Getting your hands on a digital cutting machine is an excellent way to take your crafting to the next level. Not only will it save you the time and effort of hand-cutting various materials, but it will also allow you to make custom projects without much hassle.
Cricut machines are, by far, the most popular digital cutting machines, and Cricut has become the biggest brand in the DIY craft space.
If you’re ready to harness the many impressive features of these machines, this ultimate Cricut guide will equip you with everything you need to know.
What is a Cricut Machine?
A Cricut machine is a state-of-the-art digital cutting machine that enables users to cut various materials according to their design requirements for use in unique crafts.
A Cricut machine can cut an array of craft materials, including but not limited to:
Cricut machines are designed to cut up to 300 different materials depending on the model. Crafters can do hundreds of projects with vinyl alone – owning a Cricut makes the possibilities endless, allowing you to craft virtually anything you can think of.
Besides cutting materials, Cricut machines also enable you to emboss and draw onto materials. Doing this using a Cricut machine can be as simple as uploading the design to the machine and watching it do all the work for you.
Some Cricut machines can also insert folding lines into projects by setting the line type to “score” in the Cricut Design Space. Users can design and create greeting cards and 3D projects using this feature.
A Cricut machine can be invaluable to someone who spends a lot of time making craft, especially if a lot of their effort goes into hand-cutting material.
The Cricut Explore 3 and the Cricut Maker 3 are presently the best-selling models and offer many features. Setting up a Cricut machine takes about 20 minutes, and you can learn to use the machine from https://learn.cricut.com/.
What Crafts Can a Cricut Machine Make: An Overview
Cricut machines open up thousands of crafting possibilities and enable you to work with a massive range of materials. Some of the more expensive Cricut machines can cut through hard materials such as wood and thick card stock with a robust knife.
A few Cricut models support rotary blades, enabling users to cut beautiful designs on materials such as fabrics and crepe paper.
Cricut machines do not have all the accessories they support – only the basic attachments are included in the box. Users need to purchase accessories (with over 53 available on the official site) to add functionalities such as engraving, de-bossing, and cutting out wavy lines.
One of the best things about Cricut machines is that they do not take up too much space. A Cricut machine is smaller than the average sewing machine, and not to mention lighter.
Here’s a short list of some of the exciting crafts you can make with a Cricut machine:
- 3D cards and projects
- Brochures and pamphlets
- Cupcake holders
- Custom clothing, including T-shirts
- Earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and other jewelry
- Gift boxes
- Greeting cards
- Nail decals with various creative designs
- Paper flowers
- Party favors (labels, tags, 3D objects, etc.)
- Personalized mugs, tumblers, and bottles
- Rock art
- Wood cut-outs
Making Your First Project with a Cricut Machine
After putting together your Cricut machine, plug it into a power outlet and connect it to your computer. Next, you must set a username and password for your Design Space account.
When your account is ready, we recommend playing around with the options on the interface to familiarize yourself with the tool. It’s an excellent way to discover what you can do with your Cricut machine.
It’s best to spend the first few hours testing the machine and seeing what every button on the Cricut machine does. Next, skim through your Cricut’s user manual. Make sure you go through it from cover to cover since it will give you a good idea of how to use the machine to your advantage whenever you sit to craft.
The user manual will teach you the function of every included component. Further, you will find instructions on maintaining the many included components in the user manual.
If you’re uncomfortable playing around with Design Space and find reading the user manual boring, you can use YouTube to learn to use your Cricut machine. Several YouTube and online tutorials describe everything you need to know about the machine.
Design Space includes some excellent videos that break down the tool’s features. Taking the time to go through them is worth the convenience of knowing exactly how to use Design Space when you open it up.
Since Cricut machines come with sharp tools, you must learn to use the machine correctly – regardless of how – for your own safety.
When you begin any project, you must make sure to:
- Keep your working space clutter-free
- Place the machine on a flat and uneven surface
- Keep all the supplies and accessories you need accessible
There’s a lot you can make as your first project with a Cricut machine since:
- The machine has a set of pens that enable you to write and sketch designs.
- It can emboss materials beautifully without any errors with the embossing accessory.
- It can cut printed designs since it can recognize your designs and slice through the material as if it were hand-cut by an expert.
Cricut Tools and Accessories Hobbyists Need
Cricut offers a handful of accessories that can come in handy to every hobbyist regardless of their expertise:
It’s likely that you already own a pair of tweezers – so why should you buy Cricut tweezers?
The Cricut tweezers have a reverse grip design that lets you pick up small and delicate objects and place them where they need to be.
Many users consider weeders a life-saver since they allow users to easily pick up loose bits of vinyl when working with the material. Bear in mind that it’s best to complete the weeding process when the vinyl is still on the crafting mat.
#3 Scoring Stylus
Cricut scoring styluses are some of the most versatile tools you can purchase for the machine, allowing you to create folds to create enticing greeting cards and 3D projects.
Many Cricut users prefer purchasing the scoring wheel over the scoring stylus since it does the job more smoothly and quickly.
After you finish crafting with your Cricut machine, your cutting mat will be piled with stray pieces of materials. Besides enabling you to clear the debris fast and without hassle, a scraper will come in handy when smoothening out adhesive vinyl onto the transfer paper.
The Cricut spatula will allow you to precisely remove delicate projects from the cutter mat without tearing or curling.
Getting a trimmer is essential since it will help you cut precise straight lines.
How to Score with a Cricut Machine
You must begin by setting up the file to score using Cricut Design Space:
- Upload the SVG file into Design Space and open it on the canvas.
- Ungroup the layers from the panel on the right.
- Set all the lines you want to be score lines by holding down the Shift key and clicking on the lines.
- Find the “Operation” drop-down on the top left of the screen and click on it to expand it. Find the “Score” option under the “Draw” section and click on it.
- Verify that all the lines you want to score are set to score on the panel on the left. If any of the lines are not set to score, repeat from step three. Next, we must indicate to the Cricut machine which score lines are associated with which cutting shape.
- Hold the Shift key and choose the score line and card outer, then click “Attach” on the bottom of the screen. Select and attach all score lines with the inner card in this manner. Also, select and attach the four score lines together with the envelope at the bottom.
- Verify that the layers are attached where intended. Bear in mind that a rearranged order will not affect the result.
- Click “Make it.”
- Prepare the mats, checking that they say “Score” and “Basic Cut.”
- Press “Continue” on the bottom right.
- Choose the paper type.
- Ensure the right tools are selected and inserted into the machine.
- Insert the mat and start the machine. Follow the same process for other layers.
You do not need to do this process if you’re using projects from the Cricut Design Space since those come with the lines set up for you. You can cut straight to step 9.
However, if you don’t do this process for a design you uploaded from outside the Design Space, the machine will cut all the lines, ruining your project.
How to Cut Vinyl with Cricut Machine
Begin by creating a new project on Cricut Design Space or opening a previously saved one. Next, you will need to prepare the design for cutting.
You can check if the image is ready to cut by clicking “Make it” on the top right.
If the screen shows the design separated into mats by colors or layers, the design is ready to cut. However, the design is not ready to cut if you see the shapes separated by color and with incorrect spacing.
Click the “Cancel” button to return to the canvas and prepare the image for cutting. To maintain appropriate spacing in the image, you must “attach” the shapes.
To do this, hold Shift and select all the shapes of the same color. You could also select the respective layers from the layers panel on the right.
Click “Attach” on the bottom of the Layers panel. Doing this will group the layers, allowing you to move or resize them all at once. Additionally, the layers will be forced to line up just like they appear on the screen when cutting.
In other words, the layers won’t be treated as a group of individual shapes. Instead, they will essentially be treated as a single layer.
Make sure you attach all the groups of shapes with the same color that need to be spaced out appropriately.
Sending the Image to the Machine
Click “Make it” to send the image to the machine for cutting.
Design Space will automatically split the design into different mats based on the color, allowing you to do projects with several colors or layers.
Navigate to the “Project Copies” field to set the number of copies you want to make of the project. Set the material size for the mats, and ensure the Mirror switch is toggled if you’re cutting iron-on vinyl.
Take a final look at all the settings and verify they’re right before clicking “Continue.”
It gets really easy from here – you only need to follow the on-screen instructions to complete cutting. Turn on the machine and ensure it appears in the “Connect Machine” window on the top of the screen. Set the Smart dial to vinyl. Then:
- Stick a vinyl piece to the cutting mat and ensure the paper backing side is down.
- Load the mat into the machine by pressing the “Load/Unload” button, which should be flashing.
- Press the “Go” button when the screen flashes it.
If you’re working with an image with only one color, the process will end after the cutting is complete.
However, if the image has two or three colors to cut, you must repeat the three steps above for every color. When cutting is complete, click “Finish” on the screen to return to the project.
All that’s left to do is weed away the background vinyl and apply it to the project. You can use transfer paper to ensure correct spacing if multiple pieces are involved.
It’s as simple as peeling the backing off the transfer paper and pressing it down on the weeded-out vinyl. Press hard to ensure it sticks, and then peel the transfer paper – the vinyl design should be stuck to it.
Finally, position the vinyl where you want to stick it, and press it onto your project. Peel away the transfer tape, and the vinyl will be on your project.
Bear in mind that if you’re doing a “Make It Now” project or using an image from the Cricut image library, they can be cut directly by clicking “Make it” and don’t require any other steps.
Do Hobbyists Need a Computer To Use a Cricut Machine?
You don’t need to own a computer or know how to use one to use a Cricut machine. However, you will need to learn to use the Design Space app on your phone or tablet to operate the machine.
Many DIYers have the completely false idea that they need to be a professional crafter to use a Cricut machine. The truth is that a Cricut machine can be more helpful to novices than experts since experts have more experience with crafting.
Cricut machines make crafting a breeze, driving users to make the most of the convenience and work on more projects. Take the time to create your own designs, expressing your creativity without being afraid of trying something new.
When you feel stuck and uninspired, you can use the preloaded designs and templates to do projects.
Is Buying a Cricut Machine Right for You?
If you’re a crafter who loves making your own home décor, greeting cards, clothing, poster board boxes, and more, getting a Cricut machine is a nice way to save time and effort. A Cricut machine can make you more productive if you sell your crafts on sites like Etsy or elsewhere.
Teachers can use the machine to make activity pages, worksheets, and a wide range of other personalized material in a fraction of the time it would take to do them by hand.
Cricut machines are a favorite tool for wedding planners, but they are also used by couples planning their own weddings. The tool is equipped to make name tags, cards of all kinds, and also cake toppers.
Cricut machines have a relatively steep learning curve, and it will take even the most experienced and tech-savvy crafters some time to learn.
That being said, the time, money, and effort a Cricut machine can save you in the long run make learning to use it a no-brainer.
With this guide handy, you’re a step closer to mastering using your Cricut machine.