This is a question that I have been asked recently. A couple of friends have seen what I have made with the Cricut, but aren’t really sure about what makes it so great. Sure, you can make embellishments to go along with your pages, but why choose the Cricut over a die cut machine?
When I ordered the Cricut, I really had no idea what it could do. I saw it featured on QVC and decided to purchase it. I had just started scrapbooking and thought this would be a great investment. It turns out that I got really lucky and made a great purchase. It is an investment, but I think that I have gotten a great return on mine!
Why should you want a Cricut? First, they make great additions to your scrapbooking supplies. You can find stickers that go with your pages, but you can’t change the size of them. You may be able to use markers or glitter to change the color to match your page. What happens when you have a palm tree sticker that is 2 inches tall, but you need something bigger? You can use the Cricut to create your own!
Second, you can personalize your pages. Using paper dolls, you can create people who look like the people in your photos! You can add lacy corners to decorate your page or cut phrases that go along with the pictures. There are cartridges that you can use to add names of people or places.
Third, you can use the Cricut for things other than scrapbooks. I have used these items to make cards. There are so many images to choose from! I used three of the same heart design in three different sizes to create a Christmas tree on a card. Teachers or anyone who has kids will find many uses for them. Bulletin boards can be decorated with the images or paper dolls can be made to play with.
Lastly, there are different types of Cricuts. Some allow you to cut images for cakes, while others let you print your own backgrounds. There is also a machine called the Gypsy that allows you to mold items together (such as letters to create a phrase), hide items that you want cut out in a different color and allows you to figure out where to place each colored paper on your mat so you can cut out your items in different colors. There are many things that you can do with the Cricut!
How does the Cricut work? First, you have to purchase cartridges that contain several hundred images. It also comes with a directions booklet that shows you everything that you can make. Images usually can be cut as small as 1/4″ and as big as 11 3/4″ (I believe). This is an advantage that the Cricut has over die cut machines. Cuts with those can only be done at the size on the die. With the Cricut, you decide how big (or small) to make your items!
After you have selected your image, you load your mat with the color paper you want, press the load button and then cut! Your image will be cut to the size you selected. There are lots of features on the cartridge and each one contains different features. Some feature borders, corners, letters, phrases or layers and accessories to the images. With layers, you can add different colors to your pieces.
For example, I recently made some items from Everyday Paper Dolls for my sister and her fiance’s album. I cut the dolls with the blackout feature (which doesn’t cut out any of the features on the base doll’s face like the eyes and the mouth) so that I could draw faces on the dolls. I cut the dolls at 5″ and the accessories at 5″ (with the Real Dial button off). The dolls I made were two baseball players, one soccer player and one baker. It is amazing the details these cartridges offer. For the baseball player, you get their cleats, the shorts, their jersey, a helmet, bat, baseball, glove and the field. For the soccer player, there were cleats, shorts, shirt, soccer ball and net. Finally, for the baker, there was a dress, apron, oven mits, rolling pin, cake, cookie and cupcake! These are just examples of three different characters you could create from this cartridge.
After you have decided to purchase a Cricut, the next step is to choose cartridges. Sometimes they come with one or more cartridges. I find that the ones that came with it are okay – they are usually the basic ones. Mine came with Accent Essentials, which includes both the positive and negatives images of shapes.
When you are choosing what cartridges you want to buy, consider what you are going to be making. Are you making a lot of vacation or travel albums? Then I would recommend Destinations, Pack Your Bags or Life is a Beach. Destinations contains iconic images from places all over the world and the destination’s name. For example, Las Vegas contains the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign and then the layers so you can make it look like the real sign! Pack your Bags has more cartoonish images of people on vacation and vacation images like suitcases, cameras and drinks. You can make these items look like they are in a postage stamp as one of the features! The last one I’d recommend is Life is a Beach. This cartridge contains images that have to do with the beach or island. It contains flip-flops, bathing suits, seashells and an island. There is also a feature that makes these images into a border!
If you have children, are a teacher or want to make people who you can dress up to go along with the theme of your pages, then I highly recommend Everyday Paper Dolls and Paper Doll Dress Up. I have had the Every Day Paper Dolls for a while now and I just really started using it. I like the fact that you can dress the dolls in all different types of outfits. This one includes sports outfits, rocker gear, bathing suits, snow gear, professional outfits (business woman, fireman, police officer, etc) and MANY more designs. I just got the other cartridge yesterday, but I haven’t used it yet. Looking through the booklet, there are images for the holidays (Santa and Mrs. Clause, Halloween costumes, pilgrims and leprechaun), bride and groom, prom outfits, pirates, mermaids, princess and ballerina. There is a feature on both of these cartridges that adds tabs to the clothing so that you can make true paper dolls!
The next ones that I would recommend are decorative ones. Sophisticated allows you to cut all kinds of details to make fancy corners or borders. The cartridge also includes words and phrases, such as Family is Everything, Brother, Sister, Mother, Father and Cherish. Damask Decor has images that are layered and lacy. If you are looking to add some fancy touches to your pages, these are two cartridges that you must get!
The last recommendations I have for you are letters. If you want to create phrases or write the names of people of places, these are essential. Plantin Schoolbook came with the Cricut and it has several different types of letters, from bold to italics. Simply Sweet lets you put each individual letter in a circle that has stitching around it. Other cartridges, such as Life is a Beach, also contain a set of letters.
The other items that you need to use the Cricut are the cutting mats. For mine, I use the 12×12 mats. There are mats that are larger and smaller that you can use, depending on the type of Cricut you have. My Cricut, like most, came with two mats. The older mats (the ones that don’t have a white background) are stickier than the newer mats. They don’t seem to last as long as the original ones. It’s one of the only negative things I have to say about the machine!
Provo Craft, who makes the Cricut, sells tools for the Cricut like the spatula that helps you pulls the items off the mat and tweezers to help place smaller items on your projects. I found that you don’t need these items. I use an old pair of tweezers that I got from Target and an old Xacto knife that’s blade is really dull to pull the pieces off the mat. They sell these tools separately and in a kit, but I wouldn’t suggest buying them. Save your money!
I hope this helps you if you are trying to figure out whether to get a Cricut or not. They are an investment that is well worth it! If anyone has any suggestions on cartridges that I should try or feedback, please leave me a comment.