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 still 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.
If you’re anything like us, you’ll have spent yesterday trying to tune into the Facebook Live announcement that Cricut have been teasing all week.
A brand new product…
*Heart racing, breathing quickens*
The Cricut Maker.
This is the ultimate smart cutting machine.
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.
Let’s find out everything we know so far about this brand new Cricut machine.
- 1 Cricut Maker: The Announcement
- 2 Cricut Maker: What Can it Do?
- 3 Cricut Maker: The Look
- 4 Cricut Maker Specs
- 5 Cricut Maker Review
- 6 Where to Buy the Cricut Maker
Cricut Maker: The Announcement
At Cricut’s Make Something You Love Conference on Tuesday 1 August, CEO Ashish Arora broadcast his keynote speech on Facebook Live.
For those of us that tuned in from home, it was a nerve wracking and often frustrating event as the broadcast was continually interrupted as so many Cricut fans were tuning in.
Ashish introduced three new products:
- Cricut BrightPad
- Cricut Easy Press
- Cricut Maker
You can see the full announcement here:
The introduction to the Cricut Maker itself starts at 22:23.
As you can imagine, Facebook reactions to the new product were split into two camps.
OHMIGOSH A NEW MACHINE! CAN’T WAIT SO EXCITED LOVE IT
And the second:
UGH I JUST BOUGHT THE CRICUT EXPLORE AIR 2. WHY HAVE YOU DONE THIS TO ME. LIFE IS TERRIBLE.
Actually, there was a third group as well:
What’s going on? The feed has frozen. What is it? SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT’S GOING ON.
We’re definitely in the first camp (and a little in the third as well). While we know that it can be frustrating to buy a new machine only for the company to bring out a brand new one a few months later, we never want to halt the progress of companies like Cricut.
This is a revolutionary machine that’s different from anything else on the market right now.
We can’t wait to get our hands on it.
Cricut Maker: What Can it Do?
Firstly, take a look at this video that takes a tour around the machine:
And let’s go through it’s most exciting features.
One thing that’s clear from the announcement is that the Cricut Maker is going to be the go-to cutting machine for fabric cutting.
While the Explore Air 2 was reasonably adept at fabric cutting, we always preferred to use a separate fabric cutter to do large scale serious projects.
But the new Maker is set to change all that.
The brand new Rotary Blade has 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.
Cricut are saying that the blade is so sophisticated, it can take on anything from the lightest silk and chiffon to thick denim and canvas. No more hand cutting!
We’ve got (yet another!) video here showing the Maker going to town on some fabric:
Sewing Pattern Library
One of the most revolutionary aspects of the Cricut Maker is the sewing pattern library.
We love sewing almost as much as we love die cutting, so this is a major win for us.
Cutting sewing patterns is one of the most tedious and occasionally difficult parts of the sewing experience.
In case you don’t have much experience in this area, here’s a quick run-down:
A sewing pattern is essentially a template for the item you’re going to sew. They’re usually made of paper and allow you to trace the pattern on to the fabric you’re going to use for the project. The pattern is made up of the different parts of the item that you’ll need to cut and sew.
The sewing pattern for a tote bag, for instance, will be made up of two center panels, 2 side panels and a strap.
You’ll have to cut these patterns out before tracing them onto your fabric, pinning your fabric, cutting your fabric out, before finally sewing the pieces. Dull and time consuming.
But the sewing pattern library is going to change all that.
It holds hundreds of patterns for you to choose from directly from within Design Space, that will cut the pattern for you automatically, with total accuracy and efficiency.
This is such a simple idea but will be of huge benefit to sewists everywhere. It seems so obvious that we can’t believe it hasn’t been done before.
For a little perspective at how much time this will save you, Cricut compared how long it would take to hand cut and mark a pattern for a 12 inch doll compared to the Cricut Maker doing it for you.
Here’s the results:
And aside from the time savings, imagine how much more accurate the Maker is going to be compared to your human hand!
Cricut are partnering 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.
Another aspect of the Cricut Maker that’s going to enable a huge number of extra projects for you to work on is the advanced Knife Blade.
This is really going to open up the number of materials you can work with as it’s designed to work with the heaviest and thickest materials.
Essentially, it’s like an X-ACTO knife within the machine.
It promises to slice through materials up to a whopping 2.4 mm thick.
That’s elevating the Cricut to the level of uber-sophisticated desktop cutters like those in the KNK family.
If you’re wondering why you need this blade when you could just buy an X-ACTO knife or power tool to use separately, here’s why:
- It’s much safer to use within the blade housing
- You can control the orientation of the blade at all times
- The power needed to power the blade comes from the machine, rather than from your force
- Intelligent variable pressure — pressure is optimized for each pass, ensuring the cleanest cut possible
- Blade has a longer life than normal X-ACTO blades
4kg of Pressure
Probably the most notable way that the Cricut Maker improves on the Explore family of machines is the fact that it boasts a whopping 4kg of force.
That’s ten times the power of the Cricut Explore Air 2.
That’s the same amount of force as the mighty KNK Force.
It’s offering us commercial levels of power, precision and expertise at a personal, desktop price.
You can’t say fairer that that.
Adaptive Tool System
The Adaptive Tool System is what will ensure the longevity of the Cricut Maker. And why you won’t need to keep buying new machines once you’ve got it.
Essentially it guarantees that not only does it fit with all of the tools currently for use with the machine (and the Cricut Explore tools), but that it will be compatible with all future tools made as well.
So, when Cricut come out with an engraving tool, for instance, you’ll be able to start using it with the Maker with no problem at all.
And each new tool will benefit from all of the features of the Maker’s engineering:
- Active steering of the blade
- 4 kg of force
- Intelligent variable pressure
New Washable Fabric Marker Pen
Cricut have made it clear that they’re already working on new tools for the Cricut Maker.
One of the brand new tools that they’re already offering is a washable fabric marker pen — another reason to buy for all fabric enthusiasts!
This will be used to mark all your patterns, eliminating any manual guesswork and allowing you to know precisely how your pattern pieces fit together.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Cricut Maker Review
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.
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 Cricut 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:
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.
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 Cricut 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.
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.
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.
It Doesn’t Make the Explore Air 2 Obsolete
Perhaps the biggest complaint we’ve heard about the Cricut Maker is that it’s been 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 Cricut Maker isn’t a perfect machine. Here are a 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 Silhouette 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.
Knife Blade Sold Separately
Just a little niggle for our final negative — the much anticipated Knife Blade for the Cricut Maker won’t be available until late 2017, and you will have to buy it separately.
As such as major feature of this new machine, we think it’s a pity that they’re choosing to sell it separately as so many people will want to use it. We’re not convinced that you should be selling a major feature of a new machine as an ‘optional add-on’.
Let’s just hope it’s not too costly…
Despite our couple of niggles with the machine, 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.
UPDATE: How Does It Fare In 2019?
We’re happy to report that we absolutely LOVE the Cricut Maker — it’s by far one of our favorite craft cutters and definitely the one we use the most.
Incredibly versatile, easy to use and just generally a joy, we’re pretty sure that the Maker will eclipse whatever other machine you’re using at the moment as soon as you buy it.
One of our cons when first reviewing the Maker was that the Design Space software was a little buggy, but this appears to have greatly reduced lately, which we think is due to more frequent updates and improvements by Cricut. We certainly haven’t encountered any major problems with it.
We did buy the Knife Blade, which is equally impressive on thick and sturdy materials, although you’re not missing a huge amount if you decide not to buy it — there’s not much point unless you plan on creating lots of products with thick materials.
All-in-all, we’re still huge fans of the Cricut Maker, now well over a year since we bought it.
Where to Buy the Cricut Maker
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 only question is whether to buy it as soon as it comes out, or to wait and put it on your Christmas list…
The purchase price includes the Rotary Blade and a Fine Point Blade but the Knife Blade will be sold separately — and won’t be available until October 2017.
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.