Happy New Year to you!
Hope yours has got off to a great start? Mine has; I had a really lovely, quiet, Christmas at home with my family – the days were spent playing with the kids, eating my own bodyweight and occasionally ducking out and hiding in my Happy Place to make stuff! Y’see I was very lucky to receive a Cricut Maker machine at the end of 2019 (please read my *Sponsored Post Disclaimer at the end of this Post) and I spent most of the Holidays playing with it! I only had a vague idea at the outset of the Cricuts’ potential – enough of an idea to know I was insanely lucky to be offered one but I had absolutely no idea how to use it! It sat in its box, unopened, for two whole weeks whilst I researched online and tried to get my head around its seemingly endless capabilities! If this is you right now, or if you’re thinking of getting a Maker too, or if you’re just curious to know what I’m waffling on about, read on!
(NB : I have an additional ‘Cricut Tools & Gadgets’ post and a step-by-step tutorial on how to upload pdf and paper sewing patterns into Cricut’s design software).
In short, learning about my Cricut Maker, progressing to actually unboxing it and finally, to switching it on, has unleashed an unprecedented maelstrom of making (and believe me, that’s saying something!) I’ve fallen completely in love; absolutely head-over-heels gaga, in fact, with designing and making craft and sewing related projects. And I’ve only just started! I am giddy with the possibilities!
But before I get completely carried away in my own enthusiasm, let me draw a calming breath and slow down, so we can take this from the beginning. (I’ll throw in some of my starter projects to illustrate!)
So What is a Cricut Maker?
The Cricut Maker, is the latest and most advanced machine in the Cricut product line. It can cut through (and deboss, score and engrave) a vast array of flat materials under 2.4 mm thickness; from delicate items like paper through to cardstock, fabrics (from denims to chiffon) and vinyls, to heavier and tougher materials like leather; even some woods and metals! These materials are prepared for cutting by laying on 12” x 12” (or 12” x 24”) sticky mats (which range from ‘Light Grip’ to ‘Heavy Grip’, depending on the material you are using at the time) which then feed through the cutting machine.
In the Maker box comes a set of standard tools and blades with others available for separate purchase as you start designing and crafting more advanced projects. The Maker comes with a fine point blade; and I was sent a rotary blade (great for heavier fabrics!) and I’ve subsequently purchased the knife blade, together with some extra weeding tools (No, we’re not about to head out into the garden in this Post … bear with me!)
It’s a sleek looking machine – which comes in a few colourways; I’ve got the classic ‘champagne’ model. It has built-in storage for your tools and a really useful docking slot for your tablet, ‘phone or, in my case, a BrightPad (again, this is really useful tool for ‘weeding’, which simply means to remove the ‘negative’ / unwanted bits from your cut design) – there’s a USB port to the side which lets you charge your devices whilst you work.
The Cricut pairs with your device (via Bluetooth or cable) so that you can access its companion software…
Cricut Design Space and Cricut Access
Design Space is a user-friendly / shockingly easy-to-learn, software design package and digital resource library which is compatible with a range of devices – I primarily use my laptop (Windows) but I also have the App on my Android (it works on iOS and Mac too!) ‘Cricut Access’ is the optional subscription element of Design Space which allows you to, well, access additional predesigned projects and images etc. (You absolutely can use one without the other). You can also upload a variety of files including your own jpeg and svg files and fonts (my goodness, I’ve spent hours and hours, doing just that!) Design Space converts them to into either .svg (‘cut’) images or ‘print and cut images’).
I am absolutely in love with this software – within two weeks, I’ve gone from ‘haven’t got a clue’ to ‘I’m loving this!’ No, I haven’t learnt all this intuitively, remember all that research I said I did? YouTube is my best friend. And now I basically want to live next door to ‘Jennifer Maker’ – one of the loveliest (and smartest) crafters out there on the Interwebs, IMO. I’ve seen in some Facebook groups people raising the issue that the software can be a bit ‘glitchy’ – I personally haven’t had any issues. The software updates fairly regularly.
So What Projects Can you Make?
The list is nigh on endless; with my Maker I’ve discovered I can create anything from customised clothing, wall graphics, decals to jazz up my home decor, wall art, papercrafts, quilts, 3D projects to name but a few … and, yes, a whole range of sewing and clothing projects!
The Maker comes with a project to get you started, which is great as it doesn’t come with an actual physical Instruction Book / Manual. Once I’d completed that I was hooked and once family members understood what I was doing, the requests started coming in!
My son wanted a t-shirt with a design all of his own. He is a mega Star Wars fan and wanted the Fulcrum symbol with some specific Aurebesh text. So that’s exactly what he got! (I used Everyday Iron-On Vinyl on a 100% cotton shirt). I was sooo impressed at how clean and sharp the cut is and how fantastically well it transferred! He was thrilled with it too!
Not to be outdone, my daughter wanted a cushion cover to match her new LOL bedding. She’s bonkers about those little dolls. When wash day comes around and we switch out her bedding, she also changes out her reading cushion cover. Only she didn’t have a cushion cover that matched her new LOL bedding. Crisis! Well, after uploading some images and using the Print and Cut feature, now she does! (yes, I sewed the cushion slip cover too!) I used this brand of blank Printer Vinyl which is for dark fabrics – trust me, even when working on white, it’s the stuff for dark fabrics you want. (I also want to try the Jolees brand of transfer sheets for comparison purposes – I’m considering upgrading my ink jet printer too! (the printable vinlys only work with ink jet printers by the way!)
I’ve designed a t-shirt for my husband too. After years of promising to sew him a shirt and, ahem, not delivering on that promise, he’s quite happy to have finally got something! I’m not showing you it though ‘cos it features his favourite brand of Beer!
I’ve also etched glass! This is done by creating a stencil (using permanent vinyl – the Premium – which is the same stuff I used for the decals on my sewing machine cover and Maker). Clean the area to be etched with rubbing alcohol, then apply an etching acid over the surface of your design. (I use Armour Etch) I’ve found it works best by gently moving the acid over the stencil with a small paintbrush and then letting it sit for approximately 10 minutes before rinsing off.
Signage, Light Boxes, and canvas prints are all in the works! I can see myself making, rather than buying, lots of personalised gifts for friends and family in the upcoming New Year!
Is It Useful for Sewing Projects too?
It certainly can be!
First off, there are loads of ready-to-make and customisable patented sewing projects and digital patterns available within Cricut Design Space / Access from designers like Riley Blake and Simplicity. As you can readily imagine, these are smaller scale projects which will fit on your mats (as no one pattern piece can be larger than the mat sizes).
Now I’ve always wanted to do a large scale quilt, for example. Long term readers of this blog may well know that cutting out sewing patterns is one of my very least favourite things to do (right up there with sticking PDFs together). So the notion of cutting out lots of small quilt pattern pieces is enough to stop me in my tracks. Those pieces need to be accurately and often identically cut in order to piece together corrrectly. Well, now I could simply upload one of the available quilt blocks in Cricut Access and let my Maker do the cutting and marking instead, whilst I sit back, scroll through my ‘phone and drink tea! (in reality, I’d probably begrudingly do the housework!)
Not only that, it’s really very simple, once you learn how, to upload and convert any small scale PDF sewing pattern into a cutting file in Cricut Design Space! I’ve done so with my Bombazine oven mitt and Petal Zipper Pouch patterns, for example as I plan on making (and customising with vinyl!) loads more of both patterns.
It’s also possible, with the aid of a printer/scanner, to upload smaller scale paper sewing patterns into Design Space ready for cutting. I have a full tutorial on that HERE if you’d like to give it a go!
Over Christmas, in amongst my daughters’ presents were a couple of 18” dolls. My brain pinged instantly – fantastic, now I can use up all my fabric scraps sewing clothes for her dolls! There are loads of doll patterns within Cricut Access but I took the liberty of drafting my own little pinafore dress to start with. I used a leftover scrap of denim from sewing up my Morgan Jeans which I customised with with my Maker and EasyPress to cut out and transfer some really cute gold vinyl stars, including some really teeny ones. Again the result was perfect! My scrap stash – and my conscience – are about to lighten considerably! (I’m going to talk about these and a few other sewing projects more fully in an upcoming post).
And through using my Cricut, I absolutely have mentally shifted from a self-proclaimed ‘Sewist’ to a fully-rounded ‘Maker’. What a crackin’ start to 2020!
Do you have a Cricut? Do you have any favourite hints or tips you’d like to share? Or are you thinking of getting one? Or did you get one and its still in its box?! Let me know!
Until next time, happy sewing – and crafting!
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*Disclaimer : this is a Sponsored post – I was given the Cricut Maker machine; an EasyPress machine and mat; some tools and consumables, for review purposes. I purchased additional tools, the BrightPad and a lot more consumables. All content and opinions expressed are wholly mine and are my honest and considered views. Some of the links given are Affiliate links – if you choose to purchase via an Affiliate link, you will not be charged any extra however I may receive a small commission x).