Canvas sketch project and a share

February 10, 2014 at 10:00 am 32 comments

Sketch on Fabric with a SIlhouette machine

I’ve been playing around with drawing on fabric for a while, but haven’t been able to pull it together into a project until now. Pretty excited about how this turned out and about the potential here. The rough texture of the canvas really makes this piece work.


Here’s how it’s done (measurements are for an 11 x 14 canvas):

– Cut and iron a piece of canvas fabric (cotton duck) at least 13 x 16 inches.

– Cut a slightly larger piece of freezer paper and iron it wax side to wrong side of canvas.


-Trim neatly to 13 x 16 inches (rotary cutter preferred). The leading edge should be especially clean and straight, other edges not as critical.


– Load fabric pen into pen holder. I am using the Marvy Ball and Brush pen with the ball end. I used the new style Silhouette pen holder because this particular pen fits at the proper depth. You can also use the Chomas marker holder.


– Set rollers at 12 inches apart. This is the slot second from the right.

– Load 13 inch edge of prepared fabric into Cameo centered on rollers (1/2 inch fabric extending outboard of each roller)


– Load pen holder into Cameo.

– Open sketch file in Silhouette Studio.

– From the Cut Setting Panel choose settings for Sketch Pen.

cut settings

– Press Cut.

(You can see in the photo below that I used 12 inch wide fabric in my sample. It worked but was too nerve-racking so that’s why I specify 13 inch wide.)

Sketch on Fabric with a Silhouette machine!

The most complicated part of this project is finding a suitable sketch file. At small sizes you can get away with a standard trace of a line art, but at 11 x 14 a true sketch file with open path strokes is going to be needed.

Here’s a comparison of what a normal trace versus a proper sketch file looks like in Silhouette Studio to show you what I mean. Click to enlarge.

trace compare-1

Here’s how I went about creating the file (not for the faint-hearted … Adobe Illustrator, intermediate graphic design skills and lot of patience required):

– I selected a vintage image of an anchor. I have zero artistic ability so I needed something with just enough detail that I could handle.


– I printed it out at full page size.


– I taped a piece of tracing paper on top and hand traced it  with an ultra fine pen. The idea here is to recreate the drawing with pen strokes that do not touch each other.



– I scanned my hand trace into Adobe Illustrator.


– In AI, I performed a center line trace (unlike the normal trace that finds both edges of a line, this attempts to find the center of the line and returns it as an open path.)



– I then point edited to clean up messy areas like this where the strokes overlap and can’t be traced as intended. This was the most tedious part.

cleanup close

– Saved as SVG. (You can export to DXF if you don’t have DE.)

– Merged the SVG into a blank 12 x 16, no mat page in Silhouette Studio Designer Edition.

– Applied sketch effects to the anchor SVG to give it a little more natural look. This step was optional, and the effect was subtle, but I recommend it if you have DE.

sketch effects

– Added text (I used Always Here font and added 1 internal offset at 0.010 as fill)


– Arranged layout and centered in 11 x 14 rectangle. (In my original I did not draw the rectangle, but in the future I will as it would help for final trimming of the canvas to fit the frame).

file preview

I found creating the sketch file to be a long and tedious process and I don’t recommend it unless you are very determined. No worries, though, because I’m sharing my file with you. Personal use only, and please share the link to this post, not the file itself, and whatever you do don’t try to cut this file with a blade, it’s for sketching only. Click here for the .studio file and here for the SVG. Thank you.

Now in case you are wondering why the sudden inspiration to complete a project, I am participating in a challenge. If you’d like to see more great fabric-related (our theme this month) projects, take a look below.


  1. No-Sew Valentine’s Day Pillows by A Tossed Salad Life
  2. No-Sew Interchangeable Fabric Bunting by unOriginal Mom
  3. Monogrammed Burlap Garden Flag by The Turquoise Home
  4. Crawl, Walk, Bike by It’s Always Craft Time
  5. Freezer Paper Stenciled Tote Bags by Weekend Craft
  6. DIY Bleach Spray Shirt by Practically Functional
  7. Stenciling Sherlock by Please Excuse My Craftermath…
  8. Felt Star Wands by Cutesy Crafts
  9. Yoda Kid’s T-Shirt by Architecture of a Mom
  10. Mark Your Territory- Dog Flags by Black and White Obsession
  11. Nautical Pillows by Lil’ Mrs. Tori
  12. Big Sister Gift & Silhouette Cut File by Creative Ramblings
  13. Nerdy Baby Onesies + Free Cut File by Essentially Eclectic
  14. Easy Easter Bunny Onesie – Silhouette Cameo Craft by Adventures in All Things Food & Family
  15. Fabric Envelopes for LEARNING LETTERS! (& cut file) by From Wine to Whine
  16. “Good Morning, Sunshine!” Memo Board by Tried & True
  17. Hearts-A-Lot Burlap Pillow Cover by My Paper Craze
  18. Baby Quilt by Dragonfly & Lily Pads
  19. Surprise Holiday Banner by Whats Next Ma
  20. “Team Betty” Tote Bag by The Thinking Closet
  21. DIY Sock Minion by Create it. Go!
  22. Pretty Up Some Organza Bags by Getsilvered
  23. Easy Heart Appliqued Onsies by Create & Babble
  24. Bleach Pen Gel & Freezer Paper Stencils Made with the Silhouette Machine by Bringing Creativity 2 Life
  25. Valentines Baby Onesie & Boy’s Shirt + Free Cut Files by The Frill of Life
  26. Valentine’s OWL Always Love You T-shirt by My Favorite Finds
  27. DIY Screen Printed Curtains by Chicken Scratch NY
  28. Fabric Painted Quilted Wall Hanging by Terri Johnson Creates
  29. Glitter Iron-On Top by Simply Kelly Designs
  30. DIY Monogrammed T-shirts with Silhouette Heat Transfer Material by Pitter and Glink
  31. Birthday Challenge by Fadville
  32. Machine Applique with SIlhouette Cameo by The Sensory Emporium
  33. Fabric Applique Valentine’s Day T-Shirt by DailyDwelling
  34. “Cute as Cupid” shirt by crafts, cakes, and cats
  35. Sew Cute Applique by Life After Laundry
  36. Rhino Onesie by It Happens in a Blink
  37. Upcycled Birchbox Cameo Accesory Organizer by Cupcakes&Crowbars
  38. Customizing textiles with Heat Transfer Vinyl (working title) by feto soap
  39. Easy Fabric Art by McCall Manor
  40. Lady Bug Tote Bag with Silhouette Rhinestones by Ginger Snap Crafts
  41. Mommy and Em’s Coordinated Aprons by TitiCrafty
  42. Canvas sketch project and a share by Clever Someday
  43. Foxy Lady Pajamas by Mabey She Made It
  44. Teddy Bear by Work in Progress

Entry filed under: Computer Crafts, Cricut, Freebies, Silhouette. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

How to make custom templates in SVG format with Ideogram Class of 2014 free SVG

32 Comments Add your own

  • 1. pauliine purdu  |  February 10, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Wow Kay, you really did a fantastic job and thanks for sharing. I have a stash of Pentel Gell Roller pens for fabric and I’d love to do something like this Outstanding.

  • 2. Meredith  |  February 10, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Umm….wow….just, wow! I am in awe of your abilities, and love, love, love the finished project! Thank you for sharing the file – and while it will be a good long time before I attempt to make my own sketch file, I know where to come for ‘how-to’s’ when I do!

  • 3. Susan K Espinosa (@PapaSue)  |  February 10, 2014 at 11:17 am

    It just so happens that I’ve been playing with gel pens for Valentines and a project for “canvas” caught my attention. As usual your instructions are very clear. I’m going to give this a try.


  • 4. Laura Maxwell  |  February 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Wow!!! This is fabulous!!! Thank you for sharing it! Laura M

  • 5. Camila  |  February 10, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    WOW Awesome job! That’s a clever and cute project! Pinning!


  • 6. Charne  |  February 10, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Great results! Love it. Many thanks for the info and free files!

  • 7. Marisol Adams  |  February 10, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Recently I was wondering how to create a sketch file – it’s like you read my mind! :) Thanks so much for the information *and* the file!

  • 8. Trisha D.  |  February 10, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Visiting from the February Fabric Silhouette Challenge!

    Oh my goodness your Nautical themed fabric canvas is so creative. Personally, I haven’t had much success with fabric markers (probably because I’ve attempted with my own bare hands) so it was nice to see that there’s still hope ha! Love the colors and the vintage anchor you used.

  • 9. Meredith LeRoy (@unOriginalMom)  |  February 10, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Oh my goodness, Kay, this is just stunning! I love the verse, as well. I appreciate just how much time and effort went into it…definitely a labor of love…and it paid off! I am THRILLED that you are sharing the file – I would love to have this hanging in my home! I am excited to try it! Thanks for sharing…and so glad you are part of our FB group!

  • 10. Danielle  |  February 10, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    So beautiful! Thank you for sharing the file! I love the contrast of the rough canvas with the smooth lines. The market holder is on my wish list!

  • 11. Deanna Robinson (@FromWineToWhine)  |  February 10, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Drawing on fabric = genius!!!!! Great thinking!! And I love the end result, it looks great!!

  • 12. lilmrstori  |  February 11, 2014 at 12:39 am

    What a gorgeous project! I have yet to try out sketching but you have inspired me! Thanks for linking up to the Silhouette Challenge!

  • 13. Chelsea  |  February 11, 2014 at 1:50 am

    You are just wonderful, Kay. This is fantastic! I love your design and can’t thank you enough for sharing it with us. The design is waaay above my pay grade, so I appreciate you doing the difficult work for us and sharing so generously.
    BTW, I think you rocked this challenge!!

  • 14. Holly McCall {McCall Manor}  |  February 11, 2014 at 6:54 am

    Wowza! I can barely open my email and you’re talking about scanning something into Adobe. But you make it sound easy, so I’ll have to give it a whirl!! The project looks amazing! Way to go!

  • 15. Pam - GetSilvered  |  February 11, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Thanks for the detailed explanation of creating your sketch file. It was quite a process! Your canvas Art is really amazing.

  • 16. Deanna  |  February 11, 2014 at 10:08 am

    This is amazing! Thanks so much!!!

  • 17. Rosie  |  February 11, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    This is one of the nicest things I have seen in a long time. I have a son in the Navy and this will be an excellent gift idea. Thanks so much for sharing your file!

  • 18. Gisela  |  February 18, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    This is a beautiful project! Love everything about it! One more thing I’ll have to try. I had a question, do you think a sharpie would fit in the Silhouette adapter? Or the Chomas holder? Thanks!

    • 19. Kay  |  February 18, 2014 at 11:25 pm

      Thank you Gisela. A regular Sharpie does not fit in the Silh holder, but an ultra fine Sharpie does (this is the new style, 2 screw holder). Either one will fit in the Chomas marker holder. Unfortunately, Sharpies are not permanent on fabric.

  • 20. Rhonda  |  February 21, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    I love your tutorials and videos and have learned so much. I did download BorderBIts on my desktop (Windows Vista) and it’s great. But when I downloaded it to my laptop (Windows 7); not all the elements were there. Any idea what may have happened? I’ve deleted the files and downloaded them again to no avail.

    • 21. Kay  |  February 22, 2014 at 12:10 am

      I am not a Windows person so I don’t know what the problem is but my suggestion would be to copy the borderbits.ttf file from the Vista machine over to the Win 7 machine.

  • 22. mypapercraze  |  February 24, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    This is awesome! I’ve never tried this but I’ll be bookmarking this page to come back to. Love the design and it’s a great tutorial.

  • 23. Bree  |  April 2, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Thank you for the tut and thank you, thank you , THANK YOU for the file. I was going to make my own until I read at the end that you were sharing it. As soon as I saw your project I knew it was a perfect gift for a friend who recently lost her husband. His passion was boats. Perfect scripture too!

  • 24. Kate Smith  |  August 13, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Awesome, Kay, thank you for sharing this! And for all of your hard work!

  • […] I used my Silhouette sketch pens and this free sketch file from Clever Someday to make this scripture […]

  • 26. kReN kurts  |  February 18, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Amazing project! So you recommend the Silhouette pen holder rather than the Chromas adjustable holder?
    kren dot kurts at gmail dot com

    • 27. Kay  |  February 18, 2015 at 10:04 am

      I have Amy’s marker holder, too (and several others) and use the one that best fits my project. This particular Silhouette brand holder has been discontinued, though, and I haven’t tried the new ones.

  • 28. Jarvae  |  May 27, 2015 at 12:35 am

    Hi there! I have a question about sketching with the cameo… I just noticed today that it is drawing everything twice, even though I don’t have double cut checked. Do you know if this is standard for all sketching and I just never noticed it? I’m trying to get fine details and going over it twice is adding bulk, so I’m desperately looking for a way to stop this from happening. I did try a test sketch on a new file and it still drew twice. Thank you so much for any tips you may have for turning this off! :)

    • 29. Kay  |  May 27, 2015 at 10:28 am

      There is what I consider to be a design flaw in Design Studio that open paths double back to the starting point when set to pen. I suspect that is what you are experiencing. If you are seeing closed paths draw twice, make sure the line thickness is set to zero, as line thicknesses>zero are another cause of double cutting/drawing. Please let know you would like the pen issue fixed. A workaround is to set the blade to blade instead of pen but this will cause “squiggles” at the beginning of your lines which may or may not be noticeable/acceptable. The other workaround is to use Sure Cuts a Lot of Make the Cut as they do not exhibit this behavior with open paths.

      • 30. Jarvae  |  May 27, 2015 at 11:14 pm

        Thank you so much Kay! You are brilliant and that is exactly what was going on… it was the open paths. I had no idea. But I was able to fix my file and now it looks so much better! I’m going to email silhouette right now. Thank you SO much (and for such a quick reply too)!!

  • […] Canvas sketch project and a share by Clever Someday […]

  • […] Canvas sketch project and a share by Clever Someday […]


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