What Are SVG Cut Files + How Do I Make Them?

I sometimes get so caught up in my own little working world that I forget some of my followers are new and have no clue what I’m talking about. Why in the world haven’t I posted this sooner?? The backbone of my business, my bread and butter, my everyday, the way this whole business works!

Okay, rant over.

What do I do and how does this all work? I design and sell SVG cut files. I do this full-time. And I really do love what I do.

My background is a combination of graphic design, Internet Marketing, and computer information technology - so it made sense for me to work on a computer, design digital files and sell them online. There you have it, but I'm sure some of you may want to know still..

What are cut files?

Cut files are the graphic you load into a cutting machine — Cricut or Silhouette Cameo are the two populars at the moment —in order to cut vinyl, leather, paper products, fabric and lots more. In short, you're able to make several items such as stencils, stickers, cards, small boxes, paper flowers, t-shirts and all sorts of the decor. The possibilities are endless my friends! On top of that, once you add the ability to create custom designs to the mix, the sky is the limit!

step by step guide

Passive Income Opportunity

Rant #2. Cut files are the up-and-coming thing people! This is just one small thing you can do with your designs, but I wanted to mention it because I feel a lot aren't aware this is even possible.

Nowadays we have the option to partner with a Print on Demand company. If you are a designer, you can have a third party apply your designs to t-shirts, mugs, and all sorts of apparel. The best part, you never even have to touch or warehouse ANY inventory. This is what I do with my other business Pen and Posh Apparel that I started up not too long ago. At the moment my sister is fulfilling my orders, but for a while I was using Printful. You simply upload your designs to their system, use an integration to your store so they can talk then when an order comes through a notification is automatically sent to Printful. Printful fulfills it, slaps your logo and branding on and ships it to your customer. Bam!

Isn't that great? I will do a whole other post on this sometime because it doesn't stop at cutting machines. These 3D laser printers coming out, guess what files they accept? You betcha! SVG, cut files! This is where its at people, and this is the whole reason I do what I do.

Designs = passive income

Passive income = free, flexible, profitable life

There's nothing that tickles my fancy more than hearing the "cha-ching" on my phone each time I make a sale on Etsy. I make money sleeping, eating, being a momma to the littles and a wifey to the man - those last three words you didn’t see. It's great and I want to give anyone interested the opportunity to go down this road and achieve the same happiness and freedom I have doing this line of work.

Okay, rant #2 over.

What are SVGs?

Moving right along. Let's continue on and get a bit more specific in relation to our cut files. What are SVGs? SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphic which means it is a vector graphic that can be sized to whatever scale you can imagine without losing its sharpness. Ever tried blowing up a photograph to just have it turn out blurry? This will never happen with an SVG file, so you can have this teeny tiny sized file turned into a very large banner for instance. The small file size makes it incredibly easy to send over the web in downloads as well.

One more giant perk to SVGs. They are editable, so once in the cutting program - such as Cricut Design Space, you can change the stroke, the fill color, you can cut it, print it, or even draw depending on the program and machine. You can separate parts of the SVG so you're able to cut out the design in several pieces of vinyl, or intermix the cut between vinyl and leather both. All in the same cut function. It's amazing y'all!

You can tell I'm getting all excited. It's really a fun skill to have and even more fun if you have a cutting machine.

Now on to the next question.

How to create the cut file? 

There's a few different ways to create a cut file:

  1. Some people trace an image within their cutting program which automatically turns it into a cut file. Many people do this not knowing this is an act of copyright infringement, so just make sure whatever image you use or find you have the rights to it.
  2. You can use an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil along with a drawing app such as Procreate. You draw a design within the app then send the image to the cutting program to trace. This can be a fun one if you don't mind drawing.

These next two are how I create the SVG files I sell. I suggest this method if you plan on selling your designs or if you want to create custom design files.

3.  Create a design from scratch in Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator is the graphic design software of choice due to its design ability, ease of use and shortcuts. They offer a cloud subscription now instead of an install. At the time I'm writing this article its $20.99/month. This is what I'm using in the tutorial video in this post.  I will usually create the entire design from start to finish all in this program. You can also export several file types from this for just about anything. 

4.  This next one I do occasionally. It's a combination of 2 and 3. I will draw a design in Procreate, send to AI to clean up or add more design elements then export it from AI. Sometimes I'll even start in AI, send to Procreate to add embellishments and then back to AI to clean it up and export it. This is what I did with the graphic below.

 I used a hand-written font for the wording then added the barn silhouette in AI. After this I transferred the design to Procreate, added the pretty things ;) then transferred it back to AI for clean up. I usually have wobbly lines after using Procreate - I'm not great at drawing! That's why I always clean it up and finalize it in AI. Plus AI has the ability to make the file a multi-layer SVG. This gives the user the option to customize further within the cut program. This way once they are in the cutting program they aren't limited to one flat design, everything is ready to go. Sometimes the trace function in the cutting program isn't that great either when sending directly from Procreate.

5.  Another way to create SVGs that I don't really recommend (but I can understand why people use it) is InkScape. It is free, which is really nice, I just have found it to be a bit harder to learn and its also glitchy on my computer. Also when you are designing A LOT like I am, there's a lot of clicking involved so it takes longer. However, if you only need the occasional SVG created and only do this on occasion, I think Inkscape is a great alternative. I just wouldn't count on them being around in 10 years with their site code being open source - but that's my opinion.

6.  A pretty good in between-er option is Silhouette Business Edition for $100. You are able to export the SVG from this edition of Silhouette. I have played around with it and was fairly impressed. It was easy enough to figure out and required less clicking than InkScape so it didn't take nearly as long. The design ability is fair as well. I was able to create any shape I wanted and the text ties into my computer fonts so that's always a plus. However, the drawing tool was limiting and there's was no brush calligraphy type of strokes that I could apply or shortcut keys as there is in Illustrator. Altering graphics and exporting are also limited. If you want an intermediate option, this is a good one but again if you're wanting to get serious about taking your designs to the next level and not want to be tied down to just cut files, Adobe Illustrator is still your best option here.

If you'd like to watch how I turn a design into an SVG file - preparing the design and exporting it - be sure to watch the video. I also include a step by step guide on how to do this with any design in Adobe Illustrator so be sure to grab that if you're interested!

step by step guide

*Note: This is the basic process I use, if you have tried SVG design before you have probably ran into an error sometimes when loading the design into your cut program. The process I use minimizes problems but the more intricate the design, the more frequent error returns. I deep dive into how to deal with these in my Designer's Course to SVG. Join my email list to stay in the loop on course launch dates and details - just download any freebies from my site to be added to the list. ;-)

If you want to learn how to do or use anything mentioned in this post, comment below and let me know so I can add it to my queue!

I hope this was helpful for anyone interested in designing cut files! Cheers.



Kasey | Pen + Posh

Hi Sherry,
It is confusing! And can be very frustrating at times. The process I have may be different than others you have seen because I have created this myself. I have found that by expanding the type or object, actually works a lot better than outlining and results in far less errors.
I dive into this process with my students in the Designer’s Guide to SVG’s at www.penandposh.com/course It is pretty confusing to do over text so I think the course would definitely be a great option for you where this course is geared towards those who will be selling SVG’s or making them for their own cutting business.
Anyways, hope that helps some.


signed up already LOL. Firstly i apologize for the long message
i just loved this tutorial, the first video that explains in depth.
I’ m in the process of teaching myself to create svgs in illustrator to hopefully sell but i just seem to be going in circles looking at videos making sure that i have done every right so that, the customer will have no problem opening and cutting the file , because once i start selling i want my customers to be happy with their purchases.
I have a question about the video instead of creating outlines for the words you expanded them. the videos i saw said to create outlines for the words have i been doing wrong. If you have time i would appreciate if you tell me if the method i have figured out is correct.
This is a step by step guide i used to create svgs.
1. create image
2. create outlines
3. unite
4. make compound path
5. then save a svg
Lastly from the same file i create a SVG, AI , DFX , PNG FILE AS WELL or do you not do so from the same file.
many thanks


Absolutely! I will add it to my list. In the meantime, look up Merch by Amazon! That’s another big one if you’re interested in shirt design..


Love this article! So much information in it. I have never heard of print on demand companies before, that is such an awesome idea. Would you be able to write an article on the different options with print on demand companies? I am looking forward to learning a lot more about them, and potentially utilizing that kind of service for my business!

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