A few weeks ago, I shared a Facebook Live video about getting started with a Cricut on the Underground Crafter Facebook page and a reader mentioned that she had “no idea what this machine does.” In this post I’ll tell you all about Cricut machines and what you can use them to make, and I’ll share more than 15 beginner-friendly Cricut projects that you can make right away once you get your machine.
This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links. Supplies for this post were generously provided by Cricut.
I didn’t know much about Cricut machines a year ago, and, to be honest, when I first got my machine and reviewed it, I had only the vaguest ideas of its capabilities! Now that I’ve been using it regularly for about six months, I have learned that Cricut machines can do so much more than what I originally thought. (By the way, in this post, I’ll be referring to the Cricut Explore series. I have the Cricut Explore Air.)
First things first: Pronunciation
Cricut is pronounced like the insect (“cricket”) and not like “cry-cut,” though I assume the spelling is a play on their origin as simple cutting machines. Go ahead, say Cricut with confidence. Now you sound like a pro!
On to the good stuff…
Cricut machines started as die cutting machines which used a cartridge (or die) and manually-applied pressure to cut shapes out of various materials.
The Cricut Explore series are the latest generation of electronic machines that can cut, write, and score a wide variety of materials. You use a cloud-based software called Cricut Design Space to tell the machine what to do. You can use Design Space on a laptop, desktop, or tablet/mobile device.
- The Explore One machines are “wired” machines that you connect to your device.
- The Explore Air and Explore Air 2 machines use Bluetooth to send messages from Design Space on your device to your Cricut. (The Explore Air 2 is faster than the Explore Air. If you’d like to read a comparison review, Jessie At Home has one here.)
Design Space is straight-forward and easy to learn. You can create your own unique projects and store them in the cloud, or, if you aren’t very design-oriented, you can choose from loads of “Make It Now” projects (many of which are free). These are pre-designed projects that include detailed materials lists. (I also recommend a subscription to Cricut Access, especially if you plan to use pre-existing designs or like to have a broad range of fonts.)
You can watch a quick demonstration of the machine writing and cutting in this video.
The Cricut can cut many materials. You can find a thorough list (including recommended settings) here. You adjust the pressure-setting dial to select from a list of standard materials, or choose Custom and then select the appropriate material from a drop down menu in Design Space.
So far, I’ve personally used the Cricut to cut:
- Card stock (here),
- Magnet sheets (here and here),
- Several types of vinyl (here and here),
- Iron-on (here and here),
- Adhesive foil (here), and
- Washi sheets.
The cuts can be really simple (yet extremely precise)…
or more intricate than what you could accomplish by hand.
You can also use your Cricut for writing with Cricut Pens. These are available in several point thicknesses and lots of different colors. You can create “hand written” projects or things that appear machine printed.
So far, I’ve used the writing features to add a seemingly handwritten touch to a cutting project and create intricate adult coloring book pages with “Make It Now” projects. For the winter holidays this year, I plan to use the writing features to write out address labels, gift tags, and crochet and knitting project care labels.
You can get more writing project ideas in this video and see the Cricut Pens in action.
Print Then Cut
Print then cut is a feature I haven’t used much because I don’t have a very good printer at home. However, if you have a color printer, you can print intricate, multi-color designs and then use your Cricut to cut them. I reached out to some blogger buddies and asked them to share their favorite print then cut projects and tutorials so you can get a sense of the range of projects you can make with this feature.
- Make Stickers with Your Own Images by Crafting in the Rain,
- Make Your Own Unicorn Activity for Kids by Printable Crush,
- Bible Journaling Stickers Printable by Southern Couture,
- Make Your Own Disney Princess Magnets by See Lindsay,
- Personalize Your Cricut Print and Cut with Try It – Like It,
- Mother’s Day Banner by Liz On Call,
- Make Your Own Planner Stickers by Two Married Geeks,
- DIY Wedding Reception Kids’ Corner by The Quiet Grove, and
- How To Create Planner Stickers with Your Cricut by Laura’s Crafty Life.
You can also use the Cricut for scoring with a Cricut Scoring Stylus. You can see the Scoring Stylus in action in this video.
This is a feature I plan to use more for making clean folding lines for holiday and birthday cards and to create small gift boxes. Since I haven’t done any scoring projects yet, I asked my blogger buddies for some favorite projects and here’s what they shared:
- On the Table and Dreaming by See Lindsay, and
- How To Create a Make It Now Project by Printable Crush.
Do you have other questions about Cricut machines?
I hope this post answered some questions about what Cricut machines can do as well as some of the projects you can make with these machines. If you have other questions, let me know in the comments!