Warning – for non-Inkscape users, this blog may not mean much, but no doubt the instructions could be adapted for other vector drawing programs. Much of what I have written is for my own benefit so I don’t forget, but I hope it will also be useful for other newbie Inkscape users too. However, the svg file can be used with any program or cutter that recognises this file format, and you may simply want to use the shape without using a cutting machine.
After uploading the border to the Black Cat forum and describing what I’d done, I’ve had some very helpful hints from one of the expert members. There are always better ways of doing things, and shortcuts one doesn’t know about, etc. etc.! I’m only just beginning with Inkscape, and all hints and tips are gratefully received.
She suggested that rather than joining the pieces by combining the paths and then selecting the two nodes at each junction, it would be easier to create closed paths, and I could then just turn on “Snap to bounding box corners,” duplicate the blocks and snap them together, and then select them all and use Path>Union to weld them all together into the one piece. Before doing this, to ensure the “holes” in the top layer remain visible, it is important to select them and join them as a single path, then select them with the outline and click “Path>Exclusion.”
She warned me that I would need to be careful that the sides to be joined were perfectly vertical or horizontal so that when they snapped together, they would meet all the way down/across, otherwise there would be a gap in the join when you pressed “Path>Union.” I asked how to do this, and she said I could introduce some guides, turn on “Snap to guides” and align the nodes to the guide. (You can also snap to the grid if you’ve made it visible.)
She also told me that if I use “stroke” rather than “fill” for my pieces, the thickness of the stroke will prevent the pieces from butting completely against each other, leaving the join line visible after pressing “Union.” Using closed paths and “fill,” they will abut completely. However, if I want to continue to use “stroke” (which I prefer), I can use geometric bounding boxes which will enable the centre of each stroke line to abut, thus eliminating the problem.
I have now done all this (a steep, but worthwhile learning curve) and have redrawn the pieces, which are now up on my Skydrive (link in sidebar) replacing the original ones.
This is the “stroke” version:
and this is the “fill” version, showing more clearly how the layers work:
As you can see from this illustration, I have designed a full pattern repeat (top centre), half patterns left and right (top left), corner piece (top right), end piece (centre), end piece with half pattern and two end pieces with a full pattern to use as a stand-alone motif (bottom). I think this covers most eventualities for using this file! I am working on a flower based on this pattern as well.(For the extremely observant among you, you will notice in the first illustration that some of the pieces appear to have the red stroke on top, and some the green one. I have altered the version on my Skydrive so that the green layer is always on top, but did not alter these drawings as will affect various links to my Photobucket album.)