Congrats! You got the Cricut machine you wanted for Christmas/birthday/Mother’s Day! Now that you have it, you don’t know where or how to start using it! We’ve all been there! Follow along as I share a few Dos and Don’ts about your Cricut machine to get you on the way to creating personalized gifts, cards and home décor!
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You might be surprised to learn but my first suggested steps of Cricut ownership do not involve opening the actual machine! To me, understanding the actual machine’s buttons and actions to cut are completely separate of the digital aspect of using it. Also, lots of these first few steps can be done when you only have your phone or tablet near you (like laying in bed or waiting at one of your child’s activities). Use this downtime learning about the machine or preparing your design in Design Space so you can spend the time you have WITH the machine for actual cutting.
- DON’T OPEN THE BOX…yet. Start with the digital side of the Cricut first to understand the capabilities of this beautiful piece of machinery and you’ll have more respect for your new toy!
- DO sign up for a Cricut Design Space account. This is Cricut’s FREE online based software where you design your creations! Create an account, play around with the software and even save projects you plan to make later! Learn about fonts, get familiar with key terms like attach, weld, and grouping, and find the “mirror” button that appears when you’re sending a vinyl project to cut. Corrine of Hey Let’s Make Stuff has a few great tutorials on design space that were helpful to me! PS. Don’t get intimidated and think YOU need to do all the designing! You can also upload an SVG (scalable vector graphic) file you download from blogs or purchase on etsy which are already designed!
- DO start a Cricut pinterest board. If you don’t already have one, create a board to pin Cricut tutorials and SVG files you might want to get and make yourself!
- DO watch youtube videos. Cricut has lots of videos on using the Design Space software and steps to make specific project types. There are also TONS of other crafters that help explain these same things in their own words so watch them in your downtime! I suggest pinning them for later and referencing them when it comes time to do an actual project!
- DO connect your Cricut machine to your computer! TA-DA! This is the first step that requires you to be in the same space as your machine. Get it out of the box and get it set up! Even if you don’t have a designated space for it, know that you can follow the steps in the instruction book and sync your machine to your computer using Bluetooth. This allows you to store your Cricut machine and bring it out at your dining room table or kitchen floor when it comes time to craft!
- DO the sample project that comes in the box. All Cricut machines include a sample card or small project you can do to help you understand the relationship between the Design Space software, the blade and the materials that you’re cutting. The final project might not be your personal style but do it anyway, as it helps you have a tactical experience with the machine and materials.
- DON’T tackle a wishlist project as your first ever cut! The Cricut machines are AWESOME to create personalized gifts and home décor items but there is a learning curve to them. I’d hate for you to mess up lots of pretty holographic vinyl or cardstock on that project you’ve been dying to do because you missed a simple step or forgot to hit “mirror” on your machine. Start with something simple and work up to those big things you planned to make!
- DON’T throw out the plastic cover of your Cricut cutting mat! Your machine should come with a sticky cutting mat where you place your material to cut and it has a plastic protective cover. Remove the cover in order to use it but make sure to keep it to put it back on for storage! You don’t want anything on this sticky surface (like crumbs, hair etc) as it could potentially mess up a clean cut.
- DO check out other accessories you might want. In particular I think this 5 piece tool kit is a MUST to make projects, whether it’s cardstock or vinyl based. The machine only CUTS (or ok, embosses, engraves etc) but it doesn’t help you WEED the project. WEEDING is the process of removing all the negative material you don’t want applied to your project. For example: if you’re doing a phrase on a DIY t-shirt using Iron on vinyl (also known as HTV or heat transfer vinyl), you’ll want to weed all the material around the letters and use that weeding tool to grab those tiny insides of the letters. The scraper tool of this kit is also key for any adhesive vinyl projects!
- DO follow Cricut crafters. I’m an instagram fan and LOVE seeing what others are making (most of whom offer free SVG files)! Here are a few crafters I follow that often offer free SVG files and suggest checking out: Hey Let’s Make Stuff, Kingston Crafts, Leap of Faith Crafting, The Craft Scraps, Destro Photo, Liz on Call, A girl and a glue gun and Expressions Vinyl to name a few!
- DON’T try to do it all at once! I’m going to share a little secret but I never, design, cut, weed and create a project all in one sitting! I usually do all four of those things at different times because I think it takes different parts of your brain to understand each of those four tasks so you don’t mess up! This helps me stop from grouping when I should attach in Design space, missing that “mirror your cut” step when cutting, take off the wrong piece when weeding or layering the wrong pieces on my shirt when ironing it on!
Now get out there and start learning and creating!