I do crafts with the kids, but I've never considered myself to be an intricately “crafty” person. We have a fixer-upper farmhouse that I tinker on a bunch. I customize costumes for the boys to wear. And I spruce up the occasional gift wrapping or fix up a sign to mark areas on our property. Functionality is key for me. So when I started considering the best die cut machine for our needs, I knew it would have to be flexible and full of a huge variety of PRACTICAL uses.
How I Found the Best Die Cut Machine for Me
I asked around, and my die cut expert pals said that I would definitely want a machine with an interchangeable blade. The Cricut Maker, touted as the “ultimate smart cutting machine” is the best die cut machine on the market, with a variety of blades that can work with lots of different materials. It uses various mats that hold the material in place so that the Cricut blade can cut through it based on templates that you create or select online.
At a little over 22″ long by 7″ wide and 24 pounds, this is no small machine. To make it work in my office, I moved the printer around and cleared off a tabletop next to the guest bed.
I was a little stressed about how someone who isn't an avid crafter would fare with such a highly-capable machine. Could little old me figure this thing out? It turns out, yes. An ENTHUSIASTIC yes, even! The software installed within minutes, walked me through a first time craft to put me at ease with the tool, and had me well-versed in layout capabilities as well as cutting paper, fabric, card stock AND using the pen tools within an hour.
Versatile functionality, here we come!
Paper and Cardstock
Cut out gift tags, cards, journal inserts, bookmarks and more! I've seen people do killer cake figurines with sturdy cardstock, and even put together entire bouquets and centerpieces cut out on a Cricut machine. Party banners, wall pennants and more entertaining essentials are begging to be created with a Cricut Maker. Beyond cutting, the Cricut Maker can even have pens slotted into the machine to create intricate drawings and patterns that will have your friends asking how you kept such a steady hand.
My favorite use for the card stock functionality is to make envelopes that we use for budgeting.
The Many Varieties of Vinyl
Vinyl was formerly thought of as simple, plastic stickers used for embellishing lockers or laptops. Oh, the leaps that vinyl has made! You can stick permanent and removable vinyl on cards, cups, walls, shirts, mirrors, handbags, beach balls, chairs, lamps, tables and more. If it has a mostly non-bumpy surface, you're good to go!
We even stuck vinyl cut-outs onto our Easter eggs this year and used removable vinyl stickers to decorate for the season.
Cut through Fabric
Want to make your kids' imaginary friends come to life? Turn their drawings into a Cricut template and create a felt friend! Craft up a Halloween costume, a satchel, a dollhouse pillow, a doggie bandana. The options for using a die cut machine on fabric are endless.
Balsa wood can be cut into pencil boxes, ornaments, trinkets, or even intricate puzzles and models. Wooden letters can be cut and painted to indicate your address. Cut out big arrow signs pointing to the henhouse, or carve garden markers to stick in fresh soil to indicate where your seeds are planted. Or heck, forego the flowers altogether and make giant wooden sunflowers!
Leather can be cut for wallets, jewelry, accessory tassels and eyeglass holders. For handy farmhouse uses, leather could easily be cut for collars and keychain tags, coasters and garland.
Customization to Save Time and Money
I never before thought about die cutting machines as a money-saving endeavor. It initially seemed like a hobby that would wind up using time and resources as opposed to conserving them. And then I realized that the best die cut machine was ABSOLUTELY suited to my minimalist soul.
The Cricut Maker gives me the freedom to use scraps or basic materials to create anything imaginable! Instead of eyeing stuff and thinking, “I should buy that,” now I contemplate how I can make it. Need a birthday card? No need to buy one from the store. Just reuse the same cardstock you used for last week's project. Looking for a funky t-shirt for an event? Whip up some iron-on decals that make a statement. Decor? Done. Party? Pretty. I can make wreaths for various holidays with scraps from last season. I can even create a paint stencil that helps spruce up a plain doormat from the dollar store into a totally cute backdrop for way cheaper than I'd pay retail.
While I'm not always one to follow trends, I delight at the ability to quickly, easily solve just about any textile need that arises in my household. And to even be able to make a ton of quality gifts while I'm at it!
What's the Actual Cost of the Best Die Cut Machine?
As for cost, the machine is at least a couple hundred dollars up front (depending when/where you buy), but the materials aren't as much as you'd expect. I've found good vinyl for as low as fifty cents per sheet, and cardstock way cheaper than that. There is a $9.99 monthly fee to join Cricut Access which lets you use hundreds of thousands of fonts, projects and images for endless projects, but you can also find a ton of free fonts, patterns and images both on the Cricut site and on tons of crafty blogs around the internet.
My kids have already asked me to put their names on their water bottles so they can keep track of which one belongs to who at the theme park. I'm also going to tackle some cardboard air plant terrariums, perhaps some fancy paper airplanes with the scoring wheel, and a Mother's Day gift.
Do you agree that the Cricut Maker is the best die cut machine?