One of the most useful Cricut Facebook groups I’ve found is Cricut Design Space. The mods are swift to turn off commenting or shut down posts that violate their rules, but the most useful part of this Facebook group are all the files users have uploaded. The mods are also Pro-Cricut and seem to shut off commenting on posts that criticize Cricut. Most of the time, when I find a free image on Google that I want to clean up, someone on that Facebook group has already uploaded the clean version of it. All you have to do is join up, click on Files to browse or search the group for file names. I suggest searching for Zentangle for several intricate animals images. Then, download the files you like, upload them into Design Space, and get crafting!
There are two much smaller groups with super friendly and helpful mods– the mods are usually the first ones to respond to any new posts. The mods also add files for Design Space and will even make files if group members request them. These are Cricut Bows and Headbands and Cricut Jewelry
Cricut Bows and Headbands is all about making bows and headbands and most people are posting items made from glitter canvas and faux leather. They have some amazing creations there, and I want to make ALL. THE. BOWS. I don’t even know anyone who wears bows!
Cricut Jewelry is super small, and I’m still looking for inspiration. I haven’t found anything that I need to make yet, but I’m hopeful. Every day, the posts get better and better.
And as a bonus, if you buy acrylic blanks (used to create key chains) from 3rd Degree Laser, they have a Facebook group that has some files to help you make precision cuts on your Cricut! They don’t have all their shapes on their Facebook page, so be careful if you’re relying on that when you make an order.
I’ve got a few friends in Chicago that rent hotel suites and do nothing but craft, watch movies, and enjoy each other’s company for the whole weekend, and it makes me miss my Chicago friends so much! But you don’t have to make a Cricut crafting party a whole weekend affair. Definitely do, though if you have that kind of time, money, and energy. A lot of Cricut crafting parties can be done in just a couple hours.
Pick your friends and projects
The first thing to decide is who you’re going to invite and determine what crafts they like. One of my friends is super annoyed by paintings that have a lot of white space. I’m the person that would buy a white canvas with one thin black line down the edge and hang it on my white wall with my white blinds and call it color coordinated.
The crafting level of your attendees will determine what kind of crafts you can create. My sister-in-law is an amazing artist, and I can’t even draw a straight line. We just have very different capabilities, but there are some crafts out there that we could both do.
If you’re the only one with a Cricut Maker, and no one else really knows how to use it, you’re also going to need to do a lot of prep ahead of time, and that will mean few options for your friends to customize their projects. If everyone is making the same thing, it can be a lot simpler to prep supplies.
I’ve been to enough of those “paint night” things that I have more mediocre art than I know what to do with. Consider choosing crafts that could be easily donated to a children’s hospital or cancer center to use as decorations or encouragement for others. Also consider doing crafts that could be donated to charities to use as fund-raisers– anything from animal rescues to kids sports teams.
Sort out the details
Once you know who you’re inviting and what kind of craft you want to do, you need to make sure you have your logistics down. Not only do you have to get all these people to the same place at the same time, you also have to feed these people, and they need room to work. Sometimes you can rent spaces at a library or a professional art studio, but you can also set up in your living room or garage. Also, take into consideration that your friends may work at different paces, so one person might be done at the 2-hour mark while someone else is not even half-way through.
If you’re providing all the materials and the space and the food, it’s a lot of money invested in having friends over. If you need help with covering the costs, consider using Google Pay (totally free!) to have friends chip in $10 or $15 or whatever you need to make this affordable for you. You can also ask friends to bring a dish to share or folding tables and chairs.
Make sure there are enough supplies for everyone– including a few extras in case someone needs to start over or accidentally rips a critical piece of the project. I really like the Dreaming Tree website at 3dsvg.com. A lot of the projects come with supply lists and YouTube tutorials on how to assemble the projects. They have seasonal bundles for $7 with multiple projects, and each project gets it own supply list. I feel like the bundles are perfect for people with different skills and tastes. Plus, if your friends are Independently Crafty (TM), you can hand out the supply lists to them so they can pick their own materials.
If everyone has their own Cricut Maker, you can just set up a bunch of extension cords and let people make and bring their own projects. I mean– within a week of us getting our Cricut Maker, I ordered one for my mother-in-law’s birthday so it could totally happen that you have a house full of Cricut Makers!
Definitely take a lot of photos– of the mess and the successes and the epic fails. Try to preserve a relatively clean space with perfect lighting for showcasing your creations and taking a group photo that’s worthy of printing out and framing.
Consider giving out superlatives to your friends– fun ones, not mean ones. You could do an informal vote for craftiest, most talkative, most helpful, boldest, most perfect, calmest, and so on. Make sure there are enough superlatives for everyone to get one. Then, give them each a little photo prop with their superlative on it for your group photo.
Create a shared photo album on Google Photos and make a custom hashtag for your party so that everyone can follow your crafts on Instagram! #getcrafty2018
You know you want to get a craft cutter, but which one should you get?
What not to get
First, let’s talk about the machines you shouldn’t get– even if they’re free. Do not, under any circumstance, get the Cricut Personal, Create, Expression, Expression 2, Mini, Cake, Cake Mini, or Imagine. Cricut no longer supports these machines, and the internet is full of people who got scammed for $100 for purchasing these machines which will probably never work again.
Other brands than Cricut
There are a number of electronic die cutters out there– made by not only Cricut, but also Brother, Silhouette, Gemini, and others. If you like to hand draw your designs, the Brother ScanNCut might be the product for you. As the name indicates, it has a scanner built right in. The Silhouette Cameo has some nice features (such as loading images from a USB drive), but it doesn’t do deep cuts, so you really are limited to just paper and vinyl. I think the biggest draw for the Silhouette machines is that their software doesn’t require internet and the Cricut Design Space does, so if you don’t have good internet, the Silhouette might be your best bet. Be warned though– their software is super advanced and can be exhausting for newbies to learn.
The Cricut brand has several current machines– the Maker and the Explore series. The Explore series starts with the Explore One at about $150 and gets more advanced in the Explore Air ($180) and then the Explore Air 2 ($250) before jumping to the Maker ($400). Only the Cricut Maker has the knife blade for cutting wood and the rotary blade for cutting fabrics, but a lot of people report success (with a lot of trial and error) in using the Explore Air 2 to cut leather and fabric. I’m not totally sure that the Maker is worth the $150 extra over the Cricut Explore Air 2, and I think most people would be completely happy with the Explore Air 2. However, this was a shared birthday purchase, so the Cricut Maker was in our price range.
If you’re the sort of person who is happy to drive a 10-year old car because it’s paid off, I’d say go with the Cricut Explore Air 2. It’s reliable, supported, and will still do most of the things that the Cricut Maker will do. If you’re the sort of person who really wants a shiny new car with all the gadgets, even if you’ll never use half of them, go with the Cricut Maker. Even if you never use the knife blade, you’ll have the option and you know you like that.
Bundles. When we were trying to pick out which Cricut Maker to buy, the bundles were nearly the end of me. There’s the Essentials bundle, the Everything bundle, the Cricut Anniversary bundle, and it seemed like every seller had different items in each bundle.
My advice is to stick to just the machine unless you know that you’d buy the exact items in the bundle and the bundled items are cheaper than buying individually. I was very tempted by the Everything bundle. It comes with all kinds of materials, which I did end up spending a lot of money on. The reason I chose not to get the Everything bundle is that a lot of reviews said the Cricut brand supplies were hard to work with and over priced.
Honestly, I agree. I really do prefer the Oracal brand vinyl and the Siser brand Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV). I have some rolls in the Cricut brand and the Silhouette brand that I felt I had to buy because it was the only brand with the color I wanted, and every time I get frustrated with my vinyl, it with one of those rolls. The Silhouette brand vinyl was so bad that I just threw away the black roll because my husband bought a 10 foot roll of the Oracal vinyl in black.
Accessories and materials
We spent three times more on accessories and materials in our first week of owning the Cricut Maker than we actually spent on the Cricut Maker, many of which were unnecessary or just wasted money because we overpaid.
My favorite purchases were actually a couple of Cricut branded sample packs– the foil poster board, shimmer paper, and kraftboard samplers to be specific. These three materials were so smooth and perfect for my Cricut Maker. The shimmer paper is thick like card stock, but it doesn’t leave any glitter on the blade, mat, or on fingers. The foil board just looks so fancy– like something a specialty shop would have. The kraftboard is like cereal box material, but it cuts like butter. I’ve had plenty of materials rip and tear, but the kraftboard hasn’t torn once, even when I did super intricate cuts. Also I bought some cheap contact paper that I used as transfer tape. It worked a million times better than the Cricut brand transfer tape.
The purchases that I regret are the Cricut and Silhouette brand vinyls, the Cricut brand weeding tools, and some Park Lane light card stock that keeps ripping during cuts. The Cricut brand weeding tools were just available locally, so that’s why I bought them. I wish I had gotten some cheaper ones off Amazon. There’s nothing wrong with the Cricut branded ones– they were just way over-priced. The Park Lane card stock is also tearing a lot for my mother-in-law so it makes me think the card stock isn’t great for the projects we are doing.
A list of items to get in your first week (or to give as a gift for a new Cricut owner)