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A to Z of Cricut: Tips, Tricks, and Hacks!

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Read Time: 17 min

Your Cricut is so much more than a machine that you can make T-shirts with. With an ever-growing list of design features and machine capabilities, your Cricut machine can help you to craft just about any project.

Fan of video tutorials? In this A-Z video from the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel, I'm going to explain some essential Cricut features and give you some helpful tips and tricks that all the professionals use.

What You'll Learn in This Cricut Tutorial

  • What blades you can use with your Cricut machines
  • How many features work in Cricut Design Space
  • What products you can use with your Cricut machines
  • And much more!

A is for Attach

The Attach feature is probably one of the most important features in Cricut Design Space, and it's probably the thing most people have problems with at the beginning of their Cricut journey. This feature allows you to design whatever you want on your canvas, and cut exactly what you have designed as you see it on the canvas. As you can see below, the design is complete on the canvas, but it isn't attached. 

Attach - Designing your elements on the canvas to look a certain wayAttach - Designing your elements on the canvas to look a certain wayAttach - Designing your elements on the canvas to look a certain way

You will need to make sure to Attach the same colours together that you want to cut, in order to keep them in exactly the same position that they are currently in.

If you don't attach, then when you go to the Make It panel, you will see something like the below example. All of the items that you have on your canvas will be lined up in separate pieces as the software tries to optimise space usage on your media.

Example of what the Make it panel will look like if you dont attach all of the elementsExample of what the Make it panel will look like if you dont attach all of the elementsExample of what the Make it panel will look like if you dont attach all of the elements

B is for Bookmark Fonts

With so many amazing fonts to choose from on Envato Elements and sifting through all of the fonts that I have on my computer already, finding the exact font that I want to use for my project is sometimes a difficult thing for me to do. So when I’m able to use this feature to Bookmark my favourite fonts, I most definitely do. You can bookmark fonts that you have installed on your computer by simply pressing the little banner button on the right-hand side of the font's name.

Click the bookmark icon on the right hand side of the fontsClick the bookmark icon on the right hand side of the fontsClick the bookmark icon on the right hand side of the fonts

When you want to find those fonts again, just click on the Bookmarked Fonts tab on the right-hand side next to System, and all of your favourite fonts will be right there waiting for you!

C is for Contour

The Contour feature is the type of feature that you will use to remove certain parts of a single-layer basic cut design. You can also use this feature to separate a design into a multi-layer design so that you can cut each piece with a different colour.

The button for the Contour feature is on the bottom right cornerThe button for the Contour feature is on the bottom right cornerThe button for the Contour feature is on the bottom right corner
The button for the Contour feature is in the bottom-right corner

This feature is particularly useful for projects that you want to layer in different coloured vinyls as you don’t need to attach the pieces that you have separated out as they are already in one piece, making it much easier to line up the pieces once everything has been cut.

Contour feature to remove pieces of a design you dont wantContour feature to remove pieces of a design you dont wantContour feature to remove pieces of a design you dont want

D is for Deep Cut Blade

The deep cut blade is one of the many additional blades that you can buy for the machine that will cut thicker but not necessarily harder materials. It will cut things like craft foam, some leathers, and some types of faux leather.

The Deep cut can cut Craft foam and faux leatherThe Deep cut can cut Craft foam and faux leatherThe Deep cut can cut Craft foam and faux leather
The deep cut blade can cut craft foam and faux leather

This blade and housing are not compatible with the fine point blade housing as the actual deep cut blade holder itself is slightly shorter to allow for bigger clearance of the thicker materials. 

Fine point vs Deep Cut bladeFine point vs Deep Cut bladeFine point vs Deep Cut blade

E is for External Designs

You can very easily download hundreds of external designs from Envato Elements and upload them into Cricut Design Space so that you can cut, draw, and even print then cut with your machine. I often run to Envato Elements to find the design I want, as they have so many incredible designs and graphics that you can download under one monthly subscription (which has no lock-in contracts, and you can cancel at any time, by the way!) and upload into Cricut Design Space, using the SVG, JPG, or PNG file. 

Upload External designsUpload External designsUpload External designs
You can upload so many different kinds of designs from Envato Elements

F is for Flatten

The Flatten feature is one that you will use with print then cut if you want to print something on your printer and have your Cricut cut it out. You’ll need to make sure that whatever you have designed on your canvas has been completely flattened into a single layer if you only want to cut the outline. So you need to select all of the layers, right-click, and Flatten the design (or click Flatten at the bottom-right of the screen). 

Select all of your layers, right click and flattenSelect all of your layers, right click and flattenSelect all of your layers, right click and flatten
Select all of your layers, right-click, and flatten

You do need to be sure that you don’t have any other layers like a basic cut layer when you are working with print then cut, as any of your layers that you do have will have cut lines around the edges, which will affect how your end sticker will look.

Use an offset and then Flatten into one layerUse an offset and then Flatten into one layerUse an offset and then Flatten into one layer

G is for Group

The Group feature is something that you will use to keep your elements together on your canvas while you are working on your project, so you can easily organise or move your project around on the canvas, but not have them stay together on the Make it panel.

Group up elements that you want to keep together to organise your canvasGroup up elements that you want to keep together to organise your canvasGroup up elements that you want to keep together to organise your canvas
Group elements that you want to keep together to organise your canvas

This feature differs from “Attach” as you can group multiple layers together, but they will not cut in the exact place that you have them on the canvas. You would use Group to keep pieces of the same or different colours together to make your design look complete, but if you want to cut them out separately, then you can still move them around more easily and they won’t cut in that exact place as they would with Attach.

H is for Hex Codes

If you’re designing something in Design Space and you need to use a specific colour, then you can use the hex codes. A hex code is the hexadecimal code of a specific colour, which uses letters and numbers to locate a colour on the spectrum. So if you have to use a business logo with a specific colour, you can do this in Cricut Design Space!

Click on Colours and then click AdvancedClick on Colours and then click AdvancedClick on Colours and then click Advanced
Click on the Colours and then click Advanced

Within the colour feature, you can click on Advanced, and from there you’ll be able to type in the exact hex code of the colour you want to use!

Type in the hexcode of the exact colour you want to useType in the hexcode of the exact colour you want to useType in the hexcode of the exact colour you want to use
Type in the hexcode of the exact colour you want to use

I is for Infusible Ink

Infusible ink is a product that allows you to transfer ink from the sheet to an item using a heat source. Infusible ink is essentially pre-printed sublimation sheets.

Different kinds of infusible ink sheetsDifferent kinds of infusible ink sheetsDifferent kinds of infusible ink sheets
Infusible Ink sheets come in so many different colour variations

It works with heat at 190° for 60 to 90 seconds on most items and transfers the ink into the item, so instead of having a layer like vinyl on top of your T-shirt, the ink actually stains/bonds to the polyester fibres in your T-shirt. It is important to note that you cannot use cotton—it needs to be a polyester or a sublimation-ready T-shirt, and it should be white or very light in colour. You can also use infusible ink on mugs and other sublimation-ready items like mouse pads, keyrings, coasters, socks—the list goes on!

Infusible Ink coastersInfusible Ink coastersInfusible Ink coasters
An example of some cool patterned infusible ink and cool coasters you can make

J is for Joy

The Cricut Joy is the baby of the family, but despite its size it is still a very powerful machine. Most people want one because it’s so small and portable that you can easily put it in your handbag and take it with you on holiday if you want to make projects on the go, or even at a friend's house. It’s far easier to carry around, and it cuts all of the basic materials like your cardstock, vinyl, some faux leather, iron-on materials, and so many more different things. It of course has its limitations, but many use it as an entry into the market or to complement their other needs.

The Cricut Joy is such a small and versatile machineThe Cricut Joy is such a small and versatile machineThe Cricut Joy is such a small and versatile machine
The Cricut Joy is such a small and versatile machine

K is for Knife Blade

The knife blade is a blade that is only compatible with the Maker and Maker 3 machines. It is a very thick, heavy-duty blade that is used to cut heavier substances like balsa wood, heavy chipboard, tooling leather, and so many more things. This blade uses its own housing and is not compatible with anything else, and it requires calibration before being used.

Knife blade is a very strong blade used for strong materialsKnife blade is a very strong blade used for strong materialsKnife blade is a very strong blade used for strong materials
The knife blade is a very strong blade used for strong materials

You should also be using the strong grip mat with your knife blade when you’re cutting the heavier materials because it uses a lot of force to cut through, and you need the extra grip to keep your materials in place. You will also need to tape your items down to make sure they don't move around while cutting.

Dont forget to tape down your materials to your strong grip matDont forget to tape down your materials to your strong grip matDont forget to tape down your materials to your strong grip mat
Don't forget to tape down your materials to your strong grip mat

L is for Layers

In Cricut Design Space on the right-hand side of the screen, you will see the Layers panel. Each individual item that you add to the canvas will have its own layer, and each layer can have its own operation. So you can add many different types of things and combine them in unique ways to create your projects.

Three different layers, each with their own operationThree different layers, each with their own operationThree different layers, each with their own operation
Three different layers, each with its own operation

You can also change the order of your layers, so if something is in the front but you don't want it to be, you can right-click on that layer and send it to the back. You can attach layers to keep them together, merge shapes to form one layer, or slice them—there are so many different things that you can do with your layers!

Easily change the order of your layers, by right clicking on themEasily change the order of your layers, by right clicking on themEasily change the order of your layers, by right clicking on them
Easily change the order of your layers by right-clicking on them

M is for Mats

In order to cut many different materials on your Cricut, you will likely need to use a cutting mat. This is a durable piece of plastic that fits into the machine under the rollers, with a sticky area on the inside where your paper and other materials will be stuck to ensure they don't move while in the machine.

There are four different types of mats that you can get for your machines, and they all serve different functions. The blue light grip is for your thinner, softer materials like copy paper, while the green standard grip is for the majority of normal materials like cardstock.

Four different mat colours for different grip strengthFour different mat colours for different grip strengthFour different mat colours for different grip strength

The pink fabric grip is for all fabric materials, and the purple strong grip is for your harder, thicker materials that need some extra strength. You will need a mat for your machine if you want to cut the majority of things as you can only currently cut smart materials without a mat on your machines. Always be sure to keep the protective sheeting on your mat to keep it clean for as long as possible, but if it does lose its stick, you can simply very gently wash it with dishwasher detergent, giving a very light brush to get the fibres off and then hanging it out in the sun to dry.

N is for Never Forget to Calibrate

Calibrating your machine for print then cut and for your knife blade is very important. Calibration allows the machine to have better accuracy and control over where it cuts while using the print then cut feature and knife blade. If you find that your print then cut is not working 100% correctly and you can see that it has a few sections where it cuts just a little bit off to the side, then I would suggest a calibration.

Calibration allows you to test to see how your machine is registering and where it is going to cut, and once you’ve done calibration once (or maybe a few times), you should have a much more accurate end result.

Calibrate for better print then cut resultsCalibrate for better print then cut resultsCalibrate for better print then cut results

O is for Offset

The Offset feature allows you to add a line on the outside or the inside of your object. This is particularly useful for things like your print then cut stickers as you’re able to add an offset and cut that offset instead of the inside of your design. 

Offset is a great feature for many different usesOffset is a great feature for many different usesOffset is a great feature for many different uses

You can also use the offset feature for colouring in your words if you’re using the pen function. For this, you will need to use an internal offset, so with the offset feature open, if you drag the little dot to the left-hand side of the grey line, you will see it has a negative value (-0.03 as an example). If you continue to apply that offset and add more of them, you will fill in the entire letter, and you can then have a coloured-in letter.

Use a -0.03 offset to colour in your lettersUse a -0.03 offset to colour in your lettersUse a -0.03 offset to colour in your letters

P is for Print Then Cut

We've spoken about Print then cut a few times already. This is a very useful feature if you want to print out full-colour designs or logos, with gradient colours and things that you wouldn’t be able to get out of vinyl.

Make sure to have the same printing medium as what you have in a printer. As an example, if you have an inkjet printer, you will need inkjet printable vinyl.

Print then cut has a black border around the edgePrint then cut has a black border around the edgePrint then cut has a black border around the edge

Cricut Design Space will then place a black border around the edge of your design, and when it is printed and placed on your mat, it will scan in that border and try to locate where the design is that you have printed on your paper, and then cut on the outside of where you have told it to.

Q is for QuickSwap Housing 

The QuickSwap Housing is an adaptive blade tool that allows you to easily swap out tips for various functions. You can simply buy one QuickSwap housing and have several tips to go along with the one housing, so it will save you a lot of money at the end of the day. 

Quick Swap housingQuick Swap housingQuick Swap housing

The QuickSwap Housing has a little silver button on the top, and when you press that button it pops the bottom tip off, so you can easily swap it with another tip. The tips that you can get with the QuickSwap housing are the perforation blade, debossing tool, engraving tip, single scoring wheel, double scoring wheel, and wavy blade.

Quick Swap housing and all available tipsQuick Swap housing and all available tipsQuick Swap housing and all available tips
From left to right: single scoring wheel, double scoring wheel, perforation blade, QuickSwap Housing, debossing tip, wavy blade tip, engraving tip

R is for Rotary Blade

The rotary blade is a blade that is compatible with the Maker and Maker 3, and it allows you to cut unbonded fabric. The rotary blade comes as standard with the Maker machine, but you will have to buy it separately if you buy the Maker 3. This housing is not compatible with anything else, and you will need to use the pink fabric group mat when you’re using this blade. 

Rotary blade for cutting fabric on the Maker machinesRotary blade for cutting fabric on the Maker machinesRotary blade for cutting fabric on the Maker machines

S is for Slice

This feature allows you to cut different objects out of each other. So if you have a square and you want to cut a heart out of the middle of it, you can use the Slice feature.

You can simply select both of the objects, and hit Slice. If you are not able to use the slice feature, it is because you don't have two layers selected (it could be one or three or more). You can also use this feature to break up designs into different sections if you want to have a paragraph of words written out in different colours or cut in different colours. I can add a square to my canvas over one of the sections of the word that I want to cut out, select both of the layers, and then slice them out. I will then have several different layers that I can change the colours of!

Slice shapes out of other things, or separate lines on a larger designSlice shapes out of other things, or separate lines on a larger designSlice shapes out of other things, or separate lines on a larger design

T is for Test Cuts

Test cuts are incredibly important whenever you're cutting a new material on your Cricut. Instead of cutting an entire design and then realising that it hasn’t cut through properly, you should be doing a test cut on a small corner of your material first.

You can cut any shape or letter around 1 cm, just to make sure that the cut settings that you are using are correct. It should only take a minute, and it will save you a lot of time and heartache in the long run. Please do your test cuts!

Cut a very small object to test your cut settings before doing a large cutCut a very small object to test your cut settings before doing a large cutCut a very small object to test your cut settings before doing a large cut
Cut a very small object to test your cut settings before doing a large cut

U is for Unlock Proportions

If you want to change the height but not the width of your design, you can unlock the proportions by clicking on the little padlock button at the top of the screen towards the right. From here, you’ll be able to change the proportions of your item to make it taller and not longer, or you can lock the proportions to keep the same proportions of your design.

Click the padlock to be able to change the height but leave the width the sameClick the padlock to be able to change the height but leave the width the sameClick the padlock to be able to change the height but leave the width the same

V is for Vinyl

Vinyl is an incredibly popular thing to cut on your Cricut machines. You get two types of vinyl: adhesive vinyl and heat transfer/iron-on vinyl. However, in the Cricut world, just the word vinyl refers to adhesive vinyl or sticker vinyl.

Sticker vinyl can be put on things like mugs, cars, or cell phones. You can even use removable vinyl on walls when you don’t want to mess up the paint.

Vinyl in Cricut world means sticker vinylVinyl in Cricut world means sticker vinylVinyl in Cricut world means sticker vinyl

Iron-on/heat transfer vinyl is the type of vinyl that you would apply to T-shirts, socks, wood, and many other different types of substrates. It is applied with heat at around 165° and pressure to make sure that it sticks to your garment in the long term.

Iron on is heat transfer vinylIron on is heat transfer vinylIron on is heat transfer vinyl

W is for Weld

The Weld feature is something that you can use to permanently stick multiple shapes together, so you can make a solid shape or combine multiple shapes into one layer. Without using the Undo feature, you cannot undo this step at a later stage, so when you weld something, be sure that this is what you want. You may also need to weld text together if you have ungrouped the letters so that they don't cut out individually.

Weld allows you to join shapes together permanentlyWeld allows you to join shapes together permanentlyWeld allows you to join shapes together permanently

X is for Control-X (Cut)

There are many shortcuts that you can use in Cricut Design Space, and this one allows you to Cut something out of your canvas and paste it in later. You can press Control and X on your keyboard to remove whatever item you have selected, and you can paste it in as many times as you want by pressing Control-V.

Y is for Yield Sign

The Yield sign is a little yellow triangle that will appear on the Layers panel on the right-hand side of your screen when there is something wrong with that layer. For example, if you are using a print then cut design and your design is now larger than the maximum size possible, there will be a little yield sign on that layer. When you click on the sign, it will tell you exactly what is wrong and what you need to do to fix it. 

The yield triangle showing an error on the layerThe yield triangle showing an error on the layerThe yield triangle showing an error on the layer

Another thing that it could show you is that the operation you have on your layer is not compatible with your machine. If you want to deboss something but you have a Cricut Joy, it will tell you that the debossing feature is not compatible with the machine type you have selected.

Click on the yield triangle to see the information of the errorClick on the yield triangle to see the information of the errorClick on the yield triangle to see the information of the error
Click on the yield triangle to see the information on the error

Z is for Control-Z (Undo!)

Easily the shortcut that I use on my computer the most! Control-Z allows you to undo your last action. So if you have moved something on your canvas by accident, you can press Control-Z on your keyboard and it will undo that move. You can also use the undo and redo arrows on the top left-hand side of your screen if you are not too comfortable with keyboard shortcuts.

Use the Undo button to  undo an errorUse the Undo button to  undo an errorUse the Undo button to  undo an error

Learn More Cricut Skills With These Tutorials!

There are so many incredible full tutorials you can use to improve your Cricut skills, so take a look at these tutorials to learn more:

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