If you are new to Cricut or just need a refresher, this guide is for you! We will cover everything from the basics of how to use your Cricut machine to more advanced topics like heat pressing and working with mug presses. By the end of this guide, you will be a Cricut pro!
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Let’s start with the basics. Your Cricut machine will come with a few basic tools that you will need in order to get started. The first tool is the cutting blade. This is the blade that actually does the cutting when you are using your Cricut.
You will also need a cutting mat. The cutting mat is what you will place your vinyl or paper on before you cut it. It helps to keep everything in place and ensures that your cuts are precise.
The Cricut machine is a cutting machine that can cut different materials including paper, vinyl and cardstock. There have been various Cricut machines over the years with the latest being the Cricut Joy.
The 3 machines below are the latest machines still being sold on the Cricut website and at other retailers.
The Cricut Explore is a great machine for beginners. It is very user-friendly and has a lot of great features.
It can be used with 100+ materials.
While all Cricut machines can cut, draw and score, only the Cricut Maker can engrave, deboss, wave and perf.
- Engraving allows you to carve designs into materials
- Debossing puts depressions into materials to give them dimension
- The wavy blade adds waves to a project design
- “Perfing” adds evenly spaced lines to a project in order to create a clean tear every time (perforating)
It is a great machine for those who are more experienced with Cricut or who want to do more than just cut paper and vinyl.
It can be used with 300+ materials.
The Cricut Joy is a small, handheld machine that is perfect for cutting vinyl and paper. It is very lightweight and portable, so it is great for taking with you on the go.
It can be used with 50+ materials.
Cricut Blades & Tips
Every Cricut machine has its own set of tips, blades and pens that can be used with it. And while some of the blade types may be the same, the housings are different, so be sure to get the correct blade for the machine you have. It is important to keep your blades sharp so that they cut your materials well. If you find that your machine is not cutting clean, you likely need to replace your blade.
This is the most common blade that is used with Cricut machines. It can be used for a variety of materials including paper, vinyl, cardstock and more.
The deep point blade is similar to the fine point blade, but as the name suggests, it has a deeper cut. This blade is great for cutting thicker materials like chipboard and poster board.
The scoring tip is used to score materials like paper and cardstock. This is helpful when you are folding projects or working with delicate materials.
The scoring wheel is similar to the scoring tip, but it can score a wider area at once.
The engraving tip is used to engraved materials like metal and glass.
The debossing tip is used to create depressions in materials like paper and cardstock.
The wavy blade is used to create waves in materials like paper and cardstock.
The perforating tip is used to create evenly spaced lines in materials like paper and cardstock. This is helpful when you want to create a clean tear every time.
The knife blade is the newest blade from Cricut. It is designed for cutting tougher materials like leather and wood.
The rotary blade is used to cut fabric. It has a small, circular blade that quickly spins around to cut through fabric.
Rotary Blade Tips
- Be sure to use a rotary blade on a self-healing mat designed for fabric.
- Make sure your fabric is ironed before cutting.
- Use stabilizer on the back of your fabric to help it hold its shape when cut.
The foil transfer tool is used to add foil accents to projects.
The bonded fabric tool is used to cut fabric that has been glued or fused to another backing.
The water-soluble pen is a pen filled with water-soluble ink. This ink will disappear when it comes in contact with water, so it is perfect for applique projects.
Cricut also has a variety of pens that can be used with their machines. These pens come in different widths and colors, so you can really customize your projects.
You don’t necessarily need Cricut brand pens, but they are designed to work well with the machines and last a long time.
Besides the tools that are important to the machine itself, there are many different hand tools that can be useful when working with vinyl or other materials. Some of these tools are good to have on hand for making your projects the best they can be.
The weeding tool is used to remove negative vinyl or paper from a project. It has a point on one end and a hook on the other.
The spatula is used to help remove delicate materials from the cutting mat. It looks like… well, a spatula.
The scraper is used to help remove vinyl or paper from the cutting mat.
You will need a good pair of scissors to cut materials like vinyl and paper. Cricut brand scissors are designed to work well with their materials, but any sharp scissors will do the job.
The ruler is used to help measure and align materials on the cutting mat.
The scoring stylus is used to score materials like paper and cardstock. This is helpful when you are folding projects or working with delicate materials.
The tweezers are used to help remove small pieces from the cutting mat. They come in a fine tip or broad tip for different applications.
The paper trimmer is used to trim down materials like paper and cardstock.
The brayer is used to help apply vinyl or paper to the cutting mat.
The rotary cutter is used to cut fabric. It has a small, circular blade that quickly spins around to cut through fabric.
The TrueControl knife is a precision knife that can be used for a variety of projects.
There are also several different kits you can buy that combine various tools into packages that are helpful depending on the type of crafting you do. There is even a sewing kit you can get that has thread snips, a seam ripper, a leather thimble, a pin cushion and many other great tools.
Materials You Can Cut with Your Cricut Machine
There are so many different materials that you can cut with a Cricut machine. And while Cricut does sell their own branded materials, you don’t necessarily need to use them.
One of the most popular materials to cut with a Cricut machine is vinyl. Vinyl can be used for a variety of projects like making signs, decals, mugs and more.
You can use adhesive vinyl or heat transfer vinyl (HTV) with your Cricut machine. Adhesive vinyl is applied directly to the surface you are working on. HTV is applied to the surface with a heat press.
Cricut also offers a variety of different colors and types of vinyl, including glitter vinyl, patterned vinyl and more.
Paper is another popular material to cut with a Cricut machine. You can use any type of paper you like, from cardstock to construction paper.
Cricut machines can cut a variety of different papers, including vellum, tissue paper and manila paper.
Cardstock is a thicker type of paper that is often used for projects like invitations, cards and scrapbooking.
Cricut machines can cut a variety of different types of cardstock, including glitter cardstock, patterned cardstock and more.
Fabric can be cut with a Cricut machine using the rotary blade. Fabric can be used for a variety of projects like sewing, quilting and more.
Cricut machines can cut a variety of different fabrics, including cotton, denim, felt and more.
Leather is a tougher material that can be cut with the knife blade. Leather can be used for a variety of projects like wallets, keychains and more.
Cricut machines can cut a variety of different types of leather, including faux leather, genuine leather and more.
Wood is a tougher material that can be cut with the knife blade. Wood can be used for a variety of projects like signs, picture frames and more.
Cricut machines can cut a variety of different types of wood, including plywood, balsa wood and more.
Metal can be cut with the engraving tip. Metal can be used for a variety of projects like jewelry, keychains and more.
Cricut machines can cut a variety of different types of metal, including aluminum, brass and more.
Glass can be cut with the engraving tip. Glass can be used for a variety of projects like drinking glasses, picture frames and more.
Cricut machines can cut a variety of different types of glass, including tempered glass, stained glass and more.
Cricut mats come in a variety of sizes depending on the machine you use. The standard size for Explore and Maker machines is 12 x 12 inches. However, they also offer 12 x 24 inch mats for longer projects. The Cricut Joy machine has mats that are 4.5 x 6.5 inches or 4.5 x 12 inches. The card mats are the exception at 4.5 x 6.25 inches.
The Joy also has the benefit of using Smart Vinyl, which means it needs no mat at all. You could use an entire roll of vinyl without stopping, which gives you incredible freedom!
Still, mats are incredibly important for the bigger machines, and it’s important to know the differences between them.
The light grip cutting mat is used for materials like standard paper, light cardstock, vellum, and more. It has a light adhesive that holds materials in place while cutting. This is made for Explore and Maker machines and is light blue in color.
The standard grip cutting mat is used for materials like heavy cardstock, patterned paper, vinyl, iron-on, and more. It has an adhesive that holds medium-weight materials in place while cutting. This mat is for Explore and Maker machines and is green in color.
The strong grip cutting mat is used for materials like cardstock, chipboard, mat board, and backed fabric. It has a very strong adhesive that holds materials in place while cutting. It was made for the Explore and Maker machines and is light purple in color.
The FabricGrip cutting mat is used for fabrics like cotton, polyester, denim, felt, and canvas. It has increased strength and density plus a light adhesive that helps hold fabric in place while cutting. It was made for the Explore and Maker machines and is pink in color.
The card mat holds up to 4 cards and works perfectly with all Cricut cards, including Insert Cards and Cutaway Cards. It works with the Explore and Maker machines.
The pressing mat is a must-have for heat transfer vinyl projects. It is made of silicone and provides even heat distribution and protection for your work surface. It works with the EasyPress 2 and the original EasyPress.
Cricut vinyl is a type of adhesive vinyl that can be used in a variety of projects. It is available in a wide range of colors and styles, so you can find the perfect vinyl for your project. There are several varieties of vinyl to know about.
Removable vinyl is a type of vinyl that can be removed from surfaces without leaving any residue. It is perfect for temporary projects or for projects that need to be changed frequently.
Permanent vinyl is a type of vinyl that is permanent and cannot be removed once it is applied. It is great for projects that will be used outdoors or for projects that need to be very durable.
Holographic vinyl is a type of vinyl that has a holographic effect. It is often used for creating decals and stickers. It is important to choose the holographic vinyl setting when using this material. It adjusts the speed and pressure of the cut accordingly.
Glitter vinyl is a type of vinyl that has a glitter finish. It can be used in all types of projects, but you must bear in mind that it is neither permanent nor removable. It is not long-lasting and must be treated with great care. It does give a GREAT effect, though, and it will not flake off. Remember to choose the right material in the settings for best results when cutting. Also be sure to use strong grip transfer tape, as it is the only kind that will give perfect results for glitter vinyl.
Printable vinyl is a type of vinyl that can be printed on using an inkjet printer. It is available in a wide range of colors and styles, so you can find the perfect vinyl for your project.
Heat transfer vinyl (HTV) is a type of vinyl that can be used to create shirts, bags, and other items. It is available in a wide range of colors and styles, so you can find the perfect vinyl for your project.
Cricut iron-on is a type of heat transfer vinyl that can be used to create shirts, bags, and other items. It is available in a wide range of colors and styles, so you can find the perfect vinyl for your project. Cricut has Everyday Iron-On, SportFlex Iron-On, and even Holographic and Glitter varieties!
Cricut infusible ink is a type of heat transfer vinyl that can be used to create shirts, bags, and other items. It is available in a wide range of colors and styles, so you can find the perfect vinyl for your project.
Clear vinyl is a type of vinyl that is clear and can be used on any color surface. It is perfect for windows, mugs, tumblers, and more.
Reflective vinyl is a type of vinyl that reflects light. It is perfect for safety projects or for adding a little bit of fun to any project.
Fluorescent vinyl is a type of vinyl that glows in the dark. It is perfect for Halloween projects or for adding a little bit of fun to any project.
Transfer tape is confusing for many people when they are first getting started. There are different varieties of transfer tape because there are different varieties of vinyl. Using the correct type can make or break your project, so be sure to get it right.
Some people will give you good “hacks” about transfer tape, and I’ll definitely say there are some that really work. Using certain kinds of tape that has been placed on your clothing a few times or getting some dollar store contact paper, for instance, both have their place in personal projects. But when you are starting out, I highly recommend sticking to the proper stuff and learning how it works.
And DEFINITELY don’t try new hacks when you’re doing a project that really matters.
A note about StrongGrip Transfer Tape – Only use this on textured vinyl such as glitter vinyl, shimmer vinyl, and true brushed vinyl. It will be way too strong for any other type.
To use transfer tape, make sure your design is fully cut out and weeded, ready to be placed. Cut out enough transfer tape to fully cover your design, leaving a little extra around it.
Then, place the transfer tape down on top of the design, and use your scraper tool to smooth it down and ensure it is stuck on well.
Carefully peel away the backing from the vinyl, making sure the design sticks to the transfer tape as you go.
Place the design on your project surface, and use a scraper tool to smooth it down. Slowly peel the transfer tape away, pulling parallel to your surface and making sure not to lose any pieces of your design.
The Easy Press is a must-have for heat transfer vinyl projects. It provides even heat distribution and pressure to your projects. It is available in several sizes, so you can choose the perfect size for your project.
The Easy Press basically gives the speed of a heat press and the convenience of an iron. It has integrated heat and time settings so your projects are getting the exact time and temperature they need to really last.
You can buy it in various colors, sizes and bundles and make your HTV projects so much easier.
A mug press is a machine that applies heat and pressure to a project. It allows you to create professional-quality, personalized mugs for yourself or others with the touch of a button. You will need infusible-ink compatible mugs for use with this machine, but you can then transfer any art, logo, or message onto your mug for a one-of-a-kind or mass-produced experience, as you prefer.
Next, you will need to know about the Cricut software. This is the software that you will use to design your projects. You can either use the online software or the desktop software, depending on your preference. The software is very user-friendly and easy to use. You can either upload your own designs or use the pre-made designs that are available in the design library.
Once you have designed your project, it is time to cut it out! You will need to load your vinyl or paper onto the cutting mat and then load it into the Cricut machine. The machine will do the rest!
How to Use the Cricut Software
The Cricut software is called Design Space. It is a free program that you can use to design your projects. Design Space is easy to use and it has a variety of features that will help you create the perfect project.
To get started, you will need to create an account and then log in. Once you are logged in, you can start creating your project.
To create a project, you will need to select the type of project you want to make. Design Space offers a variety of different project types, including cards, invitations, banners and more.
Once you have selected the project type, you will need to select the images and fonts you want to use. Design Space has a library of over 50,000 images and fonts that you can use for your projects. You can also upload your own images and fonts to use in your projects.
Once you have selected the images and fonts you want to use, you will need to select the colors you want to use. Design Space offers a variety of different colors, including solid colors, gradient colors and more.
After selecting your colors, you will need to select the size of your project. Design Space can help you figure out exactly what size you need. It has standard size templates, or you can input a custom size based on your needs.
Next, you will need to choose the materials you want to use. Design Space allows you to select a variety of different materials, including paper, vinyl, fabric and more.
After you have selected the materials you want to use, you will need to choose the correct blade type. Design Space can help you figure out the blade you’ll need based on the input you give it.
The software will prompt you to choose any custom settings such as quantity or other necessary information it needs. Then it will ask which mat you intend to use. Design Space offers a variety of different mat types, with different properties and sizes. Refer to the mat section for more information.
There are several more selections you may need to go through depending on the type of project you are working on. But the software is extremely user-friendly and will prompt you every step of the way and has multiple-choice dropdowns for you to choose your answers to make it simple and easy to use.
I could do a whole post on the ins and outs of Design Space, but trust me when I say that if you can use a printer, you can make a simple project on your Cricut.