Tutorial – Cutting Applique Shapes With Modern Tools and Software

This post contains Affiliate Links.

Today, I’m sharing insights on Modern Tools and Software that can be used for cutting fabrics for applique’, as well as cutting many other items.  I’m also sharing a tutorial to help you take a design created in various software (e.g. EQ7, machine embroidery designs or software, etc), or even sketched on paper, to create an SVG file that can be used to cut your shape on an electric cutter. And, there was a release this week of new software from Silhouette, that I want to increase awareness.

If you don’t have any of these tools, I hope you’ll still follow along and share your perspective on what you may like or dislike about applique.  And, if you do have these tools, or other modern tools, I’d also enjoying hearing your perspective on what you may like or dislike on using any of these tools.


Machine Applique ?  Machine Embroidery Applique ? Needle Turn Applique ?All the work required to trace and cut your shape?  Using an AccuQuilt Die?  Using an electronic cutter, like a Silhouette Cameo, Sizzix Eclipse, Brother SnC, etc.?  Using software to create your own unique design in EQ7 or other software?  Or do you think of doodling on paper to create your own design and manually transfer that design to cut your shape on fabric?

Unfortunately, or fortunately, the evolution of modern tools and their benefits for quilting, sewing and embroidery enthusiasts continues to grow.  It just seems that it was a few years ago that die cutting machines (e.g. Sizzix Big Shot, AccuQuilt GO!) were considered revolutionary and, for many, they are still a valued modern tool that help them be creative.

For those uising die cutters, AccuQuilt actually has many wonderful dies to cut applique shapes perfect for this time of year.  And, they make cutting such shapes easy, fast and fun.


Sizzix also has many wonderful dies, that are perfect for Fall theme projects.

But what about when you have a shape that isn’t available in a die or the die doesn’t cut the shape in a size that you want?

Maybe you have an applique shape you created using Electric Quilt/EQ7 software, or from machine embroidery digitizing software, and you want to cut that shape in fabric, for your project.  

dog paw

Maybe cutting one shape using manual tracing and cutting techniques would be ok.  But what if you need to cut hundreds?  Who would want to manually cut out dog foot prints to go around borders and sashing when you could cut them out on an electronic cutter that would be a perfect size for your project?

Within EQ7, as well as many other software packages by the Electric Quit Company, you can easily print your applique templates to cut your fabrics.  And, for those using electronic cutters, you can also print your applique templates (or Foundation Piecing Templates) to a PDF.  There are several ways you can then use this PDF, but in just a minute, I’ll share a tutorial to show an easy way.

Within machine embroidery digitizing software packages, you can also print your templates to cut your applique shapes using traditional methods.  Or, you can print to a PDF for use on an electronic cutter.

There are actually a variety of Electronic Cutters on the market, so the steps can vary with each:

And, while Silhouette, Sizzix, Brother,  Janome, Cricut and Pazzles all have their own software package to help you design your own shapes on their machine.  There is also a variety of other software packages that you could use to cut your shapes on these machines.  

Make the Cut and Sure Cuts A Lot are independent software packages that allows you to create your own shape and cut on many of the electronic cutters.

Again, each electronic cutter and each software package that connects with one or more cutters, all have different pros and cons.  And, different steps for how you can create your own design, or take a design from a machine embroidery applique design (or an EQ7 design file) to your cutter.  I’m not going to try to walk you thru all the options, but for those that may want to get an applique template or foundation (paper pieced) templates created in EQ7 (or other software by Electr

For those that have an electronic cutter and may find challenges with cutting shapes created in other software packages (e.g. EQ7, machine embroidery digitizing software), here is a tutorial that I’ve found to be easy to use and economical.  It simply relies on your ability to create a PDF (or you may already have one with your purchased machine embroidery design files), as well as use a free program called Inkscape to create an SVG file format that can then be used to cut on various electronic cutting machines.

If you do not have software on your computer, to allow you to create a PDF, here are two free programs that you may want to consider:

note;  You may have Illustrator, or other software packages that support Vector graphics that will allow you to create SVG.  But as these are typically expensive software packages, but if you don’t the free Inkscape program works great!



Step 1

If you do not already have Inkscape installed on your computer, you will need to download and install this FREE progra from: https://inkscape.org/en/

Step 2


Within the Inkscape program, click FILE > OPEN and navigate to open the PDF created in V7.

Under the PAGE SETTINGS option, Click the page that contains your appliqué template on the pdf and then click ok

Step 3

Click on the Select and Transform button on the left hand tool bar (arrow button).

And use your mouse to click on the template. Right click and select UNGROUP.  You may have to click the UNGROUP button twice, to ensure all the items are ungrouped as you may have a group within a group.

Step 4

Right-click the vector graphic and click “Ungroup” from the pop-up menu. This splits the image up into its vector components so you can extract the parts you require.

Step 5

pdf import settings for inkscape

For multi-page PDF files, be sure to use the PDF Import Settings to select the page for the shapes that you wish to import to Inkscape.  To clarify, if there are multiple pages, you will need to repeat this step by “Select page” under the Page settings option.

Step 6

ClICK on any item, other than your appliqué shape and delete. Note: You may need to click once and ungroup again, before you can delete the misc items that were on your PDF.  Goal is to get to the point that only your desired appliqué shapes are in view in Inkscape.

Step 7

CLICK FILE SAVE AS type the name of your design, which now has the SVG file extension. Save as to your desktop, or an area you will remember.

Step 8

Your SVG file is now ready to be opened in software for your electronic cutting machine, following steps unique to your software to send it to your machine to cut.


For those that enjoy machine embroidery, Silhouette has released PLUS software this week that will allow you to open up machine embroidery designs and cut your applique shapes on your Silhouette machine:  This new PLUS software will work with the following machine embroidery file formats:

  • PES
  • DST
  • EXP
  • JEF
  • XXX

In addition to being able to open machine embroidery files in this new PLUS version, there is also functionality for creating Rhinestone designs.   Personaly, I’m delighted with this new PLUS software release and plan to not only use it to cut applique shapes for machine embroidery applique (MEA), but to incorporate sketch pens and/or rhinestones into my MEA designs, as well as use  MEA designs to create quilt labels and more.  The possibilities are endless.

While I am not an Affiliate for Silhouette, I honestly think their software is a good value.  This new PLUS version comes has two options to purchase:

  1. Standalone (you do not already have Silhouette Designer Edition) – $74.99
  2. Upgrade version (you already have Silhouette Designer Edition) – $25.00


note:  If you purchase the Upgrade for the new PLUS software, be sure you have the most current version of Silhouette Designer Edition (3.6.39).  If you do not, download and install the free upgrade to the most current version which you can get on their Silhouette-Studio page, by scrolling to the bottom and clicking the button that says download: http://www.silhouetteamerica.com/software/silhouette-studio   Once you have the Plus version successfully installed, your software will clearly show “plus” at the top.  You will then simply click FILE > OPEN and change the file type to reflect the file format of the machine embroidery design you want to open. Then, you can use the entire design to print, to change portions to rhinestones, or remote all but the cut line which you can use to cut your fabric with perfect alignment to your machine embroidery design.

I just purchased the Upgrade to PLUS and was able to quickly and easily open up machine embroidery applique files, to cut out the appropriate size applique shapes.  If there is enough interest, I may later record a video tutorial, but the steps are truly very easy.

While I’m a Silhouette owner and excited about the new Designer Edition Plus software, I am disappointed it does not pull in designs created in various Electric Quilt software (E.G. EQ7),.  Earlier insights on the Silhouette website had reported the Designer Edition Plus software would allow users to open up “stitching” files, which made me get very excited about the ability to easily create cut applique shapes created using EQ7 software.  But this week, they changed their website to reflect it would only open a limited selection of machine embroidery design formats.

For now, I’ll continue to rely on using PDFs and Inkscape for my EQ7 designs, to create SVG cut files for my Silhouette, but I do hope that one day there will be an easier way to turn my EQ7 applique shapes into cut files, as well as use my sketch pens for overall EQ7 designs.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if EQ7, or an EQ add on, would support creating SVG files?

To clarify, I’m excited about how the Silhouette Designer Edition Plus helps to integrate machine embroidery designs with the Silhouette ecutters, but I’d like to also be able to easily incorporate designs that are created in one of the most popular quilt design software packages – EQ7, eliminating the need to create PDFs and process them thru Inkscape, before we can cut them in our Silhouette, or other ecutters.  Electronic cutters are great tools, but if the manufacturers of these devices and the respective software companies of standalone software, want to embrace quilting, sewing and embroidery enthusiasts, they need to help streamline the connectivity between our primary designing tools (e.g. EQ7) and the ability to cut on their electronic cutting tools.  So far, the hardware and software companies seem to be falling short of missing this opportunity.

Here are some links to other sources of great information on various electronic cutters and software:

Marian Pena of Seams to be Sew has a great tutorial overview of various electronic cutters and software: http://www.seamstobesew.com/tutorials/cutting-machines/todays-cutting-techniques/

Jin Yong of Under A Cherry Tree has a blog that focuses on electronic cutters and has released many tips, tutorials and inspirational projects, although she is not a machine embroiderer, so will most likely never explore the new Silhouette Designer Edition Plus software:  http://underacherrytree.blogspot.com/

As mentioned earlier, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this broad area of Modern tools and software and applique in general.  Are you excited about the direction these modern tools are going and their ability to help us create?

 You can find the Electric Quilt Company at:


0 thoughts on “Tutorial – Cutting Applique Shapes With Modern Tools and Software

  1. I’m becoming increasingly curious about EQ7. Right now I don’t have any dedicated quilt-design software – I use graph paper and, sometimes, Paint (although as I get better at Inkscape, that’s becoming my “weapon of choice”). EQ7 certainly seems very popular, though – it is as great as everyone says? Are there other alternatives and how do they compare? Shopping for such niche software is quite a challenge, and it’s not always obvious where to go to get a range of opinions on these things.

    I also only recently became aware of cutting machines that could cut the user’s own designs rather than just using dies. I’m really interested in those because they seem to offer much greater flexibility than the die-cutting machines. I’ll check out those links and see what I can learn about them. 🙂


    1. I am totally in love with all things EQ, particularly EQ7 so I will confess I do have a bit of a bias for using EQ7. But, there are some that are simply better suited for drawing on paper and I’ll be honest and let them know they shouldn’t spend the money. You may want to watch free Youtube videos from the EQ team to get a better perspective on various software packages, to help decide which may be best for you. If you are on Facebook, feel free to post on my page as it could be a good place for discussion with others, to provide feedback on what other options you’ve been looking at.

      Same goes with pros/cons for electronic cutters vs die cutters. A simple rule of thumb I use is if you are going to mass cut same size/shape, a die cutter may be faster and easier. Otherwise, the electronic cutter may be more economical and faster/easier than manual cutting.



  2. I had no idea that any of this was out there. I have a GO which is great for applique shapes but you’re so restricted by size, even the shapes that have different sizes are frustrating if you only want to use one of them and of course you need the dies. The new Silhouette Designer software has me very interested with it’s ability to cross over to ME.
    One thing I want to mention, anyone who knows Illustrator but has lost it due to Microsoft’s constant upgrades can get Open Office for free, it’s the same as Microsoft Office and contains a vector graphics program similar to Illustrator. It’s all open source so it’s free, upgrades are free and did I mention it’s free. LOL.


  3. I think it will be awhile before we see the incorporation of EQ to Silhouette easily. If EQ would add the ability to create svg as a format for cutting files, that’s where it would turn sales of EQ around and would really bring them up to date. Until they do that tho, I doubt we’ll ever see any cutting software bring in Quilt Pro or EQ files. It’s not as simple as a machine embroidery file because a machine embroidery type of file is size based in it’s nature already. Where as with an EQ 7 file, one tells EQ7 the size to create when it’s printing templates or blocks, foundations, etc.. So incorporating that will be far more of a process than it is to open a machine embroidery file.

    My SSDE doesn’t even say their is an update yet, if I hadn’t visited you today I wouldn’t have known yet that an update was even available. I’m quite curious how the machine embroidery file is going to open in SSDE and what we’ll need to do to get it to work, but I have to say, it really drives the user to the Silhouette machine if SSDE is going to open those files, and another thing in that regard is one can convert to the format it currently opens in, then cut their design to the specified cut for the design, it’s worth a test anyway, take a .jef or .dst file, open it in SSDE, cut the applique, then take that same .jef or .dst and convert it the format you need for your machine. Does the fabric still cut the size when it stitches out? If SSDE cuts out in the current format you need, that’s all the better, but if you need let’s say the .art format, you will need to go to the next best thing.

    It’s pretty curious that Bernina and Viking both don’t have the formats available, but they are very proprietary formats so I can see that as a bit of wrangling, but at the same time, they don’t make a cutter for their machines, so why wouldn’t they allow Silhouette at least a limited usage license until they get off their duffs and make a cutter to. LOL The one thing that Bernina’s digitizing software does that no other software does that I’m aware of (possibly Wilcom because Wilcom creates Bernina’s digitizing software) is to give the ability to cut those shapes out in it’s software when you create a worksheet file. Thus you have the shapes needed for the machine applique file. One still has to take and create a svg out of the pdf, but the process is easier because they allow that. The one restriction on that is that the design has to be created in Bernina’s digitizing softare, and it can’t just be a file you converted to the .art format.

    Janome and Brother both gave permission even tho they both now have their own cutters. That’s very interesting as it doesn’t help their cutter sales to have SSDE opening their formats. However, it does make me very very happy because I own both the Cameo and the SNC, and was considering the upgrade to SNC2 because it will now allow you to take the machine embroidery file right into the cutter to cut the shapes you need.

    I also think that as long as quilters are not aware of just how cool these cutters are to their needs as a quilter, this market won’t get any larger. Cutting machines were first brought into being I believe from the scrapbooking community, since they were largely made for cutting paper. Accuquilt in particular holds a pretty tight reign on the quilt cutter market. I honestly think they wish the ability to cut our own shapes would go away, because they could develop a machine that allows us to cut our own shapes, but they want to control the market with shapes of their own and that’s the biggest reason I didn’t buy an Accuquilt machine and continue to refuse to do so.

    Anyway, great post today. I enjoyed it.


  4. I like the idea of the silhouette and other electronic cutters because there is less monetary cost (but greater time cost!) when you want to cut a design. I have always been interested in Accuquilt but the dies are just way too expensive for a single project. But it’s really one of the only cutters I’ve seen that specifically geared towards fabric – a lot of the others I’ve seen are more aimed at scrapbookers and quilters happen to make use of them. I’m waiting to see the field evolve.


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