How to use a Cricut machine? Are you ready to experience the fun of crafting exciting things with the help of a Cricut? This guide to using a Cricut machine will teach you everything you need to know to get started and make beautiful creations that put up a smile on your face. Roll up your sleeves because this blog post is where your wait ends, and you will learn how to use a Cricut machine for good. Get started with Cricut for beginners now.
How to Use a Cricut Machine Tutorial
In this blog, we will discuss the basics of using a Cricut machine, how Cricut machines work, some tips and tricks to help beginners get started, and the accessories and tools you will need for your Cricut and to do your first project.
After reading this article on how to use a Cricut machine, you will feel a lot more confident to play with your newest crafting toy.
Cricut machines are designed so that users find them easy and straightforward to configure. If it is your first time looking at a Cricut machine, you might have dozens of questions in your head.
This tutorial will go through how to use a Cricut machine in 7 parts.
- How to Use a Cricut Machine Quick Start Guide
- What Can I Make on a Cricut and What Materials Will it Cut?
- Terms Used in Cricut Tutorials
- What Supplies Do I Need to Get Started?
- What are the Computer Specifications Needed to Use a Cricut?
- Introduction to the Design Space App Software
- How to Use a Cricut Machine Step by Step
What is a Cricut Machine?
Cricut machines and products range from cutting machines to crafting essentials. They are easy to use and create crafts as a hobby or even for small businesses.
A Cricut machine looks like a printer and serves as a digital die-cutting machine. It can cut several materials, including cork, fabrics, leather, and paper. Designs are created on a computer, and later the Cricut machine cuts them out. Read more about what is a Cricut machine.
A Cricut machine is worth investing in as you can make some outstanding projects with it and use it as an essential tool for your small business. You can create it all by using a Cricut machine that's right for you - from greeting cards to customized coffee mugs and quirky t-shirts.
Types of Cricut Machines
There are three main types of Cricut machines currently available: Cricut Explore 3, Cricut Maker 3, and Cricut Joy. There are also older models still for sale which are the Explore Air 2 and Maker. It is important to consider the available options when choosing a Cricut for beginners.
All machines come with Cricut's free Design Space software, so the kind of projects that you plan to work on will be the decisive factor regarding which one you should purchase.
For a full run down on the different machines, read my article on what is a Cricut. Here is a little about the 3 current models.
1. Cricut Joy
This machine is the smallest and easiest to use Cricut ever, making it a good option as a Cricut for beginners. In fact, it is the best choice for quick, everyday smaller projects, and it can make beautiful intricate cuts and super crafty-looking projects. The Cricut Joy also can cut one image up to 5 inches wide and 4 feet long or repeated cuts up to 20 feet long!
So if you have a need or a desire for a simple, quick-cutting machine that takes up less space in your craft room, the Cricut Joy will be the best option for you. As it's intended to be compact and portable, it is an excellent choice for crafting on the go.
2. Cricut Explore 3
The Cricut Explore 3 allows you to use more than a hundred materials and will cut the latest Smart Materials without a mat. Because you don't need to use a mat (although you still can), it will cut lengths of up to 12 feet. This is a useful feature for printing banners and large vinyl decals, and makes it a worthy consideration as a Cricut for beginners.
3. Cricut Maker 3
You can do a lot with the Cricut Maker 3, as it can cut over 300 materials, including fabric and balsa wood. This latest model is the best choice if you plan to have a small business using Cricut or if you want the greatest flexibility in materials. It is still a good choice as a Cricut for beginners.
Where to Purchase a Cricut
Now that you have picked your Cricut for beginners, you can purchase a Cricut machine directly from the official Cricut website store, with shopping options available for North America, Europe, and Australia. You can also buy from retail vendors and Amazon.
1. How to Use a Cricut Machine - Cricut for Beginners Quick Start Guide
Fret not; here is a quick start Cricut for beginners to using your Cricut machine!
- UNBOX - Start by taking your new machine out of the box and plugging it in near your computer.
- LOAD SOFTWARE - Sign up for a free Cricut ID account, download the Cricut Design Space app, and install the app on your computer system. You're all set to make your first Cricut project.
- DESIGN AN IMAGE - Open the Cricut Design Space and select a pre-made image or make your own design.
- PUT THE MATERIAL ON THE MAT - Choose your cutting material and place it on the cutting mat. The cutting mat is sticky, holding the material in place while the machine cuts out the design.
- LOAD THE MAT - After placing the material, press the button to load the mat into the machine.
- START CUTTING - Select the material settings in Design Space, and send the design to your Cricut cutting machine. Press the flashing button to start cutting.
- REMOVE FROM MACHINE - Once the design is cut, remove the mat from the machine and take the material off the mat. You will have your design cut out and can use it to make your first Cricut project.
2. What Can I Make on a Cricut? And What Materials Can I Cut
The list of materials that can be cut with Cricut machines keeps growing as the crafting community keeps experimenting and demanding more materials. Learn more about cutting vinyl with a Cricut.
Cricut for Beginners - What Materials Can I Cut?
Some popular cutting materials that you can start with when using a Cricut machine are:
- Butcher's paper
- Cardstock (simple and glitter cardstock)
- Construction paper
- Faux leather
- Infusible ink sheets
- Magnetic sheets
- Natural wood veneer
- Parchment paper
- Printable sticker paper
- Smart materials
- Stencil film
- Vinyl (Chalkboard vinyl, iron-on vinyl, glitter vinyl, permanent vinyl, and removable vinyl)
- Washi tape
- Wrapping paper
Cricut for Beginners - What Can I Make?
When using a Cricut machine, you can create your own designs and projects in the easy-to-use Design Space software, then send them to the machine. Otherwise, you can simply use any design from their vast online library.
You can make a range of products and crafts by cutting and using designs with all the materials mentioned above.
To give an idea of what you can really do by using a Cricut machine, here is a list of project ideas for you to try out:
- Applique shapes
- Custom labels for closet bins and pantry jars
- Custom painted wooden signs
- Custom stickers
- Customized invitation cards and envelopes
- Handmade greeting cards
- Iron-on onesies
- Iron-on t-shirts
- Leather accessories such as earrings and bracelets
- Monograms for cups, mugs, and tumblers
- Paper banners
- Party decorations
- Quilt blocks
- Stencils for glass etching and painted mats
- Vinyl decals for car windows
3. Cricut for Beginners - Glossary of Terms Used in this Guide to How to Use a Cricut Machine
You will come across many terminologies when using a Cricut machine.
Here are some of the most commonly used Cricut terms that you will find in this how to use a Cricut machine tutorial:
Cricut for Beginners - General Terms When Using a Cricut Machine
- BURNISH - Burnishing means to rub or polish. You will burnish when you need the transfer tape to adhere to a material such as vinyl. The most common tool for burnishing is a scraper tool which you will drag across the surface to remove bubbles and adhere to the material below.
- CRICUT ACCESS - Cricut Access is the optional subscription plan for using the Cricut image and font library. Currently, over 100,000 images, fonts, and projects are included in this subscription.
- DESIGN SPACE SOFTWARE - This is Cricut's free design software that is used with their machines. It includes the ability to design or upload your own images or fonts as well as a large library of ready-to-cut projects.
- CRICUT INFUSIBLE INK - This special ink is an exclusive Cricut product that enables you to decorate items such as mugs and fabric. The Infusible Ink bonds to the surface of the base material resulting in a permanent design that won't peel or crack over time.
- IRON-ON (also called HTV or heat transfer vinyl) This is a type of vinyl that can be transferred to items such as t-shirts, bags, and caps. It can adhere with a regular iron or a heat press machine.
- VINYL - Vinyl is one of the most popular Cricut crafting materials. Types of vinyl include removable, permanent, and iron-on.
- WEEDING - This is the term used for removing the excess material from the material sheet. If weeding a vinyl design, you would remove the background areas. Weeding is usually done with a weeder tool that has a hooked, pointed metal end.
Cricut for Beginners - Design Space Terms When Using a Cricut Machine
These are terms that you will find when using the design space software:
- ATTACH - The attach tool can be used to freeze the layout of shapes. It fixes the position of the layers that are cut.
- CANVAS - The Design Space Canvas is the area within the software in which you can design your projects. Here are tools to add images and text and edit them.
- CARTRIDGE - A cartridge refers to this group of images in the Design Space software.
- LINETYPE - This term refers to how your machine cuts or manipulates your material. Examples of linetypes are cut, draw, score or perforate. Not all machines will be able to perform all linetypes.
- WELD - This is a function found in the edit toolbar. The weld tool allows you to join shapes, creating a single image. It removes overlapping lines and can be used to simplify designs.
4. Cricut for Beginners - What Supplies Do I Need to Get Started Using a Cricut Machine?
Some other essential accessories that you will need to create unique DIY projects with your Cricut machine are:
- Cutting Blades - You will need different blades to cut different materials.
- Cutting Mats - These come in 4 strengths to stick to different materials.
- Tool Organisers - Tools are expensive, so it is essential to take care of them.
- Blanks - For example, white bags and t-shirts for printing and adhering vinyl.
Cricut for Beginners - a Guide to Blades
The blades are the main supply requirement and most significant investment other than your Cricut machine. You choose blades depending on the Cricut machine model and the materials you will be working with. The one I use the most is usually the fine-point blade.
For thicker materials, you need the Deep-Cut Blade (if you have a model from the Explore and Maker series) and the Knife Blade (for Maker only). Try to invest in a special bundle as these blades aren't sold with the machine and can be quite expensive.
Different Cricut machines are compatible with different tools. Some of the older or Legacy blades are no longer compatible with the newer models.
If you're new at using Cricut machines and wondering what accessories you need to invest in, here is a list of blades compatible with the different models/series.
Cricut for Beginners - A Guide to Mats
Next up, you will need cutting mats if you have a Maker or Explore Air 2. You won't need mats if you have the latest Cricut Joy, Cricut Explore 3, or Cricut Maker 3 that takes Smart Materials. However, you can still opt to use the mats.
I find that using a mat with my Maker 3 results in less wastage of materials when cutting smaller projects. Also read my article about how to clean a Cricut mat.
There are 4 different Cricut mats with different strengths of grip.
|MAT NAME||COLOR||USED FOR|
|Light Grip||Blue||Lightweight materials|
|Standard Grip||Green||Medium weight materials|
|Stong Grip||Purple||Heavyweight materials|
Which Cricut Machines Need Mats?
The latest models, which are the Cricut Joy, Maker 3, and Explore 3 can all be used with or without a mat. In order to avoid using a mat, you will need to use Smart Materials with a stiffer backing already attached. Older models such as the Explore Air 2 and Maker will only take materials placed on a mat.
Does a Cricut Maker 3 Need a Mat?
No, you can make designs using a Cricut Maker 3 without needing a mat. Instead of using a mat, you will use Smart Materials with a suitable backing. However, you can still use a mat if you wish.
Does the Cricut Explore 3 Need a Mat?
The Cricut Explore 3 does not need a mat and can take Smart Materials with a built-in backing. You can choose to use a mat with this machine as well.
What are Smart Materials?
Smart Materials are efficient crafting materials that do not require a cutting mat when used in a Cricut machine. You can simply load the material directly into your Cricut Machine (Cricut Joy, Explore 3, or Cricut Maker 3) and begin your craft cutting.
There is a range of available Smart Materials, including Smart Iron-on, Smart Vinyl (removable and permanent), and Smart Paper.
The main reason that Smart Materials are superior is that you can cut designs longer than the mats available. The Explore 3 and Maker 3 can cut designs up to 12 feet (3.6m) long. The Smart Material feeds through continuously, enabling you to make one long cut.
5. Cricut for Beginners - Minimum System Requirements
Design Space is the free software that is used with Cricut cutting machines. It is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices, and the minimum computer specifications required for it are:
Operating System Requirements:
- System: Windows 10 or newer
- CPU: Intel™ Dual-Core or equivalent AMD® processor
- RAM: 4GB
- Disk space: 2GB or more
- Connection: USB port or Bluetooth connection
- Display: Minimum 1024px x 768px screen resolution
- Download: Minimum 2 to 3 Mbps
- Upload: Minimum 1 to 2 Mbps
6. Cricut for Beginners - Introduction to The Design Space Software
With the web-based Cricut Design Space App, you can enjoy total creative freedom over your next DIY project.
You can start your projects from scratch, or if you want to save time, browse through the Cricut image library and take your pick from thousands of images, fonts, and ready-to-make projects. Moreover, it enables you to import your designs, whether on your computer, tablet, or smartphone.
The Design Space software works for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices.
What Does the Design Space Do?
The Design Space App is software where you will design or upload text and images to cut with your Cricut machine. You can connect to your compatible Cricut cutting machine simply with a Bluetooth connection and experience some incredibly amazing features, such as:
- Run the wizard to set up your new machine.
- Upload and edit your own compatible image files (jpg, .bmp, .png, .gif, .svg, and .dxf) Svg files are often the easiest to use.
- Access images and projects and make purchases. There are more than 50,000 free images, fonts, and projects.
- Use templates to accurately size and position your designs on items such as t-shirts.
What is Cricut Access?
Cricut Access is a subscription product that renews automatically and gives you access to the full Cricut image and font Library. The library contains a vast range of non-licensed images and a huge number of projects and fonts. All these resources will appear with the Cricut Access logo.
Is there a Monthly Fee to use Cricut Access?
Yes, there is a fee to use Cricut Access. There are two plans: An annual subscription for $95.80 which costs $7.99 a month, and a monthly plan for $9.99 a month with the option to cancel.
Do You Have to Be a Cricut Access Member?
No, you do not have to be a Cricut Access member to be able to use a Cricut machine. Using Design Space is the only way to operate a Cricut machine, and it is free. Being a Cricut Access Member gives you full access to fonts, images, and ready-to-make projects. However, even without it, you can access some free but limited options.
Although your choices will be limited, not having a Cricut Access subscription won't prevent you from doing great designs. If you have any kind of design experience, then you probably don't need Access as you can create your own images and designs in programs such as Illustrator or Photoshop and import them.
7. How to Use a Cricut Machine Step by Step
Here are the step-by-step Cricute for beginners instructions to using a Cricut machine:
Step 1 - Set Up Your Cricut Machine
Unbox your new machine. Remove the warranty card, safety instructions, and get started card and keep them safe for later use.
Open the lid and remove the styrofoam from the tool housing. This can be thrown away as it is just for safe shipping.
Plug your machine power cord into an outlet, ensuring enough space around the Cricut to load the mats in the front.
You can turn on the cutting machine with the power button on the right.
Connect your machine to your computer via USB cable or Bluetooth. I have the Maker 3 and found it extremely easy to connect it wirelessly to my desktop computer. This means I can have the Cricut on the other side of the room to my computer, which is much more space-efficient.
Step 2 - Install Design Space
Now you have the Cricut machine connected to your computer, it is time to download the Cricut Design Space software and start designing.
If you go to www.cricut.com/setup it will run you through setting up a login and then installing the machine and software. It is extremely easy and will lead you through the process step by step with a wizard.
The wizard will ask you at the end whether you want to join the Cricut Access subscription program for access to even more projects. This is completely optional, and your machine will work without it. I suggest using the trial period to see whether you think it is worth continuing long-term.
Step 3 - How to Use Design Space to Create a New Project
The Design Space App is quite easy and intuitive to use, but here are some tips for getting started. I would suggest trying some of their ready-made projects. Even if you don't end up cutting with their artwork, you can get a feel for how images look and resize.
Create a New Project
When you open Design Space, you will see a new project button at the top right.
This will open a blank space for you to start designing. Notice all the options in the menu on the left. You can choose a template or create your own design using images and text.
Choose a Make it Now Project
Design Space features ready-to-make projects created by professional artists and offers a wide range of subjects. New projects are added regularly, and there are both free and paid projects. If you haven't signed up for Cricut Access, you can pay for projects on an individual basis.
I counted 30 categories, and there is also a search function to narrow it down further. In this screenshot, I chose iron-on and inserted t-shirts to get a more specific result.
Using Cricut's Images
Cricut offers a wide range of images to choose from. If you don't have Cricut access, there is a free filter that makes your search easier. Here I chose animals, but there are a large number of categories to choose from.
After you have chosen an image you like:
- Select the image. It will be highlighted green.
- Press "Add to Canvas" at the bottom right.
- The software will add the image to your canvas. You can now resize it or add more text or images.
Add Text Using Cricuts Fonts
If you choose the text option on the left menu, a box will come up in your space with the word "text". You can now highlight and edit this text as well as choose the font type and size from the menu. Like the images, there are free and paid font options.
How to Upload Images to Cricut
Cricut lets you upload and use your own images. Compatible image file types include .jpg, .png, .bmp, .svg, and .dxf. If you have any other type of image, for example, a pdf, you will need to convert it to one of these formats.
- Click the upload button on the left menu
- Select the image location and upload.
- Press "Add to Canvas"
- If necessary, you can now remove the background.
How to Upload Fonts to Cricut
Cricut has a large number of fonts installed, but it is also possible to upload your own font choices.
- Download the font that you want to use.
- Unzip the font file folder.
- Once the font is installed on your computer, open Cricut Design Space and add it.
Step 4 - Cutting on a Cricut
Once you have chosen your first image or text, it is time to send it to the Cricut machine.
- Press "Make It" at the top right.
Place the material on the cutting mat and get ready to print. If you are using smart materials with backing, you won't need a mat.
Notice how when using a mat, you can cut the material just slightly larger than the size of the image. This cuts down on wastage.
Your Cricut machine will need to be turned on and open. The machine will now run you through a setup wizard for your design. The Explore Air 2 has a smart set dial to select the material. Ensure you have the correct blade in the clamp.
Now watch your Cricut Maker or Cricut Explore cut out your design with high precision - no scissors required! If you are cutting vinyl with Cricut, you will now remove the background.
Cricut Projects and Ideas
What Should My First Cricut Project Be?
Using a cricute machine for making a greeting card would be an excellent choice for your first project. Several greeting cards are available in Cricut Design Space that you can use to make your own. Cardstock or paper is a cheap material to experiment with.
How to Use Cricut to Make Shirts
One of the most popular ways of a using a Cricut machine is to make shirts. There is even a shirt template that enables you to better visualize and size the design.
- Choose a design for your shirt in Cricut Design Space.
- Get the correct design size and position using the t-shirt template.
- Select the cutting option for your iron-on vinyl.
- Weed the design (remove the background).
- Apply the iron-on vinyl design to your t-shirt.
How to Use a Cricut Machine FAQs
It is common to feel overwhelmed and unsure about how to get started when you first purchase and lay hands on a Cricut machine. We have tried to simplify it by putting together some of beginner users' most frequently asked questions regarding Cricut machines.
Do I need a Computer to Use a Cricut?
Using a Cricut machine with a computer is easier than using a mobile device. Also, using a computer system enables you to utilize Cricut's complete features and functionalities that might be restricted while using mobile devices. However, a computer is not a necessity for using Cricut, and you may as well stick to using it with a tablet or smartphone if that is all you have.
Do I Need a Printer when Using a Cricut Machine?
No, you do not need a printer for using a Cricut machine unless you want to make an item such as stickers with the print then cut function. This function is only available on the Maker and Explore machines. The Cricut Joy does not have a print then cut option.
However, it's quite common for beginners to get confused by the name of this feature of the Cricut cutting machines. Therefore, it is essential to note that the Cricut Explore and Cricut Maker Machines are not printers, and they can not print. You can only use a printer as an additional tool.
Is using a Cricut machine with a tablet possible?
Fortunately, yes, it is. You can connect and use both tablets and smartphones with your Cricut. Using a Cricut machine with your tablet comes with limitations on a few functions and features. The knife blade tool and the offset feature are only available on a desktop or laptop computer.
Both phones and tablets come with the ease of mobility and crafting on the go, as you can access and browse through past projects and carry out basic functions like cutting and resizing without needing to sit down in a particular spot.
Cricut has the Design Space app and Cricut Access app available on the Apple Store, which can be used on the iPad, and if you have an Apple Pencil, it's a cherry on top.
Is Using a Cricut Machine Better with a Computer, Mobile, or Tablet?
Computers and laptops offer the full suite of features that come with the Cricut Design Space program, so a computer is the better choice for users who want access to those. However, despite the limited features available on the Cricut app for phones and tablets, many people prefer using a Cricut machine with their tablets due to the comfort of mobile functionality. You can use an iphone or android phone.
Cricut for Beginners - Is Cricut Hard to Learn?
The Cricut machines are specifically designed to make using a Cricut machine simple and easy. I had a small vinyl project cut out within 10 minutes of plugging in my machine. The software is straightforward and easy to use with Cricut machines. While there is still a learning curve, it is not as steep as you might expect or might have experienced with a different cutting machine.
Once you have your Cricut machine set up and connected to either your computer system or a mobile device, you can start cutting your selected design in no time.
How to Use a Cricut Machine - Cricut for Beginners In Conclusion
Cricut machines are great digital die-cutting machines with printer-looking exteriors and the capability to cut various materials. It is simple to use as the designs are prepared on a computer, and the machine is instructed to cut them out. It is safe to say that a Cricut machine will be a dependable aide in your craft business or everyday hobbies.
You can do a lot with the design cut-outs, such as applying intricate iron-on material onto plain t-shirts to create customized merchandise. This was, in fact, the main contributor that led to the popularity of Cricut Machines. Once you've got a good grip on how to use a Cricut machine and have an eye for catchy designs, you can do a lot for your small business or hobby with this crafting wizard! Get started using a Cricut machine today!