Everything you ever wanted to know about the Cricut Maker

I’ve been sharing a lot of craft projects using the Cricut Maker. Today I’m sharing with you everything you ever wanted to know about the Cricut Maker. I attended the Cricut Maker launch event in Salt Lake City as a guest of Provo Craft, the makers of the Cricut brand of machines, and they’ve asked me to share what I have learned with you. They have not given me details of what to share, so all that follows below is completely me – not some copy-and-pasted press release. I promise.

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Cricut Maker

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I was among the earliest to receive the Cricut Maker to play with at home, and I have attended one of the Cricut “Make Something You Love” events (the Phoenix event), where I worked as staff for the event. Being on the “other side”, talking to people who had not yet had the chance to play with the machine, gave me lots of information on the kinds of questions that people have about the machine. So, let’s jump right in!

What is so special about the Cricut Maker?

The Cricut Maker is not just the old Explore machine with a fancy new outside. The machine is entirely re-designed to use more tools than the Explore series could. The Cricut Maker does everything the Explore series was able to do (cut paper, cardstock, vinyl, etc), but has more tools to be able to cut more materials. The first of these tools is the Rotary Cutter, which comes with the Cricut Maker. The Knife Blade is coming out next, and its highly anticipated release is at the end of 2017.

What happened to my dial?

If you’re a loyal Cricut user, you’ve gotten used to having a dial on the right of your machine that you turn to indicate the kind of material you are using. Cardstock, paper, vinyl, other…

The Cricut Maker not only cuts more materials than the Explore series, but there are custom settings for the different materials. Heat transfer vinyl needs a different touch than adhesive vinyl, or metallic vinyl, or glitter heat transfer vinyl. And now you can indicate exactly the material you are using. Which is especially important when cutting fabric. Felt, woven cotton, burlap, and canvas all need different cut settings. All of these are set up in Cricut Design Space.

Getting to my power strip is a pain – can I just use the plug from my Explore Air?

Such a great question! The Cricut Maker has so much more force than the Explore series, so it has a different power cord. Take the time to plug in the right one when you set up your Maker.

What is the Adaptive Tool System?

The Adaptive Tool System is the new “guts” of the Cricut Maker. On the left, you’ll see the pen/stylus housing (port A) that we know and love. On the left (port B), you’ll see we can still use the blades we’re familiar with. But there is a golden gear on top. This golden gear is where the magic happens.

The Explore Air worked on a 3-Axis system. X, Y, and Z. The carriage moved left and right (x axis), the machine pulled the mat in and out (y axis), and the blade moved up and down (z axis). In 3-dimensional space, these are the available directions.

But this would not work for a blade like a rotary blade or a craft knife. Imagine holding a knife in your hand, and slicing with it. Works great as you move it forward and back. Now try moving it side-to-side. You can’t. You have to rotate the blade so that it is pointed in the right direction. That is exactly what the gear does. It points the rotary blade and the knife blade in the correct direction to get a perfect cut.

Can I use the Rotary Cutter in my Explore, Explore Air, or Explore Air 2?

Nope. Sorry. Wish you could. You need that golden gear to move the blades in the correct direction in order to make the blades work.

What is the Fine Point Blade?

When the Explore series came out, it had “the blade.” It was amazing. It is a workhorse. But soon, other blades followed. The bonded fabric blade, the deep cut blade, now the rotary blade and knife blade. There are so many blades that no one blade can be called “the blade” anymore. “The blade” has been renamed the “fine point blade” to minimize confusion. In the long run.

What do I do with my cartridges?

You’re a clever one! You noticed that the Cricut Maker doesn’t have a slot for a cartridge! There will be an adapter coming out for you to connect your cartridges to your computer so that you can use them in Design Space. I have not seen it yet, but details will be coming.

What is up with the pink mats?

The pink mats are the new fabric mats. They are designed to hold onto delicate materials like fabric and crepe paper. They are also designed to withstand the more extreme force of the rotary blade. Gentle on the outside, tough on the inside.

Some tips about the pink mat – don’t touch the adhesive. It won’t poison you, but the oils in your fingers will reduce the life of the mat. So, try not to touch it.

Also, don’t worry about stray fibers. Scraping the mat will remove the adhesive, which is way worse than a few stray threads on the mat. If the fibers left behind are really eating at you, use some strong-grip transfer tape to peel them up. If you don’t have strong grip transfer tape, a lint roller will often pull up the threads.

What is the difference between “bonded” and “non bonded” fabric?

No, the fabric isn’t licensed, bonded, and insured. It is not that kind of bonding. Bonded fabric is fabric that has been bonded (joined) to something else. Usually, that means an interfacing or interlining. I use Heat n Bond on the back of fabric all the time for applique. This also stabilizes the fibers, and makes it easier for the fine point blade to cut through the fabric without snagging on the threads.

Wait – the new Cricut Mats won’t stink?

You heard? YES! The fabric mat is the first of the mats with a new non-stinky formula. As the current green, blue, and purple mats sell out, they will be replaced with new odor-free mats.

Do I have to have an iPad to use the Cricut Maker?

Nope. Cricut Design Space on your PC or Mac works just fine. There are also apps for iOS and Android, though the Android app is currently in Beta. There are a few functions currently only available on iOS that aren’t available anywhere else (like Snap Mat), but hopefully those will roll out to Android devices soon.

What have you made with the Cricut Maker?

I’ve mentioned that I’ve played a lot with the new Cricut Maker. Here are just a few of the projects I have made: felt pin banner, treat tags, felt candle mat, vinyl monster tee, and an entire quilt that I’m teaching step-by-step over on my other site.

Do I really need to buy this machine?

If you’ve been waiting and saving for a cutting machine, this one checks nearly all of my boxes. I’m excited to cut fabric. I have a lot of options for tools (scoring, cutting, drawing), and materials (paper, vinyl, felt, fabric and so much more). I do wish I had more control in Cricut Design Space for tiny tweaks, but there are work-arounds for most of my wishlist. I also wish it were easier to share my own designs. But those are designer-specific gripes. For the average user, the only complaints I hear are that you cannot upload your own images on mobile (currently you need a desktop computer to upload designs), that you cannot curve text (there is a work-around there, but it is time consuming), and that Design Space requires you to have internet access (you can use it offline, but you need to plan ahead).

If you’re never planning on cutting fabric or wood, and have a limited budget, buy the Explore Air 2. It is currently selling at amazing prices (shop around, I found the best price on Cricut.com), and it is a fantastic machine. You can cut vinyl, paper, and cardstock no problem.

But if you’re someone who has near-fatal attacks of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), want the latest-and-greatest, want to cut fabric, are looking forward to cutting balsa and basswood, and have a crafty nest-egg set aside, then spring for the Cricut Maker. I think you’ll enjoy it.

 

Where can I buy the Cricut Maker?

The Cricut Maker is available in most major craft stores. Both JoAnns and Michaels carry the new machines and supplies. Hobby Lobby carries the Cricut Maker as well. You can also find the Cricut Maker on the Cricut website, on Amazon, and on HSN’s site. Maker:

Everything you ever wanted to know about the new Cricut Maker

 

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.

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