Creating SVG files for paper piecing using Inkscape

Here is how I use Inkscape and coloring pages or line art to make svg files for paper piecing.  The image that I started with had nice black lines with no unwanted breaks.  I have a tutorial on tracing pale or colored  images here.


  1. Paste or import the image into Inkscape.
  2. Make sure the image is selected, then from the menu use Path/Trace bitmap.
  3. The “Trace bitmap” dialog box will appear.
    paper piecing01
  4. Any image with nice dark lines and a light background will be fine with the default settings, so click “OK”.
  5. The vector or “Path” will be lined up over the original image.
  6. Move the two apart.
  7. Press 4 on your keyboard to zoom to show all objects.
  8. You can either delete the image, or leave it on the side to use as a reference.  The Path will usually look smoother and sharper.  You can also look at the message bar at the bottom of the Inkscape window to determine if you have the image or the path selected.
  9. This is the point where you would either connect lines or separate them if needed.  See this post for more information on connecting lines.  I cover separating lines in this post.
  10. If you are using Inkscape 0.47 you need to use Path/Union to create a vector that SCAL will be able to use correctly.
  11. Select the Path (vector) and from the menu choose Path/Break apart.  The Path will become a solid black with several dashed bounding boxes.
    paper piecing02
  12. I like to select the outmost shape that will be the mat or base and move it to the side.
    paper piecing03
  13. If you only want to cut the file in two colors, you could stop at this point.  You could also select all of the non-base pieces and use Control K to Path/Combine.  The file will appear the same either way once imported into SCAL.
  14. If you have internal pieces that you want to cut in a different color, you will want to either view in outline mode (View/Display mode/Outline) or use a thin stroke (outline) and no fill.
  15. If there are pieces with inner cuts, select the piece and the inner cut, then Control K.  This combines the pieces into one for easy moving and doesn’t cause the problems in SCAL1 that Group does.
    paper piecing04
  16. For my example I will select all of the piece on the outside of the whistle to be one color and the inside pieces to be another.  You can color the pieces for a better idea of how the paper piecing will look, but it isn’t necessary and won’t show in SCAL.  Select a fill color by clicking on any of the color bars at the bottom of the Inkscape window while a piece is selected.
  17. I will also move all of the inside color pieces together to reduce paper waste.
  18. I like to line up smaller images horizontally, a habit I developed when I was using SCAL1 and cutting on a 6×12 mat.  This eliminates the need to try to size everything correctly once imported into SCAL1.
    paper piecing05
  19. Either arrange your pieces so that they will all fit on your cutting mat at the size you would like to cut them, or if you have SCAL2 you can group (Control G) each color to be in its own layer when imported into SCAL2.  See this post for more on using Group and SCAL2.
  20. Save the file and import into SCAL.

This is what the paper piecing would look like.  The small triangular piece under the whistle is probably too small to use unless this file is cut at a rather large size.

paper piecing06

Here is the svg file for the whistle.  This svg file can be used in either version of SCAL. This file is for personal use only. Feel free to link to this post, but the file is not to be shared or distributed in any way.

9 Responses to Creating SVG files for paper piecing using Inkscape

  1. Catherine Lake says:


  2. jkarretero says:

    Thanks! you teached me how to separate a path into different polygons (Path/Break apart)

  3. Joanne says:

    Thank you for sharing all these tutorials.. I love all the videos but need to have step by step visual help.. and yours are Great!!
    Am just a beginner, but it sure is fun learning something new, and I do love my cricut!

  4. Doris says:

    Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!!! I have literally been sitting here for the last 9 hours trying to find exactly what you have shown us here! I can not begin to tell you how appreciative I am.

    Best Regards,

  5. tessyluv says:

    Everytime I try to see your other tutorial it says I am not allowed to edit this post? Thanks Toni

  6. Lisa says:

    You have done a wonderful job in your tutorials… thorough, precise, easily understandable. Thanks so much for all you have shared.

  7. toaster says:

    I’m learning a little more each time a tutorial comes along so thanks for taking the time to do this for all of us newbies.

  8. sunny says:

    This is the best tutorial I’ve seen on inkscape….very clear written directions and pics! I love it! I look forward to seeing more tutorials from you. Thanks so much for sharing!

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