Cricut 101: Cricut Tips and Tricks to Get You Started Crafting
When I first received my Cricut, I was so excited. I had visions of the beautiful creations I would make with this glorious machine.
But that excitement was quickly replaced with a level of intimidation. I had no idea how to get started really using this wonderful machine. As a result, my poor Cricut sat untouched for over a year.
Finally, over a year later, I was planning a party and needed personalized decorations. I explored options to purchase these decorations, but I was pressed for time so this was not a viable option. Out of necessity, I pulled out my Cricut and decided to try to learn to use it.
Now I’m kicking myself for not learning sooner!
Utilizing the Cricut has been an absolute game-changer for nearly every craft project I complete. Birthday decorations, bridal & baby shower decorations, home décor, cards, clothing etc are all made easy with the Cricut. The options for creating are truly endless.
So, let’s get you acquainted with your lovely machine so you can start feeling like an expert making beautiful projects too!
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Unboxing Your Machine
I own the Cricut Explore Air and the Cricut Maker. This tutorial will be geared specifically for the Explore Air model. Though, much of the material presented is relevant across various Cricut models.
So, you’ve just received your Cricut and are about to open it.
Here’s what you’ll find in the box for the most basic Cricut Explore Air package:
• Cricut machine
• Cricut Design Space software & app
• USB cord and power cord
• Cricut cutting blade
• 12″ x 12″ Standard Grip cutting mat
• Accessory Adapter
• Metallic silver pen
• Getting started guide
The basic package truly comes with just the basic necessities for getting your machine turned on and ready to go. To really get started creating, I think it’s helpful to have a few additional pieces:
• Extra Mats – Variety Set
• Cricut Tools Basic Set
• Extra cutting blades – Regular & Deep Cut Blades. Different blades for different materials, more on this later!
• Cricut Pens – did you know the Cricut can draw beautifully too? How great is that!?
• Materials to get started creating: cardstock, vinyl and transfer tape, heat transfer vinyl
What Can I Cut with my Cricut?
The Cricut Explore Air can cut over 60 different mediums with ease. Here are just a few:
• Cardstock – Regular or Light
• Vinyl – Regular or Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV)
• Poster Board
• Craft Foam
• Wax Paper
• Wrapping Paper
• Washi Sheets
•Duct Tape Sheets
• Sticker Paper
• Window Cling
• Magnetic Sheet
Though I will note, I have my eyes set on the new Cricut Maker. Have you heard of it?
The wonderful people at Cricut have taken an already great product and made it even better! Check it all it’s wonderful features here!
Setting Up Your New Cricut Machine
Now that your machine is unboxed, it’s time to set it up!
Lucky for you, Cricut include a fantastic step-by-step guide for turning the Cricut on and getting the software set-up on your computer. (But if you do happen to have any questions about this step, let me know. I’d be more than happy to help!).
So your Cricut is unboxed, turned on and connected to your computer – now what?
Let’s take a closer look at the materials used with the Cricut.
The basic setup of the Cricut is relatively simple:
Apply materials to be cut to your Cricut mat.
Load the mat into your Cricut and your awesome machine does the rest!
Because the cutting mats play such a large role in crafting with your Cricut, it’s important to take care of them and ensure they are properly store.
Let’s discuss some basics:
- Store you mat on a flat surface with the plastic covering applied. Never roll your mat.
- Gently wipe your mat clean after each use. (I use baby wipes and they work great! But then again, I use baby wipes for pretty much everything nowadays… ).
- Cricut offers mats with different levels of grip. For best results, use the correct grip level for your cutting materials.
- Use the spatula to help gently remove cut materials from the mat (particularly important when the mat is new!). Use the scraper to remove any stray remnants.
- If your mat loses it’s stickiness, gently wash with soap and water. This has successfully worked on all of my mats to restore stickiness.
Check out this awesome cheat-sheet printable to ensure you always use the correct mat, plus a freebie list of awesome fonts to use!
Cricut offers different blades, depending on the product being cut. Most common is the standard premium blade and the deep cut blade and housing.
It’s important to make sure you use different blades for different materials. I keep my blades separated and labeled.
For example, I have separate blades for fabric, vinyl, cardstock and I have a miscellaneous blade for most other materials. Keeping the blades separated is important because it allows the blades last longer and helps ensure your projects will turn out perfect every time!
I do quite a bit of vinyl work with my Cricut. Much of this vinyl work includes intricate detail cuts. I do not want to use the same (potentially dull) blade that I use to cut fabric to make these intricate cuts (and not only potentially ruin the project, but also waste precious vinyl!). I have a separate blade specifically for vinyl.
If it’s necessary to change the blade, it’s helpful to know how to do so, right?
Check out the video below for a step-by-step walk through to change the blade on a Cricut Explore Air.
Or if you prefer reading the instructions written out, I can do that to.
- Open your machine (ensure it is turned off and unplugged).
- Locate the cut smart carriage.
- Notice the 2 accessory clamps – Accessory Clamp A (for pens, scoring stylus etc), and Accessory Clamp B (for blades).
- Flip the accessory clamp B open.
- Remove the silver blade housing.
- Push the silver plunger down. When doing so, the blade will push out the opposite end.
- While holding the silver plunger, gently pull the blade straight out.
- To load a new blade, simply remove the rubber covering and push the new blade into the slot. There is a magnet inside the blade house, so it should pull the blade right in.
- Return the silver blade housing to the cut smart carriage inside the Cricut machine.
- Close the accessory clamp.
- You did it!!!
Tricks for your Cricut Machine
So we’ve covered getting your machine setup and an overview of the materials used with the Cricut; let’s take a look at a couple of my favorite features of the Cricut machine.
- You can upload your own image to use in the Cricut Design Space. Not only is this FREE, it allows you to really personalize your projects to your exact liking. Simply click the upload tab and follow the prompts.
- The Cricut writes beautifully with pens. I have used this for SO MANY projects! Gone are the days of handwriting countless envelopes; the Cricut allows me to use beautiful font to write addresses with ease. (Stay tuned for a how-to on writing with your Cricut!)
- Cricut Access is a monthly subscription that provides you access to hundreds of fonts and thousands of images. It is broken down into three tiers: There are three tiers of Cricut Access subscriptions:
- Cricut Access Standard – provides access to hundreds of fonts, thousands of images and offers 10% discounts on digital and physical product purchases.
- Cricut Access Premium – provides access to hundreds of fonts, thousands of images, and offers a 10% discount on cricut.com purchases and a 20% discount on all materials.
I use Cricut Access and love it – it more than pays for itself each month
Check out this awesome cheat-sheet printable with tips to help get you started with your Cricut, plus a freebie list of awesome fonts to use!
Let’s Get Crafting!
Now that you have an introduction to your Cricut machine, it’s time to start making beautiful crafts!
For an in depth look at Cricut Design Space, the software used to create all crafty Cricut projects, check out my post here.
Thanks so much for joining me – I hope this helped get you started on your Cricut journey!
Did I miss something? Share in the comments below!