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June 2021 Update: Please note this review covers the original Cricut Maker. There is an updated machine arriving this month – the Cricut Maker 3. Follow early feedback and ongoing coverage in our Maker 3 Review here.
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.
In our Cricut Maker review below, we take a look at exactly what you can expect from the machine and whether it’s worth your investment.
Can cut fabric without backing with the Rotary Blade
Can cut materials up to 2.4mm thick with the Knife Blade
Access to a huge sewing pattern library
Adaptive tool system
Can cut over 300 materials
Pros and Cons of the Cricut Maker
What We Love About The Machine
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
Adaptive Tool System
It’s a completely new, standalone machine.
Here’s a handy table at how it compares to its predecessors:
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.
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.
Hand in hand with the above are all the new tools that go with the Maker.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Having said that, it’s more expensive than the Silhouette Cameo 4 which is probably the Maker’s closest competitor.
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…
Things That Could Be Improved
The Cricut Maker isn’t a perfect machine. Here are the few complaints 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.
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.
How Does The Machine 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.
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.
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′
Free trial membership of Cricut Access
50 free ready-to-make projects, including 25 sewing patterns
Materials for your first projects
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.
Is The Cricut Maker Worth Buying?
Despite our couple of minor complaints, 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.
Best Deals and Prices on 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.
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.
Cricut Maker Review
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.