Here’s How to Use Cricut to Level Up Your Crafts

This smart cutting machine is a must-have for crafters of all levels.

Cricut Main Img 1000x750Photo: Cricut

For some, crafting may conjure up images of material scraps scattered chaotically across the table or glue getting everywhere except for the spot where you actually want it. As a novice crafter, that was certainly the case for me. But however messy my projects became, I loved the feeling of seeing it through to completion, taking it from an idea to a tangible object. From DIY channels on YouTube to Pinterest tutorials, there’s no shortage of inspiration. Over the years, it’s allowed me to hone and express my creativity in a therapeutic outlet—not to mention, it’s made gift-giving much less of a headache!

That’s why, ahead of the upcoming holiday season, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to finally try out a few products from Cricut. For the uninitiated, in the crafting world, Cricut is synonymous with innovation; there’s no time for unwieldy scissors here. Its smart cutting machines, materials and tools make even the most daunting project a breeze—anything is possible.

Cricut Img2 1000x750Photo: Ellen R. LeClair

The machine line-up includes: the Cricut Maker 3, Cricut Explore 3, Cricut Joy and full line of easy presses including the Cricut Mug Press. Hobby crafters might find the Cricut Joy fun to use for quick projects, while the more serious DIY-ers will appreciate the pro-level capabilities of the Cricut Maker. The fun part comes after you’ve decided on the machine—picking out the materials. From vinyls to iron-ons in all the shades of the rainbow, to leather and wood made specifically for a Cricut machine, it’ll be a challenge to focus on one project at a time! Lastly, accessories such as machine tools, mats and craft tools are essential for the full experience.

Cricut Img3 1000x750Photo: Cricut

Cricut’s latest machine, the Cricut Maker 3, is their most powerful yet and the ultimate all-in-one for the crafter in your life. It can cut over 300 materials at the push of a button, including fragile textiles like fabric and paper to chipboard, with unparalleled precision and speed. Up to twice as fast and with ten times more cutting power than the previous generation, the machine can handle any project your heart desires. If you need to cut, score, write, deboss, engrave or any combination of these decorative effects, the tools can easily be switched out for a unique touch. It’s even compatible with the new Smart Materials, which can be used sans mat for the smoothest cutting experience.

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After learning about everything that the Cricut Maker 3 could do, I couldn’t wait to unbox my machine as soon as it arrived in the mail. For those with limited desk space, I’d recommend clearing a dedicated spot for the machine (as you would for a printer) as it’s quite sizable and heavy. Make sure that there’s a wall outlet nearby for optimal power source. Once it’s in place, it’s as easy as plugging in the included power adapter and connecting the USB cable to your device—you can also configure it later to connect wirelessly using Bluetooth.

To complete the set-up and to start designing, you’ll need to download the companion app Cricut Design Space from the Apple App Store or Google Play. Within the Design Space is where you can put your creativity to the test and create your own project or take the time to browse through over 50,000 images (with an upgrade to Cricut Access, there are over 200,000), fonts and predesigned Make It Now projects. You can even use your built-in camera to visualize a project on a real-life background! The best part? It’s cloud-based and can sync across devices (including phone and tablet) so you can access your projects at any time.

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As someone who’s prone to contacting technical support, I was apprehensive about my ability to successfully set-up the machine without any glitches. So I was pleasantly surprised by how simple and quick the entire process was—all I had to do was follow the instructions on screen and the Cricut Maker 3 was up and running in a matter of minutes. But if you do have questions or issues that come up an any point, there are tons of resources to assist, including a quick start and troubleshooting guide, video tutorials, a chatbot and the ever-so-helpful Member Care Specialists who are only an email or phone call away.

When it came time to decide on my first project, I turned to Cricut’s blog to find inspiration. All it takes is one quick browse and you’ll be sure to find at least a dozen projects that you’ll want to make immediately. You can even tweak predesigned projects in the Cricut Design Space, like the colour or font, for an extra dose of customization. When I spotted this stylish “Reading is FUNdamental” Tote Bag design—as someone with a seemingly endless pile of tote bags, a deep love of reading and a soft spot for wordplay—I knew that this project was the perfect way to take my new machine for test drive.

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Depending on the project—and your tastes—you can choose different materials to use. I landed on the classic combination of black and gold glitter with the Cricut Smart Material iron-on, which promises to last for over 50 washes (no one likes a dirty bag, after all!) This was a predesigned template so every detail was already thought out, from the font choice to the clear step-by-step instructions. The interface of the Cricut Design Space is super user-friendly and intuitive once you learn about all the various options available.

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Since I already liked the design, I cut to the chase and went straight to creating. After setting the base material to Smart Iron-on and ensuring that the correct tool was loaded (in this case, I used the fine-point blade), I was ready to press the flashing Go button. As the machine whirred away, it’s impossible to look away from the sheer speed and precision of the cuts. I was curious about how long it would take to create all the letters needed for this project so I started a timer—and it was all done in less than three minutes. Talk about impressive!

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About 30 minutes later, my new tote bag was complete after weeding out all the letters from the stencil—an effortless feat thanks to the Cricut Maker 3’s clean cuts—and pressing on the letters on in place. Despite not having any prior experience with cutting machines, the ease of use made the process from start to finish seamless and thoroughly enjoyable. For the upcoming holidays, I already have my eye on more advanced projects such as the gorgeous Pretty Snowflake Ornaments and festive Personalized Christmas Stockings. Whether you’re looking to set up a home studio for crafting solo or thinking of starting a small business, there’s something in the line to suit any need.

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