What to make of the new Cricut Maker

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine. This post contains affiliate links. If you use my links to make a purchase, I receive a small compensation (at no cost to you).

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A few months ago I was asked to try out the new Cricut Maker. Of course I said HECK YES and about a week later I had the Maker and some amazing Cricut goodies on my doorstep.

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To be honest,  I have not used a Cricut in several years. I started out with a Cricut and used it for all kinds of paper crafts, but I also have a Silhouette and at the time, you could not use your own fonts with a Cricut. So I started using my Silhouette Machine and kind of set the Cricut aside.

I follow (stalk) all kinds of craft related tools, so of course I heard about the Maker and was immediately intrigued by the new possibilities it might have, so to say I was excited when it came in the mail is a total understatement! Especially considering that one area I have always struggled with the Silhouette was with cutting fabric, and since the majority of my projects are actually sewing and not paper or iron on vinyl, I have not used a cutting machine for almost any of my sewing projects ever. As a matter of fact, about 3 months ago, I actually tried to cut some felt on the Silhouette and it was a dismal failure, so I was eager to see what the Maker as able to do. 

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The first thing I noticed when I opened up the Maker is that it is really pretty. I know that's completely superficial, but how can a girl resist the rose gold on this beauty? I also noticed the size and the storage. I was pretty comparable in footprints to my other machines, but heavier. I don't mind that because it's not like I am carrying it around from day to day, and I like that it feels like a solid machine.

Included in the box is the machine (of course!), power and USB cords, a rotary blade, a fine point blade, a fine point black pen, and 2 mats. It also includes the supplies for a starter project, which I thought was really helpful in getting aquainted with the machine and making sure you are ready to start using the machine. I actually wasn't, because my operating system on my macbook was not up to date (oops) and I needed to get that updated before I started. I was glad I discovered that during the starter project instead of running into problems with my first big project. 

What is the big deal about the Cricut Maker?

The big deal about the Maker, especially for us in the sewing world, is the adaptive tool system that includes a rotary cutter blade. The rotary cutter blade allows you to cut almost any type of fabric and can apply pressure differentially and depending on the type of fabric you are using.  That's amazing because you need more pressure to cut things like leather or upholstery vinyl than to cut quilting cotton or light weight fabrics.  Additionally, and another HUGE feature, is that you can cut fabric that is not bonded with the rotary cutter blade. This is especially important for people who sew because most of my projects do not use any kind of bonding. When you think about quilt pieces, doll clothes, accessories, clothing, and more, none of them use a bonding layer (such as fusible web) so being able to cleanly cut without it is amazing. 

It also has a holder for a pen and there is a washable fabric marker that can be used to draw markings and stitch lines on your projects. I used that feature to make my Fold Over Wallet and it was amazing because I knew exactly where I needed place my snaps without any guesswork or mistakes in transferring the marks. I know that is something I struggle with on many projects, so having the ability to draw those on with precision during the cutting process is a big benefit, especially if there are a lot of markings or on small projects (like doll clothes or quilt pieces). 

It will also have additional tools including a new knife blade that can cut balsa wood, which I am super excited about. Oh the possibilities!

The Cricut Maker has two storage cups (one shallow and has cushion in the bottom for your blades, and one deeper for your pens and tools) and also a tray in the front door for your tools. I love the idea of having all of your tools right together when you are working on a project and it keeps my workspace nice and tidy (or at least I TRY). One thing I did notice is that if I was working on unloading one mat while another was cutting, I didn't have access to my tools because they were under the mat. So a little preplanning (or patience) is needed for that. 

Cricut also has some fun basic sewing accessories available that match the coloring of the maker. The set includes scissors, a measuring tape, thread snips, a seam ripper, a leather thimble, pins and a machine shaped pin cushion. 

The pin cushion is actually my favorite part of the basic sewing accessories kit because it's super cute. 

The Cricut Maker uses the same mats as the other Cricut machines, but comes with a light grip mat and a fabric mat. One great thing about the fabric mat is that it is washable, and since I have cut all kinds of fleece, fur and felt with mine already, I need to do that! 

So what about the most important part? The cutting!

So far I have cut leather, upholstery vinyl, fleece, wool felt, acrylic felt, quilting cotton and canvas with my Maker and all of it cut with ease. Not only did it cut with ease, it cut with beautifully perfect and clean cut lines. If you are making something where very precise cutting is important, the Maker is perfect. The Maker is also perfect if you are cutting a lot of the same piece over and over and need the to exactly match. That is not my strong point with cutting, so I can see a lot of possibilities there. 

The other thing that stood out to me immediately is the safety of it. One little known fact about me is that I am kind of terrified of my rotary cutter. Not only have I seen a lot of people cut themselves with one, but I am also fairly bad at using it. I also frequently have my younger daughter hanging around my sewing room or trying to help with sewing tasks. She has started sewing and I have struggled with the cutting part of her sewing activities. She typically uses safety scissors, which are not ideal for cutting fabric, so she ends up frustrated and with pieces that are not cut out nicely. When I consider all of those types of issues, I can see my using the Maker to cut out pieces that normally might need a rotary cutter and also being able to get my daughter involved her cutting by using the Maker. She would be thrilled to help load and unload the mats, press the buttons, and be generally involved in the process, and I would be thrilled to not worry about her cutting herself on sharp sewing shears. 

In using the Maker, one thing I realized quickly is that you need to "prep" your fabric to the width of your mat (so no bigger than 12") and that, along with properly fixing it to the mat, adds a few minutes of prep time to the process. Compared to traditional pattern pattern and scissors cutting, or even rotary cutter and ruler cutting, prepping and loading along with the time for the Maker to cut out is probably slower. But if I was cutting a lot of small pieces, it would probably be a wash because it takes so long to cut out those tiny pieces by hand. 

The other big thing, or not so big thing as it is, is that the Maker limits you to a 12" cutting width and that will limit what you can do with it. Since my kids are not infants or toddlers, clothing sewing projects on the Maker are pretty much out for me because almost all of my clothing sewing would require pieces bigger than the Maker can handle. I knew this going into the process, so it is not a surprise or disappointment, but something to be mindful of if you are considering the Maker as a way to cut your sewing projects out. Maybe Cricut can come out with a machine that cuts in Large Format size? A girl can dream right?

What do I make of the Cricut Maker?

So what is my bottom line on the Maker?  My overall impression of the Maker is that I will use it for a lot of my sewing projects. I don't love using a rotary cutter and I want to sew more with my daughter, so I can see a lot of possibilities where the Maker could fill those roles and make my projects easier and safer to complete. I also love that it cuts so precisely, something far harder to do with scissors, so when you need cuts to be perfect, the Maker can do that for you. I am also super excited about the knife blade (due out sometime soon!) and being able to cut thin woods. I am already buzzing with ideas on how to use it for that!

I would love a bigger cutting surface so I can cut anything I want, but I also realize my sewing space is not limitless and a bigger cutting area also means a bigger machine and I don't have room for that anyway. I felt that the learning curve to using the Maker was very small, I had to learn a little about Design Space, so I was able to make projects almost out of the box.  I see myself using the Maker for a lot of projects in the future, so stay tuned for more tutorials and patterns in the future!

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.