You might remember at the beginning of the year I asked around on my Instagram about the Cricut machines and whether people thought they were worth the hype, because let’s be honest, there’s a *lot* of hype around these machines.
On the whole it got great feedback and I put it on my wish list. Here’s something you need to know about me, I’m quite a calculated shopper. On the whole I don’t do impulse buys, and instead brew on something for a few weeks/months deciding whether something is ‘worth’ it (often to my detriment when it comes to fabric because it’s always sold out by the time I ‘give in’!)
But Joy (@pinkcoatclub) also pointed me towards their ‘influencer’ programme and I thought, hey why not give that a go? So I put in an application and thought nothing of it. Months went by and I hadn’t heard anything, so I made a plan to just buy one when they went on offer knowing we’d put it to good use during my brother-in-laws wedding. But suddenly out of the blue I got an email from them inviting me to join the Cricut family. I’m not gonna lie, I Whatsapp-ed every single family member because I was so excited! Not that they had any idea what I was talking about…
So why am I telling you this? Well I want to be 100% clear and honest with you that even though I have been super lucky to be gifted a Cricut Maker (plus other bits and bobs) that it was/is something I would’ve bought myself. So my review is coming from a genuine place.
Anyway, let’s move on to what I know what you’ve been patiently waiting for! My review of the Cricut Maker!
Now, I’m a total Cricut newbie (I mean I only recently found out it’s pronounced ‘cricket’ like the bug, which makes the logo make more sense!) so I’m coming at this as a total beginner. I’ve really thought hard about what I wanted to include in this review- there is just so much to talk about! But rather than bombard you with too much information I thought I’d stick to the basic questions someone might want to ask/think about when looking at buying this machine. Hopefully I’ll follow up with more general posts too.
So what is it?
Cricut Maker is a ‘smart’ cutting machine i.e. it cuts things! But actually it does so, so much more than that: it scores, it draws, it engraves and of course, it cuts.
What comes in the box?
- Cricut Maker machine
- Power cable
- USB cable (for linking directly from laptop to machine)
- Two cutting mats- light grip and fabric
- Premium fine point blade
- Fine point black pen
- Rotary cutter blade
One of the things I love about this product is that it comes with everything you need to get started. Which means that after all that waiting (yup I was that person watching the driveway for the delivery man) you can dive straight in. It even comes with materials to create a card- which you do using the start up tutorial. I thoroughly recommend this as it walks you through the basic process whilst introducing you to the different abilities of the machine.
I opened this up with my husband, Taufiq who was equally excited about the machine. And I’m not joking; we both went ‘woah’. This is one sleek machine. It’s actually beautiful. If beautiful kit makes you happy then this is the product for you. I know this seems silly but the only way we could describe it is that it looks like the Apple product of the cutting machine world. (I’m 100% Apple person btw, whereas Taufiq is an Android guy) There’s something luxurious about this machine, from the soft release when you open it up, to the clever in built storage areas. You can just see how much thought was put into the design. Kudos to you, Cricut engineers & designers!
How does it work?
This is going to be a brief overview because there is just so much to talk about. But here are the basics: To start off you need to use the Cricut design space, which links to the machine either via the USB cable or Bluetooth. You create an account on Cricut and can access the design space via the desktop or through the app. I’ve used the app on my phone and ipad, but also used it on my desktop.
Once you go on to design space you have your canvas, which is where you make your designs, but you can also search existing projects (made by users and Cricut) or use the images in their library*. You can import your own images but there’s plenty in the library to keep you busy if that’s not your thing! Once you’ve created your design you load up your material on the adhesive mats before loading it up to get cut!
*a lot of images will need Cricut Access, which is a monthly/yearly subscription, but there are plenty of free items too. You get a free 30 day trial though so you can get an idea of how much/what you would use.
One thing I’m always conscious of when buying expensive kit is the software, because the kit is only ever going to be as good as the software to run it and there’s nothing more frustrating than a bug filled app which crashes every time you use it! I won’t go into actually using the design space because there’s enough to make another blog post, but the software itself is pretty easy to use. I watched a few Youtube tutorials to get my head around the basic functions. But from what I’ve done so far, it’s a really good platform. It’s got a few quirks**, and you will inevitably do something the ‘long’ way around before you realise that there was a button for that, but I think that’s part of the process when you start using something like the Cricut. So expect it to do basic things easily, but be prepared to spend a while getting used to it for more complicated designs.
** Here’s a few quirks to be aware of which I learnt so far:
- You need to use the desktop design space for the Knife blade
- Only the app version has ‘snap grid’ which helps you line things up easily
- Only the desktop version lets you curve letters/words
What else is special about the Maker?
The great thing about the Maker (as opposed to the other machines) is that it when it comes to selecting cutting pressure/depths etc it takes all the brainwork from you. All you have to do is search for the material you’re using (cotton jersey, cardstock, cereal box, iron on vinyl etc etc) and rather than turn a dial, it automatically adjusts the settings for you.
What can it cut?
I’m sure you’ve seen all the videos about the Maker and how it’s their strongest machine yet and can cut through an impressive number of materials (including chipboard and balsawood!) but they’ve recently expanded their range of accessories and as well as cutting blades they now have scoring blades (great if you make cards/gift boxes), an engraving blade, debossing blade, perforation blade and a wavy cutting blade.
The machine is surprisingly quick at cutting paper/card/fabric (we’re talking seconds to minutes) but just be aware when it comes to the thicker material types it takes a lot longer, going over designs from 5-28 times! So don’t expect to be cutting wood in 5min, depending on the intricacy it might take a few hours (or even longer).
But one of the things that appealed to me as a sewer was of course their new rotary cutter blade (which comes as standard with the Maker). This thing is amazing. It twists, it turns, and it cuts like a dream. You can even get the fabric pen so that it marks out all the fabric with notches etc. I used this almost immediately to make a cover for my Cricut machine and it worked beautifully.
Things to be aware of:
One thing I’ve spoken to other Cricut newbies about is ‘Cricut overwhelm’. The possibilities are so endless that you almost get paralysed and don’t know where to start! But take a moment to step back and breathe, make a list of what you want to tackle and go for it!
And as lovely as it is to be able to personalise a t-shirt, or make a birthday card- this stuff takes time. Like all crafts, expect to be putting in some time and effort- from design (I’m not joking when I say that Cricut design space is a rabbit hole. I could spend hours just looking at fonts!), to construction. It all adds up. So maybe don’t go agreeing to making the local football teams charity t-shirts just yet!
And as with any craft, just be aware that you can end up spending a lot on all the accessories/materials. If that’s a concern for you, just be clear with what you want to use it for and what you actually ‘need’. I bought myself the basic tool set, pen sets and a range of cardstock but I can totally see how you might end up emptying the shelves in Hobbycraft into your basket!
I love this machine! But I hear you, “the price!” The price point does mean it’s not really an impulse buy, so if you’re thinking about whether it’s the machine for you I’d suggest thinking about what exactly you want to use it for.
For me it is 100% the game-changer I was expecting it to be. Realistically I can see it being used loads in our house especially with paper craft projects, Eid decorations, to personalised gifts using vinyl. I’ve already used it to make cards, personalise baby grows, cut fabric and make many, many cake toppers!
I know this sounds silly, but growing up as a kid with an ethnic name I knew I would never get personalised stuff so being able to create these things for my family at the touch of a button is such a lovely feeling, especially for the kids. They just beam when they open up the pencil case with their name on it.
When it comes to fabric cutting, the rotary blade is great. Unlike their other machines, you don’t need to bond your fabric to make it suitable to cut through; you just mount it straight on the mats. But there are a few things to consider before you run off to get it to cut out your next make: the machine is limited with how wide it can cut. Because the fabric goes on the mats, it can only ever be 12 inches wide and 12 inches long (unless you get the longer mat, sold separately). This means that you could probably cut a few kids clothes on the fold, but it’s not gonna cut out the new Tilly and the Buttons pattern for you while you grab a cup of tea. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its uses- particularly small, repetitive shapes. As a quilter- this would be amazing. I’m honestly tempted to start quilting because of it! You’d get perfect shapes every time with none of the faff. It’s also been helpful for cutting out rectangles for drawstring bags etc (I’m notoriously terrible at cutting at 90 degrees, all my rectangles end up skewwhiff!) So if you’re sewing includes other crafts like doll making, quilting, or even bag making then there’s definitely a place for the Cricut in your life!
Like I’ve mentioned already, there’s a few things that make the Maker first choice digital cutting machine for me, partly the range of blades available but mainly the way it’s been made to make things easy for a beginner to use (e.g. taking away any fiddling with cutting depths/materials) but still has the capability to grow with you as you get more experienced. I feel like already learnt so much and can’t wait to see where my crafting goes with it…basically, get ready to see a lot more Cricut-ting from me!
Many thanks to the Cricut team for gifting me the Cricut Maker in return of a review and project. All opinions are my honest views.