Learn the ten insider tips I wish someone had told me before my first Cricut Maker beginner project.
Years and years ago, I saw the very first Cricut machine being demo’ed on a home shopping channel. I was instantly in love with it, and I’ve literally wanted one ever since. Fast forward to me, a thirty-year-old woman, squealing like a child as I open the box to my own Cricut Maker. I can’t even begin to tell you the feeling that came over me that day, and as cheesy as it sounds, I felt like I achieved a childhood dream.
I am so excited to share this post with you today, because I finally feel like I’m experienced enough to graduate from the beginner category and into a more intermediate role. Since I’ve unboxed my own Cricut Maker, I dove straight in and immersed myself in every bit of Cricut education I could find. I watched all the tutorials, I read the whole manual, and I scoured Pinterest for hours. But there were some things I just wasn’t really prepared for. So now that I’m comfortable with my own Cricut Maker, I want to share those things with you.
These are ten things I didn’t know when I plugged in my Maker for the very first time, and I’m guessing you probably don’t know them either. So before you turn on your machine and start your very first project, let me take your hand and lead you into the world of Cricut. I wish someone had told me these things, so I feel like it’s my duty to give you the dirt ASAP.
1. Your kitchen organization is about to get Pinterest-worthy.
You know all those cute jar labels you’ve been pinning since 2013? You can make those now. And you can customize them however you want. But spoiler alert, when your girlfriends see what you’ve done with your kitchen, you better believe they’ll be asking you to come over and label theirs too. Let the Cricut Parties commence!
Some great beginner projects for kitchen organization are printing labels for clear pantry containers, refrigerator drawer labels, and these Spice Jar labels I created. A reader reached out to me on Instagram to show me her success from my tutorial and it was her very first Cricut project ever. And let me tell ya girl, she ROCKED it!
2. You’ll need a dedicated craft space.
The Maker is a chunky piece of equipment, and you’ll need a good workspace to use it. Now is the time to carve out a space in your guest bedroom or the random nook in your dining room that you never knew what to do with before. Even if it’s just a small closet like mine, it’s definitely worth keeping all your craft stuff in one accessible spot.
Ready to start setting up your craft space? Here’s your list of must-haves:
- A desk, table, or countertop and a comfy chair. Bonus points if the chair has wheels.
- Maker storage space. This machine isn’t super heavy, but it’s not light either, so don’t plan on storing it on a really high or low shelf. My favorite way to store it is on this rolling cart, but you can keep it anywhere that’s easy to get to with minimal effort.
- Good lighting. This is so important, because once you finish your video tutorials and learn all about weeding, you’ll realize that you need your best pair of glasses and super bright lights. That overhead light on your ceiling fan is not going to cut it. Go for LED task lighting on your workspace.
- Storage containers. You may have started out by grabbing a bundle, or maybe you are just buying supplies on a project-by-project basis. Whatever route you take, you’re going to end up with a lot of things to store. Opt for clear lidded containers to separate your tools and supplies, and be sure to use that new Maker of yours to label your containers so everything stays nice and neat.
3. You’ll want *ALL* the accessories.
In addition to the Maker, Cricut has a lot of sweet accessories that will make your projects much smoother, faster, easier, and more professional looking.
My absolute favorite add-on tool is the BrightPad. It’s basically like a tablet-shaped light box that artists use for tracing, and it makes weeding SO much easier when you’re doing intricate cuts.
I also highly suggest grabbing the Essential Kit, the Portable Trimmer, and the Extra Large Self-Healing Cutting Mat. I use these bad boys for every single project I do. Take it from the girl who can’t cut a straight line to save her life, and every scissor cut is jagged as a bread knife…unless you were born with a straight edge in one hand and tweezers in the other, put these tool kits on your Mother’s Day wishlist.
4. You need extra cutting mats.
Maybe not immediately, but plan on grabbing some extra mats within a few months after you’ve gotten comfortable with the machine. As you start moving into intermediate projects, you’ll need to print on separate mats for various colors and materials, and you’ll save a lot of time by not having to pause the printing while you peel vinyl from the cutting mat just so you can use it again.
I recommend having 3-4 standard mats and at least 2 of the strong and delicate grip mats. By keeping extra on hand, you can load them all up before you hit print and just roll right on through.
5. Opt for removable vinyl at first.
Dealing with vinyl as a beginner does take a little bit of time to get used to. You’re going to have missteps, you’re going to misplace it, and you’re going to rip a few lines. By starting with removable vinyl, you can get your feet wet without the permanent commitment.
Once you’ve mastered the removable vinyl projects, then you get your big girl socks on and start putting a permanent stamp on your world.
6. Weeding is addictive!
You’re going to find yourself making more projects just because weeding is so relaxing. While it’s a skill that takes practice, it really is a nice way to chill out and de-stress. It’s like the game Operation without the annoying buzzer.
If you become as obsessed with weeding as I do, here are three Design Space fonts that require a lot of it:
- For a classic look: CASTELLAR
- For a fun vibe: CHEERFUL SHAPES
- For a modern feel: ITC RENNIE MACKINTOSH COM LIGHT
And definitely grab a BrightPad. It’ll make weeding even more fun.
7. The Maker does more than just cutting and scoring.
One of my favorite features of the Cricut Maker is that it will write with markers exactly the same way as it cuts. That means if you have not-so-great handwriting but you really want to make a handmade Mother’s Day card, you can still pull off that cute handwritten font without taking a Scripting class first.
Cricut sells a huge assortment of colorful pens and markers, and all you have to do is pop them into the pen holder, set up your design in Design Space, and have it set as Draw instead of Cut. Within minutes, you’ve got yourself a professional-looking written font for any project you’d like. I love using the Draw feature for special cards, party invitations, place cards, school projects, and binder covers.
8. Design Space has Licensed Brands!
This is such an awesome bonus for all your upcoming projects. Aside from all the cool templates and premade projects available in Design Space, you can also cut or draw your kids’ favorite characters. From Star Wars to Marvel to Disney, and so much more, you can deck out your kid’s clothes, bedroom, and school supplies in their favorite TV BFFs.
My son recently had surgery to remove his appendix, and had to wear a band around his waist for over a month during his recovery. He was really self-concious about wearing the band to school because he said it looked “so dumb”. To help him feel better about his medical band, we broke out the Cricut Maker and the Easy Press 2, printed out some sweet Star Wars vinyls, and ironed them on. He was immediately in love with his new band design, and was more confident than ever when he went back to school.
9. Your kids will want to use it just as much as you will.
From the moment I unboxed my Cricut Maker, my son was already dreaming up all the things he was going to make with it. We watched the tutorial videos together, learned together, and brainstormed everything we could possibly stick a vinyl label on. Yes, this was technically “my toy” but I LOVE how the Maker has inspired him to tune into his creative mind and craft up new things he can make, too.
If you have older kids, I definitely recommend letting them learn how to use the Maker as you learn, that way you both keep each other motivated and inspired to use your new investment and not let it intimidate you. Some great starter projects for kids are printing iron-ons for clothing and backpacks, bedroom organization labels, binder covers, and paper-crafting projects. You can find a lot of these in Design Space that are already created for you.
10. Your first project may fail.
I put this in last because I know you’re intimidated. You opened the box, you watched the videos, you bought the accessories, and now you’re overwhelmed. I know this because I was too. And I also know this because my first project failed, too. But you know what? I had so much fun. I didn’t feel like it was a waste of supplies. I didn’t feel like I wasted my time. And I sure didn’t feel like I wasted my money. I learned how not to weed, print, and transfer. And I rocked my second attempt.
My best advice, and biggest takeaway I hope you remember, is that your Cricut Maker isn’t just a tool. It’s an experience. There will be a lot of trial and error. There may be hiccups. And there may be times where you trash your whole project and start over. But if you start very small and work your way up, you’ll be amazed at the things you’re able to create.