best cricut for making shirts

Machine Overviews

This section contains detailed reviews of each of the 4 Cricut-machines available so that you can decide which one fits your needs best!

Cricut Maker Overview

Cricut Maker is the latest machine from Cricut. Cricut calls it the ultimate intelligent cutting machine, and I can only agree. It is a leading digital die-cutting machine that delivers high-quality and professional results at a personal machine price.  It is able to cut hundreds of mattresses, balsa and leather, from the most sensitive material and paper.

The Cricut-Maker uses the brand new Adaptive Tool-System that provides more exact control of tools throughout the entire cut, including rotation, lifting and varying pressure. The Adaptive Tool System can also be used later as Cricut expands its tool offerings by using new types of tools.

The manufacturer can use the following instruments that are compatible with the Adaptive Tool System in addition to the Fine-Point, Deep Cut and Bonded Fabric Blade compatible with all Cricut equipment.:

–       Rotary Blade–It’s a great advance over the standard Fine Point blade, so you cut fabric with a Cricut Maker. You can cut tough fabrics such as burlap and denim, as well as sensitive materials such as crepe or satin. This blade allows you to make complex cuts on the textile without spraying or bunching (what is why when using the fine dot blade you need a stabilizer backing).

–       Knife Blade–this lets you easily slice the wood, the leather, the matboard and the Cricut chipboard through thicker and denser materials. Without worrying that the blade will snap you could make some quite complicated cuts.

–       Wheels for Scoring–Those tools produce crisp plugs on thin, thick and evenly covered paper materials. You can create extra-deep score lines on any material which does not crack when you fold it.

 

These new blades and tools can not be utilized by explorer machines because they rely on the Adaptive Tool System. In explorer machines, the standard tool holder carriage just has no precision or strength needed.

The adaptive tool system can easily switch between the tools and adapt the drive system to any tool loaded into it, as the name implies. It enables TONS to develop new tools in the future, to create new kinds of crafts with the machine that we have never been able to achieve before. I think that the Adaptive Tool System has been an outstanding benefit, and I think that it makes the Maker more “future-saving.”

 

Pros

–       Cuts write, & scores automatically. No need to do any of it by hand; this machine can do it all!

–       Adaptive Tool System. New drive technology allows the machine to have greater control over the tools. More pressure and more intricate cuts!

–       Cutover 250 materials. The standard Fine-Point blade cuts a wide variety of materials, and the Rotary Blade and Knife Blade can cut even more!

–       Rotary Blade. Built for cutting all types of fabric without dragging or tearing; no stabilizer required.

–       Knife Blade. Built for precise, clean cuts through thick materials.

–       Scoring Wheels. Built for crisp, deep score lines that don’t crack when folded, even on coated paper.

–       Access to sewing patterns. Get access to hundreds of sewing patterns that are ready to cut using your machine.

–       Expandable suite of tools. The Adaptive Tool System is built to allow for new types of crafting tools in the future.

–       Double tool holder. Cut and write all in one pass without having to switch out tools.

–       Built-in Bluetooth. Connect wirelessly to your machine for easy cutting.

–       Fast Mode. Cut and write up to 2x faster on cardstock, vinyl, and iron-on.

–       Free Design Space software. Access to over 50,000 cuttable graphics and fonts plus hundreds of ready-to-make projects, or easily design your own project.

–       Print then cut. Easily incorporate printed photos or graphics into your projects.

–       Use your own images. Easily upload your own images, and Design Space will automatically convert them into cuttable images.

Cons

–       Price. The most expensive of any Cricut machine.

–       No built-in cartridge slot. You must purchase a separate adapter to link your physical cartridges to your Design Space account.

 

Cricut Explore One

Cricut Explore One is the entry-level budget machine for Cricut; it’s perfect for anyone wanting to start with a digital die-cutting system but not a ton of money. The standard Fine Point Blade is included that enables you to cut hundreds of materials, and the bonded fabric blade (sold separately) is compatible to allow you to cut even more materials.

The Explore One has a one tool holder, so you have to switch the blades for a pen in the middle of the cut if you want to slice and write in the same project. You can change the blade or the accessory very easily, and the software for Design Space can take your time off and pass it, but you can get tedious after a while when you do a lot of projects that combine the cutting, writing and scoring.

And in fact, the individual tool holder is compatible with the standard sheets (Fine-Point, Deep Point, and Bonded Fabric), but in the Cricut Explore One, you will need to purchase a separate adapter to fit in one tool holder to use other instruments and accessories, including the Scoring Stylus or Cricut Pens.

Bluetooth features are not integrated with the Explore One, so you have to connect your machine to the USB cable provided. Or you can buy a Bluetooth adapter separately for wireless cutting.

 

Pros

–       Cuts write, & scores automatically. No need to do any of it by hand; this machine can do it all!

–       Cutover 100 materials. The standard Fine-Point blade cuts a wide variety of materials.

–       Free Design Space software. Access to over 50,000 cuttable graphics and fonts plus hundreds of ready-to-make projects, or easily design your own project.

–       Use your own images. Easily upload your own images, and Design Space will automatically convert them into cuttable images.

–       Print then cut. Easily incorporate printed photos or graphics into your projects.

–       Cartridge slot built-in. Link your physical cartridges to your Design Space account using your machine.

–       Budget-friendly. Great price for casual crafters.

 

Cons

–       Single tool holder. Have to manually switch the blade or accessory if cutting, writing, and scoring within the same project.

–       Bluetooth not built-in. You have to purchase a separate adapter to use this machine wirelessly.

–       Writing and scoring not built-in. You need to purchase a separate adapter to use the scoring stylus or Cricut pens.

–       It is not designed for cutting fabric. You have to stabilize the fabric with a backer fabric before cutting. Blade drags over fabric potentially causing tears and rips.

–       No fast mode. All cutting, writing, and scoring happens at standard speed.

–       Not compatible with Adaptive Tool System accessories. Cannot use Rotary Blade, Knife Blade, Scoring Wheels, or any other future Adaptive Tool System accessories.

 

Cricut Explore Air

The next step from Explore One is Cricut Explore Air. The standard Fine-Point Blade also enables you to cut hundreds of materials and is compatible with Deep Point Blade and the Bonded Fabric Blade (sold separately).

An upgrade to the Explore One is the double holder of Cricut Explore Air; it is designed to hold the blade in one clamp and the plumb, scoring style and other accessories within the other clamp. So you can load a blade and style into the machine and cut and write all in one pass without stopping to switch between tools if you’re in a project that has both cutting and writing. Even better, the second clamp is suitable for the compatibility of equipment such as the Scoring Stylus, Cricut Pens, etc.

The Cricut Explore Air provides integrated Bluetooth options. For the first set-up, you must connect using the supplied USB cable, but you can connect to the machine and cut it wirelessly after the first pairing.

Pros

–       Cuts write, & scores automatically. No need to do any of it by hand; this machine can do it all!

–       Double tool holder. Cut and write all in one pass without having to switch out tools.

–       Built-in Bluetooth. Connect wirelessly to your machine for easy cutting.

–       Cutover 100 materials. The standard Fine-Point blade cuts a wide variety of materials.

–       Free Design Space software. Access to over 50,000 cuttable graphics and fonts plus hundreds of ready-to-make projects, or easily design your own project.

–       Print then cut. Easily incorporate printed photos or graphics into your projects.

–       Use your own images. Easily upload your own images, and Design Space will automatically convert them into cuttable images.

–       Cartridge slot built-in. Link your physical cartridges to your Design Space account using your machine.

Cons

–       Not designed for cutting fabric. You have to stabilize the fabric with a backer fabric before cutting. Blade drags over fabric potentially causing tears and rips.

–       No fast mode. All cutting, writing, and scoring happens at standard speed.

–       Not compatible with Adaptive Tool System accessories. Cannot use Rotary Blade, Knife Blade, Scoring Wheels, or any other future Adaptive Tool System accessories.

 

Cricut Explore Air 2

The Cricut Explore Air 2 is the next level of Explore Air and is upgraded in a major way: quick mode. Fast Mode makes it possible for the machine to cut and write standard materials like cardstock, vinyl and iron-on up to 2 times faster. This is truly useful for people who produce multiple copies of their projects (such as teachers) or people who sell things and who value the time they save.

The Cricut Explore Air 2 comes with the standard fine-point blade to cut hundreds of materials. It is compatible with the Deep Point blade and the Bonded Fabric blade (sold independently) so that even more materials can be cut off.

The Cricut Explore Air 2 also includes built-in Bluetooth capabilities, allowing you to cut and write everything in a single passe by wirelessly and double tool holder. And just like Explore Air, the second clamp is compatible with components such as the Scoring Stylus, Cricut Pens etc., so no additional adapter is required.

Personally, I don’t actually use Fast Mode all that often, so the step up from the Explore Air isn’t a huge deal for me, but it can definitely save you time if you do a lot of cardstock, vinyl, and iron-on projects!

Pros

–       Cuts write, & scores automatically. No need to do any of it by hand; this machine can do it all!

–       Double tool holder. Cut and write all in one pass without having to switch out tools.

–       Built-in Bluetooth. Connect wirelessly to your machine for easy cutting.

–       Cutover 100 materials. The standard Fine-Point blade cuts a wide variety of materials.

–       Fast Mode. Cut and write up to 2x faster on cardstock, vinyl, and iron-on.

–       Free Design Space software. Access to over 50,000 cuttable graphics and fonts plus hundreds of ready-to-make projects, or easily design your own project.

–       Print then cut. Easily incorporate printed photos or graphics into your projects.

–       Use your own images. Easily upload your own images, and Design Space will automatically convert them into cuttable images.

–       Cartridge slot built-in. Link your physical cartridges to your Design Space account using your machine.

Cons

–       Not designed for cutting fabric. You have to stabilize the fabric with a backer fabric before cutting. Blade drags over fabric potentially causing tears and rips.

–       Not compatible with Adaptive Tool System accessories. Cannot use Rotary Blade, Knife Blade, Scoring Wheels, or any other future Adaptive Tool System accessories.

–       Not the best value. Unless you LOVE Fast Mode, I’m not sure it’s worth an extra $50 over the Explore Air.

The Cricut Explore Air or Cricut Maker is, in my opinion, the right machine for most people.

The Cricut Explore Air is the perfect machine for the casual craftsman with most of the features you need. Until you cut a lot of fabric and care about the fast mode, the Explore Air will be a wonderful machine for you!

You may consider upgrading to Explore Air 2 to take advantage of Fast Mode if you use your machine for your business or create a lot of copies of the same project.

Explore One is a great base machine if you are a casual craftsperson on a tight budget. However, I think you will quickly become tired for anyone who uses the machine because you don’t have the wireless cutting capability and only one holder.

I definitely recommend Cricut Maker to serious craftsmen, sewists, woodworks, etc. (or, if you have some chance to splurge!). The Cricut Maker is the only machine to cut thick materials such as wood and leather. Moreover, it can make customized, smart and complex cuts on the fabric without the need of a backing textile, with a rotary blade. Moreover, the Adaptive Tools System makes the machine more “future-proof” since new blade types and instruments can be added in the future easily.

The best cricut overall