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Using a Cricut Machine: Tips and Ideas

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The different Cricut cutting machine models give you choices specific for your needs.

The different Cricut cutting machine models give you choices specific for your needs.

The Cricut Cutting Machine

The Cricut cutting machine has been one of the most popular machines for crafting with hundreds of materials. There are different models to meet your craft needs as well as your budget. There are plenty of options, so it is important for you to understand the features of each model. That way you can decide the model that is right for your needs.

More than that, it is important to know and understand the best ways to get the most out of your machines. Knowing the and understanding how to use and get the most from your machine gives you better experiences and projects. With that in mind, we offer information, ideas and tips to help you do just that.

Cricut Design Space

Cricut Design Space is the customized computer program that works with your Cricut model to create projects with multiple materials. You can download this program at no cost to you. It has a limited number of fonts, images and projects available. But you have the option of purchasing images, fonts and projects to add to your program. Once you purchase those things, you own them. The cost will come to you as you go to cut the project.

Cricut Access

Coupled with the Cricut Design Space is the Cricut Access is a subscription option that gives you access to thousands of images, fonts and projects. You also get a discount on products as well. There are different options to choose, depending on your need and use.

Let's get started learning about the best ways for you to get the most from your Cricut cutting machine

Using Multiple Machines

If you have more than one Cricut machine setup, you can connect both/all machines to your Cricut Design Space account at the same time via either Bluetooth or USB.

And don’t worry about cutting the wrong design with the wrong machine. No matter how many machines you have connected, your very first step on the final cut screen is to select which machine you want to use from the top dropdown menu. In this way, you can always be sure you’re using the right machine for your project!

Machines Currently Available

ModelFeaturesIn The BoxAverage Price

Cricut Joy

Cuts 50+ materials, including iron-on, cardstock, vinyl, paper & Smart Materials™1 Compatible with Smart Materials™ to cut long shapes up to 4 ft (1.2 m), or repeated cuts up to 20 ft (6.1 m) in one go Works with Cricut Joy™ Pens & Cricut Joy Infusible Ink™ Markers to draw and write in a variety of styles Weighing in at only 3.9 lbs (1.75 kg), this machine packs away easily and sets up instantly Bluetooth® wireless technology* Use with the free Cricut Design Space® app

Cricut Joy cutting machine Blade + Housing** Fine Point Pen, Black (0.4 mm)** StandardGrip Mat, 4.5 in x 6.5 in (11.4 cm x 16.5 cm)** Welcome card Power adapter Free trial membership to Cricut Access™ (for new subscribers) 50 ready-to make projects online Materials for a practice cut

$130

Cricut Explore Air

Cricut Explore Air 2 cuts everything from cardstock, vinyl and iron-on to specialty materials like glitter paper, cork, and bonded fabric.Works with 6 tools to cut, write, score, foil & more (sold separately)2Use with the free Cricut Design Space® app Bluetooth® wireless technology* Built-in tool holder and extra storage to keep extra tools and accessories within reach

Cricut Explore Air® 2 machine Premium Fine-Point Blade + Housing Fine Point Pen, Black LightGrip Machine Mat, 12 in x 12 in (30.5 cm x 30.5 cm) Welcome Book USB cable Power adapter Free trial membership to Cricut Access™ (for new subscribers) 50 ready-to-make projects Materials for a practice project

$170

Cricut Explore Air 3

Cricut Explore 3 cuts, draws, scores, and more with jaw-dropping speed and precision. Up to 2X faster than its predecessor and compatible with Smart Materials Compatible with Smart Materials™ for long cuts up to 12 ft (3.6 m) in one go2 Works with 6 tools to cut, write, score, foil & more (sold separately)3Use with the free Cricut Design Space® app Bluetooth® wireless technology* Docking slot for mobile devices & built-in storage Compatible with Cricut Roll Holder (sold separately) to support rolls of Smart Material up to 75 ft (22.8 m

Cricut Explore 3 machine Premium Fine-Point Blade + Housing Welcome card USB cable Power adapter Free trial subscription to Cricut Access™ (for new subscribers) 100 ready-to-make projects online Material for a practice cut

$280

Cricut Maker

This smart cutting machine has the tools to cut hundreds of materials quickly and accurately, from the most delicate paper and fabric to the tough stuff like matboard, leather, and basswood. Cricut Maker delivers professional-level cutting performance that anyone can use. Works with 13 tools to cut, write, score, foil, engrave, deboss & more (sold separately)2Bluetooth® wireless technology* Built-in docking slot and USB port for charging mobile devices Built-in tool holder and extra storage to keep extra tools and accessories within reach

Cricut Maker® machine Rotary Blade + Drive Housing Premium Fine-Point Blade + Housing Fine Point Pen, Black FabricGrip Machine Mat, 12 in x 12 in (30.5 cm x 30.5 cm) LightGrip Machine Mat, 12 in x 12 in (30.5 cm x 30.5 cm) Welcome Book USB cable Power adapter Free trial membership to Cricut Access™ (for new subscribers) 50 free ready-to-make projects, including 25 sewing patterns Materials for a practice project

$250

Cricut Maker 3

With the ability to cut more than 300 materials, and compatible with more than 13 tools to cut, score, write, deboss, engrave, and more, the versatile Cricut Maker 3 combines power, speed, and pro-level performance to keep up with your making demands. Up to 2X faster than its predecessor4Built-in docking slot and USB port for charging mobile devices Compatible with Cricut Roll Holder (sold separately) to support rolls of Smart Materials up to 75 ft (22.8

Cricut Maker 3 machine Premium Fine-Point Blade + Housing Welcome card USB cable Power adapter Free trial subscription to Cricut Access™ (for new subscribers) 100 ready-to-make projects online Material for a practice cu

$380

More Model Information

The older models of the Cricut are gradually being phased out. While there are still a few older models out there, currently there are four main models available.

There are similarities in these models:

  1. They all use Cricut Design Space
  2. They all cut, write, score and print and cut

But there are also differences between them:

Cricut Joy

  • The Cricut Joy is the newest model in the Cricut line.
  • It is a smaller, lighter, and more portable Cricut machine.
  • It can do longer cuts, especially on vinyl without a mat!
  • It can create unique labels with new writable pens.
  • There is writeable vinyl for this machine. It will also make super-fast greeting cards with a new card mat.
  • There is a host of accessories that come with this machine.
  • The size of the material to be cut is limited in size. You can cut materials that are 45" wide, and up to 115" long.
  • The Cricut Joy has just two tools: the fine point blade, which comes with the Joy, and the foiling tool
  • The Cricut Joy also cuts fewer types of material, focusing on heat transfer vinyl, cardstock, and what is known as “Smart Materials,” which it can cut matless.
  • One of the limitations of the Cricut Joy is the lack of a double tool holder (available on both the Explore Air and Maker). So when you want to use a pen, you have to remove the blade or tool to insert the pen, which can be a little tedious
  • The Cricut Joy is a great price point for those who are very new to crafting or consider themselves casual DIYers. The Cricut Joy also has an easier learning curve which can make it the right choice for the new or occasional crafter.
  • The Cricut Joy is often a good second cutting machine, as it’s more portable and very easy to use when you just need to make a quick card or vinyl decal.

The product will be released on March 1, 2020. It is only available in blue at this time.

The price for this product is listed at $179.99

Cricut Explore

  • Cuts and writes on about 100 different materials. Has the smart dial to select materials or use a computer program.
  • Able to load Cricut cartridges into the program one time
  • Has Bluetooth connectivity with an adapter that you can purchase online
  • Comes in green and wild orchid (only available on HSN)
  • This machine is being phased out.

Cricut Explore 1

  • Cuts and writes on about 100 different materials.
  • Has the smart dial to select materials or use a computer program.
  • Able to load Cricut cartridges into the program one time.
  • Has Bluetooth connectivity with an adapter that you can purchase online.
  • Performs faster than the Cricut Explore.
  • Available in blue, gold, wild orchid, and teal.
  • This is the most basic machine of the line but it is being phased out

Cricut Explore Air

  • It also cuts and writes on about 100 different materials, but is faster than the basic models.
  • It also has built-in Blue tooth technology
  • Available in grey, navy pink poppy, coral

Averages about $179

Cricut Explore 2

  • The Cricut Explore 2 has been very popular and comes in at a great price point these days.
  • The Cricut Explore Air 2 uses the basic Fine Point Blade and Smart Set Dial to cut various materials, from cardstock to heat transfer vinyl to Infusible Ink.
  • It has a deep-cut blade that will cut thicker materials as well as a bonded fabric blade to cut fabrics with bonded backing.
  • It can be used both with a blue tooth or with a USB connection.
  • It is a great machine for those just getting started with electronic cutting machines.
  • It also cuts 100 different materials.
  • The difference in this model is that it cuts and writes two times faster.
  • It also has a dual adapter that allows you to write and cut at the same time on white paper.

Colors:

  • Mint, sky, matte black, raspberry, Available flamingo pearl, are universally available.
  • Blue, pearl. peacock boysenberry, periwinkle coral, and sunflower (only at Michael's)
  • Rose, cobalt, and wisteria (only at Joann's).
  • Ivory and gold only at HSN

Averages about $300

Cricut Explore 3

  • The Cricut Explore 3 was launched in June 2021. It is faster than the previous models. It also does away with the Smart Dial.
  • Now you can select the materials that you are cutting from a very populated list in the Design Space application program.
  • On the Explore 3, they swapped the glossy and matte finishes so the machines stay cleaner with fewer fingerprints. The Explore 3 has a new slot in the lid to hold your tablet or phone.
  • It also cuts some materials faster than other Explore models. This model cuts materials 2 x faster than other Explore versions. That saves a lot of time
  • Another new feature is in the Print Then Cut feature. Before you could only use this function on white paper. The Cricut Explore 3 now allows you to Print Then Cut on colored paper and printed paper too.
  • It also offers matless cutting with the use of Smart materials only. There is also a roller attachment which is a separate purchase. This allows you to use a roll of vinyl up to 75 feet. You can get Smart Materials in Smart Vinyl, Smart Iron-On, and Smart Paper Sticker Cardstock in a variety of colors and finishes.
  • Another feature is that you can cut vinyl projects up to 12 long.

The Explore 3 is great for all crafters and particularly good for a small business that is making decals for T-shirts, signs, and cups as it can cut faster and longer.

The only color available as of 6/21 is mint green.

Average Price is $299

Cricut Maker

  • Adds a whole new line of functions to the Cricut line. It has built-in Bluetooth technology. This is considered the next step up from the Cricut Explore Air 2.
  • It cuts faster than any other model. It also has a dual adapter that will allow you to do two things like cut and score in one pass. The nice thing about the Maker is that it can do Print Then Cut on colored paper as well as white paper.
  • It cuts more than 100 types of materials. It has a different blade for thicker materials. So that you can cut things like material, cardboard, light wood, and a lot more. There are more blades available with this model that will allow you to do more functions than ever before.
  • It has a new housing that was introduced for machine accessories. It’s called the Adaptive Tool System! This system has the ability to lift and turn the blade during the cutting process. It does this based on the type of material you are cutting and the type of blade you are using.
  • These extra tools allow for some really intricate cuts on less typical materials that you can’t get with the Explore. The Maker machines cut up to 300 materials, while the Explore machines cut up to 100 materials. And the Maker’s tool system allows for new tools, such as the new engraving tool that came out last year.

This machine would be for the more serious crafter who wants the ability to cut more materials.

Colors:

Dark grey, blue rose, and champagne are currently available

Averages about $400

Cricut Maker 3

  • The Cricut Maker 3 has all the features of the Cricut Maker. The Cricut Maker 3 can do everything that the original Maker can do, but now it does it faster, longer, and—if you’re using Smart Materials—without a mat.
  • You still have the Adaptive Tool System with all the tools previously available.
  • The biggest difference between the Cricut Explore 3 and the Cricut Explore Air 2 is that the Explore 3 can cut Smart Materials in a long, continuous cut without a mat, and it can cut it faster. The speed of this machine will save you a lot of time.
  • Like the Explore 3, the Maker 3 also offers the Print Then Cut feature on white, colored, and printed paper.
  • The Cricut Maker 3 offers matless cutting with Smart Materials. It actually cuts five times faster with Smart Materials. You can get Smart Materials in Smart Vinyl, Smart Iron-On, and Smart Paper Sticker Cardstock in a variety of colors and finishes.
  • The optional Roll Holder hooks right onto the front of either the Cricut Explore 3 or Cricut Maker 3 and holds your roll of vinyl for you — this is SO useful! There’s even a built-in trimmer on the roll holder so you can easily cut off the vinyl when your cut is finished.

The Maker 3 is for the serious crafter who wants to cut as much as possible in as little time as necessary. It’s also great for smaller business owners for whom time matters.

The only color available as of 6/21 is baby blue.

Average price is $399

More About Cricut Models

Cricut Tools

There are lots of tools to choose from that enhance your Cricut experience

There are lots of tools to choose from that enhance your Cricut experience

Your Explore package may come with some tools or may not depending on the offer and the price that you paid. You might have opened the package and found these tools and wondered what they were about.

Here are the tools that you need for your daily use of the Cricut Explore. They can be purchased singly if you only need one or two, or they can be purchased as a package, which provides better value.

  1. Scoring Stylus: Scores folds and lines for cards, envelopes and more
  2. Fine Point Tweezers: Lifts and secures cuts and delicate materials
  3. Weeder: Removes negative or unwanted sections of cuts.
  4. Detail Scissors: Has a detailed micro tip with a cover. Use to snip fine detail on all materials
  5. Spatula: Lifts your cuts from the mat. Prevents ripping of parts of the cut
  6. Scraper: Assists is burnishing materials and helps you clean off the mat

Setting Up Your Cricut

Setting up your Cricut could not be easier

Setting up your Cricut could not be easier

What you get in your Cricut Explore box will depend on the package that you purchase. The more you spend, the more you will get.

Basics that you will get include:

  1. The Cricut Explore machine
  2. Power cord for your unit
  3. The blade housing and the blade (already installed)
  4. The pen holder and adapter
  5. Supplies for a sample project
  6. A green mat
  7. A pen
  8. Directions to put it together

Setting up your Cricut should not be a difficult task. Provocraft makes it so easy that even if you have not handled one of these machines before, you will have no problems getting started.

  • Take any mats, pens and blades that you may have received and set them aside
  • Carefully, take the machine out of the box and remove all wrappings and cardboard. Remove the tape that is holding the lid closed and any wrapping on the dials.
  • Set the machine on the surface that you have selected.
  • Press the open button on the left side of the machine. If you have a Maker model, there will be no open button. Just open the top lid and the rest will follow.
  • In the bottom of your box will be a paper that has a link to help you get the setup done with ease. If there is no paper giving you those directions, then go to https://design.cricut.com/setup. All you have to do is click on your machine and you will get all the information that you need.
  • Remove the power cable from your box. It is the one that has the brick like symbol. Follow the directions on your computer to attach it to your Cricut and then attach it to your power source. (Make sure that your power source has power)
  • Your Cricut should have your blade already attached to the B (Blade) tool holder which is the tool holder on the right. The other tool holder is the A (Accessories) tool holder on the left. This tool holder holds all other tools other than blades.
  • If you have a Cricut Explore Air 2 or a Maker, you can now create your wireless connection to your computer. First, power on your Cricut with the power on button on the upper right hand of your machine. Next, open your Bluetooth settings on your computer or ipad. You may need to enable it. You will either see Cricut AIR or MAKER in your list of devices. Click on Pair. Then enter the code oooo.
  • If you do not have Bluetooth or have an explore, you can still connect with the USB cable provided in your box. The square end goes into the back of your Cricut and the rectangular end goes into the port in your computer.

Congratulations! You are now ready to complete the sample project that came with your Cricut! Enjoy your new adventure!

Cricut Ideas

Want more Cricut Explore tips? Here are some of my personal tips that I use daily when I make my projects.

  • Check your material dial before you start your cut. In my rush to get something started, I forget to check my dial and botch the cut. Place a reminder on your machine to help you remember.
  • Make sure to save your projects. If you want to use a project again or want to go back to a project, make sure to hit that button to save your project.
  • If you don't see the settings that you need or want on your custom dial, go to custom. You will see a lot more settings to choose from. They are easy to use and you will be less frustrated. More options should not drive you crazy, thy should enhance your experience!
  • Deepen your score lines by adding more score lines at the exact same position of the original. That way the Cricut will pass over the line more than once. The score line will be more visible and easier to work with.
  • You can emboss with your Explore if you have an accessory adaptor. Just put your scoring stylus in place of your cutting blade. The stylus will then emboss instead of cutting. You can find the adaptor at the Cricut

Setup Tips for Your Cricut Machine

Setting up your Cricut cutting machine is easy. In minutes, you can start creating projects

Setting up your Cricut cutting machine is easy. In minutes, you can start creating projects

So many people get their Cricut and leave it in the box, afraid to even get it set up!

Here are a few things to consider when setting up your Cricut:

  1. Set up your Cricut as close to your computer as you can. I have mine right next to my desk where my computer is on a rolling cart. I keep my tools, pens and vinyl in the draws on my cart. That way I only have a few steps to go to change my mat or make some adjustments in my settings.
  2. Give some space behind your machine. You mat will move forward as your project is being cut, so you will need to have some space behind your machine to allow for the mat movement. Before every cut, your Cricut will run the mat through to make sure that there is enough space behind the machine to run the mat. You should have about 24 inches in front and behind your machine.
  3. Have your Cricut on a flat surface with some room in the front. Your project will not cut properly if you mat falls straight down off your machine. You need a few inches in front of the machine to hold the mat upright to the cut goes correctly.

Cricut Blade Uses

Blade TypeCricut It's Used InBest Use

Deep Point Blade

Cricut Explore Air 2 and Cricut Maker

Cuts through thicker materials up to 1,5mm thick, Use with magnet sheets, craft foam, foil, leather, and corrugated pape

Fine Point Blade

Cricut Explore Air 2 & Cricut Maker

Most often used blade. Cuts medium weight materials.Use with paper, iron ons, vinyl, card stock, and washi tape

Bonded Fabric Blade

Cricut Explore Air two and the Cricut Maker

Used for bonded fabric and stiff felt. Cuts, silk, polyester, denim and burlap

Scoring Wheel

Cricut Maker Only-there is both a single and a double scoring wheel available

Creates extra deep scoring lines for folding. Use single wheel for light to medium materials. Use double wheel for heavyweight materials. There is only one housing for this tool. The tips are interchangeable

Rotary Blade

Cricut Maker Only

Cuts delicate soft fabric and non bonded material. Use with silk, cotton, lycra, denim, felt, cashmere, chiffon and crepe paper

Knife Blade

Cricut Maker Only

Cuts through thicker materials like chipboard, balsa and matboard

Cleaning and Sharpening Your Cricut Blade

Taking a few minutes to maintain your blades will help you get the lonest use of them

Taking a few minutes to maintain your blades will help you get the lonest use of them

Maintaining your Cricut blades will save you money! Taking the time to clean and sharpen your blades will save you time and money. You will get cleaner and easier cuts every time.

Cleaning the Blade

One of the most important things you can do is to keep your blades free of debris. Anytime you have little bits of paper or vinyl caught in your blade, your cut will not be clean. You will wind up with ripped paper or vinyl.

You can remove the blade from your Cricut housing. Blow on it to remove any bits that may be caught in the blade.

You can also wash the blade in soapy water to clean any bits. Remove the blade from the housing. Wash and dry the blade before you replace it back into the housing and the machine.

Sharpening Your Cricut Blades

All you need to sharpen your cutting blades is a large piece of aluminum foil. Simply ball it up and keep it where you have your cutting machine.

Every time you use your machine, simply remove the blade housing from the machine. Then press on the housing to expose the blade, Either pierce or slice the blade into the ball of aluminum up to 50 times. Your blade will be sharper and last longer if you take this step.

Blade Tips and Ideas

  • In a pinch, sharpen the blade on a stone sharpening slab or knife sharpener.
  • If the blade is ripping the paper rather than cutting it, check to make sure that there is not any bits of material around the blade itself.
  • If you are cutting materials for sewing, it is recommended that you use the Cricut FabricGrip™ cutting mat and Washable Fabric Pen.
  • Replace your rotary blade when you notice uncut threads or when the material settings in Design Space no longer seem accurate.
  • Use one blade to cut paper and a different blade to cut vinyl. Both of them will last longer.
The tools of the Cricut Maker series allows more functions than any other cutting machine

The tools of the Cricut Maker series allows more functions than any other cutting machine

Tools Exclusive to the Maker

ToolUsesWhat To Use It On

Debossing Tip

Adds dimension to your project by creating detailed depressions to a variety of materials. It uses the Cricut Quick swap Housing

Foil poster board, heavy chipboard (2mm), kraft board, light chipboard (0.37mm), matboard-4ply, metallic poster board, poster board, foil acetate, vellum, faux leather, genuine leather, genuine leather, tooling leather, craft foam glitter cardstock, heavy cardstock, balsa (1.6mm), balsa (2.4mm)

Engraving Tip

Use Engraving Tip to carve unique and permanent designs on a variety of materials. It is used with the quick swap housing.

Anodized Aluminum, brass, bronze, stainless steel, faux leather, garment leather, genuine leather, tooling leather., vellum, acetate foil, acetate

Knife Blade

The knife blade is used to cut through heavier materials

Tooling leather, balsa wood (1/16 & 3/32). basswood (1./16 & 1/32) heavy chipboard(2mm). matboard 4 ply

Perforation Blade

Use Perforation Blade to create evenly spaced perforation lines for clean, even tearaways. It's the perfect tool to make tear-out booklet pages, raffle tickets, homemade journals, or for any project that demands a clean, easy tear.

Corrugated cardboard, metallic poster board, glitter cardstock, heavy cardstock, felt, craft foam, glitter craft foam, iron-on, faux leather, tooling leather, vellum, plastic, acetate, foil acetate

Rotary Blade

Cuts fabric with precision. It has a gliding and and rolling action that cuts through any fabric without using backing.

Non-Bonded Fabrics-cotton, denim. felt, silk, lycra, canvas, chiffon, fleece, gauze, microfiber, nylon

Scoring Wheel-light and heavy

Makes crisp deep single scoring lines to help make folds in projects. Can be used for light materials like crepe paper, cardstock and acetate. It uses the Quick Snap Housing

Corrugated cardboard, damask chipboard, flat cardboard, heavy chipboard(2mm), kraft board, cardstock, foil acetate, plastic packaging, copy paper, corrugated paper

Wavy Blade

Use Wavy Blade to create a whimsical wavy decorative edge on any design.

Corrugated cardboard, metallic poster board, glitter cardstock, heavy cardstock, kraft board, poster board, cotton denim, flannel, fusible fleece

All the Cricut tips that you need to create better projects

All the Cricut tips that you need to create better projects

Want more Cricut Explore tips? Here are some of my personal tips that I use daily when I make my projects:

  • Check your material dial before you start your cut. In my rush to get something started, I forget to check my dial and botch the cut. Place a reminder on your machine to help you remember.
  • Make sure to save your projects. If you want to use a project again or want to go back to a project, make sure to hit that button to save your project.
  • If you don't see the settings that you need or want on your custom dial, go to custom. You will see a lot more settings to choose from. They are easy to use and you will be less frustrated. More options should not drive you crazy, thy should enhance your experience!
  • Deepen your score lines by adding more score lines at the exact same position of the original. That way the Cricut will pass over the line more than once. The score line will be more visible and easier to work with.
  • You can emboss with your Explore if you have an accessory adaptor. Just put your scoring stylus in place of your cutting blade. The stylus will then emboss instead of cutting. You can find the adaptor at the Cricut websi

Cricut Mats: Tip and Information

The Cricut mats make your projects easy to complete

The Cricut mats make your projects easy to complete

The Cricut mats are east to use. They come in three strengths- light grip, standard grip and strong grip. They come in 12 inch by 12-inch sizes and 12 inch by 24-inch sizes (for larger projects)

Cricut recommends that you clean your mats with Dawn detergent and water. Before washing your mat, use your scraper to scrap off any leftover materials on the mat. Let air dry.

  • If your mats have very little stickiness left to them. You can use painters' tape to stick your materials down.
  • You can use a baby wipe or a Lysol Bleach wipe to try to renew the stickiness.
  • Avoid using any spray adhesives on your mats to re-stick them. The adhesives may get on your rollers and ruin your machine. Better to buy a new mat!
  • Rotate your mat 180 degrees periodically when using it to extend the life of your mat.
  • Use a scraper to remove the larger bits of paper and debris.
  • Remember to remove the plastic cover from your mat before putting any material on the mat. Replace the cover it as soon as you clean and dry your mat. The cover keeps the mat cleaner.
  • Use the right mat for your project. When in doubt use a stickier mat.
  • Cutting a piece of transfer tape, the size of your mat and putting it sticky side down will re-stick your mat.
  • When cutting a 3x3 piece of paper or smaller, use a newer or tackier mat.
  • If you mat is beyond repair in its' stickiness, you can extend the life of your mat by using painter's tape or washi tape to hold down the material.
  • Always place the project down on a table. Then remove the mat from the project rather than removing the project from the mat. You will have less curling of the paper or vinyl.
  • Keep a lint roller by your Cricut, especially of you have pets. Use it every time that you use your mat.
  • If your mat gets cut through, you can extend the life of it. Use a piece of packing tape or Gorilla tape to seal the rip.
  • Avoid touching the mat with your fingers. The oil from your fingers will take the stickiness away.
  • Do consider placing a piece of transfer tape on top of your mat, sticky side up if you are cutting things like felt. It will make it easier to clean your mat later.

Storing Your Mats:

  • You can store your mats by placing them right under your machine.
  • Always lay your mats flat. You can place command hooks anywhere in your craft room and just hang them off the command hooks.
  • Always use the plastic covers on your mats when not in use.

Choosing Mats for the Cricut Explore and Maker

The Cricut Explore and Maker have a selection of mats for specific cutting needs

The Cricut Explore and Maker have a selection of mats for specific cutting needs

MatBest Uses

Light Grip Mat-The Blue Mat

Copy paper, thin cardstock, construction paper, light vinyl, parchment (vellum) paper, sticky notes

Standard Grip Mat-The Green Mat

Cardstock, textured paper, embossed cardstock, iron on vinyl, vinyl, felt, fleece, infusible ink, washi paper

Fabric Grip Mat-The Pink Mat

Fabric, leather, crepe paper, bonded fabric, burlap, felt

Strong Grip Mat-The Purple Mat

Thick cardstock, glitter cardstock, magnet sheets, chipboard, craft foam, balsa wood, aluminum foil, faux leather, suede

Card Mat

Works with Cricut insert cards to create up to 4 cards at the same time.

Choosing Mats for the Cricut Joy

The Cricut Joy has mat specifically designed for its size and needs

The Cricut Joy has mat specifically designed for its size and needs

MatBest Uses

Light Grip-The Blue Mat

Copy paper, scrapbook paper, thin cardstock, vellum, construction paper, sticky notes, light vinyl, wrapping paper

Standard Mat-The Green Mat

Cardstock, vinyl, infusible ink, faux leather, pattern paper, washi paper,

Card Mat

Insert cards on mat

Getting the Most From Your Mats

our Cricut Explore will more than likely include the green sticky mat. This mat is the most often used mat for general projects, The mats come in 12" by 12" sizes. There is a green mat (medium strength mat) that comes in a 12" x 24" size for larger projects.

There are other mats that you can purchase as singles or in a package. Some of the packages will include one of each type of mat. Others will include several types of the same mat.

  • Blue Mat: Best for lightweight materials and paper. You could use this on vellum, thin card stock, vinyl and vellum.
  • Green Mat: This is the mat that you will use most frequently. It is the mat for medium materials like card stock, patterned paper, vinyl and iron on vinyl.
  • Purple Mat: Has a strong grip mat that is used for things like thick cardboard, glitter card stock, magnet materials, chipboard and poster board.
  • Pink Mat: Used for fabric
  • 2 by 2 Card Mat: This is the newest Cricut mat. It holds up to 4 2" by 2" cards. It works with all Cricut cards including cutaways. and insert cards. It works with Cricut Explore and Maker machines.

Mat Tips and Tricks

You will see a lot of different ideas on keeping your mats clean. However, I recommend using the method that the manufacturer recommends. That is to wash your mats in dish detergent and water. You will find that it works just fine. Following their recommendation will not void your warranty. Allow to air dry.

  • Always pull the mat away from the project, rather than pulling the project off the mat. You will get less curling. You will also have less chance of damaging the project as it comes off the mat !
  • I have used the product Awesome as seen on the internet and I found that it removed a lot of the adhesive from the mat.
  • Make sure to load your mat correctly on your Cricut Explore. Both sides of the mat should be in evenly and must slide under the rollers.
  • Instead of peeling your project from the mat, which can result in curling (or total mangling), peel the mat away from your project. Bend the mat away from the card rather than the other way around.
  • It may help to turn the mat upside down and bend one corner to lift the cardstock. You can then slip the spatula tool under to help to remove your project.
  • Load mats correctly for the best cuts! Make sure that both ends of the mat are loaded equally and are slid under the rollers.
  • Make sure that you are using the right mat and that the mat is sticky! Lack of stickiness is one of the biggest causes of project failure. There is nothing worse than to watch your paper move all over the place and jam because the mat was not sticky enough.
  • If your mats are beyond help as far as the stickiness is concerned, you can extend their life by taping your paper down with painter's tape or washi tape.
  • When you get a new mat, it is too sticky. So, before you use it, pat it down with your hands to take a little bit of that stickiness away.

Cleaning Your Mats

The best way to clean your mats is to use baby wipes to clean the bits left over after you cut your projects.

An alternate method to clean your mats uses a gentle dishwashing detergent like Dawn and warm water to wipe your mats down.

  • Do not use a heavy scrubber as you will scrub all the stickiness off your mats.
  • Do not use hot water or you will melt the adhesive factor off your mats
  • Never put your mats in the dishwasher. The heat will warp them and kill the adhesive.

Important:

The Pink Fabric Grip mat should neither be cleaned with baby wipes or dishwashing detergent. Instead, clean it with a lint roller and/or tw

The Newest Cricut Mat

More ideas to help you get the best experiences from your Cricut cutting machine

More ideas to help you get the best experiences from your Cricut cutting machine

More Cricut Tips

Want more Cricut Explore tips? Here are some of my personal tips that I use daily when I make my projects

  • Check your material dial before you start your cut. In my rush to get something started, I forget to check my dial and botch the cut. Place a reminder on your machine to help you remember.
  • Make sure to save your projects. If you want to use a project again or want to go back to a project, make sure to hit that button to save your project.
  • If you don't see the settings that you need or want on your custom dial, go to custom. You will see a lot more settings to choose from. They are easy to use and you will be less frustrated. More options should not drive you crazy, thy should enhance your experience!
  • Deepen your score lines by adding more score lines at the exact same position of the original. That way the Cricut will pass over the line more than once. The score line will be more visible and easier to work with.
  • You can emboss with your Explore if you have an accessory adaptor. Just put your scoring stylus in place of your cutting blade. The stylus will then emboss instead of cutting. You can find the adaptor at the Cricut

Cutting Paper With Cricut-Tips

There is a wide variety of paper that the Cricut will cut. It will cut even tissue paper

There is a wide variety of paper that the Cricut will cut. It will cut even tissue paper

  • You can cut on a 12 x 12 paper by folding it in half and sandwiching the mat in the fold. The same thing can be done to cut on a card of any size.
  • Use junk paper from packaging for making sample cuts to see how they will work.
  • If backing paper with Xyron before cutting, tape Xyron backed paper to mat to keep it from slipping.
  • Add a shim (piece of paper) under the mat to help cut thicker paper like Bazzill.
  • To cut multiple colors, put 6x6, 3x6, or 3x3 pieces on a single mat, and then move your blade to the top corner of the next color without unloading the mat.
  • Peel the mat from the material that you are cutting. Bend the mat and peel away to avoid any damage to the project.
  • Use A brayer to roll your paper onto the mat Roll the brayer several times on the paper on your mat. It will help the paper lift and keep your mat sticky

Cricut Pens And Markers

cricut-tips-and-ideas

Cricut pens and markers are constructed to work seamlessly with your Cricut maker in the B holder. Except for the joy, which has its own pens and markers, all pens and markers work with al Cricut models.

Cricut pens and markers can write on any material that normal pens can write on like paper, cardboard, textured cardstock and vinyl as well. Before using the marker or pen on your material, make sure you do a test sample to ensure that the ink does not rub off.

To tell the difference between all of the Cricut pens, simply look at the barrel color and the abbreviation stamped on the bottom of the pen. For example, Glitter pens are marked with a "G", Extra Fine Point Pens are marked with "XF", and so forth.

All pens are non-toxic, acid-free, and are permanent after set to dry

Cricut Marker Tips

  • Similar to Infusible Ink Fine Point Pens, these markers also require an EasyPress and a compatible poly-coated base. Their larger point allows for a more bold, permanent design.
  • Calligraphy markers are the largest marker that Cricut offers. And it features a slightly angled tip that allows it to create a beautiful hand-drawn look. In order to correctly use the calligraphy pen, you need to tilt the pen at a 45-degree angle during the installation process.
  • Metallic markers are perfect for adding a bit of sheen to any project and come in a variety of bold and bright shades.

Cricut Pen Tips

  • Always store your Cricut pens with the tip down. That way the ink is always ready to go when you are ready to create something special. When you get your pens, they are packaged with the tip up. Once you unwrap them, place them tip down for an hour or two. Then try writing with them on a piece of scrap paper. If they write clearly, you are ready to go.
  • Cricut gel pens should be stored horizontally. That way the ink will not have a chance to leak out.
  • Always keep the cap on your pens when not in use. When you are using your pens, place the cap on top of the pen. That way you will not lose them.
  • Standard sizes for Cricut pens are:
    1. Fine Tip: 0.4
    2. Gel Tip Glitter: 0.8
    3. Medium Tip: 1.0
    4. Calligraphy: 2.0
  • Washable fabric pen was created to be used with the Cricut Maker when cutting out fabric projects. It’s a great way to mark seam allowances, embroidery patterns, and transfer markings since it’s easily removed with water.

Installing A Pen Or Marker On The Cricut Explore And Maker

  1. Open clamp A. Your markers and pens will always go into clamp A
  2. Remove the pen cover and place it on the bottom of the pen
  3. Place the pen/marker into the clamp until you hear a click. unless you hear that click. it is not engaged.
  4. Close the clamp

Installing A Pen Or Marker Into The Cricut Joy

  1. Remove the blade from the Joy
  2. Place the pen/marker into the clamp until you hear a click.
  3. Close the clamp

Cutting and Crafting With Vinyl With the Cricut

Cutting vinyl with the Cricut is smooth and easy

Cutting vinyl with the Cricut is smooth and easy

Who does not love vinyl projects on Cricut electronic cutting machines? They cut through vinyl-like butter. There are unlimited vinyl projects that can be made with your Cricut,

Here are a few tips to help you cut vinyl with your Cricut:

  1. Use Contact paper as a substitute for Transfer tape. Transfer tape can get very pricey, especially if you do a lot of vinyl projects. Use the Contact paper that is found in the "kitchen" area of most stores. You will want the clear Contact rather than a patterned or colored type.
  2. Reuse your Transfer Tape or Contact paper. Why spend more money than you have to? Keep the backing paper and reapply. You should get at least 3-5 applications from each piece.
  3. Use a credit card or a Cricut scraper as a burnishing tool. Burnishing is a technique of rubbing the vinyl on your project. Burnishing is typically used to set the transfer tape or Contact paper on the vinyl so that you can lift it from the mat. Then it is used again to transfer your project onto the surface of your project, You use the scraper or credit card to rub on the surface,
  4. There are three kinds of transfer tape, Strong Grip, Transfer Clear and Paper Transfer. Use the Strong for glitter vinyl. The strong tape may leave a residue. To reduce the grip, rub the tape on some fabric ahead of time. Leave and fabric bits on the tape. That will reduce the stickiness and relieve the residue problem.
  5. Remove the vinyl with the transfer tape face down. First, place the transfer tape onto the vinyl and burnish. Next, turn everything over, so the transfer tape is face down. Finally, slowly pull back the vinyl backing paper while pressing down firmly. The backing paper comes off and the vinyl sticks beautifully to the transfer tape!
  6. Cut your vinyl close to the size of the image you will be cutting. Vinyl is an investment and you want to waste as little as possible. Keep your scraps in a box for later use on smaller projects.
  7. Make Weeding Easier. The cutting lines are often difficult to see when you are removing the bits and pieces from your design. To see the cut lines easier, sprinkle a little baby powder or corn starch on the project. You can remove any leftover with a baby wipe
  8. Use a Paper Trimmer To Cut Pieces of Vinyl. You will avoid wasting vinyl
  9. Cut Slits in transfer tape if you are applying it to a curved surface. Cut the slits at the edges of the transfer tape. It will have more give as you apply it to the curved surface.
  10. When layering with iron-on sheets, you can place all the layers down at once so that you do not overheat your surface or your iron-on materials.
  11. Cut nail decals on the Washi sheet setting. That will give you maximum sharpness and a cleaner cut. The washi cut setting is perfect for more difficult cuts.
  12. Use craft punches on scrap vinyl. The Paper Craft Punch has different designs that you can use on your vinyl scraps, just punch and cut one of your choices to make different projects. These paper punches can be found on amazon easily!
  13. Place Heat Transfer vinyl with the shiny side down on your mat. The shiny side is how you transfer your design to your fabric or another object.
  14. Use dark transfer paper for iron-on vinyl. The transfer will turn out much better.
  15. Use Mirror when you are cutting heat transfer vinyl. Remember, you are cutting from the backside of the iron-on transfer. So, the entire cut will be backward if you do not use the mirror switch.
  16. Take an empty Clorox wipes container, the point where the wipes go through is perfect to remove the vinyl from the hook, and once the container is full you can throw it away.
  17. Apply this trick for use the transfer tape, it’s really useful. Many times it happens that when you are transferring your vinyl to the transfer tape by scraping the front side, it does not stick completely to the transfer tape, many parts remain stuck on the backside. All you have to do to fix this is to turn the transfer tape over, scrape the backside and then pull it off, you will see how much easier the vinyl sticks to the transfer tape, just by pulling the backside of the transfer paper.
  18. Store 12" by 12" vinyl sheets is a scrapbook in page protectors to keep the vinyl clean.
  19. Add Mod Podge to removable vinyl. If you want to make a project last longer, and are using removable vinyl, add some Mod Podge over the top of the vinyl
  20. Use a lint roller to remove little bits left over on your project. Make sure your lint roller is not too sticky because it will pick up a whole letter, you can rub the lint roller against your shirt and then run it across the vinyl, it will definitely pick up the little bits.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Linda F Correa