Sewing with Silhouette – part 3 – Cutting Machine Embroidery Appliqué

“How do I cut Machine Embroidery Appliqué designs on the Silhouette Cameo” is probably the most asked question I receive.  Machine embroidery has become more & more popular, and more & more affordable.  Many of our cut file designers are also featuring Embroidery designs – -and many Embroidery designers are featuring cut files!  So, its a win-win.  Today’s Embroidery design comes from an embroidery/applique bundle at So Fontsy.

I have discussed at length how to stabilize & pre-treat the fabric in previous blogs, using Terial Magic — so now, I wanted to address Machine Embroidery Appliqué next!   In addition to stabilizing my fabric as described in the previous blog post, I want this appliqué to be fusible – so I am also going to adhere a double sided fusible to the back of my fabric before cutting.   I’ve tried a whole lot of fusible, and my favorite is Heat n Bond Lite — for sewable projects.  It will not gum up your needle & is easy to sew through, and it holds your appliqué in place while stitching — and reduces wrinkling when the garment is washed

In order to open your embroidery designs in Silhouette Studio, you must have Designer Edition Plus or Business Edition installed on your computer.  If you need to upgrade your software to one of these editions, a great place to purchase these upgrades is Swing Design.  

Silhouette Studio Designer Plus will import most major formats of embroidery designs, but not all!  The formats you can import are (PES, DST, EXP, JEF, and XXX).   However, if you use another format, its still fine to cut your appliqué fabric with another format — as the size & design will still be the same.  I would recommend using the DST format.   Most embroidery file designers offer all of these formats when they sell designs.  Open the selected design into your software.  I am using “Whale with Flowers” from this month’s bundle at So Fontsy . You will notice that the design comes into the software ungrouped.  (This is indicated by boxes around each component of the design).

When you bring an embroidery design into Silhouette Studio, EACH stitch is interpreted as a cut line.  I’ve zoomed in here, and opened the Cut panel, so that you could see what would cut if we did nothing to the design!!  It would be a hot mess!  This is NOT what we want!

So, in order to cut just the appliqué portion of the design, we need to remove all of the satin (zig-zag) and embellishment stitches — such as the eyelashes.  As I said, the design is ungrouped, so you can remove the excess parts of the design.  I find the easiest way to do this is just to select & drag away the satin stitching & embellishments — then delete.   This leaves just the outlines of the appliqué.

However, this is a little deceiving.   There are actually two sets of lines here — the first placement stitch & then the tack down stitch for embroidery.   So, again, you need to drag away the top set of lines & delete them — and you will be left with just the placement stitch lines.  (This can be important, because some digitizers use a zig-zag or triple run for tack down).  Another way to check to see if  you are using the placement stitches, is to look at the information that often comes with your design of the color stops.  Sometimes they will actually be labeled as placement stitches.  You can also open the design in your embroidery software to check this.   But, I usually just drag the top set of stitches away!  Once I am left with a single set of cut lines — I place the different pieces of the appliqué around the mat, so I can cut all of the fabric pieces at once.

At this point, I like to increase the size just a bit, so that my appliqué will be sure & be caught by the tack down stitch.  To do this, I change my Unit of Measurement (in Preferences — open this by either Ctrl + K on a PC or Cmd +K on a Mac) to millimeters.  We are going to use the Offset function to increase the cut file.  Sometimes, however, embroidery designs will not be a closed path, and you cannot create a clean external offset.  So, to determine this, double click on the appliqué & edit points will appear.  If they are all grey – -and you see NO RED, then you are all good.  If not, then those points need to be closed.

To do this, simply zoom in very close –> click on the red edit point –> It will automatically join up to the other open point.  (You may not be able to see it, because it is under the other points, but its there.)   Now the path is closed & you can apply an offset easily!  Repeat this process with each piece of your appliqué design!





You now have a closed path & can easily create your offset.  Open the Offset panel (remember, you are now working in millimeters), click on all of the pieces of the appliqué.  Select Offset & adjust the measurement to 1 mm — and click apply!  Then delete the original placement stitch line (the smaller of the two), and you have an appliqué file ready to cut!

You can use either your auto blade or ratchet blade, just be sure to select “Fabric, Thin Cotton Print” as your cut setting.

I am always sure to save my cut files with my embroidery design, so that I won’t have to repeat this process the  next time I want to stitch this appliqué.  It will be all ready to cut!

While this may seem like a lot of steps, once you’ve tried it — its fast!  AndI would not want to be cutting around all of these little curves on this whale appliqué — while my fabric was in the hoop!  Too many opportunities to distort the fabric in the hoop while trying to cut those little curves!

Give it a try!  And be sure to check out this awesome bundle from “So Fontsy”.   You receive 21 Embroidery & Appliqué files for stitching — all for just $13.99!  But hurry — because this bundle expires on July 2nd!  Take advantage of over 88% savings!  So many cute appliqués & embroideries for summer!

Until next time —


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  1. Anna Hester says

    I have had my Silhouette for about 3-4 yrs and I have it installed on my computer but I have never used it as it scared me. The reason I bought it was for the applique and now after reading your 3 posts for lessons I am going to try it. Thanks for all of this information.

  2. Ginger Barlow says

    Thanks for the informative post! I bought my silhouette about 3 years ago wanting to use it for machine embroidered appliqué. I’ve cut a few things in vinyl but was intimidated by using it to cut appliqués. After your post I upgraded my software (thanks for the discount!) cut my first fabric and found it’s just easy as I had wished it would be!

    Thanks again for the inspiration and information!