Tips and Tricks
Learning to use the “Cricut” machine definitely involves a steep learning curve. The more complicated aspect of it all is using the “Design Space” software to hone down a variety of features and tools to help you craft your designs and turn your “inspiration into creation.” There are multiple shortcuts on the “Design Space” application to make your designing not only easy but more efficient. Let’s look at some of the tips and tricks that will make your creative self-stronger and happier! We will cover these in 3 different sections, starting with the “Design Space” application, the “Cricut” device, tools, and accessories as well as select cutting material and concluding with how you can clean your device to keep it working like new.
“Design Space” application
- The “Weld,” “Contour,” and “Slice” functionalities to customize your designs. These 3 tools will be activated at the bottom of the screen for designs that allow for these changes.
- The “Weld” tool will allow you to merge two different designs to obtain one composite design, without any leftover seams and cut lines that might be present on the individual designs. This helps you in obtaining a single continuous cut for your design, so you do not need to glue and assemble multiple pieces to obtain the final design, for example, the creation of cake toppers, gift tags, and other decorations.
- The “Contour” tool can be used to activate or deactivate any cut lines in any cut files, and thereby, allowing you to customize the image in various ways. So, imagine you have an image of a flower, and you want to remove the details of the design and obtain more of an outline of the flower, you can do so by clicking on the “Contour” button at the bottom of the screen and selecting the different elements of the image that you want to turn on or off from the contour pop-up window.
- The “Slice” tool can be used to slice a design from an image by cutting out or removing elements of the image, as shown in the picture below.
- Use your search keywords wisely. The search functionality within the “Design Space” is not very dynamic, so your choice of keywords will make a big difference in the designs and projects that will be displayed to you. For example, if you search for images containing dotted designs and search with keyword “Dots,” you would be given around 120 images, but if you search with the term “Dot,” you would see almost twice as many images. You should also search with synonyms and closely related terms of your target project idea. For instance, if you wanted to create a Halloween project, you can search with terms like pumpkin, costumes, and trick or treat among others. This will ensure you are viewing any and all images pertaining to your project.
- The “Cartridge” image sets. It is likely that during your search, you like a design more than any other made available to you, but it is not exactly how you want it to be. Well, simply click on the small information circle (i) at the bottom of the image, and you will be able to view the entire image set or “cartridge” of images similar to your selected image within the “Design Space Image Library.”
- A treasure trove of free fonts and images. As a beginner, you would want to utilize a large number of free fonts and images to get your hands-on experience with your “Cricut” device. This is a great way to spend less money and still be able to create stunning craft projects. Within the “Design Space” application, you can click on the “Filter” icon next to the search bar (available within the images, fonts, and project tabs) and select “Free” to only view free resources within each category.
- Use synchronized colors to save time and money. This is a great tool when you have designs that are either a composite of multiple images or inherently contain different hues of the same color. Instead of using 5 different shades of the same color, you can synchronize the colors, so you need to use only one colored sheet. To do this, simply click on the “Color Sync” tab on the “Layers Panel” on the top right corner of the screen. Then drag and drop the desired layer(s) of the design to your target color layer, and the moved layer will immediately be modified to have the same color as the target color.
- Use the “Hide” tool to selectively cut images from the Canvas. When you are looking to turn your imagination into a work of art, you may want to view and take inspiration from multiple images while you work on your design. But once you obtain your desired design, you would not want to cut every other image on your canvas. This is where the “Hide” tool comes in handy, so you do not need to delete the images on the Canvas to avoid cutting them along with your project design. To hide the image, you just need to click on the “eye” symbol next to those specific image layers on the “Layers Panel.” The hidden images will not be deleted from the Canvas but would not appear on the cutting mat when you click the “Make It” button to cut your project.
- Ability to change the design lines to be cut, scored, or drawn. With the latest version of the “Design Space” application, you have the ability to simply change the “Linetype” of design from its the predefined type to your desired action, instead of looking for designs that have predefined line type meeting your project need. For example, if your selected design is set at “Linetype” Cut, but you want the design to be “Linetype” Score, you can easily change the “Linetype” by clicking on the “Linetype” drop-down and making your selection.
- The power of the “Pattern” tool. You can use your own uploaded images to be used as pattern fill for your designs. Moreover, you will also be able to edit the image pattern and the patterns that already exist within the “Design Space” application to create your own unique and customized patterns. The “Edit Pattern” window allows you to adjust the resolution and positioning of the pattern on your design and much more. (Remember, to use the “Pattern” feature, you must use the “Print then Cut” approach for your project, with access to a printer).
- Utilize the standard “keyboard shortcuts.” The “Design Space” application does have all the required tools and buttons (refer to chapter 2 for the list of all the buttons and their use) to allow you to edit the images and fonts but if you prefer to use your keyboard shortcuts to quickly edit the image, the “Design Space” application will support that. Some of the keyboard shortcuts you can use include “Copy (Control + C),”; “Paste (Control + V),”; “Delete (Delete key),”; “Copy (Control + Z).”
- You can utilize the “Slice” tool to crop the image. The “Design Space” application still lacks the “Crop” functionality, so if you need to crop an image, you will need to get creative. A good tip is to use the “Slice” tool along with the “Shapes” to get your desired image.
- Change the position of the design on the Cutting mat. When you are ready to cut your design and click on the “Make It” button, you will notice that your design will be aligned on the top left corner of the mat. Now, if you are using a material that was previously cut at its top left corner, you can simply drag and move the image on the “Design Space” mat to meet the positioning of your cutting material. You will be able to cut the image anywhere on the mat by moving the design on that specific position on the mat.
- Moving design from one mat to the other. Yes! You can not only move the design over the mat itself, but you can also move the design from one mat to another by simply clicking on the three dots (…) on top of the mat and select “Move to another mat.” You will then view a pop-up window where you can select from the existing mats for your project to be used as the new mat for your selected design.
- Save cut materials as Favorites for quick access. Instead of spending time filtering and searching for your cut material on the “Design Space” application over and over, just save your frequently used material by clicking on the star next to the “Cricut” logo on the “Design Space” application to save them under the “Favorites” tab next to the default “All Materials” tab. When you are getting ready to cut your project, under the “Set Material” tab, your “Favorites” material will be displayed on the screen, as shown in the picture below.
- You can store the most frequently used cut materials on the “Cricut Maker.” Unlike the “Cricut Explore” series which has dial settings for a variety of commonly used cut materials, the “Cricut Maker” requires you to use a “Custom Materials” menu within the “Design Space” application that can be accessed using the button on the machine bearing “Cricut” logo, since there is no dial to choose the material you want to cut.
- Choose to repeat the cut of the same mat or skip a mat from being cut altogether. By following the instructions on the “Design Space” and feeding the right color and size of the material to the machine, you will be able to get your design perfectly cut. You can change the order in which the mats are cut, repeat the cut of your desired mat, and even skip cutting a mat if needed. You can do this easily by simply clicking on and selecting the mat you would like to cut.
- You can edit the cut settings of your materials. You might notice that even when you have selected the default settings to cut the desired material, the material may not cut as desired. To help with this, “Design Space” allows you to adjust the cut settings for all the materials such as the depth of the cut, the cutting blade, and the number of the passes to be made by the “Cricut” device. Since this may not be as intuitive to most beginners, here’s a step-by-step walkthrough of this process:
- When using the “Cricut Maker,” select “Materials” on the cut screen, and if using the “Cricut Explore” series, set the dial to “Custom.”
- Click on “Browse All Materials” from the top of the menu.
- From the bottom of the screen, select “Material Settings.”
- The pop-up window for the “Custom Materials” will be displayed, as shown in the picture below, where you can make the required adjustments.
- Adjust the pressure with which the material can be cut. You may want to just adjust the pressure with which the cut is made to obtain a clean and neat cut of the material, without needing to go through the process described above to adjust the cut setting of the material. On the cut screen, once you have selected the cut material, a drop-down option with “Default” setting will be displayed. Simply click on the drop-down button and adjust the pressure to “More” or “Less.”
- “Cricut Access Membership” – At a monthly fee of around $8 or an annual membership fee, you will be able to use a larger variety of fonts and imaged for free. You will be able to freely use more than 30K images, over 370 fonts, and thousands of projects, saving a lot of money in the long run, depending on your usage.
“Cricut” devices, tools, and accessories
- How to clean your cutting mat – If you would like to prolong the life of your cutting mats, it is important to clean them every now and then (if not after each use). You can just wipe the mat with baby wipes or use other wet wipes that do not contain any alcohol and are fragrance-free. This will ensure that there is no residual build-up from cardstock and vinyl and other such materials and from accumulating dust and lint.
- Carry out a sample cut prior to cutting your design – To make sure that you do not end up with a cut that does not meet your expectations, it is recommended to do a test cut first. This will help you check the sharpness of the blade as well as the cut setting for your material and make the required adjustments to get clean-cut projects.
- Carefully remove the materials off the cutting mat – It is highly recommended to use appropriate tools to remove the material from the mat. But it is equally important to pay attention to how you are peeling the design from the mat. To prevent the material from getting damaged, it is better to peel the mat away from the design by turning the mat upside down and bending a corner of the material. Then you can slip in the spatula to remove the project easily and with no damage.
- Use “Non-Cricut” craft pen(s) – If you have Sharpie pens or other craft pens, don’t be afraid to use them with your “Cricut” device to save some money from buying a new pen.
- Dedicated blades to increase the shelf life – If you are able to use dedicated bladed for your frequently used cutting material, your blades will last longer. For instance, you can have one blade for vinyl only and another just to cut cardstock. Since both the materials, in this case, have different strengths, the pressure and sharpness required to produce clean cut will also vary. Therefore, dedicated blades will maintain its sharpness much longer.
- Storage of mats and vinyl rolls – Using standard hooks, you can easily hang your mats as a display on the wall. This will make the mats more accessible, and you would not need to spend time searching for the required mats. Similarly, you can utilize trash bag holders to store and organize your vinyl or paper rolls and easily retrieve the desired material when needed.
- No “BrightPad”! No Problem! – It is definitely ideal to weed your vinyl and other delicate designs by placing the design on top of the “BrightPad. The light from the “BrightPad” peeks through the cut lines so you can easily weed the design without damaging it. But if you do not want to invest in a “BrightPad,” try hanging the vinyl on a window for a similar light effect to carefully weed your design.
- Convenient Charging Port – The “Cricut Maker” device is equipped with a USB port on the side that will allow you to power your electronic devices, so you can charge your phone or tablet while you work to get your craft projects completed.
Tips when Working with Wood
The wood projects tend to be time-consuming and labor-intensive, and of course, long-lasting. So you want to get it right the first time. Below are some tips to help you get the best wood projects with no stress.
- Ensure that your projects are carried out using a sealer so that the wood does not get damaged unexpectedly.
- When using vinyl or iron-on designs, use sanding paper for sanding the wood and obtaining a flat surface prior to the application of the design. Wooden plaques are not always flat, as it’s a natural product. The surface may need to be sanded so that all sections of the design material will stick evenly on the surface.
- Consider using a stamping effect for your paper design, when using wood and paper designs to produce a rustic feel for your project.
- When choosing a stain color for the wooden plaque, make sure that your project color aligns with that color and other projects that you already have in your house. Don’t be scared to combine different wood stain colors and use your own customized stain!
- For easy and effective application of wood glue, it is recommended to wet the wood with a damp cloth first. After the wood glue has been applied to the plaque, clamp it, and allow it to set for at least 24 hours.
- If you are planning to use pallet wood, make sure to clean the pallet plaque using a wire brush.
Tips when working with iron-on using a household iron
It is important to remember that you put the liner side of the iron-on sheet facing down on the cutting mat and mirror the design by clicking on the “Mirror” button below the cutting mat prior to cutting the design. You can also adjust the settings of your “Cricut” machine to obtain a “kiss cut,” which only cuts through the iron-on film and leaves the liner intact. For example, if you are using “Cricut Maker,” use the “premium fine point blade” and select “Browse all materials,” then select “Everyday Iron-on.” For “Cricut Explore” lines, turn the smart set dial to “Custom” and select “Everyday Iron-on” and again using the “premium fine point blade.” Now, here are some tips on application of “Everyday Iron-on”:
- Make sure the clothing item you are going to apply your design is clean and pre-washed. Prewashing will help remove any chemical-based colors from the garment and eliminate any shrinking that might occur after the first wash.
- Remember to pre-heat, heat, and post-heat the design on the garment for a recommended amount of time to ensure the design is set into the fibers of the garment.
- DO NOT apply any kind of iron-on material on top of a glitter iron-on design since any other layer over the glitter layer will start to peel away upon washing.
- For household iron, use the “Cotton/Linen” setting, which is usually the highest temperature setting for the iron.
- If using a steam iron, turn off the steam prior to application.
- Preheat the area of the garment for 10-15 seconds before putting your design on it.
- Avoid using a flimsy ironing board, and instead, use a firm and flat surface around waist high.
- Use a press cloth or a dishtowel over the liner side of the material to protect it from the direct heat of the iron.
- In case a portion of the design is not sticking, then replace the liner over the film and iron the portion again for 10 seconds with firm pressure.
- For any embellished items, do not wash them for at least 24 hours after the application of the iron-on design and always wash these garments inside-out.
- Do not layer the glitter iron-on on top of “Holographic, Holographic Sparkle, Foil, Glitter, Glitter Mesh, or flocked iron-on.”
- Iron-on designs are recommended to be used with 100% cotton, 100% polyester, and poly/cotton blends.
- Preheat the clothing item for 10 to 15 sec, then place the design onto the preheated area. Heat each portion of the design for 50 seconds with medium pressure, then flip the garment and heat the backside of the design for 15 seconds. Once the design has been completely cooled, remove the lining.
Tips when Working with Vinyl
With all the ways you learned earlier in this chapter to use vinyl to make money with your “Cricut” cutting machine, here are some tips to make your life easier:
- Use “Cricut Premium Vinyl” for projects that may end up enduring harsh weather like mugs, outdoor signs, mailboxes, and more, since it is water-resistant as well as UV resistant with an adhesive that can last for up to 3 years.
- Due to the strong adhesive that underlines the “Cricut Premium Vinyl,” once the design has been positioned on the base material, it is hard to reposition the design without causing any damage.
- Use “Cricut Premium Vinyl – Removable” for projects that you may want to alter after a certain period of time, or maybe you are looking to change things up every now and then when it comes to your home décor. This removable vinyl stays removable for up to 2 years and can be removed without leaving any residue behind.
- To remove the vinyl sheet from the cutting mat, instead of lifting the vinyl from the mat, peel the mat away for a smoother release of the design with no damage.
- If you are not using the “kiss cut” and cutting through both the vinyl and the liner, then you can just peel away the liner from the vinyl and apply it to the desired surface with your hands and without the transfer tape.
- It is recommended to peel the liner at a 45-degree angle, and if the vinyl does not separate from the liner, then just burnish the transfer tape on top of the vinyl and peel away again.