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    Cricuts are a year-round bestseller, and their Maker model is popular among more experienced crafters.
    Cricuts are a year-round bestseller, and their Maker model is popular among more experienced crafters. (BestReviews)

    While the initial investment in many types of crafting is low, it can often require a lot of niche tools to elevate your craft or branch into new skills like creating vinyl monograms, felting, and quilting. And making precise, professional-quality pieces can be even more of an investment.

    Cricut claims to offer a solution for crafters who want to branch into new materials or take the next step in perfecting a singular craft.


    The Cricut Maker is a computer-controlled precision cutting machine designed to execute accurate cuts on over 300 different types of material. Cricut says the Maker allows crafters to work with everything from paper, fabric, and vinyl to matboard, leather, and balsa wood. The Maker's expandable set of tools also allow you to cut wood, score, engrave, and more.

    We were curious if the Cricut Maker could be a good investment for experienced crafters and quilters, so we decided to test it out. We wanted to know if it really could do everything it claimed to do, and do it well. Here’s what we found.


    Testing the Cricut Maker

    We wanted to know if the Cricut Maker is really a "pro-level DIY machine." We asked long-time Cricut users and seasoned crafters to share their experience with the Cricut Maker. Our creators regularly work with a variety of materials to make cards, paper flowers, quilts, and reverse canvases, as well as felt animals, play food, and letters. Using the Cricut Maker, we hoped to advance our skills in these areas as well as venture into new creative territory.

    How to use a Cricut Maker

    Since we were already familiar with the Cricut Explore Air 2, the learning curve for the Cricut Maker wasn't as steep as it might have been for someone who had no experience with a Cricut machine. Still, we found that it was helpful to join a few Cricut user groups on Facebook to help get acclimated to the new machine.

    Included with the Cricut Maker is a practice piece to help new users learn how to work the machine without wasting their own materials. The practice piece taught us how to create a card. This simple tutorial took about five minutes.

    For anyone who wishes to go beyond the basics or who would like to learn how to perform a specific task, there are also countless online tutorials and several Facebook groups dedicated to the Cricut Maker, which, based on our interactions, are all very helpful and friendly.

    How the Cricut Maker works

    To use the Cricut Maker, you need to download and install a companion app called Design Space. The app is compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. Besides the Cricut Maker, the app can be used with the Cricut Joy, Cricut Explore Air, and the Cricut Explore Air 2.

    You will need internet access to download, install, and sign in to the app; however, there is an offline feature that allows you to create on Windows, Mac, and iOS (but not yet on Android).

    To create on the Cricut Maker, we uploaded a design file to Design Space where it’s labeled with keywords. Once in Design Space, you can manipulate the images or text you plan to use. We found it helpful to be able to change the size, flip, rotate, and duplicate our designs. The last step before cutting is to preview the design on the virtual mat. We found this to be helpful for catching errors last minute.

    Whenever we saw something we didn’t like, we were able to go back into the app and make all the necessary adjustments. When our design was perfect, we prepped the materials we wanted to cut by pressing them down on a sticky cutting mat that we fed into the machine.

    Before starting the cut, we found it’s important to double-check that the proper tool (knife, pen, marker, engraver, etc.) has been inserted into the machine. When you’re all set, press the button that looks like a C with an antenna (the Cricut logo) to start the cutting. After the Cricut finishes, carefully remove what you created from the mat — we used a small spatula to make sure we didn’t damage our creation.

    What can you make with the Cricut Maker?

    How to cut with the Cricut Maker

    We used the Cricut Maker to cut and score a variety of materials for a number of projects. In our experience, the easiest materials to work with and the ones that produced the best results were vinyl, heat transfer vinyl, fabric, felt, and cardstock.

    However, we did find that while the rotary blade (designed for use with fabrics) did a great job overall, every once in a while we ran into a fabric that didn’t cut as neatly as most fabrics we used. To be fair, the manufacturer does state that the Cricut Maker “can cut a wide variety of materials,” but that doesn’t guarantee it will be able to cut all materials.

    The fine point blade, however, performed well on all materials that we tested. We also found the blades to be durable, and thus far, we haven’t noticed any dulling or decrease in performance.


    How to write with the Cricut Maker

    If you plan to use the Cricut Maker for writing, we found that the black pen and the fine point black pen were solid tools that wrote well. Both pens come with the Cricut Maker. While the washable pen was a nice idea, we found it to be very difficult to wash out and therefore tended not to use it.

    Cricut Maker cost

    The Cricut Maker costs $369 at Amazon. Considering what the machine is capable of, we think that's an exceptional value. However, if you're not an avid crafter or you think you may have difficulties learning to master the Design Space software, you might opt for a lower-cost model like the Cricut Joy.

    Other observations

    The Cricut Maker is a fairly advanced crafting tool. If you haven’t used a Cricut machine before, it might take a little getting used to. A few people in the Cricut groups have said that they’re intimidated by the machine and feel that it is a bit more complicated than they imagined it would be.

    Cricut Maker pros

    We love that the Cricut Maker can cut fabric so precisely that it's been able to help us improve our quilting. It features a quick setup, can be used for a wide variety of projects, and the blades are very durable.

    Cricut Maker cons

    One of the biggest downsides we’ve noticed about the Cricut Maker is that we tend to go through a lot of mats. They seem to lose their stickiness over time and need to be cleaned or replaced. Cleaning, however, can be tricky because you can “clean” the stickiness off the mat.

    Also, during our time with Design Space, we experienced more than a bit of frustration with the fact that designs randomly (it seemed) didn't save. There was one project that we had to redo three times before it actually saved.


    Is the Cricut Maker worth it?

    The Cricut Maker is ideal for someone who would like to take their crafting to the next level. This precision cutting machine may have a steep learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you can easily create a wide variety of professional-looking crafts. The writing tools are just what you need to give your greeting cards that extra polish. It doesn't matter if you work in vinyl, fabric, paper, or wood — this little powerhouse is a definite game-changer for any serious crafter.


    Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

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