Cricut Maker Review

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Cricut Maker Review
4.9

VCM Verdict

The Cricut Maker is a truly revolutionary cutting machine. It’s stand-out features are the rotary blade that can cut through any fabric, the 4kg worth of force and the fantastic sewing pattern library.

It’s not perfect, of course — the cutting area is small at 12″ x 24″ and you’ll need to work with the same old Design Space software — but there’s no denying that this is an incredible machine.

Pros

  • Professional level cutting
  • No need for a separate fabric cutter
  • Huge sewing pattern library
  • Major improvements on the Explore Air 2
  • A ‘machine for life’
  • Amazing tool capability
  • Supremely versatile

Cons

  • Cricut Design Space software is a little clunky
  • Small cutting space
  • More expensive than the comparable Cameo 4

The Cricut Maker (available now from Amazon or the Cricut store) is Cricut’s flagship craft cutting machine.

Designed specifically for ‘makers’, this cutter redefines what it means to be versatile and generally appeals to the most experienced and/or adventurous crafters out there.

It can do everything that the Explore Air 2 can do and more. And if you’re a keen fabric cutter, you’re going to be in heaven.

But with such finesse and versatility comes a pretty chunky price tag so we wouldn’t recommend it to beginners or crafters on a budget.

Let’s take a look at exactly what you can expect from the machine and whether it’s worth your investment

Cricut Maker Review

Overview

Features
  • 4kg of downward force
  • Can cut fabric without backing with the Rotary Blade
  • Can cut materials up to 2.4mm thick with the Knife Blade
  • QuickSwap Tools
  • Access to a huge sewing pattern library
  • Adaptive tool system
  • Can cut over 300 materials

cricut maker review

The Deep Dive

The Positives
No Need For A Separate Fabric Cutter

The absolute stand-out feature of the Cricut Maker is undoubtedly the rotary blade.

This bad boy is — for us, at least — the primary reason to buy the machine.

The unique gliding and rolling action means that it can cut through practically any fabric. And here’s the best bit — it doesn’t require any backing material!

Before, we’ve always used a separate fabric cutter. Desktop cutters like the Cricut Explore and Silhouette Cameo always said that they could cut fabric but we all knew that that was reaching a bit. The fabric always needed bonding or backing material and would routinely bunch and tear when the blade tried to cut.

Not so with the Cricut Maker. The rotary blade is truly revolutionary — and produces fabric cuts as easily and accurately as much more expensive, professional machines.

It’s been designed to cut through virtually any fabric. It’s equipped with a gliding and rolling action that makes cutting fabric as easy as cutting through butter, and allows you complete control over — regardless of what direction it’s going in.

It’s so sophisticated in fact, it can take on anything from the lightest silk and chiffon to thick denim and canvas. No more hand cutting!

Plus, the blade now opens up a huge number of extra cutting options for you: we’re planning on testing out some leather jewelry crafts this weekend on it.

Huge Improvements on the Cricut Explore Machines

We were excited when the Cricut Explore Air 2 was released, but the major improvement it had over the original Explore Air was simply that it was able to work at double the speed for certain materials.

An important update, for sure, but not the most exciting one.

The Cricut Maker, on the other hand, is leaps and bounds ahead of every machine in the Explore family.

As you can see from the list of new features above, there’s a lot that’s new:

  • Sewing pattern library
  • Rotary blade
  • Knife blade
  • Adaptive Tool System
  • Extra force

It’s a completely new, standalone machine.

Here’s a handy table at how it compares to its predecessors:

explore air vs cricut maker

Plus, it promises to do Print Then Cut on patterned and colored paper! We’re excited to test this feature out: it really opens up new crafting opportunities when you can move past PtC on white paper.

Read Our Full Comparison of Explore Air 2 vs Maker
A Machine for Life

The Adaptive Tool System is another major selling point of the Maker.

Not only is this the only Cricut machine with the power and engineering to take on the brand new Rotary and Knife blades, but it’s also been created so as to fit with all past, present and future tools for the Cricut machine too.

That means no more machine updates needed in the future. You can simply buy your new tools and plug them into the Maker. Easy!

And while the Explore Air 2 certainly feels sturdy and durable, it doesn’t have a patch on the Maker. It’s always good when your machine feels like it could outlive you.

Plus, it’s been designed to be as useful as possible to you. There are two tool holders, a deep drawer for storage and a super handy USB port for phone and tablet charging.

It’s a real workstation.

New Tools

Hand in hand with the above are all the new tools that go with the Maker.

We’ve already spoken in detail about the Rotary and Knife blades, but you’ve also got the QuickSwap Tools to play with too.

These are professional level perforation tools that work that will be of particular appeal to card makers, and include capabilities like scoring, debossing, engraving and more.

You have to buy them separately, but they’re definitely worth the extra cost if you’re a fan of decorative effects in your cutting.

Sewing Pattern Library is a Game Changer

If you’re a sewist, the Cricut Maker should be on your wish list.

We do almost as much sewing as we do cutting and we were shocked by how much more efficient the Maker made our sewing process.

The sewing pattern library is already impressive, and growing, with plenty of projects just waiting for you to download and tackle. Check out our post on 49 things to make with the Cricut Maker to see what’s in store for you.

Cricut have partnered with Simplicity and Riley Blake Designs to enhance the library — two awesome companies that promise to bring some incredible patterns to the table. If you’re a quilter, you’re going to love what Riley Blake have on offer.

sewing pattern library cricut

Riley Blake XOXO Quilt made with Riley Blake cotton fabrics

Instead of having the hassle of hand-cutting your sewing patterns every time you want to sew something, simply have it done in a matter of minutes on the maker.

Plus, the machine comes with a washable fabric pen to mark your patterns too — they’ve truly thought of everything when it comes to making sewing easier and more enjoyable.

Truly Excellent Cutting

Of course, one of the most important things to consider when buying a new cutting machine is how well it actually cuts.

cricut maker projects

The first included project

We’re pleased to report that the Maker is a great cutter. Cricut have always been known for their excellent precision blades, and the Maker simply steps it up even further thanks to the massive 4kg of force behind them.

The rotary blade cuts fabric like butter, and we can’t wait to test out the Knife Blade when it’s out later this year.

Another thing we love is that the machine will automatically detect whether you’re using the correct blade or not. For instance, it will tell you if you need to switch to the rotary blade before cutting a piece of fabric. This will save you both time and money on wasted materials.

Reasonable Price

We know that the Cricut Maker is more expensive than the other Explore machines, but considering its new functionality, we were actually surprised at its very reasonable price tag.

All of the new features elevate this into more than just a budget desktop cutter — it’s truly a craftsman’s machine. The name ‘Maker’ is very apt indeed.

By way of comparison, the comparable KNK Zing Orbit starts from $449 on the KNK website.

cricut maker

Having said that, it’s more expensive than the Silhouette Cameo 4 which is probably the Maker’s closest competitor.

Read Our Full Comparison of Maker vs Cameo 4
It Doesn't Make the Explore Air 2 Obsolete

Perhaps the biggest complaint we’ve heard about the Cricut Maker is that it was released so soon after the Explore Air 2, which came out in October 2016.

Like we’ve said before, we definitely understand the frustration: once you’ve bought all your materials and supplies, craft cutting can be a very expensive hobby. As soon as you introduce new machines less than a year apart, you’re spending serious money just to keep up.

But, of course, you don’t have to buy it straight away. The Explore machines are still great and will continue to be supported by Cricut into the future.

In the meantime, why not add the Maker to a Christmas or birthday list, and leave it lying around the house for someone to pick up…

The Negatives

The Cricut Maker isn’t a perfect machine. Here are the few niggles that we have with it.

Small Cutting Space

We’ve always loved the Cricut machines but the one way that they fall short of the Silhouette Cameo machines is that they can’t cut as large designs.

The maximum cutting area of the Explore machines is 12″ wide by 24″ long, which in reality equals somewhere around 11.5″ wide and 23.5″ long. Compare this to the Cameo 3, which can cut 12″ wide by a whopping 10′ long.

The Maker would have been a great machine for Cricut to finally close that gap and enable larger designs, but they’ve kept it the same: 12″ wide by 24″ long.

A missed opportunity, in our books.

best cricut machine

Same Old Design Space

For as long as we can remember, the one recurring gripe with Cricut machines is the software: Cricut Design Space.

It has definitely been improved with recent updates, but it can still be buggy and limiting if you’re an experienced designer.

Thankfully, you are able to upload your own designs to the software nowadays, but sadly it’s still not possible to work directly with your chosen software program and the Cricut machines without crafty workarounds.

Nothing has changed with the Cricut Maker — you’ll still need to work with Design Space. It’s definitely not the worst cutting software we’ve used, and it’s pretty great for beginners, but it’s not the best either.

Not for Beginners

We’ve touched on this already, but the Cricut Maker is not a particularly suitable machine for beginners.

Although it’s certainly quite easy and intuitive to use, the sheer breadth of its versatility, as well as its price tag, is likely to be a little overwhelming for beginners to the Cricut machines.

If you’re looking for something a little more beginner (and wallet) friendly, check out the Cricut Joy machine instead.

cricut maker knife blade

Cricut Maker: The Look

OK, let’s talk about the look of this new machine.

Because, while it’s definitely still recognizable as a Cricut product, it looks a lot sleeker than the previous Explore machines. Check out that diamond-polished champagne aluminum lid!

 First up… there’s no dial. 

If you remember, this was one of the major selling points of the Explore Air machines. Personally, we’re not too fussed to see it go. We found that the materials on the dial weren’t necessarily the materials we used the most so as a ‘shortcut’ it wasn’t that effective.

cricut maker

Plus, it clutters up the workspace.

Another difference is the big ridge along the top of the machine to support your tablet or smartphone.

We love this.

It’s great to have your designs right in front of you at eye level while you’re using this machine — that is assuming that you’re using the Design Space app. If not, who’s top you from loading up Netflix or a YouTube tutorial?

And as an added bonus, there’s also a charging port! 🙌

There’s also a well-engineered storage drawer and two tool cups on the machine. Little details, but important enough to make a difference in how easy it is for you to use the machine.

The bottom of the cup is lined with rubber, so you won’t dull your blades when you drop them in either.

It’s available on 5 different colors: champagne, lilac, mint, rose and blue.

Cricut Maker Specs

  • Dimensions: 22.6″ x 7.1″ x 6.2″
  • Weight: 24 pounds
  • Cutting Mats Included: FabricGrip Mat 12″ x 12″ and LightGrip Mat 12″ x 12′
  • Blades Included: Premium Fine Point Blade and Housing, and Rotary Blade and Drive Housing
What's in the Box?

Take a look at our unboxing video to see what’s inside:

Here’s the full list of what’s included in the box when you buy from Cricut or Amazon:

  • Cricut Maker Machine
  • Rotary Blade and Drive Housing
  • Premium Fine Point Blade and Housing
  • Fine Point Pen
  • FabricGrip Mat 12″ x 12″
  • LightGrip Mat 12″ x 12′
  • Welcome book
  • USB cable
  • Power adapter
  • Free trial membership of Cricut Access
  • 50 free ready-to-make projects, including 25 sewing patterns
  • Materials for your first projects

cricut maker machine

What Materials Can it Work with?

The real question here is what materials can’t it work with!

The Cricut Explore is able to cut over 100 different materials and the Cricut Maker can cut all that and more — over 300 in total.

Especially if you buy the knife blade, it’ll be able to cut materials up to 2.4 mm thick.

With the rotary blade alone, it can cut practically every fabric you can think of — including silk, chiffon, denim and canvas.

Overall Verdict

Despite our couple of minor niggles, we have to say that we think the Cricut Maker is incredible.

For us, the stand-out features are undoubtedly the rotary blade, sewing pattern library and the whopping 4kg of power behind it. It stands heads and shoulders above the Cricut Explore machines and is truly a machine for makers.

We highly recommend it.

Where to Buy the Cricut Maker

The Cricut Maker has been available to buy since 20 August 2017 and is available on both the Cricut website and Amazon.

While the price for the Maker is obviously more expensive than the Explore family machines, we actually think that’s a cracking deal considering the huge functionality of this new machine.

The purchase price includes the Rotary Blade and a Fine Point Blade but the Knife Blade is sold separately.

Check Price on Cricut Check Price on Amazon

Will you be buying the new Cricut Maker?

Want to see how the Cricut Maker stacks up to other popular vinyl cutters? Visit our buyer’s guide highlighting the best machines. Also, be sure to visit our Reviews section for detailed analysis of all the latest vinyl cutters.

About Author

Stephanie Osborn

I’m a life long crafter with a passion for vinyl cutting — it’s been both a hobby and a career for me over the past 5 years. Everyday I love testing new machines, materials and techniques and passing my tips and reviews along to my crafting friends and readers. I don’t like to play favorites, but it’s hard to deny that the Silhouette Cameo and Cricut cutters hold a special place in my heart! When I’m not in my craft room (and sometimes when I’m in it), you’ll find me playing with my baby daughter and my two furball puppies.

21 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Oh yes…I am working a lot with thicker materials, and my old Cricut has given me a lot of frustration and I have worn out lots of blades (Roland). I have been looking at both Silver Bullet, and KNK machines…but the price on the new Cricut Maker is way more affordable. Can hardly wait…

    Greetings from Spain

  2. Avatar

    Will the new blades be compatible with the explore air 2? I bought mine less than a year ago. It would be very frustrating to know that it was a waste.

    • Editor

      Hi Felicia,

      No — the new blades will only be compatible with the Maker as Cricut have totally redesigned the engineering in order to deliver more power to the new blades. There’s just not enough power in the Explore Air 2 to support the new blades.

      We agree that it can be frustrating that they bring out new machines so often. We’re taking heart in the fact that all the future tools and blades brought out will be compatible with the Maker so it will be more of a legacy machine that we can keep and update for years to come.

  3. Avatar

    I saw something about if you send in a pic of your machine now that you will get a discount. I can’t find it now. Any news of this?
    Thanks

    • Editor

      Hi Kathleen,

      We haven’t seen the patterns they’re offering yet, although we’ll update as soon as we do! The library should have around 500 patterns by the end of this year, including many by Simplicity and Riley Blake.

    • Editor

      Hi Kathleen,

      If you take a look in Design Space you’ll find all of the sewing patterns in the ‘sewing’ category. Lots of kid’s clothing patterns!

  4. Avatar
    melissa taylor on

    Any news on the release date for the maker and easy press in the uk,not much information gets to this side of the world and we are all waiting very impatiently for the new machines

      • Avatar

        Oh please do my wife is cricut crazy and if I can get this before Christmas in the U.K. I will have a excellent present for her.

  5. Avatar

    Will the old blades i.e of Explore Air 2, be compatible with the Maker machine?
    All the information provided here was really helpful. Thanks a lot 🙂

  6. Avatar

    Wonderful blogpost! I read this before buying my Cricut Maker. Since your post seems rather unbiased, I want to bring something to your attention in hopes to get the word out so other people do not make the same mistake of buying $80 worth of fabric and batting plus the whopping $400 for the Maker. The first thing I did with my Maker is make the Riley Blake All Wrapped Up throw quilt. Unfortunately, I didn’t even get through the first few steps of sewing the quilt top together without running into an error that I believe was made by the Riley Blake design and Cricut. It’s hard to explain without being able to attach pictures, but long story short: the first three small blocks you sew together consist of two half-triangle squares, and one half-rectangle square. The two half-triangle squares are a quarter inch larger than the one half-rectangle square when sewn together. I really, really wanted this to be an error on my part, but I am afraid it isn’t. All my fabric for this quilt is cut, but it’s nearly useless because it’s inaccurate. I emailed Cricut with no reply from a real human, unfortunately.

  7. Avatar

    Dear admin i have problem cricut maker can’t find my computer… how to fix it? because am not technician my father just got it from his friend so we need some soft ware or not?

  8. Avatar
    Danielle Williams on

    Will it cut foam core, and does Cricut plan to offer larger models in the future? Or are they just going to stick with the basic 12×24 cutting surfce?

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  12. Avatar

    This is a great review especially about cutting fabric.

    I am not a quilter, but I sew t-shirts. It would be great if the machine could cut out an adult sized pattern. But this machine appears to only cut children’s clothes and small items like tote bags.

    What a disappointment with only a 12″ width! This machine really blew it, it should be 15″ in width and have a 36″ length. But they didn’t ask me, lol.

    When is someone going to come out with an adult size pattern cutter for the home sewer?

  13. Avatar
    Bryan D Sears on

    Cricut promises a lot, be sure to lower your expectations. You’ve reviewed some promises and features well, but the overall experience fails to live up to the whiz bang marketing they’ve got. PLUS the shipping costs and materials, it all seems like they’ve built a system to keep you bringing them money, not that there’s anything new or wrong about that.

  14. Avatar

    Does the maker cut stencils for painting rustic wood signs. There is not very much information on this. We manly want to create stencils for painting lettering on wood signs.

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