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3 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Purchased My Cricut Machine

I purchased one of the early Cricut machines back in 2007 and I still have it today. Back then you had to purchase cartridges and along with that cartridge came special keyboard overlays so you knew what item you wanted to create. Cricut has come a long way from that first machine I purchased back in 2007. Just as when I purchased that machine back in 2007, I had a ton of questions when I later purchased the Cricut Maker back in 2018. They are 2 very different machines and it felt as if I was starting over and having to learn a completely new language. Today I wanted to share with you some Cricut terminology and things I wish I had known when I first started with my Cricut.

There are several places you can purchase your Cricut from.  Of course, you can purchase it from the Cricut website as well as your local craft store and even the Home Shopping Network.  The nice thing about purchasing from the HSN, is that they have payment plans so if that is something you need, it’s an option that the others don’t have and usually have bundles.

There are 3 different machines at the time of this post, the Cricut Joy, Cricut Explore Air 2, and the Cricut Maker.  Going forward, I will refer to the Cricut Maker, which is the machine I own. I chose the Maker because it has the most tools and the largest material cutting compatibility.  Since I use my machine for my business, I needed the machine that had the most options.

Cricut machine

While there is no way I can get everything in this one post, I want to give you a small idea and my opinion of the Cricut Maker, what it can do, some terminology, and things I wish I’d know when first starting.  I’m going to assume you know what a Cricut is and what it is used for so I won’t be explaining that in this post.

Terminology

Weeding

I think one of the most commonly used terms when it comes to Cricut machines is weeding.  When you cut something with your machine, there are going to be parts of the image or letters cut that you won’t need.  For example, if you cut the letter “A”, you aren’t going to need the center of the letter or the material between the legs.  When you remove that part, that my friend is weeding. It can be one of the most tedious things in the world if you don’t have the proper tool.  Cricut, of course, does have a weeding tool.

Mats

You have to place the material you’re cutting on a mat so that the machine can cut it.  You can’t just feed the material into the machine alone. You place the material you’re going to cut (fabric, cardstock, vinyl, leather) onto the mat, which is sticky.  You will feed the mat into the machine to cut. Mats come in various sizes.

Design space

Design space is the software used to create your designs. This is an app that you now add to your computer or to your phone so that you can design without having to be connected to the internet.  This was recently released and I’m so glad it’s finally out. I’m sure as you know, you can’t always be connected to the internet when your creative juices start flowing so this is a game-changer!

Cutting larger than the mat

Mats only come so big.  The largest I’ve ever seen is 12 x 30.  What do you do if you want to create a mural for your child’s nursery?  There is a technique called cutting larger than the mat which will allow you to create large wonderful designs!  I haven’t done this year because I haven’t had the need to cut anything that large, but I plan on trying it soon.  You can go to YouTube and search for Cricut cutting larger than the mat.

Welding

If you want to use cursive fonts for your projects, then you’re going to become best friends with welding.  Not just used for cursive fonts, welding allows you to connect things together and fuse them into one item.

Transfer paper/transfer tape

You’ve created and cut this amazing item.  How do you get it on the wall or the paper?  That’s what transfer tape is for. You will need a lot of this so I suggest finding somewhere you can purchase it other than Cricut because it can get quite expensive.  I purchase transfer tape from 651 Vinyl and Brilliant Vinyl.  Both have great customer service and ship fast!

SVG file

SVG stands for scalable vector graphic.  You can upload SVG files as well as png and jpg files to Cricut.  You can purchase these files online. These files can be used at any size.  I purchase most of mine from Etsy.

Print then cut

There is special vinyl you can buy that will allow you to print the design you created on your Cricut from your printer and then insert it into your Cricut machine to let it cut it out.  This is great for stickers!

Cricut wall are

Tools you’ll need for your Cricut

If you’re just getting started, these are the tools I recommend you make sure you have from the start.

  • Weeding tool – As I mentioned earlier, this tool will save you so much time, if you have the right one.  I do have the weeding tool made by Cricut, but once I found this one from Troy at 651 Vinyl, I rarely use the Cricut weeding tool anymore.
  • Mats
  • Scissors
  • Scraper (small and large) – used to burnish 
  • Spatula  – helps to lift up the paper from the mat and other uses
  • Paper trimmer

Things I wish I’d know in the beginning

  • YouTube is your best friend.  There are a ridiculous amount of videos on YouTube.  You just need to search for what you need.
  • Facebook groups.  There are a large number of groups for Cricut users.  The ones that saved me were Cricut for Dummies, Cricut design space with Melody Lane, and Cricut newbies & Pros for Explore and Maker.
  • There are different strengths of transfer tape.  I found this out the hard way.  I wasted time and money by using strong grip transfer tape on paper.  There is standard/medium tack and strong tack. Big mistake. It ripped my poor paper to shreds.
  • There are several different types of vinyl.  Make sure you know the difference between HTV (heat transfer vinyl), 631, and 651.
    • Heat transfer is used for products like fabric, t-shirts, pillows, etc.
    • 631 Oracal vinyl is a removable vinyl
    • 651 Oracal vinyl is permanent vinyl
  • Rather than wasting vinyl, if you aren’t sure of size or if something will work, cut it out on paper first.  Paper is a lot cheaper!
  • Save those scraps.  When you’re cutting something and you have some paper or vinyl leftover, save it for those small cuts.
  • Get a tape measure!  Don’t guess about the size you need.

There is a big learning curve when it comes to having Cricut, but don’t let that stop you from learning how to use your machine. Once you start, you’ll love it! If you have questions or I can help, please let me know. I don’t have all of the answers, but I’ll help as much as I can or point you to a resource to get what you need.

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