best cricut for making shirts

What is Cricut?

The generic title for the Cricut is a die cutter, craft plotter, or a smart cutting machine. The format of this machine allows you to create projects from flat materials of varying thicknesses. The projects that you can do with this tool can range from simple to quite complex, depending on your skill level with these materials. Depending on the sharpness of the blade in your cutting machine, or the model that you’re using, your materials can range anywhere from craft felt to thin sheets of metal. This gives you an idea of how vast the range really is, for what this machine can help you to accomplish as a crafter.

Other machines of this type can run you several hundred or even thousands of dollars, require design degrees, come with complex proprietary software, and offer only a fraction of the design options that come with Cricut, and the proprietary, user-friendly Cricut Design Space. Cricut’s massive base of users are always sharing the latest and greatest in projects, tips, tricks, guides, and new materials to use with your Cricut machine. As a crafter with a Cricut machine, your resources are nearly limitless.

Thanks to the vast number of resources at our disposal as crafters, I’ve decided to compile the best of what’s available, so you don’t have to sift through anything confusing before getting started making your gorgeous projects and loving your new Cricut machine. In one organized place, you’ll be able to access all the information you need on how to use the software, project guides that take you from start to finish, a list of all that you will need, and so much more. This is your comprehensive guide that you can refer to again and again, no matter how your skill level grows over time!

Just like with many other crafting media, if you’re not paying attention, it is possible to spend more than you intended on materials, tools, accessories, and more. My intention is to show you which proprietary tools are worth the extra money, while showing you the best alternatives that you can use in place of other tools. Crafting is such a therapeutic and enjoyable experience; it shouldn’t be prohibitive thanks to the cost! As you gain familiarity with the community of Cricut users, with the Cricut brand, I’m confident you will find the products and tricks that work the best for you in bringing your crafts to life!

Let’s dive into how to choose the right Cricut model for you and for your needs!

How Can I Choose the Right Model for Me?

The wonderful thing about Cricut is that their models are all incredibly versatile and capable. Most capabilities that are had by one model will span the entire current Cricut line of products. There are some very minor differences in the ways in which they work and the complexity of their operation.

In the section below, I’ve listed all the models that are currently available from Cricut, what they do, how they differ, and what areas are stronger amongst some models.

What’s Available?

Thankfully, there is not a vast number of craft plotters available from Cricut at the time of writing, which means it will be really easy for you to take a look at all of what’s offered without being overwhelmed. With huge product lines that contain many various models, finding what you want and need, while getting the most for your money can be a real chore. I’ll outline each of the models currently available, what they can do, and what capabilities are best suited for what types of crafts.

Cricut Explore One

In terms of what is currently available from Cricut, this is the most basic machine they offer. This machine boasts being able to cut 100 of the most popular materials that are currently available to use with your Cricut machine, as well as being perfectly user friendly.

The Cricut Explore One is considered to be the no-frills beginner model of Cricut craft plotters and operates at a lower speed than the other models available. Unlike the others available in the current product line, the Cricut Explore One has only one accessory clamp inside, so cutting or scoring, and drawing cannot be done simultaneously. They can, however, be done in rapid succession, one right after the other.

While this is a great tool for a wide range of crafts on 100 different materials, and which can get you well on your way to designing breathtaking crafts that are always a cut above others, the cost is not as high as you might imagine. If you intend to use your craft plotter mainly for those special occasions where something handcrafted would be perfect, then this a great machine to have on hand.

Cricut Explore Air

With all the capabilities of the Cricut Explore One and more, the Cricut Explore Air model comes equipped with Bluetooth capability, has a built-in storage cup to keep your tools in one place while you’re working, so they won’t roll away or get lost in the shuffle.

This model does have two on-board accessory clamps, which allow for simultaneous marking and cutting or scoring. These clamps are marked with an A and a B so you can be sure your tools are going in the right places, every time you load them in.

This model is equipped to handle the same 100 materials as the Cricut Explore One, and operates at the same speed, so the price difference reflects those differences and the similarities! This is a great value for the powerhouse that you’re getting.

Cricut Explore Air 2

The Cricut Explore Air 2 is Cricut’s current top selling craft plotter and is arguably the best value they have to offer for the price. This model cuts materials at twice the speed of the previous two models, has Bluetooth capability, and has the two on-board accessory clamps.

The storage cup on the top of the machine features a secondary, more shallow cut to store your replacement blade housings when they’re not in use, so that if you happen to be swapping between several different tips for a project, they’re all readily available to you throughout your project. Both of the cups have a soft silicone bottom, so you won’t have to worry about the blades on your machine becoming dull or scratched!

For someone who finds themselves using their Cricut with any regularity, this is the best machine for the job. You will be able to do your crafts twice as fast, and you will get a satisfactory result every time, even at that speed!

At the time of writing, the Cricut Explore Air 2 is priced exactly the same as the Cricut Explore One, at $249.99. If you’re looking to jump on this, now is the time to get the best deal.

Cricut Maker

The Cricut Maker is considered to be Cricut’s flagship model. This is the one that can do just about anything under the sun on just about any material you can fit into the mat guides of your machine. The one drawback of this powerhouse model is the price point. This does make this model more prohibitive, unless you plan to make crafts that you can sell with this model. If this is your intention, you can rest assured that whatever you turn out with this machine will be the best of the best, every single time. If you’re selling your crafts, this baby will pay for itself in little to no time at all.

For the avid crafter who likes to show up to the party with the most gorgeous crafts that are leaps and bounds ahead of their peers, this machine might be overkill for the price. Of course, if you are keeping up with the Joneses, this is the model to have.

This model really does have it all and we can prove it. No other Cricut machine has the speed that the Cricut Maker has. The cuts that can be made with the special precision blades that fit only this machine, are crisper than anything you could ever hope for from a straight knife or other craft cutter. The blade housings allow you to simply remove the tip from the housing, install the next one, clip it back into place, and keep on rolling through your projects. In addition to this, the machine can detect the material loaded into it, so you won’t need to set the type of materials at the beginning of each of your projects. With the other model, a common occurrence is that the project is halfway done before the crafter realizes that the dial is set incorrectly.

The machine, like some of the others, is fully Bluetooth capable, it operates with ten times as much power as any of the other models, it has a special rotary cutter attachment that allows it to glide effortlessly through fabrics and precision, and so much more.

Are There Older Models?

In a word, yes. There are several older models that have been phased out to make way for the Explore and Maker machines. The older machines were found to require a good deal more hacks, workarounds, troubleshooting, and understanding to get precise or even rounded cuts for the projects that crafters would like to do.

Here is a list of some of the models you may have seen in your travels:

  • Personal Cricut Electronic Cutter Machine
  • Cricut Create
  • Expression 1
  • Expression 2
  • Imagine
  • Cricut Mini
  • Cricut Explore

Each of these models was compatible with a Cricut product called the Gypsy, which was not unlike the Cricut Design Space that we currently have today. Each of these machines had its triumphs in innovating the craft cutting processes.

The major aspect that Cricut aimed for overhauling when creating their newest line of models, was the complexity involved in working with their machinery. Communities of crafters had come together with hacks and math ledgers to program their machinery to work precisely as they wanted it to.

With the current line of available models, the Cricut Design Space allows you to be an innovative as you can possibly be with the design process, so none of your creative flow is eaten up by operations that should be taken care of by your machine.

If you own one of these machines, updating is certainly worth the money, but if it has served you well in your crafting, there is no need to upgrade. Cricut has always made quality products, and the cartridges containing various themed design elements are still supported through Cricut Design Space.

The Cricut Cartridge Adapter is a USB adapter, which allows you to import your cartridges into the Cricut Design Space, so all your elements are available in one organized space