Playing with the New Cricut Maker Cutting Machine
*This post contains affiliate links. All opinions and thoughts are my own. :)
I'm always looking for new ways to do things, especially if those new ways save me time. ;) When Cricut sent me the new Cricut Maker to give a whirl, I squealed of course. I've used my Cameo for cutting all things paper in the past, so I'm fairly well acquainted with cutting machines; but plain old fabric was a definite no go on it. ;( I wanted to see how this machine could really save me time by cutting out fabric for me.
The Cricut Maker has a ton of tools and blades, but the blade I wanted to see the most was the special rotary blade that lets me do exactly what I want: cut fabric. Cut fabric without having to iron on a stabilizer. It even draws on the seam allowance with a washable fabric pen. Say whaaat??! I immediately started thinking of all of the things I could do with that.
small clothing patterns
quilt block pieces
hand pieced sewing
etc, etc, etc!
This blade is pretty much an itty-bitty-witty rotary cutter. A standard blade would pretty much drag and pull at the fibers of the fabric in comparison. There is also a Bonded Fabric Blade meant for fabrics that have a fusible on the back. ;)
Out of the Box
My first impression when seeing this thing out of the box was that it was very clean and sleek looking. I like the way it looks sitting in my workspace, the brushed metal features give it a very pretty & lux feel. It looks professional. I love the way it gently opens to reveal more storage, alongside the holders on the outside. You can set your iOS/Android device in the built in slot up top if you don't want to use your computer with it. (The usb port lets you charge your device while using it too!) So I was able first try out the Maker right on the kitchen counter with my iPad.
I thought it was really great that the box came with a couple materials for a first project so you can get the hang of the machine right away. I ended up making a little card with a fabric kite. In doing this I quickly learned how to set materials onto the mat, how to use the Design Space software, and do things like change out the Fine-Point (paper/vinyl) cutting blade for the rotary blade; this fueled my confidence in using it.
-So What's It Cut?-
It can cut all kinds of fabrics from delicate fabrics all the way to more dense materials like leather. The usual paper, vinyl, but also thick materials like balsa wood and mat board with the Knife Blade (expected release this year).
To start learning more about the machine, I knew I simply had to start using it!
Let's Test it Out!
I chose what looked to be a fairly quick and useful project. I picked a free pattern, the Quilted Hexagon Pot Holder, it told me right up top to expect to spend 1-2 hours on it. As I scrolled down the Design Space software laid out everything I needed to know. The diagrams really help take out a lot of the thinking for me. As much as I like to make up my own patterns and sew new things, sometimes I just want the thinking all done for me and I can just follow it 1, 2, 3... amiright?
It shows all of the mat diagrams on the left, so if you have multiple mats, work will be even faster. I'm super visual, so I like to see all of this. It'll also mark of which ones you've cut so you can cut out of order if you want and keep track of what you have and haven't cut.
Ready to Cut
Such crisp clean edges!! I cut out some Insul-Bright here for my hot pad. I was sure to give the Maker some room in the front and back for the mat to move around and not bump into the wall.
All of my pot holder pieces are now cut and ready to sew! I laid them out and picked up each piece as I needed it for sewing.
After following the directions, I had a pot holder before I knew it. Then my mom quickly claimed 'it would look cute with her other pot holders," again before I knew it. ;D If you follow me on Instagram then you might know that we're in the middle of a move and I've taken over my mom's sewing room until we get our house. Which brings up another point with the Cricut Maker, I only have a my Bunnies and Blossoms fabric bolts that's just been released, and everything else is packed away. So it was fun seeing what this machine can do when I didn't have all of my familiar tools and notions right at hand.
There's hundreds of patterns in Design Space. Cricut even teamed up with Simplicity and Riley Blake Designs for lots of fun patterns in their pattern library. Still deciding which pattern I should try next...hmmm!
There's a TON of PossibilitiesI can't stop thinking of all the different things I could actually do with this machine. Even if you aren't really a sewer and are more crafty, you could cut up a zillion perfect circle shaped pieces of felt. Cut up laminated bookmarks? Leather eyes and noses for your stuffed animal? Cut out fabric for little bows on barrettes? Seriously, it goes on!
Lots of Online Support One of the nice things about the internet is of course the vast amount of information. If I want to do a certain thing I just google it or post asking a question. There's lots of support groups on places like Facebook and people generally give some great feedback if you ask and do the research.
Different Sticky MatsCricut has several different mats depending on what tackiness you need for a project.
Cut Custom Shapes in Bulk PerfectlyI mainly say this for things like appliqué quilts. Bunting, rolled up felt flowers, hexies, curved pieces... Or maybe you make quilt kits for sale and need lots and lots of of that custom shape cut up for it?
Quick Projects with all the Thinking Done for YouWe've been there, suddenly you remembered about that baby shower that's tomorrow and you forgot to make that perfect gift you planned to make. Well, you can just pick out a project in Design Space, slap some fabric on the mat and watch the Cricut Maker cut out a little stuff animal and mark your sewing lines while it's at it. Might as well make a quick card and have the pen write their name and draw a cute picture too! It's this kind of stuff that I know I like the Maker for. One time I fused some fabric onto a stiff backing and hand drew the baby's name on the back and cut it all out by hand! It made a cute bunting, but I think of how I could've saved 45 minutes if I had this machine.
Physical Markers for Loading your MatI'm sure I'm only saying this because I've only used a Cameo before, but Cricut machines make it sooo much easier to load your mat! I had to eyeball it perfectly everytime on my Cameo, no need for that on Cricuts, I can almost load it with my eyes closed. ^_^
Super Fast Quilts!There's already some quilt patterns in Design Space, I'm hoping to see more quilt projects pop up in Design Space. Things like basic quilt block shapes should start to appear in the library soon. For odd shaped pieces, this is going to make making those quilts so much faster.
Strong MachineThe Cricut Maker has 10X the cutting power of past machines. It can cut up to 2.4 mm deep with the Knife Blade.
User FriendlyI do feel that they make it pretty easy overall to use this machine. There's only a couple of buttons on it physically, directions have been clear thus far, especially in setup.
Docking StationIt seems like such a small add-on, but I really enjoy having a spot to set my tablet. The USB port for charging is great. Great for watching a movie too while working?? XD
It can be Fast and PreciseThere's a Fast Mode that lets you cut and/or write up to 2X faster. There's also a precise mode which goes slower, but gets you those great intricate cuts.
Always Need the InternetTo be honest, I'm not super happy with the idea that I always need internet to use Design Space with the Cricut. I can however use projects if I downloaded them and saved them prior and work via bluetooth. Though I don't always like planning a project in advance! ;) The Cricut Maker can't be used stand alone, but that's the same with a lot of other machine cutters anyhow. So if your internet is pretty shoddy, it could present a bit of trouble when trying to access the Design Space when making your projects. I think it'd be nice to have the software to download to my computer so I can create without having to wait for everything to load. Or actually work in general if my internet goes out for a while.
It is Pricey to Get all the Things Plus Extra you Need/WantIt can easily be a time saver once you get the extras. Once you get the extras lol. It's one of those time or money things.
Mat Size is LimitedThe largest mat is 12" x 24", so you'd need to plan around pattern pieces being smaller for your project. I don't recall seeing a roller attachment for things like vinyl.
You Need to be a Little Bit Tech Savvy to Use itIf computers and smart phones/tablets totally aren't your thing you might have a harder time using the machine. There are lots of videos and tutorials to help with that however. Sometimes you just have to keep trying something out to learn it. Maybe you have a pdf pattern for a cute doll you make a lot for your shop? You will have to learn how to make that pattern into a compatible .svg file, but you'd be golden afterwards.
I Could've Cut Some of the Pieces Faster MyselfIf I only needed a couple pieces cut, it probably would've been faster just to use my mat and rotary cutter. In fact I know some project I could do faster without the extra steps of setting up my machine and getting my mat ready, etc.
Limited softwareIt's not as powerful as I'd like. Though I still need to play around with it more, so my opinion might change on this, but so far there isn't as many options as I'd like to see for creating my own projects. If you like simplicity though and aren't into completely making your own things then you'd probably really like it. I see myself making things in Illustrator/Photoshop and bringing it over to turn into a cutting file.
I already know I'll be using this machine for a lot of projects. I sew a lot, I craft a lot, I like to make custom things all the time, and love technology.
Is sewing and crafting something you only do a little bit? Then maybe a cutting machine in general might not be the best investment. Or is sewing/crafting an obsession?? Then yeah, you might enjoy having a cutting machine like the Cricut Maker. If the price doesn't phase you, you'll probably love it. Honestly, a cutting machine for me is not a need, it's a definite want. I can still do all my projects without it. I have enough on my plate, so anything to that saves me time and headache I love. So far, I love the Cricut Maker.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.