I’ve had a Cricut machine for a few years now (and I love it!!), but I often get questions from people trying to navigate their Cricut machine for the first time.
I honestly feel like I am still learning new tips and tricks all the time myself, so I thought I would take the time to write a blog post around some of the common questions I get asked and some of the things I’ve learned along the way through trial and error. (A lot of error!)
For this post, I thought it would be best to start off simple with some tips and tricks that will make navigating your machine for the first time a little easier. If you like this post let me know if you’d like to see more Circut tips, maybe even posts dedicated to specific materials.
Anyways, let’s get to it!
1. Get the Cricut essential tools kit
I can’t stress this one enough. I honestly didn’t think that I would need all of these tools when I was starting out with my Cricut machines, and boy was I wrong. You might not use them all right away, but each and every one of these tools will come in so handy depending on what you’re working on. I guarantee if you don’t pick these up, you’ll regret it. They make everything from smoothing out air bubbles, removing the negative space from your projects (also know as weeding), to transferring your designs easier.
2. Read your manual
I’m going to be honest, this isn’t something that I did right away either. In fact, I didn’t even do it until recently when I wanted to experiment with a different material and I had no idea what I was doing, what blade I needed, or how to even change the blade! (I tried to put in in the machine with the casing still on, that’s how big of a hot mess I was.) I really wish I read it right from the get go, it would have made my life a lot easier with my first few projects. I couldn’t believe how much I learned from just reading it.
3. Don’t skip the intro craft
This is another thing that I didn’t do right away when I upgraded from my Cricut Explore to my Cricut Maker. It’s also another thing that I wish I did do right away. The intro crafts are designed to give you a basic overview of everything you need to know about your machines. Since the Explore didn’t cut fabric, and the Maker does, this was incorporated into the first craft. Similar to my tip above, there came a time when I wanted to use fabric but I had no idea what I was doing and had to go back and did out the intro craft. It made me so much more confident in using different materials on my Cricut machine.
(So far this tips and tricks list is turning into a “Don’t be like Kait” list, hah!)
4. Watch Cricut’s how-to video’s on their YouTube channel
Cricut has tons of videos on their YouTube channel that are so helpful. They have content on everything from setting up your Cricut, to working with different materials like cardstock, vinyl, iron-on, chipboard and more. There are even DIY videos for specific crafts! To this day, their YouTube channel is still a valuable resource for me.
5. Learn about the different materials and mats before you start your first project
When I made my first iron-on craft, I used the incorrect mat and learned the hard way that yes, it does make a difference. I also put the material onto the mat the wrong way (aka the wrong side down) and I had to start over.
6. Measure and cut your materials to size before placing them on your mat
This is the simplest thing, but also was something I just didn’t think of the first time I used my Cricut. The amount of material I have wasted by not cutting the material down to the size of my design was crazy. Instead of rolling out the material to cover the entire cutting mat, cut out a square/rectangle to the size of your design first.
7. Double check your settings and do a test cut
Building off my last two tips, make sure you also double check the settings on your machine before you begin cutting and do a test cut. One time I ruined a mat by not checking my settings and selecting the right material, so the pressure was too hard and it cut through the mat. Doing a test cut will help you avoid this problem and also ensure you have a more accurate cut. Another time, I had to re-cut an iron-on project because I forgot to select the mirrored option.
8. Take the time to learn design space first
Because of my background in graphic design, I instantly jumped to designing my own creations in Illustrator and importing the files into Design Space. As a result, when I wanted to do a quick and easy project using just Design Space, I had no idea what I was doing and it ended up not being quick and easy as a result.
Even if you will be creating most of your designs in a program like Illustrator or Photoshop, I would strongly recommend starting with the basics and learning how to properly use Design Space first. It’s easier to move forward than backwards!
9. Customize your canvas
Expanding on my last tip, you can customize your canvas in Design Space! When I learned this, it was a total game changer. Making a t-shirt? Well guess what, you can change the shape of your canvas to a t-shirt to help you visualize the size of your design!
10. Transfer paper is your best friend – and you can re-use it!
Always use transfer paper when working with intricate vinyl designs, or lettering. Also, re-use it! I didn’t realize I could re-use transfer paper and probably went through 2 rolls before I realized this.
**Bonus tip: the Cricut Mystery Box
Not sure what to make? Cricut has a really cool monthly “mystery box” of supplies that you can purchase. What’s inside the box changes each month and it’s a great way to experiment with materials that you wouldn’t otherwise think of using, whether you’re a seasoned Cricut crafter, or if you’re just starting to get familiar with your machine and the different materials.
I hope that was helpful! If you have any questions that I didn’t cover in this post, feel free to ask it in the comments. Let me know if you would like to see similar posts around specific materials as well. (E.g. tips for working with Cricut Vinyl.)
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. While I may have received compensation and/or product mentioned in this post, the opinions and text are all mine. This post also contains affiliate links.