Erin is a writer, crafter, and homeschooling mother of four based in rural Missouri. On her blog, My Very Educated Mother, she shares projects, crafts, recipes, activities, and household tips aimed at encouraging her readers to foster creativity in their lives and homes.
The other co-owner of Crafty Hangouts, Carolina also blogs at 30 Minute Crafts, Always Expect Moore, and CraftSnark. As a wife and mother of 2 young boys, she spends her time away from the computer sewing, crafting, coloring, playing games with her kids, and doing the occasional load of laundry.
If you really care about your newfound craft hobby, you aren’t going to just buy the most affordable cutting or heat press machine that you can find. You’d spend the time doing the research to come across high-quality options, such as the best Cricut machine for beginners. These devices show incredible performance, and in this article, we are going to share with you the information about the key features that we considered.
Most important was the machine type, as you want a Cricut machine that’s both versatile and useful for different types of projects. The suitable materials were another hot topic since they determine which projects you can actually work on. For the cutting machines, the software was the key since your Cricut machine would be essentially useless if you can’t connect to it via your smartphone or computer. We thought about the weight of the machine and how it would impact portability. Finally, the warranty was checked to keep more cash in your pocket. So, let’s take a closer look at our Cricut machine for beginners reviews.
Without question, the best Cricut machine for beginners is the Cricut Explore Air 2. That’s because this machine can handle literally any Pinterest craft project that you want to try.
It’s capable of slicing through over 100 different materials, including vinyl, iron-on, special papers, and even faux leather. You no longer have to buy different cutting machines for sewing, decor creation, iron-on designs, and even greeting card production. Many people think that it might require you to take some time to learn about all its functions.
What’s even better is the inclusion of the LightGrip 12×12 mat with your purchase. This mat helps to keep your fabrics and materials completely stable during the cutting process. Add that to the fine point blade, and you’re guaranteeing yourself the perfect cut for your own unique vinyl designs and paper cutouts. Unfortunately, frequent blade replacement might be required.
The thing most at-home crafters dislike is the sheer amount of time it takes to hand-cut materials to even get a project started. With the inclusion of Fast Mode on this Cricut machine, you can actually speed up the cutting and writing process up to 200%.
Most importantly, this Cricut machine was clearly built with convenience in mind. First off, this machine is completely compatible with a scoring stylus and a deep-point blade, which means you have even more options when it comes to crafts. Yet, this machine also can hold both a blade and a pen, reducing your need to switch out tools and accessories when necessary.
Comes in 7 different color varieties
Capable of handling all of your favorite (and new) projects/crafts
Fast Mode can complete jobs up to two times as quickly
Free Cricut Access subscription gives you some motivation early on
Takes a bit of time to learn about all of the features
Might have to replace the blade more often than predicted
The Cricut Explore Air 2 might just be too big for your apartment or even your intended crafts. The Cricut Joy is an excellent alternative, at a mere 3.9 pounds and less than 12 inches all around. That makes it much easier to store in a drawer or a cabinet.
For less than $200, you’re getting a great tool that can help to kickstart your brand new crafting hobby. This machine supports more than 50 different materials in your crafts, including cardstock and vinyl.
The key feature of this machine would have to be the length of your cuts. Most Cricut machines can handle 12-inch cuts with ease, but seem to fumble when it comes to bigger jobs. This Joy model can actually slice shapes up to 4-feet long for continuous and 20-feet long for repeated cuts. This makes large banners a reality and cuts down on how often you have to reload materials.
The benefits don’t just end there, as this machine works incredibly well with Cricut Smart Materials. These are unique materials developed by Cricut that make a cutting mat a thing of the past. All you have to do is load up the material, start the machine, and await your new cutouts.
In terms of projects, there’s not much you can’t do with this Cricut machine. It’s perfect for cutting out vinyl decals to hang on your walls as well as precise designs to attach to your favorite water bottle or mug. But, keep in mind that the product lacks a scoring feature.
Can easily be stored in a drawer or a cabinet when not in use
Bluetooth integration negates the need for a USB cable
Perfect Cricut machine for long cuts, even up to 20 feet long
Supports more than 50 different materials
Doesn’t have a scoring feature like the Cricut Explore Air 2
You’re a beginner for now, but you might want to begin selling your own homemade crafts in the near future. For close to $400, you can get the Cricut Maker. This model is undoubtedly the most advanced Cricut cutting machine on the market and capable of handling even the biggest jobs.
Versatility is the key with the Cricut Maker, as it can cut through over 300 different materials. This ranges from insanely delicate fabrics for your next sewing project all the way to thick leather material and matboard. The 2.4mm cutting capacity means you don’t have to worry about incomplete cuts anymore.
This machine cuts and writes incredibly fast thanks to the Fast Mode. Next, you’re also getting more tools than you can imagine. You have the chance to switch between the rotary and knife blades based on the fabrics you’re working with. Plus, you can purchase tools separately that make debossing, scoring, and engraving a reality.
Yet, we know that this model is going to be an absolute hit with anyone who loves sewing. Not only can you cut all of your favorite fabrics with ease (from leather to delicate materials), but you also have access to different sewing patterns with the included software. It’s time to keep everything in one place. As for the drawbacks, it doesn’t work without the Internet connection, so you must think about it beforehand.
Comes in 5 neutral color options
Fast Mode cuts down how long your projects take to complete
Offers several different blades designed for all types of materials
An absolute dream for people who like sewing
Very complex and takes a while to understand each feature fully
The Cricut Explore Air might just be the easiest Cricut machine to use for beginner crafters. This version precedes our top choice, Explore Air 2, so it’s not quite as technologically advanced as the prior model. But, that doesn’t seem to make a difference for beginners.
We’ve already seen Cricut machines that can handle cuts up to 20-feet long, but very few seem to focus on smaller and more precise cuts. The Explore Air is actually capable of cutting designs between ¼ inches and 23 ½ inches. That means you can use it to cut out vinyl lettering for a huge banner or just tiny little trinkets for your new scrapbook.
Configuring the machine’s settings is perhaps the easiest thing. Instead of inserting the cut pressure and blade style manually, all you have to do is turn the Smart Set Dial. This will adjust the settings to the type of fabric or material that you’re currently cutting automatically. That’s much less work and stress for you if you are just starting out.
Even though there’s no Fast Mode in this Cricut machine, that doesn’t mean it takes forever to use. Actually, this machine is capable of cutting, scoring, and writing all at once. That means you don’t have to constantly switch tools in and out when you’re working on more complex projects and designs.
The most precise machine for small cuts
Can perform multiple tasks at once to save you time
Beginner-friendly Smart Set dial keeps you from fumbling with different settings
Storage compartments negate the need for a carrying bag
No free Cricut Access subscription
Not as technologically advanced as the Explore Air 2 (mentioned earlier)
When you’re in the market for your very first heat press, the Cricut EasyPress 2 can be ideal for you. The first thing we want to point out is the different size options (6” x 7”, 9” x 9”, 10” x 12”). The smaller sizing works perfectly when printing on hats and baby clothes while the larger sizes perform better on blankets and adult clothing.
This is the perfect alternative if you’re tired of ironing designs onto canvas bags, Teddy bears, and T-shirts. This machine is capable of reaching up to 400℉ in only a few minutes. Actually, pressing the design will take less than 60 seconds in total. This saves you a ton of time and makes large projects a heck of a lot easier.
If you’re nervous about using insanely hot items around the home because maybe you have children or pets, you don’t have to worry any longer. The EasyPress 2 actually comes with an auto-shutoff feature. Once the job is done, and you’re no longer using the machine, it’ll turn off on its own.
Plus, this model will show you its temperature on display, as well as how many seconds left until the design is ready. Although not everybody liked that they had to add their own pressure, it is still quite convenient.
Compact enough to store in a drawer
Iron-on designs take less than a minute
Offers more consistent heat than a regular iron
Size options make it versatile for all types of projects
The average heat press can be bulky and a bit expensive. When your crafts involve tiny designs that need to be ironed on, you can’t go wrong with the Cricut EasyPress Mini. This device weighs just 1 pound and measures in at 3 x 2 inches. You can easily store this machine in a drawer or cabinet or even in your backpack.
This is a small machine, but it’s definitely a mighty one. Not only does it heat edge-to-edge like the full-sized Cricut EasyPress 2, but it also packs a pretty impressive punch. It can heat up to well over 300℉ and works splendidly on small objects like hats, children’s clothing, and tiny blankets. But if you have larger projects in mind, this is not the best choice.
What’s even better is the inclusion of 3 different heat settings. This allows you to get the perfect temperature on the machine, depending on the material that you’re planning to heat press. Another bonus is that you’re only spending less than $50 for this impressive device. Why spend more when you don’t really need more?
Even though this machine thrives with small projects, that doesn’t mean it’ll be useless for bigger jobs. That’s because this machine glides very smoothly over what you’re heat pressing. Just grip the handle, apply pressure to the lettering or design, and then glide it across to get an even attachment.
Perfect for creating small designs
Easy-to-use handle gives consistent pressure
Glides smoothly over uneven surfaces
Low price tag
Doesn’t get quite as hot as the EasyPress 2
Large projects will be complicated
When it comes to Cricut machines, every single model is unique in its own way. That means there’s a perfect machine out there for you and your future crafts. You just need to think about exactly what you’re looking for and consider how you actually plan to use this new device. By the end of this buying guide, you should have a pretty good idea of what features are important for you. Now, let’s go over everything you need to know about buying a Cricut machine.
Advantages of Cricut machines
You might be wondering why you should buy a Cricut machine at all. And, as a craft newbie, it’s hard to understand why you’d want to use a machine to create your “homemade” crafts. So, here’s a look at the unique features of these machines.
It takes a good amount of time to cut cardstock and other materials by hand. That’s especially the case if you have shaky hands when using scissors or blades. On top of that, you can never really guarantee a perfect cut.
A Cricut machine for beginners can cut some pretty complex designs in less than a minute. This can be further sped up thanks to the activation of “Fast Mode” in some cases. Now, it’s possible to create more in much less time.
One of the greatest aspects of most Cricut machines is just how many materials are supported. Your machine is more than capable of slicing through cardstock, fabrics, foils, polyester, and even wrapping paper. All you have to do is adjust the machine’s settings, and it’s ready to cut.
How to pick the best Cricut machine for beginners?
Buying a Cricut machine is not as simple as it might sound. So, here’s a list of things to think about before you choose a product.
Projects or crafts you plan to do
Types of materials that you need to be pressed or cut
Software to create and adjust those projects
Available space in your home or office
Budget (for the machine & the warranty)
You’ll also want to take a good hard look at the user reviews. A few bad reviews here and there is normal for just about every product. Yet, when the general consensus is negative, you’ll want to look for something else.
Machine type and functionality
Most people think about cutting machines when they hear “Cricut.” Yet, the company also creates machines that are meant for heat pressing. Here’s the difference.
Cutting machines are built to slice through materials quickly and precisely. They also sometimes have extra features like scoring and writing. The scoring feature will allow you to create dashed or solid score lines where the paper should be folded. For example, machines like the Cricut Maker also have a writing feature. An attached pen will draw out designs or text when you send over an image.
Heat press machines from Cricut are an incredibly easy way to press designs and text on fabrics. That includes products like T-shirts and canvas bags. For instance, the Cricut EasyPress 2 is a beginner-friendly device that comes with a convenient timer to help you avoid any mistakes.
Unfortunately, not all Cricut machines can handle cutting through every material that you might use in your crafts. Some of them, like the Cricut Maker, support cutting through over 300 different materials and fabrics. That includes burlap, carbon fiber, cotton, 40 gauge thin copper, nylon, vinyl, and a ton more. Other Cricut machines can only work a small set of materials.
Make sure you choose a machine that lists the materials you usually work with. Just keep in mind that each material requires you to apply unique settings on your machine. So, you’ll have to be diligent when adapting the cut pressure, multi-cut, and blade type for each material.
You’ll be a bit more limited in materials when it comes to heat press machines like the Cricut EasyPress Mini that supports HTV (heat transfer vinyl), iron-on, and Cricut’s own Infusible Ink product line.
Software for cutting machines
To transfer designs and cuts over to your Cricut machine with ease, you’ll need to download the Design Space app/software from Cricut. This service is entirely free and is definitely useful for beginners looking to get the creative juices flowing. There are versions that work with Windows OS, Mac OS, iOS devices, and Android devices.
Design Space resource can be used to upload your own images and styles to use with your Cricut machine. You can also fiddle around with the software to create your own designs or search the database for fonts or images to use in your new project.
Then, there’s also a service called Cricut Access. This gives you just a little bit more than Design Space offers. You will have to pay a fee to have access to Cricut Access, and there are three plans ranging from $7.99 to $9.99 a month. Yet, your purchase of Cricut machines like the Explore Air 2 will give you a free trial.
Machine’s size and weight
There’s an insane variety when it comes to the size and weight of Cricut machines. You’ll notice that the heavier and bulkier Cricut machines offer a ton more features than the average cutting or heat press machine.
On the cutting machine end, you have devices like the Cricut Joy. This model weighs in at less than 4 pounds and is only 8.43” x 5.43” x 4.25”. With such a lightweight design and tiny frame, it is relatively portable and easy to store in a cabinet or drawer.
The heat press machines from Cricut are very small and easy to transport. That’s probably because these machines need to be mobile to make printing on T-shirts and fabrics possible in the first place. For reference, the Cricut EasyPress 2 is a mere 6” x 7” and weighs in at just above 5 pounds.
There’s nothing like getting a little bit more for your money through additional accessories. Here are some examples of accessories sometimes included.
LightGrip 12″ x 12″ mat. This comes with models like the Cricut Explore Air 2. All you have to do is simply lie your material on the mat, send it through the machine, and detach it after the job is done. It helps to keep your material stable for the perfect cut.
USB Cable. This accessory allows you to connect your computer or laptop to your Cricut machine. That provides a much simpler data transfer over to the machine if it’s more convenient for you than using Bluetooth technology.
Cricut Fine Point Pen. These pens can be attached to your Cricut machine to take advantage of the “writing” feature. They create a very precise and sleek looking letters.
Keep in mind that you can purchase additional accessories separately for your Cricut machine if your purchase doesn’t include them.
Simply put, a Cricut machine can be a little pricey for somebody just getting into the craft world. The last thing you want to do is invest hundreds of dollars, only to have a machine that stops working within a year.
The good news here is that these devices come with an included manufacturer’s warranty. These 1-year limited warranties on all models will protect your investment if you experience damage to the electronic aspects of your Cricut machine. Anything that isn’t an electrical component of your machine is covered by the 90-day warranty instead for some products.
Keep in mind that there are a few things that tend to void a warranty, such as misusing your Cricut machine, attempting to repair it yourself, or purchasing it from a non-authorized seller.
The price is probably the most important thing you need to think about here. You don’t want to spend too much where you break the bank. Here’s a look at what you should expect to spend.
On the upper end of pricing, you’ll be spending between $300 and $400 on cutting models like the Cricut Maker. This is definitely a high price tag for most people, but it would be hard to find a Cricut (or a similar) machine that offers quite as many features and benefits. If you’re on more of a budget, machines like the Cricut Joy will only cost you less than $200. Heat press machines, including the EasyPress Mini, usually cost between $50 and $150.
Your options for projects are practically limitless when it comes to your new Cricut machine. The heat press machines make the process of applying designs on clothing and fabrics easier than ever. Next, the cutting machines provide even more opportunities. You can cut out window clings to install on the interior of your car windows. Also, you can design your own birthday or anniversary cards using cardstock and the writing feature. Creating your own vinyl lettering (or words) with a sticky back gives you the chance to create wall letterings and decor for your home. You can use Design Space or Cricut Access to create and share your own T-shirt, bag, and clothing styles.
Creating custom images for your projects is easier than ever with the software from Cricut. It all starts with uploading your favorite images or texts to the Design Space app on your phone. You can then use this app or software to completely edit the design, so it looks exactly as it should when it’s time to cut or press. Once your design is complete, you can use your USB cable or Bluetooth connection to get the job started on your Cricut machine. It’s important that you’re using an appropriate vector or photo file formats to get the best end product. You should be using .bmp, .dxf, .gif, .jpg, .png, or .svg.
When you’re struggling to find a creative and new craft idea, Cricut Access will help to get those creative juices flowing. Better yet, many models of Cricut machines give you a free trial subscription to this resource upon purchase. It has just about everything a crafter needs. The software boasts more than 100,000 new images that you can use at your own leisure. Also, you’ll get access to over 400 different fonts to use on your vinyl prints or greeting cards. The best part is that this service only costs between $7.99 and $9.99 a month, depending on the plan you enroll in.
One of the best features of Cricut machines is that you have a little freedom to upgrade your machine to fit your craft or art style. For cutting machines, there are two major ways to do this. The first is the deep-point blade – this angled blade makes it possible to cut through thicker and harder materials like cardboard, magnet, or even felt. A scoring stylus is another viable alternative – this add-on tool can be used while the blade is working, and it will help to mark out fold lines for designs like envelopes or boxes. If your machine does not come with these extra tools, you will have to purchase them separately.
Our top choice goes to the Cricut Explore Air 2. This machine can easily cut through over 100 different materials, is supportive of several different attachments, and can chop your cutting time in half.
In a close second, we have the Cricut Joy. This model will save you a decent amount of money, produce cuts up to 20-feet long for larger projects, and completely eliminate the need for cutting mats.
Third place on our list of best Cricut machines for beginners goes to the Cricut Maker. This device can handle up to 300 different materials with ease, offers a Fast Mode to reduce project time, and can slice through all sorts of fabrics, which will be very helpful for sewing people.