materials, tutorials, and projects).

Silhouette (Official Site) – The official website of Silhouette America Inc. is full of ideas that you can try with your machine. In the “Stories” category, you’ll find examples for almost any project you can think of. Take a look!

Cricut (Official Site) –  Cricut’s website is full of useful information. You can find explanations about all the hardware, software, and related products of the brand. There is also some good inspiration for your next projects.

 

 

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