Learn the most common words, terms, phrases, and lingo used in Cricut project tutorials in this easy-to-understand glossary guide.
Well hey there, welcome to the wonderful world of being a Cricut owner! I’m sure you’re so excited to jump in and start making all the things, but you may be a little confused when you read tutorials online and see words and phrases that make you say “whaaa?” Today I want to share with you all the terms you’ll frequently see in Cricut project tutorials online and what the heck they mean. Don’t worry, you’ll be out of this beginner stage in no time.
I don’t want to overwhelm you, so I’m splitting this post into two parts. This post will go over tools and material terms, and next week I’ll get you up to speed on what all the phrases related to Cricut Design Space mean. So let’s jump in with Part One. You ready?
Common Cricut Words All Beginners Should Know
Weed | Weeding | Weeder
In almost every project, you’ll see one of these terms mentioned in the tutorial, so let’s start here. Weeding is basically removing excess vinyl from your project. Like if your Cricut machine cut out the word “CAT”, after you pull away the excess vinyl from around the word, there would still be some leftover vinyl inside the middle of the letter A.
“Weeding” is removing that little piece of vinyl to reveal the space in the middle of the letter. “Weed” means to remove any excess vinyl from your project. And “weeder” refers to the Weeding Tool, which is a tiny hook. If you don’t have one, you need this set asap. It’ll be your most used tool.
The blade is the tool that goes inside your Cricut machine that cuts your materials. There are all kinds of different blades for the Maker, but Explore has only a few types and the Joy only has one. I won’t go into a ton of detail on different types of blades since you’re a beginner. You’ll likely only be using the main blade that came with your machine, and that’s totally fine.
Here’s another word that you’ll see in every vinyl project that involves transfer tape. The tutorials you’re following will say to “burnish” the vinyl. What you’re actually doing is smushing down the transfer tape onto the vinyl your machine cut using a scraper or a credit card. This gets a good tight grip on the transfer paper for easy installation.
To “burnish” vinyl and transfer tape, put the transfer tape over the weeded vinyl and use your scraper tool to smush it on tight. You’ll notice the color looks a little bolder in areas you’ve burnished, so you can easily see if you missed any spots.
While we’re talking about transfer tape, let’s go over it a little more. Transfer tape isn’t really a tape, but more of a sticky clear roll resembling the vinyl you used for your project. Transfer Tape allows you to put your vinyl designs onto your base material in one piece so it stays lined up.
If you had to put a whole word like “water” onto a water bottle without transfer tape, there’s no way you could get the letters evenly spaced and lined up. Transfer tape is your handy little helper to keep your design exactly the same way as it looks when it was first cut.
A Cricut Machine Mat is the mat you put your project material on that slides into your Cricut machine. Both the Maker and the Explore Air 2 use the same mats, and the Cricut Joy has its own line of mats. Here are the four main machine mats:
- Standard Mat (green) best for Vinyl and Iron-On Vinyl
- Light Grip Mat (blue) best for Paper and Delicate Foils
- Strong Grip Mat (purple) best for Wood, Leather, and Acrylic
- Fabric Mat (pink) for Bonded Fabric
Quick tip for machine mats: don’t throw away the plastic piece that comes over the top of the machine mat when you buy them. This keeps the middle of the mat sticky and clean, so always put that plastic “cover” back on the mat after you use it.
A self-healing mat is a cutting mat to protect your work table from damage from sharp tools. This is different from a machine mat. I recommend getting the large self-healing mat Cricut offers because it really is the strongest one I’ve used so far. And never use a craft/utility knife on Cricut Machine Mats. Always remove your project from machine mats and place them on a self-healing mat before doing any slicing and dicing.
Your base material is what you’re putting your cut design onto. This could be anything from a mug, container, or wall to a wood sign, canvas bag, or t-shirt. Always make sure you prep your base material by running a lint roller over it and clean solid surfaces to remove oils before applying your designs so you get smooth, even coverage.
Vinyl is the most basic and most commonly used material in Cricut projects. Vinyl is basically a smooth sheet of slick material with an adhesive bottom side that goes onto your base materials like a sticker. Kind of like a car decal.
Cricut Vinyl comes in two options, Permanent and Removable. Technically, both are removable with a sharp blade, but the Permanent leaves a nasty residue. As a beginner, I recommend you stick with only the Removable option until you get more comfortable with vinyl adhesion.
HTV | Iron-On
You probably don’t need an explanation for what Iron-On means, but just in case, Iron-On Vinyl is vinyl that you iron onto your base material. It sticks using heat transference. And that’s exactly what HTV means. HTV stands for Heat Transfer Vinyl, and it’s the same thing as Iron-On Vinyl. You’ll see both terms used on other brands of iron-on vinyl and project tutorials online, but just know that they mean the exact same thing.
Smart Vinyl is exclusive to Cricut Joy, Maker 3, and Explore 3 and can be used without a machine mat. Smart Vinyl is really cool because you can just slide it straight into your Cricut machine without having to cut it down to size and put it on a mat. It’s especially great when you’re doing a long project or making really large words.
Smart Vinyl is just one of many Cricut Smart Materials, including Vinyl, Iron-On, Labels, and more. You can learn all about Smart Materials in this in-depth post.
Infusible Ink is kind of like Iron-On (aka HTV) Vinyl, but it’s actually very different. It’s not actually a vinyl at all. It feels a lot like paper, and the ink on the paper infuses into your base material instead of just sitting on top of it like vinyl does. Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets and Markers require special base materials, called Cricut Infusible Ink Blanks, and these are optimized to soak up those inks better than just any old base material.
Infusible Ink results in a permanent adherence since it becomes one with the base material, so there’s no take-backs or re-dos. You can wash the fabrics in the washing machine over and over and they won’t wear down at all like vinyl does.
It’s best to use Infusible Ink with a Cricut Easy Press instead of a regular iron so you get even coverage. And wash and dry your hands before touching the Infusible Ink paper, because oils can damage it. Speaking of damage, never ever use a Weeding tool on this material, because it can scratch it. Just use your fingers to peel away excess, or silicone-covered tweezers if you need them.
The “backing” is the slick back side that’s underneath your Cricut Vinyl, Iron-On Vinyl, Infusible Ink, Adhesive-Backed Paper, and Smart Materials. You know when you buy a sheet of stickers, they come on a piece of white shiny plasticy-papery material? That’s a backing.
The backing of your project doesn’t get removed until either you’ve applied transfer tape or you’ve completed the iron-on adhesion process.
Heat Resistant Tape
Heat Resistant Tape is a kind of like basic gift wrap tape, but made for high temperatures. It’s great for positioning your Infusible Ink sheets and locking them into place. Heat Resistant Tape keeps your design from sliding when you lay the heat press on top of them, which can result in smeared or blurry edges of your finished product. I use heat resistant tape every time I do an iron-on project of any kind. It’s definitely worth having a couple of rolls on hand.
Cricut brand Heat Resistant Tape is tinted with a blue color, which makes it really easy to see to remove after your’ve ironed on the design. I really like that they thought to tint it, and it’s the only brand of heat resistant tape I buy.
“DS” | Design Space
Cricut Design Space is the software you use to make your designs before your machine actually cuts them out. When you set up your new machine, you were asked to set up a Cricut account and download Design Space to your computer. In a lot of projects online, you’ll see it shortened to “DS”, which can be confusing for a newbie. DS always means Design Space in the Cricut world.
There are a ton of terms you should know when it comes to Cricut Design Space, and you’ll see those terms in all the projects you find online. When you’re ready, head over to Part Two where I break down all the Design Space words and phrases.
Want To Store Your Cricut Tools Like A Pro?
The next semester of The Organized-ish Craft Room is opening soon! This is my self-paced workshop style training for how to plan, set up, organize, and maintain your craft space, no matter how big or small it is. If your craft room (or closet, or dining room nook) needs some serious organization, this course is for you. Enrollment fills up quickly, so join the waitlist to grab your spot.