Hello fellow stitchers and crafters!
I’ve written a couple of posts recently about my new Cricut ‘Maker’ machine (an intro / overview HERE and a guide to tools HERE) but perhaps this may be the one most useful for us sewists; how to upload sewing patterns into Cricut’s design software ‘Design Space’ so that the machine can cut pattern pieces out for you! I’ve had a good play with this; not only did I want to upload some of the PDF patterns I already had saved in my computer drive, but also to upload paper patterns. So this is what I aim to demonstrate in this Post, breaking it down into hopefully digestible stages with graphics to illustrate.
There are a couple of pointers worth mentioning before we get started with the tutorial :
- You are limited to the size of pattern your Cricut machine is able to cut – its standard cutting mats are 12″ x 12″ and the larger are 12″ x 24″ so any pattern piece will need to fit within that framework – lingerie for example.
- Getting your Cricut to cut patterns is ideal when a) you’ve a lot of identical pieces to cut which need to be accurate (e.g. quilts) or if you’re working with a shifty fabric or weeny pattern pieces that can prove tricky to cut manually, or for patterns you plan on making repeatedly. Of course, you don’t need to upload entire patterns; say, if your making a shirt in something like a shifty rayon/viscose – I can see myself uploading just the collar and cuff pieces, or any piece where cutting accuracy is both pivotal and tricky, and letting the Cricut cut those to avoid any warping and shifting of the fabric in the process.
- Your pattern files (and any paper originals) must be clear resolution and saved/printed in Black & White (not colour and not greyscale) as this helps create sharp clean pattern lines for your Cricut to cut
Ok, enough already – let’s get started on getting your PDF and paper patterns uploaded!
How to Upload a PDF Sewing Pattern into Cricut ‘Design Space’ :
I’m going to demonstrate using one piece from a bra pattern. The first thing to note is that you cannot directly upload a PDF pattern into Design Space, so you will need to convert the pattern into a supported image-type file. Don’t panic, this is easy to do!
- First, access the PDF file you want to upload in your Acrobat Reader.
- Select the ‘More Tools’ icon in the top toolbar and then select ‘Fit on One Full Page’ – this resizes the image to fit your screen to make it ready to convert.
- Then select and ‘clip’ the area of the screen that covers the pattern piece AND its test/sizing square (I use Windows’ free ‘Snip and Sketch’ function). With your now full page pattern image on screen before you – press the Windows Icon + Shift Key + S simultaneously to bring up the image snip function and, using your mouse, cut out the pattern piece image including the test/sizing square box and SAVE IT as a .jpg or .png file . (As an aside, if you find this bit a tad confusing, you could always print out your pattern and follow the instructions for uploading your paper patters below!)
- Do this with all relevant pieces – making sure that each piece has a sizing test square adjacent to it as this is essential to correctly sizing the pattern piece once its uploaded into Design Space (if your pattern pieces haven’t got this sizing box, print them out to scale and follow the tutorial section ‘How to Upload Paper Patterns’ section below first).
- Now open Cricut Design Space and select a ‘New Project’ to bring up your blank canvas screen
- Click on ‘Upload’ from the projects toolbar
- Continue by clicking on ‘Upload Image’ and then ‘Browse’ to access your newly saved .jpg or .png pattern files
- Once Design Space has retrieved the file, save it as a ‘Complex’ image as this allows you to clean up and remove any areas you don’t need, as well as keeping the lines sharp.
- You need to erase all the areas which are not part of the pattern piece using the ‘Select and Erase’ function, so your final image is just the pattern piece and the sizing square, like this…
- Check the Preview screen. Do the edges look ‘clean’, i.e. with no random blobs or raggedy edges? If you’ve used a good quality commercial pattern chances are it’s fine; if not play around with the ‘Advanced Options – decrease the colour range and increase the colour tolerance.
- Click ‘Continue’. You are then given the option of saving the file as a ‘Print then Cut Image’ or as a simple ‘Cut Image’. The choice is yours but I personally prefer to initially save it as a Print and Cut; this way I can still see the information on the pattern piece; specifically the arrow which indicates the direction in which the pattern should be cut from your fabric (e.g. taking into account the direction of your fabrics grain or greatest stretch).
- Once saved, upload it into your blank project canvas.
- As you will see, against the scale of your Design Space canvas, your uploaded pattern piece is a bit on the small size; here’s where that sizing box comes in!
- So, you now need to resize the image. I find the most accurate way to do this is to create a square (using the shapes box in the left hand toolbar) the same size/scale that your pattern pieces’ sizing box is meant to be, e.g. here it should be 1.5″. Now resize your pattern image (by clicking on the pattern piece and selecting the resizing tab on the bottom right) and drag until the sizing box ‘grows’ sufficiently to accurately and precisely overlay the square, like this…(remember your sizing box and your pattern piece are conjoined at this stage, so if you increase the size of one you’re automatically increasing the size of the other!)
- Zoom in if you needed to ensure you get them exactly the same size.
- Tada! Your pattern piece should now be correctly sized! Next, we just need to rotate it so that the pattern pieces’ grainline is going in the right direction!
- I saved all my individual bra pattern pieces into one canvas in this way. However, before going ahead and clicking ‘Make It’, there’s just a few simple steps left to do first. It’s best to get rid of those test/sizing squares otherwise your Cricut is going to want to cut those out of your precious fabric too! Your sizing box and your pattern piece are still conjoined as one image at this stage; you need to now separate them.
- There are two ways to do this – you can either ‘slice’ the sizing box out – as I demonstrate here OR click on the ‘Contour’ option (bottom right on your screen) and contour out the sizing box. When ‘slicing’, I first increase the size of the red box and use it to completely overlay the sizing box so as to ‘slice’ it out (using the ‘Slice’ function), prior to deleting them both, like so…
- Now that your pattern pieces are a) correctly sized, b) laying in the right direction and c) the sizing boxes have been removed, we need to convert the pattern piece into a simple cut file (remember we kept it as a Print & Cut file initially in order to see the grainline key!)
- If you look at the first image selected, you will note that the Linetype is ‘Cut’ and the Fill is ‘Print’. Click on the Fill option and change it to ‘No Fill’; this automatically converts the pattern piece to a simple cut file – it will ‘grey out’ if done correctly.
- One very last thing! All the pattern pieces that you are cutting out from the same fabric, change to one colour, i.e. I made the bra cups, bridge, sidebars and cradle all pink. The back band, which is cut from a different fabric, I changed to blue – just as a visual reminder to make sure I knew I was feeding the right fabric through the machine!
- AND YOU’RE DONE! You can now click ‘Make It’ and get your Cricut to cut out your pattern for you!
And yes, you guessed it, in my last blog post I showed you two versions of a bra I’ve sewn recently; yes, I cut them both out using this very method (you can see the finished project blog post HERE). I was absolutely thrilled at the accuracy of the cut pieces; look at this, overlaying my Cricut cut lower cup piece against the printed pattern piece – it’s perfect!
Okay, now that’s all said, what if you want your Cricut to cut out a pattern that you only have on paper?
How to Upload a Paper Sewing Pattern into Cricut ‘Design Space’ :
The process for uploading a paper pattern is pretty much exactly the same as uploading your converted PDF pattern files; you just need to get your paper pattern files into your computer first – you will need access to a Scanner for this – if you don’t have one available, do check out your local Library as they are likely to have one! Full disclosure : the end result really depends on the quality of your pattern files; they need to be high resolution and Black & White. If they’re not, once uploaded into Design Space you may find your line edges are not sharp – I talk about how to resolve that as best as possible, in the instructions below.
- Cut out your paper pattern pieces leaving a mm or two of paper around the pattern line as they need to be wholly visible for this to work accurately! Then cut out around the test square in the same way. Remember, these need to be black and white, i.e. not printed in colour or the ‘greyscale’ setting.
- Put your pattern piece on the scanner plate, face down and place your square sizing box adjacent to it and scan it into your system (preferably one pattern piece at a time).
- Go ahead and scan in. My new printer/scanner allows me to choose whether to save the scanned file as either as a PDF or as a .jpg. (If yours only allows to save to PDF continue now to follow the steps in the PDF demo above). Otherwise…
- Click ‘Save As’, rename your file and choose the destination folder to save your .jpg file.
- You can now proceed to upload into Cricut Design Space from Step 5 in the PDF tutorial above. However, before you do this, it is likely that you need to ‘clean up’ the file. To do this, when you are in the ‘Select & Erase’ screen, click on ‘Advanced Options’. This enables you to reduce the amount of ‘visual noise’ in the pattern and sharpen those line edges : reduce the colours to 2 and increase the colour tolerance until the image lines become as sharp as you can get them. You may still have to manually erase around the edges of the pattern to clean them up still further – use the ‘preview’ screen to help you. Failure to clean up the edges may mean that your Cricut will attempt to cut the pattern with all those potential miniscule jaggedy edges – not good!
Please, if you have any questions, or would like further clarification on anything, do let me know and I’ll try my best to answer / help!
Eek, I really need to peel myself out of this chair; it’s time for another cup of tea methinks, and then I’m off to sew up another bra!
Until next time, happy making!
Disclaimer : I was given my Cricut ‘Maker’ machine without charge in exchange for the reviews posted to date – the words, topics covered and all content are entirely my own and of my own choosing. All other notions and supplies mentioned in this post were purchased by me. All opinions expressed are my honest, considered and unbiased opinion. Some of the links given are Affiliate links – if you choose to purchase via an Affiliate link, you will not be charged any extra however I may receive a small commission. Sarah x).
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