What Is A Cricut Machine & What Can I Do With It?

Maybe you received a Cricut machine for Christmas or a birthday, but it’s still sitting in its box. Or maybe you’re an avid crafter looking for a simple tool to make crafting easier. Or maybe you’ve seen tons of cool project images on Pinterest and wondered “How the heck do they cut those intricate designs? I wanna do that!” Or maybe you’ve heard of Cricut, but you’re asking “What is a Cricut machine, and what can you do with it?” Well, you’re in the right place; today I’m going to introduce you to the Cricut Explore Air machine and tell you about all the cool things it can do!

What is a Cricut machine and what can you do with it?

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I first used a Cricut way back in college. I was an RA and our resident staff department had a Cricut machine and a few cartridges that we used for cutting out letters and shapes to make fun signs and party decorations. I remember thinking that thing was SO COOL. But Cricut machines have grown up a lot since I’ve been in college, and they are even cooler now!

There are no more cartridges; everything is done digitally so that you can use any font or shape that’s on your computer. And most of the Cricut machines work over wifi or bluetooth, so you can design from your iPhone or iPad, as well as from your computer! The Cricut machines are easy to use, totally versatile, and only limited by your own creativity!

What is a Cricut machine and what can you do with it?

(I have a Cricut Explore Air so that’s what I’ll be talking about in this post. There is a newer model out called the Cricut Explore Air 2 which has all the same features as the original Explore Air, except that it can also cut at 2x speed!)

What Is A Cricut Machine?

The Cricut Explore Air is a die-cutting machine (aka craft plotter or cutting machine). You can think of it like a printer; you create an image or design on your computer and then send it to the machine. Except that instead of printing your design, the Cricut machine cuts it out of whatever material you want! The Cricut Explore Air can cut paper, vinyl, fabric, craft foam, sticker paper, faux leather, and more!

What is a Cricut machine and what can you do with it?

In fact, if you want to use a Cricut like a printer, it can do that too! There is an accessory slot in the machine and you can load a marker in there and then have the Cricut “draw” your design for you. It’s perfect for getting a gorgeous handwritten look if your handwriting isn’t all that great. 🙂

What is a Cricut machine and what can you do with it?

The Explore series of Cricut machines allows you to access a huge digital library of “cartridges” instead of using physical cartridges, like I did in college. This means that you can use Cricut Design Space (their online design software) to take any text or shape from the library and send it to your Cricut to be cut out. You can even upload your own designs if you want!

The Cricut Explore Air can cut materials up to 12″ wide and has a small cutting blade mounted inside the machine. When you’re ready to cut something out, you load the material onto a sticky mat and load the mat into the machine. The mat holds the material in place while the Cricut blade passes over the material and cuts it. When it finishes, you unload the mat from the machine, peel your project off the sticky mat, and you’re ready to go!

What is a Cricut machine and what can you do with it?

With a Cricut machine, the possibilities are endless! All you need is a Cricut machine, Design Space, something to cut, and your own creativity!

What Can I Do With A Cricut Machine?

There are TONS of things you can do with a Cricut machine! There’s no way I could even list all the possibilities, but here are a few popular types of projects to give you an idea of what the machine can do.

  • Cut out fun shapes and letters for scrapbooking
  • Make custom, handmade cards for any special occasion (here’s an example)
  • Design a onesie or a t-shirt (here’s an example)
  • Make a leather bracelet
  • Make buntings and other party decorations
  • Create your own stencils for painting (here’s an example)
  • Make a vinyl sticker for your car window
  • Label stuff in your pantry, or in a playroom
  • Make monogram pillows
  • Create your own Christmas ornaments (here’s an example)
  • Address an envelope
  • Decorate a mug, cup, or tumbler (here’s an example)
  • Etch glass at home (here’s an example)
  • Create your own wall decals
  • Make a painted wooden sign
  • Make your own window clings
  • Cut appliqués or quilt squares
  • Create decals for a stand mixer

…and tons of other projects that are too numerous to list!

Here are the Cricut machines I discussed in this article; click the images below to find out more about each machine. And if you’re looking to buy an awesome crafting tool, I highly recommend the Cricut Explore machines! I use mine pretty much every day, and it rocks!

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Disclosure: I received compensation from Cricut in exchange for my participation in this campaign, and my honest discussion of their products. But I am IN LOVE with my Cricut and I use it pretty much every day; all opinions in this post are 100% my own. I would never write a post about something I didn’t think was useful or interesting for you guys, and Practically Functional will only publish sponsored posts for companies or products I love and believe in! 🙂

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

Jessi Wohlwend

I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. I love sharing simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, and other tips and tricks all with one goal in mind: giving you the tools you need to “do it yourself”, complete fun projects, and make awesome things!

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Reader Interactions

  1. Mary says

    2 years ago

    How do you print images onto glass cups?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      2 years ago

      I would use printable vinyl. If you have a Cricut you can do the Print Then Cut method where you load the sheet of printable adhesive vinyl into your home inkjet printer, print out the image you want, and then load it into the machine to have the Cricut cut it out for you. Or you could just cut it out by hand if you don’t have a Cricut.

  2. Tammy L Ball says

    2 years ago

    i am try to do a image that tell me that it can not make because i need to cut it out and i can not do it how do you do that thank tammy

  3. Davita says

    2 years ago

    Can this cut 1/8″ acrylic for keychains?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      1 year ago

      No, unfortunately the Explore machines can only cut materials up to 2.0mm thick and the Maker can cut materials up to 2.4mm thick.

  4. Mariann Papadopoulos says

    2 years ago

    Question!

    I am a Middle School Theatre teacher. Would you say that this is an appropriate investment for a teacher? I love DIY craft things, especially when it comes to doing fun things for or with my students! Would this be a good investment for me, you think?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      1 year ago

      I absolutely think it would be a great investment! I know tons of teachers who love their Cricut’s, and especially if you’re doing DIY craft things and making your own props or scenery; you would get a lot of use out of a Cricut!

  5. Miranda says

    2 years ago

    Does the Cricut require an internet connection?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      1 year ago

      The machine itself doesn’t require an internet connection (it is connected to your computer, tablet, or mobile device via a USB cable or a Bluetooth connection) but the Design Space software is an online web app that requires an internet connection when used on a desktop or laptop computer. You have to be online to create new designs, but once a design is created you can save it for use in offline mode on the mobile app so that you can cut out your design without an internet connection. Also it is planned to have an offline version of Design Space for computers by the end of 2019, but it’s not yet available.

      • Michele Leal says

        1 year ago

        I’m so glad I came across this post. I’ve been seeing these around for a while now wondering what they were an what they did. Now I know, an now I want one. Thx again, it was very informative.

      • Melanie says

        12 months ago

        Is there a monthly subscription for the Design Space software or do you automatically get full access to it when you purchase the machine?

        • Jessi Wohlwend says

          5 months ago

          The Design Space software is totally free and you can create an account and use it for free to design your projects. The only piece that has a paid subscription option is Cricut Access, which is a monthly subscription that gives you access to over 100,000 images and fonts from the Cricut library for free. But if you don’t want a paid subscription you can still use the software to design your own projects, and you can still use images from the Cricut library, you will just have to make a one time purchase of any images you want to use from the library (usually $1 per image.) But it is always free to design your own projects inside of Design Space, and you can also upload your own images or use any font that is on your computer for free.

  6. Shannon says

    2 years ago

    Hi Jessi, Thanks SO much for the great run-down of this machine. I have seen them forever and had no idea of what they were used for. I have 2 crafty daughters and we often get together to work on projects so this might be on our Christmas list this year 😉 Wonderful explanation!

  7. Cynthia Dianovsky says

    2 years ago

    I have ornaments cross-stiched on plastic canvass and would like to apply a backing to them to hide the stitching, can the cricut cut out felt to match the shape of the ornament design

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      1 year ago

      Yep it can! Cricut has a feature called SnapMat which is where you can use your phone camera to take a photo of material on a Cricut mat and load that photo into Design Space. It’s normally used to purposefully position your cuts over certain parts of patterned materials or if you’re trying to use up small scraps of material, but it would definitely work to get the exact shape and size of your ornaments to create a felt backing for them! You can learn more here: https://help.cricut.com/hc/en-us/articles/360009379934-SnapMat-FAQ

  8. Lois Lopez says

    2 years ago

    I would like to know IF I use a sticker paper ( where you peel off the paper ) like a stamp
    could you then stick this paper on fabric. AND could you print your own pattern on the paper
    and place words on it THEN peel off the back to place on the fabric.

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      1 year ago

      If you want to put your own printed pattern on fabric with words on top of it, I would suggest using printable heat transfer vinyl. You can print any design onto it (including your own pattern background with words on top of it) and then your Cricut can cut out the shape and you can use an iron or heat press to transfer the design to your fabric.

  9. Kasia says

    2 years ago

    This is something I’ve never come across before. It’s amazing! And the possibilities are endless. Thanks ever so much for sharing Jessi! I’ll be looking into getting one of these in the near future 🙂

  10. john says

    3 years ago

    hey Jessi,
    I am doing some late christmas shopping but i am curious if the cricut has any way to cut around a regular photo, if I work on it a little bit, like a little custom… i dont know the word for this… like cropping to the max, not automatically of course but can i put a photo on the app, the select areas to cut? or does it extrapolate outlines or something near this?
    thank you,
    -john, bad boyfriend

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      3 years ago

      Oh man, John I am SO sorry for the late reply! Your comment got lost in my inbox somehow! 🙁 You can use a Cricut to cut custom shapes if you want! First you have to upload the photo (or a scanned copy of it) to the online Cricut software, then you can create custom cut lines around the parts of the photo you want to cut. Then you can load the photo into the Cricut and it will cut out whatever portions you want.

      • Kelly says

        1 year ago

        Hi,

        I have the same question, I think. I want to make bunting from book illustrations, but I would want to plan exactly where the edges of the cuts would be so that the shape would be of a certain section of illustration. The way to do this would be to scan each individual page, then work with it in the Cricut software, right?

        Thanks!

        • Jessi Wohlwend says

          4 months ago

          Yeah that’s pretty similar. So the best way to do this is with the Snap Mat feature, which is only available on the mobile app version of Design Space. Basically you put your material on a cutting mat like regular, then take a picture of it with your phone, then when you preview the mats before cutting out your design it will show your photo as the preview so you can move the cuts around on the mat to cut out just certain sections. You can learn more here: https://help.cricut.com/hc/en-us/articles/360009379934-SnapMat-FAQ

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