For crafters, putting your unique stamp on your creations is all part of the fun. With upcycling and personalisation popular ways to inject some personality into everything from clothing to kitchen kit, it can leave you wondering how to get the result you want quickly.
One product that’s gaining notoriety recently is the Cricut digital cutter. A machine that looks not too dissimilar to a printer that can cut out all manner of materials with the designs of your choosing.
Some people find the Cricut helpful for making cool labels to organise your cupboards stylishly while others will go all out cutting uniform designs for a craft product they want to sell as a side hustle.
Speed, accuracy and versatility are key selling points for this piece of crafting kit.
People use it to make “everything from adding labels to make customised water bottles to embellishing clothing and footwear, making Christmas cards and even ornaments or party decorations for home celebrated lockdown occasions,” says Kathy Hodson, Cricut craft trends expert.
“We’ve seen Cricut vinyls on everything from wheelie bins to fingernails!” she adds, saying they’ve also seen “a lady tile her full staircase with a Cricut design that looked super amazing”
“Many of our members have been able to start a small business with their machines, selling their projects which make them a sound business investment,” adds Kathy. “If you just want to make items to give to friends and family with your Cricut machine, in the long-run this can work out far cheaper than purchasing items.”
Cricut creations are becoming quite a trend with great examples of impressive creations appearing on both Instagram and Tiktok. Search with the hashtags #cricutmade and #cricut can bring up some great ideas for projects big and small to inspire.
What is it?
Cricut machines are smart cutters, usurping die cutting with speedy, high-tech versatility and accuracy.
There are three main types of Cricut, going up in price depending on how much you can do with them and reflecting how many different materials you can cut or draw designs on with the Cricut pens.
Cricut Explore Air 2, Mint, Latest Edition
Cricut Maker Machine, Rose
While not a cheap piece of kit, Cricut argues they can save crafters money in the long run. Kathy explains they’re “a value investment because of their versatility, time they’ll save you in the long run, and the fact you can design your own projects means there’s just so much you can do”.
The Cricut Joy is the entry price machine at £179.99 and, able to cut 50 different materials, as well as create repeat cuts up to 20 feet long, there’s plenty of impressive craft projects you’ll be able to make with it. Working with the Cricut pen and blade, it could be a savvy investment if you want to bulk make pro-looking wedding invites, for example.
At the top end of the scale, the Cricut Maker, will cut everything from delicate fabrics to leather and matboard. You can use it with a range of digital sewing patterns, saving time and providing accuracy if you’d rather be making than pattern cutting.
Mid-price is the Cricut Air 2, which can work with 100 materials including paper, card, vellum and leather. It also allows you to cut and write or cut and score at the same time.
How does the Cricut work?
You need to link your Cricut machine up with the brand’s Design Space app on your phone or laptop, allowing you to choose and finalise your design and let the machine know via Blue Tooth.
We tried it with the Cricut Joy and were set up and trying out the machine with the supplied test materials just a few minutes after opening the box.
Design Space has a range of ready made designs and templates to choose and cut, although you can create your own designs in the app, too.
“You can easily add unique touches and personality to existing designs, or create your own design entirely by choosing images and fonts in the app library,” explains Kathy. “You can also upload your own images and handwriting to incorporate as part of a project.”
For those who craft because they don’t feel confident with tech, don’t worry too much – the app told us what to upload and when in easy step-by-step instructions. Most materials also need a cutting mat although Cricut does have some new dedicated materials for the joy that bypass that step.
Once cut, you may need tools to get your cut shape off the material (such as a vinyl) neatly as well as tools such as a scraper to apply the material seamlessly to your project.
There are lots of online tools and advice on the Cricut site and YouTube channel to help you get to grips with your machine.
What do you need?
In addition to the Cricut machines, which range from £179.99 to £370, you will find that the Cricut has other expenses it’s worth considering before you buy.
The Design Space app is free to download but you have limited access to ready to go designs unless you buy them piecemeal (around 99p each) or signing up for £7.99 a month, although the first month is free.
Depending on how much you want to get out of your machine, you may find you also spend out for tools and extra cutting blades, too.
For example, you may need to buy a deep cut blade to cut a wider range of materials with the Cricut Air 2. That said, paying for Cricut pens that will give you an impressive illustration is a cost similar to that you’d fork out as part of your craft project anyway. And you may feel that paying for a card cutting mat for a special effect greeting cards is well worth the outlay. In most cases, these extras can be used again and again.
While Cricut has some impressive materials, such as iron ons and vinyls, the machine works with a whole range of non-branded materials, too, meaning the machine could help you get more out of your favourite crafts.
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