When the original Cricut was first introduced, it changed the crafting and scrap booking game. This simple machine with its rotary blade could cut intricate letters and designs from different types of paper and added a personalized touch that was quick and easy to make.
Modern Cricut machines can still do amazing things with paper but they’re capable of so much more. Computer integration and cricut design software allow you more creative freedom than ever before and because of a variety of tool attachments, you can use a wide range of materials with your Cricut. This machine is a must-have for any crafter or DIYer because of its versatility and ease of use.
A Brief History of Cricut
A Cricut machine looks a bit like a printer but instead of printing ink, it actually cuts shapes out of various fabric. The first Cricut was pretty simple and didn’t even require a computer to run. Instead, it used simple cartridges inserted into a slot to tell it what images to cut.
Cricut technology steadily advanced but the first few models still worked independently from a computer. That all changed with the introduction of the Cricut Explore in 2014, which was the first design that required a computer to work. Rather than relying only on cartridges, this model used online software called Cricut Design Space, which acted as both a support program and a simple design tool.
Now that Cricut was integrated into the computer, it could also be used with third-party software as well as a huge selection of fonts and other designs available online. It was at this point Cricut became an indispensable tool for crafters.
Today, Cricut technology has advanced so much that the machines can be used wirelessly with your tablet or smartphone and they do much more than cut. In addition to rotary blades, they also include tools like scoring wheels, calligraphy pen attachments, and knife blades that can be used for thicker materials. What was once a machine that cut letters out of paper has become a tool that creatives can’t live without.
What Materials Can a Cricut Machine Cut?
Modern Cricut machines can cut more than 100 different materials. Depending on the model you’re using, here are just a few:
- Construction paper
- Paper bags
- Parchment paper
- Scrapbook paper
- Terry cloth
- Watercolor paper
- Wax Paper
A Few Tips and Tricks
Here are some of the things that experienced Cricut users have discovered to help you get the most out of your machine.
- You can easily sharpen the blades using aluminum foil.
- Clean your mats regularly with soap and water and hang to dry then reapply the original cover. They’ll keep their stickiness and won’t need replacing as often.
- If you’re uploading your own images, use a white or transparent background so you won’t have to make as many adjustments later.
- Do test cuts on new material first. That way, you know that you’re using the right tools to get the look you want without wasting material.
- When removing your project from the mat, pull the mat away from the material, not the material away from the mat. This is a simple way to prevent curling edges.
- Use dedicated blades for different materials. For example, have one for paper, one for vinyl, and one for cardstock. It keeps the blades sharper, longer.
- There are other pen brands that can be used with the Cricut writing tool including some Sharpies and Crayola markers.
- Replace blades when they stop working effectively. If you notice that the cuts are no longer crisp, the paper starts dragging, or the material begins to tear, it’s probably time for a new blade.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to how to use a Cricut machine for arts and crafts. Here are just a few great ideas, broken down by some of the most popular materials used with a Cricut so that you can take each one and really make it your own.
- Cut paper flowers and leaves and string them together to make a beautiful garland or attach them to a wreath.
- Use the writing tool to address holiday cards or party invitations, you can also pair it with our choice of the best printer for Cricut to have them ready to mail from home.
- Make small paper succulents and cluster them together over a bed of shredded paper in a shallow dish or flowerpot.
- Use brightly colored paper cut in geometric shapes and string together to make a garland that adds an eye-catching pop of color.
- Cut the shape of your home state or country out of cardstock, layer over a custom watercolor painting, and frame for a one-of-a-kind piece of art.
- Make 3D paper flowers and attach them to a headband to make an adorable flower crown.
- Layer cardstock cutouts to create custom gift tags then use the writing tool to add fancy fonts and flair.
- Cut chevrons from different colors of cardstock and assemble them in a frame.
- Play with different paper patterns by layers large letter cutouts over contrasting colors. Make a few different combinations and hang them as a series on your wall.
- Cut festive patterns out of cardstock then wrap it around a vase. Add coordinating flowers for a great decoration you can change with the seasons.
- Cut out your favorite word or phrase and apply to a glass vase, wine glass, mason jar, or decorative plate for a personalized gift.
- Use a decorative font to write your favorite word or phrase, apply it to pretty scrapbooking paper, and frame.
- Use vinyl shapes or words as a stencil. Apply vinyl to a board, paint over the whole thing, then peel off to create a distressed wooden sign.
- Use holographic vinyl cut in fun shapes and apply to a clear cell phone case.
- Create cartoonish eyes, noses, and mouths to give some personality to everyday items.
- Cut large shapes and letters and apply to solid mylar balloons for unique party decorations.
- Add brightly colored suns, stars, and circles to plastic outdoor furniture in the summer.
- Create pretty labels for condiment bottles and spice jars.
- Use vinyl letters to personalize a Christmas tree ornament for baby’s first Christmas or to celebrate a newlywed’s couple first holiday together.
- Apply a vinyl stencil to a coffee mug. Cover the stencil and the surrounding area in dots of ceramic paint, let dry, and remove the vinyl to reveal your personalized creation.
- Cut out your initials and apply them to a fabric headboard.
- Personalize pillows, blankets, or tote bags for your children.
- Make onesies for monthly baby photos as a special gift for a mom-to-be.
- Use vinyl shapes as patches for your jeans or to add durability to the knees of toddler leggings.
- Add holiday shapes to a plain table runner or table cloth to create the perfect setting for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.
- Take an ordinary pair of slip-on sneakers to the next level by adding a mandala or other geometric design.
- Cut out your favorite quote and iron it onto your choice of fabric. Then, place the design inside an embroidery hood for easy hanging.
- Add polka dots to anything.
- Try using iron-on vinyl on wood for a whole new world of possibilities. Just make sure to seal it with a clear coat when you’re done!
- Cut identical geometric shapes. Then, cut a design into one of them and stain or paint it a contrasting color. Glue them together and use a clear sealant to make a set of one-of-a-kind coasters.
- Take a thin rectangular piece of wood with an intricate design or lettering and add it to the front of a plain greeting card.
- Cut letters from wood to spell names, words, or phases. Attach to a bright piece of paper or fabric and then in a picture frame with the glass removed to make personalized 3D wall art.
- Use balsa wood to cut out the pieces for a flying airplane toy.
- Cut intricate designs into four identical pieces of balsa wood. Glue them together to create a box shape. Add an electric tea light inside to create a gorgeous lantern-style light.
Different Machines for Different Jobs
It’s important to note that not every Cricut machine is capable of performing each task we mentioned. This is important because it means you can get a machine that’s just the right fit for you.
If you want a machine that can do all the things we mentioned here and then some, check out the Cricut Maker. It’s the most powerful, most advanced Cricut machine and can cut more than 300 different materials. The Cricut Maker is an especially useful tool if you like to sew. It works with just about any kind of fabric and effortlessly cuts and marks patterns, saving you a lot of time and frustration.
The Circut Air Explore 2 is also a versatile machine that’s a great choice for someone who doesn’t want a machine with as many bells and whistles as the Maker. The Air Explore 2 cuts more than 100 different materials and as a Fast Mode so you can get projects done twice as fast if you’re short on time.
For a simple machine that’s easy to use and has just enough features to tackle everyday crafts, check out the Explore Air. It has all the quality you’d expect from a Cricut machine but is slightly stripped down when compared to the earlier models. It works with more than 60 different materials and is compatible with the cartridges used with earlier Cricut models.
If you’ve never used a Cricut before or if you think you want one to complete a specific project, take a look at the Cricut Explore One. This machine is a budget-friendly option and a great place to start learning about all the things you can do with a Cricut.
You don’t really need anything beyond the machine itself to make awesome crafts but Cricut makes some amazing accessories that can really help projects go smoother and faster.
- Cutting Ruler. This tool allows you to get your materials cut to the right size quickly and easily. The one-inch markings assure accuracy and the protective shield helps protect your hands while you slice.
- Rotary Cutter. A rotary cutter is probably the easiest and fastest way to cut and it works with a wide range of materials. When paired with a cutting ruler, you can make straight cuts quickly and accurately.
- True Control Knife. The long shape and comfortable handle provide a lot of control when cutting a variety of thin materials including paper, cardstock, thin plastics, canvas, and more. Blade changes are easy and there’s even a protective cap to protect your fingers and keep the blades from damage when not in use.
- Acrylic Ruler. For larger projects that require a lot of precise measurements, an acrylic ruler is a must. The 6” x 26” size fits most projects and the frosted finish provides good visibility for both light and dark materials. Measurements are marked in ⅛” increments and there are angles at 30, 45, and 60 degrees.
- Basic Tool Set. This set has all the essentials to make your crafting easier. It includes five tools in all. First, a pair of scissors with a micro-tip blade that cut all materials smoothly and precisely. The hardened stainless-steel blades are strong and durable and they come with a cover to keep them protected when not in use. You also get a pair of tweezers with a reverse grip which is designed to lift and secure your cut materials in one easy step. A custom-designed scraper quickly removes unwanted scraps from your Cricut cutting mats and helps them last longer. Another essential tool in this kit is the spatula, which helps lift images off of the cutting mat without any tearing or curling. Finally, the weeder is essential to removing those tine negative pieces from even the most intricate designs.
Much More than a Cutting Machine
As you can see, you can do just about anything with a Cricut machine. They work with so many different materials and allow such freedom of design, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without one.