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Best Software For Designing SVG Cutting Files

What is the best design software for creating SVG cutting files? There are a number of design software choices available. Learn which is the best for you. The most important factor in your design software choice is that it works with your cutter. The design software does not have to have drivers to cut directly to your cutter. But the design software does need to have options to export designs that will work with your cutter. So the cutter you are using, and its software requirements will be a huge factor for you in your design software choice.

Cutter Software

Design Software

Software for SVG Designing

Cricut Design Space

Design Software

Cricut Design Space

Cutters are usually shipped with software that works with the machine. But not all software is created equally. Some machines come only with the drivers necessary to make the machine work. This is true with many professional vinyl cutting machines. Other cutters come with some very basic free design software, such as Cricut Explore and Cricut Maker. Software required to work with these Cricut machines is Cricut Design Space.  Design Space allows you to save your designs on their Cloud, but you cannot save them to your computer or export then for use with other cutters.

You may be satisfied with cutter software that allows you to use only designs provided by the cutter distributor for awhile. But eventually you will want to spread your creative wings to make some of your own designs. Some companies do not provide software with their cutters. They prefer to give you a option of purchasing the software of your choice. In this case, you need to make sure that the software you purchase has drivers for your particular machine.

Brother Canvas Workspace

Design Software

Brother Canvas

Some cutter software allows you to open or import files that you or others have created. But they provide only basic software features. They have very little in the way of creative design and editing tools. For example, Brother has provided the free Canvas Workspace software for Scan N Cut and Design N Cut users. It includes basic design features. But you will likely need to use what is called “third party software”, software made by another company. This third party design software can be used to create your cutting projects. In order for third party software to work with your cutter, it needs to have the option to export designs that will work with your cutter.

Software Import and Export Options

Silhouette Studio

Design Software

Some cutters are provided with full featured design software. This software allows you to import, customize, and create cutting files. But the software may not allow you to export your work in formats that can be used with other cutters. For example, the free basic version of Silhouette Studio is excellent design software, but importing and exporting files in other formats requires paid software upgrades. Being able to export cutting files from your cutter software will be important if you want to use your cutting files with more than one cutter, or if you want to share or sell your files with someone else who uses a different cutter. Be sure to check the import and export options of the software you choose. Another thing to keep in mind is that Silhouette Studio does not allow the export of purchased designs from their online store in SVG format.

Cutters with Full-Featured Design Software

Finally, there are some cutters that are shipped with full-featured design software, that allows you to import and export cutting files. For example, Pazzles includes full-featured design software with the purchase of their cutters. Their software, InVue, (which may be purchased separately from a machine) allows you to import, create, customize, and export your cutting projects in SVG format. It included basic and advanced design functions. Therefore,  this software serves as an excellent low-cost, third party cutting software.

Cutter Software

While there are excellent cutters that do not have these important software options, it is essential that you consider creating your designs in software that does have these options. Therefore using additional design software may be necessary. In this case, make sure that the software you have chosen for your design work will work with the software provided with the machine you plan to use.

Design Software Options

The best time to evaluate software options is before you make your cutter purchase. This gives you more freedom as you consider design software options. So  if you are looking into purchasing a new cutter, now is the time to consider your design software options. Every design software has a learning curve. So once you select a design software, you will need to stick with it for awhile. Learn all of the basic functions in the software that are needed for creating projects for your cutter. Then you can learn to use many of the advanced features in the software. Have patience as you learn.

Free Design Software

Inkscape

Design Software

Inkscape

Inkscape is  open source software that is free. This software has no plugins for cutters, so it is used strictly for designing. It does have many import and export options. Many cutter crafters use Inkscape for creating their cutting files, then export their designs in a format that can be imported into  cutter software. Most cutter software will import SVG or DXF files that Inkscape can export.

Learning Inkscape

The down side to using Inkscape is finding adequate support for using it for cutting purposes. There are many more tutorials available covering Inkscape features today than there were in past years. Inkscape is so full of features for designers of all types, that finding the tools needed specifically for designing cutting files can be hard to find. The best course I have found for learning to use Inkscape for designing cutting files is one produced by Jennifer Maker called Cut Above SVG Design Course

 

Affordable Design Software for Sale

Pazzles InVue Software

Cutter Software

Pazzles InVue is the most affordable third party design software for sale. It is excellent software for designing SVG cutting files. It cuts directly to the Pazzles Inspiration and Pazzles Vue cutters.InVue also allows for importing and exporting SVG and WPC cutting files, making it a great option to use as third party software for use with cutters that have more limited design tools.

Learning InVue

The Pazzles Craft Room offers excellent video training for using this software. You can find some free video tutorials for using this software on my YouTube channel.   I also offer free Cutter Software support for this and most cutter software at the Cutter Software Facebook Group (Join to access free files and discussion group.)

Some third party design software will cut directly to a number of different cutters. This is handy, as you can design and cut your projects from the same software.

Sure Cuts A Lot (SCAL)

The most up-to-date of these software options is Sure Cuts A Lot version 5 . You can download a free trial of this software for 15 days to see how you like it. Even if you cannot cut directly to your particular cutter, you can still create your designs in this software, and export your projects in most common formats, including SVG, SVG for Cricut, and Brother FCM. It can also import a large number of embroidery file types.

Design Software

Sure Cuts A Lot Cutter Software

Learning Sure Cuts A Lot

ScrappyDew has an excellent course  called SCAL Classroom covering how to use Sure Cuts A Lot, including a User’s Manual. There is a special offer for a discount for this course when you purchase the software.

Make The Cut (MTC)

Design Software

Make The Cut Software

The Make The Cut software is excellent software for designing SVG cutting files. You may download a free trial of this software on the download page to get a feel for how the software works. This trial does not expire. Make The Cut is full featured cutting software that will cut directly to many different cutters. It includes many advanced design features. The software imports and exports many different file types. There have not been updates to this software in several years, so plugins for newer cutters are not available. But the software is still quite competitive in the market for those designing SVG cutting files.

Learning Make The Cut

Support for  Make The Cut software is available in the free User’s Manual as well as at the Make The Cut Forum,  at the free MTC-Tuts Yahoo Group (join to access free  tutorials and cutting files), and at my YouTube channel.

Popup Card Studio

Those interested in making popup card designs will appreciate the option to copy and paste designs from the software to its companion software, Popup Card Studio (PCS).   There is a discount available for those who purchase both Make The Cut and Popup Card Studio at the same time. There are free YouTube tutorials for creating popup cards using Popup Card Studio on my YouTube channel. One great perk for owning Make The Cut is the inclusion of  of over 15,240 user contributed cutting files in its Gallery. Popup card studio includes designs for 127 popup cards in its Online Gallery linked within the software. There are some amazing designs included.

 

Not So Affordable Software For Designing SVG Cutting Files

Adobe Creative Suite

Design Software

Adobe Illustrator

Illustrator is the professional vector design software. This cloud-based software includes tools for a wide variety of design professionals in many fields. Hence, it is quite complicated, and difficult to learn the specific design tools we need for designing SVG cutting Files. Illustrator does not offer plugins for direct cutting to cutters. But the files created in Illustrator can be exported for use with other cutter software. Illustrator became popular among crafty cutters who use MAC computers, when most cutter software did not offer support for MAC. Now it is more common to find cutter software that includes MAC support.

Learning Illustrator

Those aspiring to become professional designers may want to dive in to learning to use this software. Comprehensive support for cutter users is severely lacking for this software. I do recommend that if you want to be a design professional, that you get the entire Adobe Creative Suite, as you will likely need more than just Illustrator. I find that I use Adobe Photoshop and Acrobat Pro as much or more than Illustrator. If you plan to tackle Illustrator for designing SVG cutting files, I highly recommend Jennifer Maker’s Cut Above SVG Design Course . Jennifer is extremely diligent to provide personal help for her students in learning to use advanced software tools to create some amazing cutting projects.

Corel Draw

Design Software

CorelDraw

The CorelDraw suite is another expensive vector design software that imports and exports files in many formats. Many professional cutters use this software, especially those who work with laser cutters and wood cutting machines. However, there is not much support for home cutter crafters using CorelDraw.

Favorite Features of CorelDraw

There are only a couple of features that I use in CorelDraw for my design work. My favorite is the Word Envelope that automatically fills a shape with text. See my video tutorial on how this works. The other feature in CorelDraw that I use is their TTF file export. I use this for creating fonts. CorelDraw does  not provide plugins for cutting to our craft cutters, but many laser and CNC machines are shipped with plugin software that works with CorelDraw. If you have a machine that requires the use of CorelDraw, then you will need to invest in this software.

Design Software for Cricut Machines

Your older Cricut machine did not come with design software. You learned to use designs available on cartridges to create some amazing scrapbook pages, cards, 3D projects, and decorations for events. But there are times that you have some very creative ideas that you would like to try with your cutter, and you cannot find exactly the right cutting files in your cartridge collection. So perhaps it is time to learn to use cutter software so you can bring those creative ideas to life.

Cricut

Cricut Expression

There are some older software versions that work with your older Cricut, including Cricut Craftroom, Make The Cut 4.1.0 or earlier, Sure Cuts A Lot 2.0, and FairyCut. But those are no longer being produced, and Cricut Craftroom is being closed. If you happen to have one of these, it would be a good idea to start learning to use it. Even very basic software can be used to create some amazing projects. The latest versions of Make The Cut and Sure Cuts A Lot allow you to use the latest and greatest software features, and transfer your designs to the older software so you can cut to your machine.

Cricut Upgrades

After Cricut Craftroom closes in mid-July, 2018, you will need to make some decisions. If you have a huge collection of cartridges to use with your older Cricut, you might want to consider upgrading to a Cricut Explore or Cricut Maker. Cricut Design Space, which is required for using these machines, does allow you to register your cartridges. Hence you can use all of your cartridge images and fonts on the newer machines. Cricut Design Space does have some nice design features to help you use your cartridge design collection more creatively. The software also allows you to import images and SVG files from other sources. For more information on how to use SVG files in Cricut Design Space see my post on How to Use SVG files in Cricut Design Space.

Do You Need a New Cutter?

You may need a new cutter if your creative needs have outgrown the features available with your current setup, or if support for your cutter has been discontinued.

Cutters

Discontinued Cutters

If you decide you do need a new cutter, it is important to consider your cutter software needs as well. Take some time to research the options available to you. An electronic cutter requires some kind of software to drive it. You need to make sure that the machine and software combination suits your needs. If you already have a favorite software for designing SVG cutting files, will it work with the cutter you are considering?

Note:  Some affiliate links may be used in this post. I am affiliated only with products that I use. When you purchase products using my affiliate links, it does not cost you any more, but I will share some commission. Thanks!

Julie

 

Would you like to see some of my FREE SVG projects? Check them out in my FREE Resource Library.

 

>> HOW TO ENTER THE FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY <<

This resource library is open to everyone for free. All you need is the password to get in, which you can get by filling out the form below.

If you already have your password, enter the resource library here.

 

Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

You can make this lovely Impossible Butterfly Popup Card with the SVG cutting file from the Free Resource Library. It will make a lovely gift for someone special. The card base is made from a single piece of heavy cardstock, and yet the center pops up in a seemingly impossible way! This special Impossible Card includes a dimensional butterfly, whose wings pop out from the card base. The card makes a lovely conversation piece when displayed on the mantle or coffee table.

Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

 

Supplies Needed to Make the Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

Please note: Some supplies may include my affiliate links. I am an affiliate only for products that I use. Your purchase from my links will not cost you any more, but they will help support my blog. Thanks!
Digital Paper from Pazzles.
Medium Weight Cardstock
1 sheet 110# cardstock
Strips of Double-Sided sticky tape 1″ wide
6”x6” grey square jpg file included with the cutting file.
Electronic Cutter (I used Pazzles Vue)
SVG Cutting File from our Free Resource Library
Pop Dots
Art Glitter Glue Dries Clear Adhesive
The Font used for this project is Aubrey Script

 

Printing Instructions

I used Digital Paper from Pazzles. But you may use printed papers of your choice.
Resize the digital paper to the following measurements, and print on medium-weight cardstock.

Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

Printed Digital Papers

Light Pink paper is cut from Stripes resized to 8.5”x7”
Yellow pieces are cut from yellow paper resized to 8.5”x6”
Blue resize to 8.5″x5″
Dark pink resize 8.5″x3″
Print the 6”x6” grey square jpg file.
When printing, use the Best Quality setting on Plain Paper in your printer Preferences.

Print the sentiment on pink paper and cut around it using the piece for it in the SVG cutting file.

Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

Printed Sentiment

SVG files are provided All in one file or in three separate files for your convenience. However, if using the All in one file, you do not need to use the separate files.

Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

Cutting Pieces

Cut the File Pieces

First cut the file pieces with the black lines on 110# heavy cardstock using the chipboard setting. Next, score the red line without removing the mat from the machine. Do not move the cutting head. You may use a scoring tool, or cut the score line with a retracted blade and lower cutting pressure.

Impossible Butterfly CArd

Cut Card Base

Folding Card Base

After you finish cutting and scoring the card base, remove it from the cutting mat. Then fold the center portion of the card towards the front, and use a bone folder on the crease.

Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

Twist right side to back

Now, twist the right section of the card to the back, and press the side portions flat, allowing the center to pop up.

Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

Twist right side to back

Make Glitter Paper

See detailed instructions for making Glitter Paper in a previous post. In this project I used 1″ wide double stick tape instead of a sheet of scor-tape.
Use double sided sticky tape over the entire printed grey piece that you printed. To use it, first remove the backing. Next, adhere the sticky strips to cover the grey paper. Then Remove protective layer off the front of the tape.

Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

Cover the grey paper with double sided sticky tape strips.

Sprinkle the sticky tape with glitter. Next, brayer over the glitter. Now, rub the glitter with your finger. Finally, sprinkle off the excess glitter, and pour it back into the jar.

Impossible Butterfly Card

Glitter paper ready to cut.

Next you can cut the large and small grey butterfly pieces, as well as the sentiment mat from the glittered paper. Use your poker tool to remove small inside pieces that did not stick to the mat. See the resource document for information on cutter crafting tools in the Free Resource Library.

Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

Cut Butterflies

Assembly of the Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

Now, your cut pieces are ready to assemble.

Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

Cut pieces are ready to apply to the card.

Butterfly Assembly

Bend the butterfly wings forward. Glue only the center body part of the butterflies when assembling layers.
Next, glue body of the large lacy butterfly to the solid pink butterfly. Then glue the body of the pink butterfly to the striped mat. Finally, glue that mat to the blue mat, aligning the tops of the pieces to each other.

Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

Assemble the butterfly layers.

Now you can glue the butterfly layers to the card base, aligning the tops of the design. The edge of the bottom layer should line up with the score line.

Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

Glue the butterfly layers on the card.

Next, center yellow panels to the card base and glue in place.

Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

Add decorative panels.

Tag Assembly

The larger tag and mat for the back side of the card is for writing your personal greeting. First, glue the yellow journaling piece to its mat. Then center the tag on the back side of the card with the edge flush against the fold line to give support for the butterfly popup. Now, glue in place. Finally, to finish the back side of the card, glue the striped panel to the back side of the butterfly.

Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

Back side of the card.

Card Front Embellishments

Now you are ready to add the embellishments to the front of the card. First glue the long narrow rectangle to its mat. Center it on the front bottom part of card. Then glue in place.

Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

Front panel

Now, add pop dots to the back of the sentiment, and place on the grey mat. Then glue the assembled sentiment at an angle on the left front side of the card over the decorative strip.

Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

Add the Sentiment

Next, bend the wings of the small butterflies upward. Then glue the body of the smallest butterfly to the pink butterfly. Finally, glue the body of the pink butterfly to the bar on the front, over the open space.

Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

Small Butterfly Embellishment

Finished Impossible Butterfly Card

Now you can display your finished card.

Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

Finished Impossible Butterfly Popup Card

When it is folded flat, the card will fit in a 7″ square envelope for mailing.
The recipient of your card is sure to be encouraged by your lovely card.

Love,
Julie, cuttercrafter.com

>> HOW TO ENTER THE FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY <<

This resource library is open to everyone for free. All you need is the password to get in, which you can get by filling out the form below.

If you already have your password, enter the resource library here.

How to make and use glitter paper for Patriotic Decorations

Now is a great time to make some patriotic decorations for your Independence Day celebrations.

Patriotic Decorations

Patriotic 3D floral centerpiece with DIY Glitter Paper

I saw some lovely glitter paper projects at a Stamp and Scrapbook convention, and I thought you might like to learn how to turn an ordinary piece of patterned paper into a sparkly paper. The glitter paper can then be used to create lovely 3D craft projects. This 3D flower, embellished with DIY glitter paper works perfectly for patriotic decorations for a variety of projects. Vinyl can then be used to add detail to the cut project.

Patriotic celebrations in the US call for Red, White and Blue decorations.  Pazzles Craft Room has a nice set of digital papers, and among them are some papers in these colors. Take a look through their digital paper collection when you need some seasonal papers for your projects.

Supplies Needed to Make Glitter Paper

Please note: Some affiliate links may be used in this post. I am affiliated only with products that I use. When you purchase products using my affiliate links, it does not cost you any more, but I will share some commission. Thanks!

White Cardstock- 65# Recollections 8.5”x11”
Pazzles Americana Digital Paper design 8.5”x11”
Scor-Tape 6”x6” sheet double sided adhesive, acid free and heat resistant.
Transparent Micro Fine Glitter 
Flower Shaping Tools – Large ball Embossing tool, foam pad
Designer Dries Clear Adhesive Glue
Black Vinyl
Pearl Sticker(s)
Red, White and Blue Ribbons
Tray, coffee filter or folded sheet of printer paper
Optional: Hair Clip, Flowers, Mug, Electric Candle, Card or Scrapbook page as you prefer.

How to Make Glitter Paper

Making Glitter Paper is easy with the correct supplies. First, print the paper you wish to use, or select a piece from your own paper collection. Then cut a selection from the paper that is a bit larger than the project that you wish to cut. Next cut a piece of scor-paper to fit the paper that you cut. Remove the backing from one side of the score tape, and stick it to the paper. Now  place paper in a tray, coffee filter, or on a piece of printer paper, folded in half. Remove the protective coating of the adhesive sheet.

Sprinkle Micro fine glitter over the entire surface of the adhesive sheet. Brayer over the glitter to press it into the tape. Rub the glitter paper with your fingers to make it smooth and add bling from the oils in your fingers. Tap off the excessive glitter onto the tray or printer paper. Finally, pour all excess glitter back into the bottle from which it came.

You now have some custom, DIY glitter paper in exactly the right colors for your project.

Cut Your Project Pieces

Perform some test cuts for each part of the project. Cut the flower layers from printed glitter paper on your cutting machine, glitter side up, using the cutting file. The cutting file is FREE for Pazzles Craft Room members. The file is also availabe to purchase in SVG, AI, and WPC formats, if you are not a member.

Create a Vinyl “Press and Peel” Outline

Cut the black portions of the design from black vinyl, being careful not to cut through the backing. Weed out the vinyl pieces that will not be used on the finished piece. Place vinyl transfer tape over the weeded design, and use a brayer and squeegee to adhere the vinyl to the transfer tape. Lift the transfer tape with the design off of the backing. Carefully line up the black vinyl design over the cut and glittered flowers. Burnish the vinyl, and remove the transfer tape.

Shape the 3D Flower

Place the flower layers color side down on double layered foam mat. Roll the large tip of the embossing tool around the center of each flower layer, and press
the tool from the outside of each petal towards the center. Turn the flower on the foam mat to have the right side up. Roll the embossing tool around
the center of each flower. Press down firmly in the center to lift the petals on each layer. Curl the tip of each petal back, using the small end of a small paint brush.

Assemble the 3D Flower

Place glue on the center back of the smallest layer. Put the smallest layer in the center of the medium layer, offsetting the petals. Place glue on the center back of the medium layer. Place in the center of the large layer, offsetting the petals. Press firmly down through all layers to lift petals. Place a large or five small pearl stickers in the center of the top layer of the completed flower.

Embellish A Project

Embellish the project of your choice with your completed 3D flower. Not only does the 3D Flower make a nice ornament for a vase centerpiece, it can be hot-glued to a hair clip to create a lovely patriotic decoration for the hair. Add some colored ribbons for a festive look.

Glitter Paper

Patriotic Flower Hair Ornament

Or you can add the DIY Glittered 3D Flower to  a jar to make a patriotic luminary to add to your patriotic decorations. Add an electric tea light to the jar, and glue the flower to the top of the jar. You can make a number of these to decorate and light up for an evening celebration.

Patriotic Decorations

Patriotic Decoration – Flower Topped Luminary

More Patriotic Decorations for Your Celebration

Patriotic Decorations

Exploding Box Centerpiece

You can make the title of this patriotic centerpiece shine with the addition of DIY Glitter Paper. I am sure you can think of lots of ways to make your patriotic celebrations sparkle by using some homemade glitter paper on your projects.

These Patriotic Decorations work well not only for Independence Day celebrations, but also for Memorial Day,  and Veteran’s day. You can add to them for next year’s celebrations as well!

Please show off some of your Patriotic Decorations in our CutterCrafter Facebook group!

Thanks,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

>> HOW TO ENTER THE FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY <<

This resource library is open to everyone for free. All you need is the password to get in, which you can get by filling out the form below.

If you already have your password, enter the resource library here.

Perform Test Cuts on New Cutter

You have received your new cutter, made a place for it on your desk, and now you need to test your new cutter to get started using it. If you need help setting up your cutter, see  this document called Get Your Cutter Out Of The Box.

Warranty Issues

I know you might be afraid of hurting your machine, but you don’t have to worry about that if you follow the steps provided here on how to do some test cuts. If your machine has issues, now would be the best time to discover them, while it is still under warranty, and you still have all the packing materials handy should you need to send it back to your place of purchase. I will walk you through the tests that I perform on each of my new machines as I get to know their capabilities and become familiar with what they can and cannot do. Your tests will reveal cutter accuracy, maximum cutting width, where it cuts, where cuts start, what media it cuts, and what settings work best for the types of projects you want to make.

Loading Your Mat

Before you can make some test  cuts on your new cutter, you will need to load your mat into the cutter. Cutting machines designed for crafters usually include a cutting mat. The exception would be if you are cutting vinyl with a backing. Dedicated vinyl cutting machines do not require a cutting mat, because vinyl has a protective adhesive backing, through which the blade should not penetrate. Vinyl on a roll may be fed through this type of cutting machine without using a cutting mat. Multi-purpose cutters such as Pazzles, Cricut, Scan N Cut, Silhouette, KNK, and Silver Bullet are shipped with cutting mats that allow crafters to not only cut vinyl, but also to cut other media that does not have a protective backing.

Mark the Mat Cover. Test Cuts

This Side Up

Storing Cutting Mats

The cutting mats have adhesive on them to keep the media in place as cutting progresses. The adhesive is protected with a cover that should be removed before using. Before removing the cover, mark the top side of the cover with the words “This Side Up”, as sometimes the covers are different on each side. After cutting, scrape the mat clean, wipe down the mat with non-alcohol wipes, and replace the protective cover with the correct side up. Store the covered mats flat so that they do not become warped.

Cutting Without a Mat

Some machines such as Silhouette, KNK, and Silver Bullet allow users to cut vinyl without a mat, or to use a mat for other types of media. Other machines such as Pazzles, Cricut, and Scan N Cut require users to always use cutting mats. These machines have an auto-load mat feature. To load the mats into these cutters, simply press the edge of the mat firmly against the rollers, and press the Load button. The mat will feed into the machine automatically, and position the cutting head at the proper start position.

Test Cuts

Pazzles Mat in position to load.

Mat loads against the roller. Test Cuts.

Scan N Cut Mat ready to load.

Test Using A Pen

Cutting mats vary greatly in thickness, stiffness, and weight. It is possible for an incorrectly set machine to cut all the way through a cutting mat, and thus ruining both the mat and blade. For this reason it is important to do test cuts on your cutter. Your first tests may be done using a pen in the carriage instead of a blade. You can use paper on the mat for doing these tests. Use an inexpensive piece of 12″x 12″ paper or card stock on the mat for the initial tests.

Placing Paper on Mat

Because the adhesive on new mats can be quite strong, card stock may be easier to remove  from the sticky mat than light weight paper. Align the corners of the paper on the grid lines printed on the mat, and press the paper firmly in position. Check your pen to make sure it writes by hand. Place the pen in the carriage according to the Quick Start instructions provided with the machine. Load the mat into the machine. Some machines require an optional pen holder for using pens.

Cutting Boundaries

The first test cut is to find out the cutting boundaries of the machine. The cutting mat is marked to hold a 12″x12″ piece of paper, but some machines cannot cut the full 12″ width. The manual for your cutter should indicate the maximum cutting width for your machine. Open the software designed to work with your cutter.

Test on a Square

Add a square from the basic shapes in your software and resize it to 12″ square. Line up the upper left corner of the square on the screen to x=0 and y=0. Set the software to draw. Send the file to cut. If there are presets for drawing pressure, use the default setting. If your cutter will draw a full 12″ square, notice where the square was drawn. Did it draw directly on the edges of the 12″ square paper? Did it draw any of the lines way off of the paper? Where did the drawing start – upper right or upper left? Lower right or lower left? Measure the drawn lines. Did the height of the square measure the same as the width of the square?

Resizing Designs

If your machine will not test cut a full 12″ width, you will receive an error message. Resize your square to 11.5″, and send it to the cutting window. If there are presets for drawing pressure, use the default settings. If the square is drawn on the paper, check to see where the square was drawn. Did it draw where you expected it to be drawn? Where did the drawing start? Measure the drawn lines. Did the height of the square measure the same as the width of the square?

How accurate are your test cuts ?

Resize your square to 10″. Send it to draw. Measure each of the sides of the square that were drawn. Are  all sides  exactly the same measurements? Measure with a metric ruler. If your measurements are off even 1 mm, you will get lopsided circles, scallops, squares, and cards and frames won’t be perfectly square. If you want to cut around printed images precisely,  you will need accurate cutting.

Calibration

Are there options in your software or on your machine to fix this problem? Are perfect cuts important to you? Every machine is mechanically different. I may get perfect test cuts on my machine, but your machine of the same brand may not have the same results. Contact support for the company from which you made your purchase for help in making adjustments for these mechanical differences. One company that I contacted provided instructions for adjusting the step size to fix the inaccurate cutting. Another company told me that if I needed perfect cuts, that I should probably send the machine back for a refund, and purchase a more professional machine.

Where will cuts be made?

Now, resize your square to 1″, and duplicate it so that you have four 1″ squares. Place the upper left corner of one of the squares at x=1″ and y=1″ . Place another at x=10 and y=1, another at x=1 and y=10, and the last at  x=10 and y=10. Send it to draw. Did the squares all draw at the precise locations on the cutting mat where they  appeared on the screen? It is possible that one of the squares drew in the correct place, but perhaps ones that were further away from the starting point were not drawn as close to their screen positions. Make note of your test results .

Test Cuts

One Inch Squares Test

It is important to note how far off the shapes were drawn. You will frequently need to cut scraps. Know where to place the design pieces on the screen in the software. The screen placement needs  to correspond with the location of the scraps on the cutting mat. This can then help you maximize the accuracy of your cuts. If a design calls for six or eight small pieces of different colored papers, you may be able to position pieces of each of the colored papers on the mat in specific locations. Then you can cut all of the pieces cut in a single pass.

Using Scraps for Cuts

If your 1″ squares all drew within 1/2 inch on the mat from where they appeared on the screen, allowing an extra inch  in height and width of paper  for each design piece to cut on a scrap should be sufficient. For example, if you want to cut a 2″ flower from a scrap of yellow paper, you may need to use a 3″x 3″ piece of yellow paper on the mat. This will give you a little extra room  to get the flower cut out completely. But if your squares all drew precisely on the mat where they appeared on the screen, you may be able to use a scrap just slightly larger than 2″. It helps to have an idea in advance of how much variance there is between screen and mat locations.

Test Cuts With a Blade

For optimal cutting with the least waste of media, and the least wear and tear on blades and mats, small test cuts should be made prior to cutting each project. Some software has built in test cuts, and some machines have built in test cut functions. You can make your own small test cut file to use and add it to your projects before sending them to cut.

Shape for Test Cuts

I like to use a small, five-pointed star inside of a small square. I resize the square to about 1/2″, grouping it together with the star. This small cut can be added to a tiny bit of unused space on every project. It is easiest to check your test cuts if you place them somewhere near the bottom of the mat rather than near the top.  At the top they will be difficult to check without unloading the mat or moving the carriage.

Test Cuts

1/2″ square with a 5 point star centered within it for test cuts.

Blade Extension and Pressure

Start with a bit less than the recommended blade extension, speed, and cutting pressure or “force” for your first test cuts. Your goal will be to use the least amount of blade extending from the blade housing, and the least amount of pressure necessary to make good clean cuts through the media you are using for your project. Too much blade, or too much pressure will cause media to bunch and tear. Too little blade or not enough pressure will result in parts of the design not cutting through the media.

Checking your Cuts

After doing your test cut with the tiny star in a box, check the points of the star. Does the star lift out of the box easily and cleanly? Are the points of the star bunched or smooth? Is the box cut cleanly so that it lifts out of its position? Did the cut leave a small attached tag between the start and end of the cut? Did the cut leave a gouge in the cutting mat? If both pieces of the test cut do not lift out easily, then move the test shape. Make adjustments in blade or pressure, reduce the speed, and try again.

Blade Depth

It is normal for the blade to leave a slight scratch on the surface of the mat. But it should not cut deeply into the mat. Retract the blade in its holder if it has cut too deeply into the mat. Slower speeds produce more accurate cuts. Repeat the test cuts multiple times, each time making a small adjustment. Once you have found a blade depth that cuts cleanly through your media, you can make additional adjustments in the pressure, up or down as necessary.

Record the Results of your Test Cuts

Use a chart to record the best settings you used for each media type. Refer to your chart to determine the best settings to start with. Then the next time you need to cut a similar media type, your cuts will be more accurate. Get a free copy of the Personal Media Settings Chart  from the Free Library.

Doing test cuts can save you lots of time, money, and frustration. Recording the results of your test cuts will save you time for future reference. Environment, changes of media type or color, blade condition, and mat condition can all effect the quality of your cuts. Make test cuts and necessary adjustments frequently to avoid damaging your blades, mats, and media.

 

 

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This resource library is open to everyone for free. All you need is the password to get in, which you can get by filling out the form below.

If you already have your password, enter the resource library here.

Make a Special Cupcake Gift Box

My latest Pazzles Design Team project post will help you to make a special floral cupcake gift box for someone special. The 3D lilacs on top of the box add a special touch for your female recipients. Do you need a gift for a special graduate, or for birthday celebration? This project is easy to make with the cutting files posted with it  here:   https://www.pazzles.net/wordpress/2018/04/18/beautiful-cupcake-box
This cupcake gift box  could work as a Mother’s Day, Father’s Day,   Anniversary, or gift for other special occasions. You can make this box with or without the acetate window on the front. You may use the 3D lilac flowers on top, or leave them off.

Cupcake box without 3D Lilacs

The handles on top make it easy to carry the box, and the tray inside of the box has a tab to help you pull the cupcake out of the box.

You may leave the box plain for masculine recipients. They will be surprised by its contents when they open the box. The  cupcake is not likely going to last long!

Would you like to have some FREE SVG cutting files for a variety of projects?

Get the password for the Free Library with free SVG files  by filling out this form:

 

 

 

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>> HOW TO ENTER THE FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY <<

This resource library is open to everyone for free. All you need is the password to get in, which you can get by filling out the form below. If you already have your password, enter the resource library here. Forgot your password? I put the password at the bottom of nearly all of my emails. But if you can’t find one of my emails to you, you can either fill out the form above again or email me at hello@cuttercrafter.com Password Tip: I recommend you copy and paste the password in to avoid any accidental mistakes. If you ever forget your password, please email hello@cuttercrafter.com Not working? If you enter the password and the same page refreshes, without any contents, that means you put in the wrong password. Double-check your email, copy the password, and paste it in to the link above. Still not working? I promise the password works—I haven’t changed it since I opened the library.   Try the copy/paste method again and make sure the URL you are going to has https at the start of it (that’s a secure page and it makes a difference). If that still isn’t working, try a different web browser.
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