So you just got a Cricut for Christmas & you’re probably thinking, “How on Earth do I use this bad boy?! Why can’t I figure this out?! OMG. I JUST WANT IT TO CUT, DAMNIT!” Don’t worry, we all start there! Unless you’re some kind of super human, then we don’t want to be friends with you. KIDDING!
But really. I sat watching YouTube videos for hours, days, weeks. I still watch videos about how to use my Cricut, so don’t feel like you’re alone in this. In case you’re just looking for a quick how-to, this is your place!
Where To Begin?
Fonts are a great place to start! Cricut comes with some free fonts & paid fonts + the fonts that are already on your computer. I’ve never used a paid font before, I can’t seem to find one that I like enough to buy it. There are a few free font sites that are my fave to download fonts from! My husband always hounds me about how it’s going to give me a virus & that I probably shouldn’t download them…. I choose not to listen. But really, I’ve never actually gotten one from either of the free sites I use.
- Etsy – Search for Fonts
My computer makes me close out of my internet browser, like totally close it (if you have a Mac, right click & hit quit) before it will load the new font into my Design Program. Try to find your fonts before starting your design to make your life a little easier. Make sure you’re complying with any and all personal/professional licenses when using the font file!
It’s time to get familiar with the types of vinyl you can use with your Cricut! I have a Cricut Explore so it doesn’t work well to cut fabric, leather, metal, etc. like the newer Cricut Maker does (or least I haven’t figured out how — see I’m still learning too!). So do some quick research to figure out what materials work best with yours!
- Heat Transfer Vinyl or HTV – Think about your favorite shirt with that fun iron on design
- Siser EasyWeed HTV – This is great if you’re just starting out & you’re using an iron for application (it doesn’t require as much pressure when applying). It has a semi-gloss finish to it and comes in a large variety of colors!
- Thermoflex HTV – I love thermoflex, but it does require higher heat & more pressure for application. This definitely has a matte finish to it & comes in fewer colors. For beginners I would recommend Siser!
- Oracal 651 – This is adhesive vinyl. It has a glossy finish & works well for indoor & outdoor projects
- Oracal 631 – This is also adhesive vinyl. It has more of a matte finish & works best for indoor projects
- Transfer Tape – For adhesive vinyl, you’ll need this, you won’t get far without it!
Seriously there are so many color options, some of my favorites are the metallics & glitters.
I legit have no idea what the actual name for some of these tools are, so I just kind of made up my own (ha!). I can’t remember if these come with the Cricut or if you have to buy them separately, but either way, you definitely need them! You can buy most of the tools in a pack, but here’s what each tool is used for.
- The dentist tool – It’s like a pick that works well for weeding your projects. Some people like to use a regular pin, for me that’s too small.
- The spatula – Legit looks like a mini flipper. Use this to slide between your cutting mat & your project to avoid it rolling when you pull it up.
- Scissors – The tool pack comes with a tiny pair, they are sharp as heck and work well if you have tiny fingers. I usually just use a regular real sized pair.
- Scraper – I bought the large size because it seems to work a lot better than the small one they include in the pack. A lot of people also use their credit card.
- Tweezers – I have never used these once. If you find a good use for them, props to you!
- Exacto knife – I always have one on hand, it makes it a lot easier to save vinyl after your project is cut out!
- Cricut Blade – I never cut anything but vinyl so I stick with the regular blade. I think I’ve only changed it once a year, so it’s worth it to spend extra for the extra sharp one.
- Cutting Mat – Again, this is something you have to have in order to make projects. I prefer the 12×24 mat, but the 12×12 is just fine for small projects!
Tips & Tricks
Buying a Cricut & figuring out how to use it, is a huge learning curve! Give yourself grace when you first start, it can take a lot of practice to get it perfect. I shouldn’t say much, I swore at that thing so many times & gave myself little grace! So moral of the story, don’t be like me.
Adhesive Vinyl Tips
- If you take nothing else way from this post, take away that I don’t like Cricut vinyl & it doesn’t work near as well as all the other brands listed above! I will always use something other than the Cricut brand unless I’m in a pinch.
- Paper side down!
- Set your dial to adhesive
- With adhesive vinyl, it’s very important to use your transfer tape! This is the process you’ll use: Cut your design & weed. Cut a piece of transfer tape large enough to cover your entire design. Squeegee all the bubbles out. Now carefully peel transfer tape at a 90 degree angle.
HTV Vinyl Tips
- Shiny side down ALWAYS. ALWAYS!
- Set your dial to iron-on, if you’re using glitter, I use iron-on+
- HTV tends to weed much easier than adhesive in my opinion, but glitter can cause some issues! Take it slow when you’re weeding glitter.
- You don’t need to use transfer tape when you are using HTV unless you buy a patterned vinyl then that comes with a carrier sheet.
- If you’re using an iron to apply your HTV, you have to use a lot of pressure. When I say a lot, I mean, I used to stand on my iron for 20 seconds at a time. You can also put a metal cookie sheet or ceramic tile under it to help press it.
Hopefully these tips were helpful if you’re just starting out with your Cricut! Stay tuned for how to use your Cricut, Part 2. Part 2 will include how to use different functions in the Cricut Design Program. Until then, you can find a few pre-designed files for sale in our Etsy Shop!
Ready to work on your DIY skills, but not ready to take on the Cricut? We have the perfect sewing tips for beginners, Let us know how you like it!