Creating Silhouette Cut Files for Machine Embroidery Applique Designs

I LOVE Machine Embroidery — and especially Applique Designs! And my newest “creative love” is the Silhouette Cameo! It cuts just about everything! Lately, I’ve been cutting my machine embroidery appliques on my Cameo – and it cuts your embroidery time in half!! No more pulling the hoop off of the machine & trimming in the hoop!! So, today — I’m going to share with you how I do this. There may be other ways, but this one works well & is easy — once you know a few tips!

Remember — this can be done with ANY MACHINE EMBROIDERY APPLIQUE FILE!!  Either with one you’ve created — or purchased!  Its all the same. 

Open your Embroidery design in your Embroidery software – I am using BES Lettering 2 for this tutorial — but this can be done in most softwares. Then, you need to isolate the 1st color stop – placement stitch. (In BES, you simply click on the placement stitch in the Sequence View, right click & select “Hide Other”). Be sure the Grid is turned off & design deselected.

Now — you need to capture this image as a jpeg — and open it in your Silhouette Studio software!  So, to do this, open the “Snipping Tool” in Microsoft Windows and draw a box around the image — If you want to learn more about the Snipping tool — just visit this page at Microsoft.    Once you’ve “snipped” the placement stitch, just paste it into the Studio software.

This is the placement (1st color stop) for the right tree

Next,  in the Silhouette Studio, open the Trace Window, Select Trace Area, and draw a box around the jpeg file you pasted onto the workspace. You’ll see that the area turns yellow. Uncheck the High Pass Filter, increase the Threshold up to 97% — then click on Trace Outside Edge.   You are left with only the Cut file.  (Its the red lines).

At this point, move over the jpeg file — and then delete it!  You’re done with it!   Now you just have to size it to the correct size to fit into your machine embroidery file.   Go back to your embroidery software & be sure to note the size and then size your Silhouette cut file to be 1.5mm larger in both width & length —  This allows for all edges of the fabric to be caught when embroidering.   When its sized — Send to Silhouette!

Fuse Heat & Bond lite to the back of your fabric, stick it on your mat & load the mat into the machine!  The Silhouette will cut your fabric & you are all ready to embroider!!  The appliques are fused & ready to be placed into your embroidery!  No cutting in the hoop!!  I love it!!




Now my cut applique fits & fuses perfectly onto my fabric!! Love this!!

12 Trees — all cut out & fused — ready to embroider!


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  1. Love this. Question: If I’m using a Mac I don’t have snipping tool. I can use grab but it saves to tiff file. Can I use a tiff file with Cameo? Thanks for the post.

    • Hope — you can use a tiff file in your Silhouette Studio Software — If you Click “Open” in the Toolbar, then drop down to “Types of Files” — you will see that there are Tiff files listed! You’ll have to let us see what you’re working on!! Thanks!

  2. Well I found the answer to saving to jpg on mac.

    Select Command/Shift/4 and drag over image and it saves directly to desktop as a png file. Open file and Save As/Jpeg and it saves it in jpeg format to the desktop. Thanks for the post Terri, keep em coming girl.

  3. I am so excited about attending the retreat this weekend. I am here at work and cannot focus on work at all. Just discovered your blog!! I have been busy with all the Christmas craft shows and I have not had a lot of time to really learn and play with my silhouette. I have only done some basic things. I hope to be a pro at it after this retreat. Looking forward to joining the Silhouette club as well and the next retreat in April. I retire in December after 37 years with the federal government looking forward to all the fun! Sandra

    • Sandra — Me too!! Congratulations on retiring!! We will look forward to having you join us for more events next year!! You are going to love getting to know your Silhouette — Its the perfect compliment to your awesome sewing & embroidery creations!! See you tomorrow!

  4. Hi Terry! I can’t tell you how excited I am about getting back home to my new Cameo. Thanks for your help, I look forward to learning so much. ~Whitney~

    • Whitney — I know you are going to love it! Just let me know if you have questions! Terri

      • Thanks Terri! So, to be sure I have properly understood: basically the resulting shape for cutting created in Studio will have a .75mm margin all around when laid over top of the placement line, correct? Which would be 25% of a 3mm cover stitch… When I was experimenting with digitizing for pre-cutting (as we talked about), I was bumping the ‘cutting line’ (which some refer to as ‘tack down’) to 1/3 to 1/2 way outward from the placement line toward the outer edge of cover stitch, thus if it is a larger design with a generous 5mm cover stitch, the margin would be 1.15-1.25mm out from the placement line. I guess my question is: would you say 1.5mm is the minimum allowance to be assured of catching the fabric every time? (I will be digitizing applique designs specifically for this application, so I am taking notes, LOL) How was your retreat?? ~Whitney~

        • Whitney — First of all – the Retreat was awesome! We hd 30 women with their Silhouette Cameo cutters, computers & embroidery machines! They made some beautiul projects, but decided it was too much to “haul” — so next time we are making just Silhouette items, with a demo/tutorial on the Applique process!! Our next retreat is April 12-14 — already working on the projects!!

          Next — you are absolutley right! 1.5mm is the minimum. I make the directions somewhat generic, as different digitizers create their designs differently. With the process you are describing — I would go maybe 2mm — Not every digitizer moves their “tackdown” or cutting stitch out that much. But I like your process — this makes sure that everything is caught & covered! That’s the goal, right? While you are waiting on your Cameo, you can actually download the software free from — That way — you could play! If you want to send me something you’re working on — I could test stitch & cut it!

          • If I can put something together, I will. Right now busy getting designs listed during this crazy sale weekend. LOL I think I actually downloaded the software the other day. 🙂 Thanks Terri. Will you next retreat be in the same place? I may have to visit my brother in VA next April…

          • Whitney — Hope your sale went well! I understand about busy! Yes, our retreat will be April 12-14 at the Wyndham Virginia Crossings near Richmond! Hope you can join us!

  5. Debbie roberts says

    This is the main reason I bought the silhouette cameo thanks so much!!

  6. Debbie Roberts says

    I have 5D Pfaff embroidery extra software I’m not sure how to isolate the placement stitch I know how to use snipping tool but need help with isolate & deselecting design thanks for your time.

    • Debbie — Unfortunately, I do not have the Pfaff 5D software, so I canmot give you the specifics. What I would suggest is that you look in your manual/tutorials for words like “Stitch Sequence View”; or Color stops — something that breaks down the color changes in the embroidery design. It varies from softare to software. I own 4-5 different softwares & its different in every one! If you cannot find it, perhaps your dealer would be able to help you with this! Good luck — and when you get it figured out — please let me know! Thanks

  7. Wanda Faile says

    I can isolate the placement stitch but sometimes it has a jump thread included in what shows up. That distorts the size. I hope this makes sense. I am using Amazing Designs software. Thanks for any help you can give. I really want this to work.

    • Wanda – Sorry to be slow in responding to you! Somehow, I missed your comment. I know exactly what you mean & have had this happen to me, too! What I do is to go ahead & paste the jpeg into the Silhouette software, and then trace the image. Then, I use the eraser tool to erase the cut lines that are coming from the jump stitches, so that I only have the applique design showing. Then, I can make the cut file the accurate size — hope this makes sense! Let me know if you have any questions — thanks, Terri

  8. Cathie Vaughn says

    You do retreats for the Cameo? Oh my. I live in Amelia and have just gotten a Cameo. I am desperate to learn how to use this. The cutting part isn’t too hard – it’s the combining printing and cutting that is hard for me. I am JUST getting into this card making stuff. I am an embroiderer though and this interests me in making appliques with the cameo. I also have a die cutter and that would be fun to do some of those with the cameo. Can you please tell me or add me to your list for attending a retreat or classes if you are teaching anywhere near Richmond AGAIN…please please please…oh yeah that IS whining…smile

    • Yes, Cathie — I hold retreats for the Silhouette Cameo — and you are in luck! We are holding a retreat at the Glen Allen Wyndham Virginia Crossings in November! But, we are just about sold out — so I am going to email you & send you the retreat info & registration form. I would recommend that you call the store tomorrow, if possible — or send back the registration form as soon as you can — to reserve your spot! (703) 497-0384

  9. Terri, I just came upon your website because someone on Generations Group website mentioned we could use our Gen. software to create an appliqué to cut on the cameo. I followed your directions but unfortunately could not isolate the applique design from the box I created around the image. Everything went as you said until you say in your directions, “you are left with only the Cut file.”” this point move over the jpeg and delete it.” I was left with the file I want but it was still in the box i created. Hope I am clear. What did I do wrong? Thanks for your help and your lessons sound enticing. I may have to buy them since I don’t really understand all the ins and out of the cameo.

    • I’m not offended percent sure that I understand what you’re saying but I think that possibly what could’ve happened is that you traced around the entire “snip”, Including the white background square around your image or cup file. Try drawing the trace area box a little bit closer to the cut file image and not enclosing the entire outside of the snip! I hope this helps, If not let me know.

  10. Thanks for sharing such a good idea, piece of writing is fastidious, thats why
    i have read it entirely

  11. I found your video on you tube for sew what pro! Thanks that answers my question and so much easier then how I was doing it!

  12. Thanks for the great info. I’ve just discovered silhouette today and am so excited to find another use for it. I am still in the research phase, but the more I read, the more excited I am to order it. Do you know if you can use the heavier heat n bond with it as well?

    Thanks again for a great article,

    • Liz — Yes! You certainly can use Heat n Bond Ultra! In fact I’m going to have a post using it in just a day or so! Its the Non-Sew version — and fuses beautifully!

  13. Hi, I was wondering if you could offer any advice as to how you place your cut applique in the hoop so you do not hold it down with your fingers? Do you use spray adhesive? I’m venturing into multi-needle territory and am afraid to get my fingers in there! Thank you!

    • Carol — Congrats on a multi-needle machine! I love mine & it will change your “embroidery life”! The fabric will have the Heat & Bond on the back of the applique. So, I simply remove the hoop from the machine & use a small craft iron to iron the applique fabric in place. That way, there is no shifting or moving! Works great — and no needles through fingers!! Please don’t stick your fingers near moving needles! I’ve seen x-rays of needles through the bone that had to be surgically removed!!

  14. Hi Terri. I have been playing around with the applique feature and have had great success. i am making a baby quilt and the cut designs fit perfectly on the placement line. I am taking the backing paper of the Heat and Bond off before I place the fabric on the mat. I am hoping that is what I am supposed to do, but I do not remember reading anything about that.
    I am ready for your spring retreat, can’t wait.

    • Hi, Marcella! You are right that I didn’t mention that!! Sorry, I should have. There really isn’t a right or wrong. If I have a brand new, super sticky mat — I leave the paper on — only because a really sticky mat can pull the heat & bond off of the back of the fabric. However, the down side of that is that you will probably have the backing paper stuck to your mat. If you have a super sticky mat, I recommend you “de-stick” a little by placing it on your jeans or carpet — so that it isn’t quite so sticky. Then, its perfectly fine to peel off the backing paper before you cut. That way, you won’t have to deal with the issue of paper stuck on your mat.

      So glad you are interested in the April retreat. I’m working with the conference center on the contract & looking at the weekend of April 25th! Stay tuned!

  15. Thanks for the tips. I was wondering what your knife cut size is when you are using this technique. Do you ever not use heatnbond (I really really really dislike heatnbond of any type, so do not want to use it). I’ve not had alot of success at cutting fabric, but have been using a fusible interfacing as my backing to the mat with the fabric ironed on. I’ve had the knife set at 6 and have tried 8 as well. I’m just wondering if the knife sizes are wrong, or what it could be. The odd thing is that it sometimes will cut and sometimes it won’t, but most of the cutting is jagged on the fabric, and sometimes it doesn’t cut at all. I’m not even sure I was getting the info done correctly in the software. I do not think I had deleted the jpg tho in the previous tries at this tho.

    • Marian — I always use a backing when cutting fabric on the Silhouette. I do use Heat n Bond lite for my applique, but if you don’t like that, you can certainly use the Silhouette Sewable Interfacing. I use that, as well & it works very nicely. I always use my blade depth cut @ 3 — #6 or #8 is way too much! Just select “Fabric with interfacing” under the but settings & I think tha tis a great place to start.

  16. I am using Embird Studio and hope you can give me some help…

    I can isolate the tackdown stitch, but I can’t figure out how to uniformly resize it the 1.5-2.0mm. When I use the Transformation-Resize function, the larger size does not match the outline of the satin stitches. So confused!!! 🙂

    Thanks! Karla

    • Karla — I’m not sure, but it sounds like you are re-sizing it in Embird — You need to go into Silhouette Studio & re-size it there. After you trace the jpg. image brought into the Studio software, you size it to 1.5 mm larger than the original embroidery file. Does that make sense?

      • MARY Alexander says

        Embird will save to a svg file.

      • Terry, Math was never my strong suit. How do I increased the size 1.5mm when the design I want to cut is in inches? I have successfully used this tutorial without increasing the size but I would feel more comfortable if I could do that. Thanks for your wisdom and help.

        • Great! So glad you found it helpful! Believe me, I only do math when I have to! Would love to see some pictures on our Facebook page of what you are doing!

  17. I love this!! Quick question, do you run the first step of your embroidery design to stitch the outline for placement? Also, do you fuse with your fabric still in the hoop? Should I get one of those little mini triangular irons or can you do it with a big iron? Thanks for the great tutorial!

    • Tracy — So glad you liked the post & found it helpful!! Yes, I do run the first step to make sure the fabric is covering all of the lines. And I fuse it with a little craft iron. They fit right inside of your hoop!! (Just be sure to take it off of the machine, first!) Let me know if you have any other questions!

  18. Ann Wright says

    So glad I found you. I have save this so I can come back and read what you say. I hope to learn how to use my silhouette cameo with my embroidery software and make the emb. applique designs cut out . thank you,

    • Thanks, Ann! Cutting your applique with the Silhouette is awesome — I don’t do it any other way! Be sure to subscribe to the blog, so that you receive all the future posts! Thanks

  19. Wow. I am so excited. I just got my silhouette cameo with the hopes of using it with my embroidery machine when appliqué ing I tried many attempts to get my embroidery designs into the silhouette designer program to no success. I read your post and works like a charm. Thank you. Success!

    • Teri – Thanks so much for letting me know! I love using the Silhouette with my embroidery files — and I will have more to come on this in the future!! So glad you are being successful!! Terri

  20. I have read your site several times as I am new to Silhouette and am a great fan of machine applique. Tried adding 1.5mm to my placement lines that I sent from my Floriani program to Silhouette Studio. They were not quite big enough and did not get caught by the tackdown stitches. In places the satin stitch just barely caught the applique. I was not happy. The concept will work, but I am thinking I need to add more than the 1.5mm. Knowing that you are so much more adept at doing this than I am any additional help would be much appreciated. I had to go back and satin stitch with my sewing machine where the fabric was not caught. This is not the best plan.
    Told my husband, who bought me the Silhouette for Christmas, not to worry. This would work. I do so like the idea of being able to lay in the cut pieces, mini-iron them in and let my machine do its thing.

    • Karen — Sometimes it depends on what design I’m using & how it was digitized. Generally 1.5 mm works — however, if it doesn’t — of course you could add more. OR — you could use the “tack down stitch” to copy & cut. That possibly, is digitized just a bit bigger than the placement stitch? Be sure that both Floriani & Silhouette Studio are set to work in MM — not inches. And hopefully, that will work for you. If you have any other questions, let me know! Thanks & I LOVE my Silhouette Cameo, too!!

    • TerryJohnson, how did you export the applique to jpeg from Floriani?? I have isolated the applique parts but cannot seem to find how to export to jpeg. Thanks for your response.

  21. Sheila Johnson says

    I was wondering do you have a video on how to use the silhoutte cameo I live so far to come to a class I need infor on how to appliqué with this I am going to try these suggest I see in the other question .

  22. How do you change the in the silhouette the size in mm from inches?

    • Katie — It depends on which operating system you are using. If you are using a PC, go up to your top tool bar, and click on the “Edit” tab to access the drop down menu. Select “Preferences” from that list. Then you can go into the General preferences & select “Measurement”. From there you can change from mm to inches! The keyboard shortcut for that is Control+K.

      On a Mac, go to the toolbar & select Silhouette Studio – -again use the drop down menu to select Preferences & the process is the same. The keyboard shortcut for the MAC is Command+,

      Hope this helps! Terri

  23. THANK YOU for this awesome tutorial! And for introducing me to the Snipping Tool. My embroidery life just got easier and for that I am grateful.

  24. Informative article, exqctly what I wanted to find.

  25. I only need to cut fabric appliqués for my machine embroidery projects will the small Silhouette Portrait be suitable rather than buy the large Cameo please

    • Sure — the only difference is the width — 9″. So, if you don’t want to cut any appliqué larger than 9″, you will be just fine with the Portrait!

    • Sue — Sorry I missed this question earlier — so don’t know if you still are wondering. However, the answer is YES – the Portrait will be just fine, unless you are cutting giant appliqué!

  26. Hi terry! Thank u for this! I’m new to the cameo world and embroidery world! I just started learning how to use both and This sounds so Easy. I was wondering though can u do it flipped flopped.. Like can you take a svg/studio file and make an embroidery off it or do you always have to buy an embroidery file? So many possibilities either way! Thanks!

    • Stephanie — To take a Studio file & turn it into embroidery actually requires digitizing the design so an embroidery machine can read the format. That function is not available in the Silhouette Studio (at least not at this time! :-)) It would require taking the file into an embroidery software to digitize it. Hope this helps!

      • Ann Miller says

        Good afternoon Terri…. Has there been any update on using a silhouette file and converting it to a PES file? I do have the Embrilliance embroidery software but new to it. I appreciate your help and all the information you share 😊

        • Ann — The Silhouette Studio files are proprietary & really can’t be turned into embroidery files. If you are working with an SVG file, then in some embroidery digitizing software, you can turn those into stitch files. But, you would have to complete the digitizing process for your embroidery machine to be able to read it. Hope that clarifies!

  27. anita griggs says

    I am using MAC and I want to be able to cut appliqué cuts to machine embroidery to not trimming in the hoop? I am really new to the cutting machine and appreciated all help.

    • Anita — You can certainly use your MAC and Silhouette to cut your machine embroidery appliqué. I work with a MAC, and so the software that I use is the Embrillance — it can run on a MAC, as well as a PC..

  28. Evie Goodman says

    I am excited. I bought an Artistic Edge cutter at the Lancaster quilt show but have not had any formal training on it. I find that I needed help since this is my first experience with a cutter. I know that you are demonstrating with the Cameo, but the principles should be the same. I called a local Janome dealer and they said the only Quilt shop they knew were doing any “parties with the cutters was Marie’s in Lockport and her shop is in excess of 2 hours away. I called and they had one opening for your retreat. I took it! I am so excited to get some instruction from you. Hope you won’t be upset by a novice.

  29. Faye Smith says

    So, if the design that I have purchased comes with an attached jpeg, can I just use that? or do I need to follow the steps and create a jpeg design. thanks, mine is still in the box. will able to find time to PLAY tomorrow. — I have downloaded the software before the machine arrived (as you suggested above) and that has helped. I am excited. Thanks again

    • Faye — The studio software will open a jpeg — but it will not be a cut file. You would have to trace that, like its described in the tutorial. Let me know if you have other questions — Terri

  30. Hi There Terri! I love your site! I want to appliqué something to a sweatshirt. My applique is already premade, so it has a set size and shape. I want to make the stitch file for it using Embrillance. My question is how can I use Silhouette to import image to get a cut file….. To send into Embrillance to make the stitch file? This seems to be backwards from your applique crabs tutorial. Hope you can help! Thanks, Tina

  31. We bought a new pc so now how do I put my Silhouette Cameo Designer into it, please? TIA

  32. I’m wondering if you can go back the other way. I own the silhouette cameo and the cricut explore. I started out as a paper crafter and have been collecting images for years. Do you know if I can use the images I purchased in those machines and convert them to embroidery designs since I have thousands of them

    • Renee — That process is more complicated than turning graphics into cut files — and its called digitizing. You would have to use a more complex software than your BES 2 — while its a great program — it is not a digitizing program. If you own a Brother machine, you might consider PE Design.

  33. Ja Grubbs says

    I have had my Silhouette for 9 months and I can’t figure out how to change my PES files to go into the Silhousette to beable to cut it and I have not found out how to do this can SOMEONE PLEASE help me I was told when I purchase it that they would give me all the help I need I have had ZERO HELP. I have watched you tube over and over and none of them has shown me what I need. I really need help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I I could just get started in the right direction that would be a lot of help. Thanks

  34. Bev Steelman says

    Is it possible to take a design that you have created in silhouette and creat sew files to take it to the embroidery machine (not as an appliqué )?

  35. Barbie Kenney says

    OMG I was reading through some posts for creating applique designs using silhouette etc. and saw that you have some of your retreats in Richmond! I live in Harrisonburg and will HAVE to pay close attention to the next one you might have so that I can attend!

    • Barbara — We’ve actually started doing them in Woodbridge, instead of Richmond — as that’s closer to me & I found a better venue. But its still not far from Harrisonburg. Be sure to subscribe the blog & “like” my Facebook page, so you will receive notification of future events. thanks

  36. That is a really good tip especially to those new
    to the blogosphere. Brief but very accrate information? Many
    thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!


  1. […] In my previous post, I wrote about how to create the cut files for the Silhouette from your embroidery designs, but I’ve received quite a few questions — so I thought I’d try to answer some of them here!   First, the “Snipping Tool” used to copy your placement stitch is a Microsoft Tool built into Windows.  If you don’t know where it is, simply type “Snipping Tool” into the Search function on your computer.  When it pops up, right click on the tool and select “Pin to Taskbar” — so it will be available to you whenever you need it!  […]