Cricut Maker Review: Keeping Yourself Informed Before Buying It
Are you an avid sewist or crafter? Have you considered a die cutting machine for home crafts? Take a look at the most recent Cricut release: the Cricut Maker, and see if it's something you might be interested in.
Cricut is one of the market leaders in home die cutting. They allow you to cut through all kinds of materials and create your own designs from home.
The most recent release - the Cricut Maker - does quite a few things differently than some of the other die cutting machines out there. In this review, we’ll detail what sets the Maker apart from the pack and tell you whether or not we think it’s worth the investment.
What is the Cricut Maker?
It’s difficult to believe you’ve never heard of Cricut if you’re an avid home crafter. They make some of the most popular home die-cutting machines on the market. They constantly innovate with the release of their devices, and always seem to be at the forefront of bringing professional die-cutting to the home.
Cricut makes a line of die-cutters that use home technology to cut paper, fabric, vinyl, felt, and a long list of other cuttable material. Each product release seems to make improvements the ones that were out before.
Cricut machines target home designers and crafters who want to create professional-looking projects. They provide all kinds of cutting products for crafters who create for a hobby as well as a profession.
The Cricut Maker, which much of this article will focus on, is more focused on appealing to the serious crafters in the market - the ones who want to get as professional as possible with their cutting.
The Cricut Maker is the most recent release from Cricut, which came out at the end of summer 2017. There may be a new Cricut machine around the corner - as there always seems to be - but this is the most up-to-date product for those looking.
How Does it Work?
Cricut machines interface with smartphones and tablets by design. In fact, most of them won’t work unless you hook up one of your devices to the machine via BlueTooth or USB. There’s a spot at the top of the Cricut Maker that allows you to place your device there, so you know it’s secure while you’re gathering your designs.
Once you set up the Maker on your tablet or smartphone, you’ll see a screen with a bunch of designs you can use to get started cutting. These designs come pre-loaded, and you can begin developing your cuts immediately - provided you have the appropriate material for the models.
You can, of course, design your own patterns if you want to get a bit more creative with your cuts. We suggest choosing one of the premade designs if this is your first time. Experimenting with the design feature is relatively straightforward, but it takes a bit of practice to master.
From there, the Maker will tell you which kind of fabric or other material you should use and how to line it up correctly. The machine is particularly useful for those who love to sew since it cuts and marks fabric at the same time. You can easily match the corresponding parts and will be much more confident that you didn’t make any mistakes.
What Makes Cricut Maker Unique?
The Maker is a bit different from some of the other die cutting products on the market. It also sets itself apart from other recent Cricut products we’ve seen over the past few years.
It seems like Cricut releases a new machine almost every year. It’s a lot to keep track of if you’re a fan of the company. In this section, we’ll detail some of the more notable differences between the Cricut Maker and many of the other die cutting products on the market.
A lot of other similar cutters only allow you to place one tool in it at a time. This can make switching back and forth for a project incredibly difficult. Marking certain items is a pain if you have to cut them as well, and loading and unloading the machines can take longer than setting up the design you want.
The Cricut Maker eliminates some of this frustration by allowing you to place two tools in it at once. There is a long list of available tools from Cricut, and it seems like they’re adding a new one every few months.
Because the Maker allows you to switch between two tools at once, the functionality and convenience of the machine stand out. Small-time crafters might not prioritize this feature, but it’s a huge help if you’re tackling large projects with your Maker.
The rotary blade is the shining mark of the Cricut Maker, and the element that largely sets it apart from a lot of the other cutting products - Cricut brand included. This new style of rotary blade firmly positions the Maker as one of the top options for cutting fabric.
The rotary blade might not be as interesting to you if you cut a lot of vinyl or similar material, but those who regularly sew will be ecstatic when they see the capabilities of the maker. It glides seamlessly across the heaviest and lightest fabric without an issue. Where other Cricut products were good for one or two fabrics, the Maker can cut anything you throw at it.
The speed variance of the Maker is another way it stands out from the rest of the die cutting industry. You can make quick cuts or designs with the Maker without sacrificing quality, which is an excellent feature in itself. A lot of cheaper die cutters top-out at a certain speed, and turning it to the “fast” mode often means losing a bit of precision along the way.
The Maker allows you to crank up the speed so you can complete your larger projects without spending too much time waiting for the machine to finish. Fast mode isn’t the only option, though. You can also slow it down if you need to cut a smaller, more precise design.
The precision mode allows you to create intricate designs that other die cutters often can’t handle. This mode is a bit more slow-going, but it will develop some of the more interesting and intricate designs you can achieve with a die cutter in this price range.
Cricut designed the Maker to appeal to those who take sewing seriously. With that in mind, they’ve included multiple features in the Maker that makes sewing a lot easier than it is with similar die cutting machines.
Sewing accurately often requires you to trace and cut the design by hand. Instead of spending time cutting and placing these designs after you cut the fabric, the Cricut Maker does it all for you. All you have to do is take a look at their design center and choose a design that’s best for you.
The biggest element that this feature saves is time, but it also helps with accuracy. As you can probably expect, a program in a machine is a lot more accurate than a cut you can make by hand. Even the steadiest hand will have trouble matching the efficiency of a Cricut Maker when it comes to cutting sewing patterns.
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The Cricut Maker isn’t cheap, but it’s not as expensive as all of the additional features suggest it might be. You can find the Cricut Maker for around $$ on Amazon, which is below the price of many comparable machines on the market. The Maker has more features than most of these other products as well, so we think the price tag is justified for the most part.
Whether you think the Cricut Maker is worth the price or not is a different question. The Maker won’t be for everyone. If you’re looking for a die cutting machine and don’t care too much about sewing, you can find much cheaper products elsewhere - even from Cricut themselves.
The Cricut Maker is worth it if you take die cutting and sewing seriously. You won’t have to buy a separate fabric cutter if you invest in this machine, which eliminates some added cost on its own.
The Maker can handle virtually any cutting job you throw at it and can be your primary source of home designs and cutting. It might not be the best selection for new or novice cutters, but those who have had years of home cutting experience should find the Maker well worth the investment.
What We Think
We liked what we saw from this product overall. Cricut made some substantial improvements over their previous machines without making it so that all of their other releases are obsolete. Their other product - like the closest release of the Air 2 - still fill a role of die cutting for crafts. Some may even prefer the Air 2 over the Maker for a lower price.
We’ve listed a lot of what we liked about this product already, so we’ll take a look at some of the things we think the Maker could have done better. After that, we’ll provide you with our final verdict for the Cricut maker, and give you our recommendation on whether or not we think it’s worth picking up.
What We Didn’t Like
One of the parts of the Maker that we didn’t love was the design system. Yes, there are a lot of options for designs in this space, and if you’re new to Cricut products, you might be impressed.
If you’ve used a few other Cricut products over the years, though, you know they’ve done very little to change the way the design interface works. They update the system with patches, and new releases show incremental changes, but it still isn’t perfect.
What’s more, Cricut makes it very difficult to work with your own designs. You can’t change the design software to one that you like better or are more familiar with, limiting the number of options you have while using Cricut machines.
We’ve seen worse in the way of design software, but we think this is a place where Cricut can really improve. If they allow you to work with other design programs in their machines, the Maker would be much more of an attractive option for us.
The cutting space is another place that draws a lot of criticism online, and one where Cricut falls short of some of the similar products on the market. Most Cricut machines limit the cutting space you can work with, and the Maker didn’t change anything here.
Allowing you to cut and design on larger spaces would do wonders for their market share - especially in the sewing community. Unfortunately, we might have to wait until another Cricut release until we see them expand past their standard size.
So, do we think the Maker justifies the price? Despite a few shortcomings, our answer is yes.
The Maker is an excellent selection if you’re looking for a die cutting machine for home crafting purposes. It’s an even more attractive option if you regularly sew since the fabric cutting tools outshine most of the similar products we’ve seen.
At around $$, the Maker offers substantial value for its price. You can design and cut your patterns all in one place, eliminating some of the cost associated with similar die cutters that can’t cut through any fabric as the Maker can.
Is the Maker worth a purchase if you’ve recently bought a Cricut machine, though? That question is a bit more nuanced. The Maker is a definitive step up from other recent Cricut releases, but it doesn’t do enough things differently to warrant another purchase.
The Air 2, for instance, will serve almost all of your needs in a similar way that the Maker will. The biggest difference is in the ability to cut any fabric, but the Air 2 can cut through quite a few fabric types without a problem.
In the end, the decision is yours. If you’re serious about sewing, you might want to pick up the Maker along with the Air 2. If not, other recent Cricut machines you have at home will probably get the job done well enough.
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