With the craziness of the Corona Virus going on, I hope you are all safe and well. If you are lucky enough to spend some time away crafting, this post will get you started with your Cricut. Please stay safe out there.
Just like space, the world of crafting is vast and sometimes scary. The Cricut cutting machine is one of the best investments you can make in the crafting world. One of the top questions I hear is “how do I get started with Cricut?” This post will teach you how to setup your Cricut.
I have even heard that some people don’t even take it out of the box because the machine is that intimidating. Please do not let this be you. The Cricut is going to change your life!
I have to admit that I was afraid to my Cricut out of the box when I received it as a gift. Although I had asked for it, I still wasn’t entirely sure what I had asked for.
This step by step guide will walk you through setting up your Cricut Explore Air or Cricut Maker so you can get busy creating some amazing things!
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What can you do with a Cricut?
The Cricut is an amazing weapon to add to your craft arsenal. I asked for a Cricut without knowing exactly what I was getting in to and I couldn’t be happier. While I primarily wanted to make signs, I ended up being able to do so much more. Both the Cricut Explore Air and the Cricut Maker can:
- Make Stencils
- Cut Vinyl (think decorating mugs, car windows, ornaments, walls… you name it
- Write in Gold or White ink (Fancy Invitations)
- Cut iron on vinyl (Decorate, shirts, onesies, totes, shoes, hats, ect.)
- Cut Cardstock and Paper (Paper flowers, Handmade cards, Boxes, Tags Bows, whatever you can imagine)
The Cricut Maker can also:
- Cut Wood
- Cut Leather, felt and fabric
- Engrave metal
There is just so much you can do. I am still amazed at how my Cricut makes everything so easy!
How to Setup your Cricut: Opening the Box
The first thing you are going to have to do is open the box! When you look inside, you will find the cutting machine, a USB cord and a power cord. Depending on what bundle you bought, there will also be a mat, and material for a first project.
Once you take everything out of the box, you are going to want to find a place for your machine. The Cricut can take mats that are up to 24 inches long, so you will want to find a space that will allow room in the front and the back of the machine so the mat can move freely through both sides. If you are planning on only doing smaller mats, allow 12 inches on each side of the printer.
My Cricut is setup on a regular desk and I turn it sideways when I am using it, as I don’t have all the space in the world. Just do what works for you.
How to Connect your Cricut to a Computer
The Cricut Explore Air and the Cricut Maker both can be connected wirelessly via Bluetooth. First you will want to plug your Cricut into a power source, and then you will head to https://design.cricut.com/#/setup when you click this link, it will take you to a screen where you can select your Cricut. Click on your machine, and it will walk you through the setup.
Make sure Bluetooth is activated on your computer.
If you have never owned a Cricut, you will also setup a Cricut id for your Design Space account. Design Space is the software that is used with Cricut. It will save all your projects in one place, and also has inspirational projects that you can try.
If you are a new user, you will get a free month of Cricut Access Standard with your account, where you can download plenty of new free projects that are ready to make.
If for some reason, the Cricut does not detect the blue-tooth, don’t panic, you can still connect it with the provided USB. Simply insert the USB end into a port on your computer and the other end to the open adapter in the back of the Cricut.
Getting Started in Design Space
The first time you open Design Space, it can seem intimidating.
When you are in Design space, everything you place on your screen will be set to cut. If you are wanting to write or score, you will click on the “Linotype” option and select what you are wanting the machine to do.
I will be adding a more in-depth post on Design Space soon, meanwhile, YouTube is going to be your best friend while you are learning. Cricut’s Blog also has some helpful information.
If your machine came with a sample project, I would suggest loading that up in Design Space first for practice. The project is ready to go and the machine will walk you through your first cut so it is less intimidating.
Your First Cut
To make your first cut, load up your project in Design Space and hit “Make it”. Next, you will select the material you are using. You will select it on the computer in Design Space with the Maker and the Explore Air has a dial where you turn it to select your material.
Place the provided sample project material onto your Cricut mat. Make sure the paper is lined up straight with the guides on the mat. Smooth the paper down onto your mat so that it is secure.
Next, load your mat by placing it under the white plastic guides on the front of the machine. Press the load button that looks like an arrow (It will be flashing white).
The Cricut button will flash when the paper is loaded. Press the button and your Cricut will cut out your project.
Here is another project you can use to get acquainted with how your machine works. You will need a piece of cardstock paper, a scoring tool and a Cricut pen.
The mats that Cricuts use are the most important part of your project. You will want to know about their care ahead of time, so you can make them last as long as possible.
There are four types of mats. A blue “light” grip, a green regular grip, a purple strong grip and a pink fabric mat for the Maker. The rule of thumb here is to use the heavier duty mats for the heavier papers. A light grip would be for paper and light cardstock, regular for vinyl and heavy cardstock and strong grip for heavy duty materials.
As you complete more and more projects, your mats will loose their stickiness and could get dusty and dirty. As they weaken, you can use the stronger mats on the lighter paper to prolong their life.
Also, make sure to clean your mats after every use and put the plastic dust cover back on after each use.
You can also wash your mats with water and dish soap to refresh them without ruining them.
How to get started with Cricut: Tools
There are some of the basic tools that will be invaluable for you as you continue down your crafting journey. The tools that I believe are necessary to have are:
- A few Pens
- Different Mats
- A scoring stylus or rotary scoring tool for the Maker
- A basic weeding/scraping tool set
- Vinyl and paper for your projects
- An iron, and Heat Transfer Vinyl if you plan on ironing on vinyl
These tools will make your life easier if you just have them ready on hand. While I was planning on just making signs, I have randomly wanted to create other things and having these things around has been a lifesaver.
Your Cricut Blades
Your Cricut comes with a fine point blade. This is the blade that you will use for most things.
Cricut cartridges have a housing and a blade. Unless you loose your housing, when you need to replace the blade, you will only need the blade and can reuse the housing.
It is important to take care of your blade from the start. Always use the right blade for the right project and periodically check and sharpen your blade.
To remove your blade from the machine, pull open the right side compartment any pull out the blade and housing.
If you push on the top of your housing, you can see your blade pop out the bottom. Check and make sure it is clean and without debries.
To sharpen your blade, you can repeatedly poke your blade into a ball of aluminum foil around 30-40 times. You could also do a cut on aluminum foil to sharpen it up.
Changing the Blade
To change the blade, you’ll first need to remove the blade housing. Simply open the clamp and pull the housing straight up out of the cartridge.
At the top of the housing, you’ll see a thin plunger. Push this in and carefully remove the small blade which will now be released at the bottom.
Next, open up your new blade and remove the green protective cover. Insert it back into the shaft of the blade housing, where it should stay in place with a magnet.
Place your housing back into the machine and you are ready to go!
Additional Resources for Getting Started with your Cricut
As we add more tutorials, we will link them up here, be sure to bookmark this page for reference.