This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.
Do you have someone in your life that just loves to craft or wants to start crafting? Then this gift guide is for you! It breaks down the two Cricut machines as well as other machines and accessories they have on the market and what you would need them for!
Cricut machines are the ultimate in crafting. They are perfect for paper crafters, scrapbookers, quilters and t-shirt makers. Basically, if you can dream it, you can make it with a Cricut.
Any Cricut machines works in four main ways.
Cut– Probably the most well-known feature of the Cricut Explore Air, the Cut feature allows you to cut out items that you have created on your computer or tablet. Use the already created images in the Cricut Design library, or upload your own to cut out letters, images, and designs. From material as thin as vellum to material as thick as leather, the Cricut can cut more than 100+ materials. Pretty much if you can fit it under the rollers, you can cut it! People love using the cut feature to cut vinyl for their walls, heat transfer for shirts and small embellishments for card making or scrapbooking.
Cricut Beginner? No worries! Start here: A Beginner’s Guide to Crafting With Cricut to learn some basics.
Some of the popular items people cut with the machine are:
- Paper – Standard, Cardstock, Vellum, Poster Board
- Vinyl – Standard, Premium, Dry Erase, Chalkboard
- Iron-On – Heat-Transfer Vinyl (HTV)
- Craft Materials – Washi Tape, Craft Foam, Glitter Paper
- Upcycled Materials – Chipboard, Cereal Boxes, Aluminum Cans
- Fabric – Felt, Denim, Polyester, Burlap, Canvas
- Plastic – Stencil, Window Acetate, Silicone
- Thick Materials – Leather, Balsa Wood, Magnet Materials
Print then Cut– With the print then cut feature on this machine, you can print something out on your home printer and then have your Cricut cut around it! This always you to get crisp lines around quotes and other designs you may want for your home.
Write– There is a pen holder built straight into the Explore machine, which means you can add a pen to your machine and have it draw your designs instead of cutting them. Cricut has an entire line of gorgeous pens or you can use one you have laying around. The Explore Air and Explore 2 have a double tool holder so you can write and cut all in one step!
Score- Instead of cutting all of the ways through, your machine can score your images making them easy to bend and fold. This is the perfect feature for making cards and fun printables.
Different Blades for The Cricut Explore Air 2 (and the Maker)
Deep Cut Blade is one of my very favorite features of my Cricut. Not only does it let you cut deeper but I also love having a separate blade for my tough to cut items so I don’t wear out my normal blade. This deep cut blade works on all Cricut machines, so it doesn’t matter which one you have. The blades have a steeper angle and are made of a more durable steel to make sure you get the perfect cut every time. Use the Deep Cut Blade for chipboard, magnet material, stiffened felt and foam sheets. I have used my blade it cut soda cans, cereal boxes and all sorts of other recycled items.
Fine Point Blade– This is the typical blade you will use for vinyl and heat transfer. One will come with your machine, but extras are always nice.
Why you might want to gift the Maker instead of the Cricut Explore Air 2
This rotary blade moves just like a rotary blade you would use by hand. This gear gives the machine complete control over the blade, letting it rotate and cut the angels it needs. From tulle and crepe paper to sequined fabric, this blade is designed to cut all of it with precision. This is perfect for people that want to craft with felt or quilt.
While the Cricut Explore Air 2 doesn’t have a rotary blade, you can cut some fabric as long as it is bonded. If you are a quilter or a sewer, I highly recommend buying the new Maker.
This amazing blade has intelligent variable pressure and can cut through materials that even the deep cut blade can’t get through. From leather to basswood, this blade can do so much. I LOVE cutting chipboard and wood with this blade. The Knife Blade can exert 4 kilograms of force through the material. The best part? It doesn’t just use brute force, it knows when to use light pressure and when it uses harder pressure so you get a good cut without splintering of your material.
Print and Cut
While both machines can do print and cut, the Maker has an improved sensor so the print and cut feature can be used on colored and patterned paper instead of just white.
Adaptive Tool System
This new technology that “intelligently controls the direction of the blade and the cut pressure to match your material, so every cut comes out perfect.” is only available on the Maker, but the amazing news is that the Maker has been designed to expand and grow when Cricut comes out with new tools.
Basic Perforation Blade – Create your own precision perforation for any items that need to tear quickly. This is great for coupon books or journals.
Wavy Blade – A beautiful decorative edge that gives a wave cut. This is great for vinyl, iron-on, and cardstock to give a fun edge to your projects.
Fine Debossing Tip – Add a 3D aspect to your paper projects with this amazing debossing tool
Engraving Tip – Create stylish designs in thick materials with beautiful grooves
What Comes With My Cricut?
That depends on which Cricut you get and what package you get with your machine, the Cricut website offers bundles that include everything from tools to heat transfer. Inside the basic kit for the Cricut Explore Air is:
• Cricut Explore Air™ machine
• USB cord and power cord
• German carbide premium blade
• 12″ x 12″ StandardGrip cutting mat
• Metallic silver pen
• Cardstock sample
• Iron-on sample
• Getting started guide
If you are looking at getting the basic Cricut Maker package you can expect to find:
•Cricut Maker machine
•Cricut Rotary Blade + Drive Housing
•Cricut Premium Fine Point Blade + Housing
•Fine Point Pen
•FabricGrip Mat 12″x12″
•LightGrip Mat 12″x12″
•Cricut Access free trial membership
•50 free ready-to-make projects, including 25 sewing patterns
•Materials for your first project
If you are looking for more information about the differences between the Cricut Maker and the Cricut Explore Air, head over here.
Cricut Access is a monthly subscription that lets you use all of the fonts and images in the access library. There are more than 100,000 images and hundreds of fonts. There is also a library of ready to make projects that you can just start creating. There are three different plan options, so you can do what is right for you.
A Tool Set– A basic tool set comes with everything you see in the photo above, minus the scoring stylus. The larger tool set comes with everything here, plus a paper trimmer, which is really helpful when you are trying to use up all of your vinyl and heat transfer scraps.
There is also a brand new washable fabric pen. This pen marks your fabric as it cuts it to let you know exactly how to match up your pattern pieces and where to put your seam.
Scoring Stylus– This fun tool lets you score cards and projects using your Cricut. If you just want score lines instead of full cuts, this is your go-to tool!
Cricut Weeder– This little hook is hands down the tool I use the most. It is perfect for weeding tiny little cuts and tracking down little pieces that may have gotten away from you. It makes separating heat transfer so much easier. This is the tool I think everyone needs! I have multiple around my craft room to help out with different tasks!
Brayer – This nifty little tool extends the life of your Cricut FabricGrip cutting mat. Use it to smooth down your fabric and help it adhere completely to the mat.
TrueControl Knife -This knife has better control than any other hand cutting tool I have used. It is accurate and comfortable to hold!
You can find more about the individual tools here.
What is the EasyPress 2?
The EasyPress is Cricut’s answer to the downsides of a regular heat press. It has a large even surface that you use to get even pressure on your design, but it is much smaller and much more portable and lightweight than a typical heat press.
What are the features of the EasyPress 2?
The EasyPress 2 is incredibly user-friendly, with just a few buttons that are easy to decipher. You have the Set Temperature button and the Set time buttons with the plus and minus buttons as well as a Go button. That’s it! Super easy to use!
Some of my other favorite features of the EasyPress 2 include:
- The EasyPress 2 heats up to 400 degrees in under 3 minutes, so you can get the right temperature for the material you are using and quickly.
- It has a more advanced ceramic coated heating plate that ensures even heating and can be cleaned with a commercial iron cleaner.
- The EasyPress 2 has incredibly accurate heating just a +/- 5 degrees variance. This is NOT something you would get from a typical iron.
- It shuts itself off after 10 minutes.
- It remembers the last settings you used. This is an AMAZING feature! I typically make a lot of the same items over and over again and I love not having to reset my machine each time.
- It is safer than a typical heat press. I love creating with my tween and she uses the EasyPress with ease while there is no way I would let her touch my Heat Press yet.
Pros – Easy to use, accurate and easy to store
Cons- More pressure needed than a typical heat press
What sizes does the EasyPress 2 Come in?
One thing I love about the EasyPress 2 is that it comes in 3 different sizes so you can find one that is right for you, your space and your projects.
EasyPress Mini- This is my favorite! It is perfect for small areas or objects that are 3D in shape like shoes, hats and bags.
6×7 EasyPress 2 – This is the smallest size, it is perfect for onesies, bibs, and toddler shirts.
9×9 EasyPress 2 – This is a perfect middle ground. Great for t-shirts and totes!
12×10 EasyPress 2– This is the largest press, great for large apparel like sweatshirts and home decor!
What Accessories Do I Need For My EasyPress 2?
I absolutely love the EasyPress Mat. It helps eliminate moisture and makes sure that all of the heat from the press stays focused on your design instead of the surface beneath. It is also the perfect way to protect your work surface.
The mat comes in three sizes
- 8” x 10”
- 12” x 12”
- 20” x 16”
The three different sizes allow you to make sure you are easy a mat LARGER than your EasyPress size.
The tote is the easiest and most effective way to transport your EasyPress 2. It comes in three sizes to fit your specific machine.
Small – Cricut EasyPress 2, 6″ x 7″
Medium – Cricut EasyPress 2, 9″ x 9″
Large – Cricut EasyPress 2, 10″ x 12″ and Cricut EasyPress, 9″ x 9″
The tote has the room to take your EasyPress 2, your safety base, EasyPress mat and other small accessories with you all in the same case. It is made of heavy-duty heat resistant material and features pockets to hold other accessories. It has a strong velcro strap to keep the machine in place on the go, which I LOVE. I have never had my machine shift in all the times I have taken it places with me.
It is so helpful to have extra mats of all kinds. I try to keep an extra standard mat, light grip mat, strong grip mat, and fabric mat on hands at all times. I do cut all sorts of different materials, so if you are more focused on one kind of material, you may just want extras of the mats you use the most often. Take care of your mats and they will last quite a while. I use my Cricut Weeder to gently pull debris left from cuts off of my mats. If your mat is reaching the end of its life, try washing it with soap and water. This always helps my mats last a little longer.
There are four mats and Cricut has color-coded them to make them easy to tell apart.
Light Grip Mat – Blue- This is for thin materials. I use it for paper and tissue paper.
Standard Grip Mat- Green- This is the general mat that you will use for most cuts
Strong Grip Mat- Purple- This is for thick material. I use this for balsa wood and thick craft foam.
Fabric Grip Mat- Pink- This is made to go in the Cricut Maker and be used with Fabric.
The Cricut BrightPad is a must-have for anyone who is going to do a lot of weeding. It helps light up your design from behind, so you can see the areas that need to be weeded out. This lightweight light has 5 brightness settings, a scratch-resistant surface, a large lit area (9 in. x 11.5 in. ) and a nonslip base for ease of use on desk or table.
What fun is a new machine to play with if you don’t have any materials? Here are some of the things you might want to pick up to go with your gift.
Some of the top materials you can cut with the Explore include:
- Poster Board
- Craft Foam
- Aluminum Foil
- Wax Paper
- Faux Suede
- Genuine Leather
- Paint Chips
- Posted Board and so much more
Some of the top things you can cut with the Maker include:
- Adhesive Foil
- Balsa wood
- Duct Tape
- Craft Foam
- Anything the Explore can cut
What are you going to get the crafter on your list?