Crafty gadget makes light but expensive work of cutting things

One of the worst things about making clothes from scratch or creating delicate invitations is trying to cut the materials to the perfect size and shape without somehow buggering it up.

This is why the Cricut Maker exists. It cuts stuff for you and even operates a pen pretty nicely, so you just have to worry about the sewing and the wording.

The Cricut Maker connects to your device via Bluetooth and can cut a range of materials, including leather.

The machine works by connecting to your phone/tablet/computer via Bluetooth or USB and syncing with your Cricut account. You can upload or make your own patterns freely, but things can get expensive when you try to use the easy built-in designs. They start at $1, but most are $5-10, which can add up if you have a lot of projects, especially after you’ve bought the machine for $600 plus extra blades and accessories.

A way around that is to sign up to the Cricut Design Space subscription service, which gives you access to some patterns as part of the monthly or annual fee. It launches in Australia next month, though an American version is live now.

The quality of designs available in the subscription service varies wildly, with some that can only be described as being too Texan-suburban-soccer-mum. However, if you dig, you can find gems like a bowl cosy, Christmas stockings, bow ties and a selection of truly delightful Halloween decorations.

If those don’t tickle your fancy, there are other designs (including some curated by Martha Stewart) available for purchase. You can also find more further afield online or design them yourself.

If you have (or are willing to pay for) the pattern, you can cut material for all kinds of clothes.

I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to turn a simple JPG into a pattern ready to be cut out. It was significantly more challenging trying to make panels for a waistcoat from scratch, but I’m sure that skill will come with practice, and I perhaps shouldn’t have tried to run before I could crawl.

The machine itself is extremely easy to use. Once they’ve chosen a design, everyone from your technophobic father to a reasonably dexterous five-year-old will be able to place their material on the appropriate mat (there are two mats in the box; one for delicate materials and a stickier one for harder materials, and more are available separately) insert the appropriate blade or pen (maybe don’t let the five-year-old do that), and press the Create button when they’re ready to go.

Cutting card can make for great invitations and papercraft.

The machine lets you know if you have the wrong blade inserted for the task, which is helpful if you’re wanting to follow the design and materials exactly but less so if you’re trying to adapt it for a different material.

What impressed me was how competently the machine cut through leather and thin cardstock alike, and it also claims to be able to cut chipboard and delicate paper. Having attempted to use other brands of cutting machines to make lacy paper wedding invitations a few years ago (a memory that still haunts me), it’s wonderful to see how far the technology has come. While I didn’t get a chance to try fiddlier fabrics like chiffon, I’m sure any designer with the skill to create their own patterns in the software will find this a far better way to cut out their fabrics. I can think of several past contestants on Project Runway who might have benefited from the device.

In the end, those who dream of making clothes for their children out of a love of creation, rather than a desire to save money, will absolutely love this machine, as will all crafters who struggle to cut precisely.

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