5 Little Monsters: All About Cricut Materials

All About Cricut Materials

-This post sponsored by Cricut, all ideas and opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.-

When you are new to using a Cricut, or maybe even not so new, it can be overwhelming to see all of the different materials available to cut and know which one is right for your project. Do you need permanent vinyl or removable? Regular transfer tape or strong grip, or do you even need transfer tape? Everyday iron on, SportFlex, Infusible Ink? What about materials that you can only use with a specific machine? This post is going to answer all of those questions and more.

I am going to divide this post into 3 sections: Vinyl (sticky backed, adhesive), Heat Transfer Materials (Iron On, Infusible Ink), and Other Materials (including paper, cardstock, felt, leather, etc.). I will cover the different types within each category and how to know which is right for your project and machine.

Adhesive Vinyl

When people think of a Cricut I think vinyl is one of the first things associated with cutting on it. Sometimes you will even hear it referred to as a vinyl cutting machine, even though it can do so much more than that. So let's talk about adhesive vinyl. This is the sticky backed vinyl. It doesn't require any kind of heat, it is just like a sticker. Adhesive vinyl is used for a ton of different types of projects. Typically it will be stuck to a smooth, hard surface, for example: wood, glass, metal, paper, acrylic. You may use it to add decals to signs, cars, doors, walls, cups, mugs, notebooks, and so much more. Pretty much any smooth surface that you want to add a design to you can do it with vinyl, but there are a few different types and it can be very important that you pick the right one for your project. 

Permanent Adhesive Vinyl

Permanent vinyl has a stronger, more long lasting adhesive. You will want to make sure you are using permanent vinyl anytime you are making something that you want to last a long time, especially if it is going to be handled a lot or outdoors. Permanent vinyl is the best choice for things like tumblers and mugs that will be washed and handled a lot, outdoors signs, mailboxes, car decals, etc. 

Removable Adhesive Vinyl

Removable vinyl is, obviously, removable. It is great for more temporary applications. Cricut brand is removable without residue for up to 2 years. This is especially nice for things that you want to be able to remove in the future, like wall decals and decorations. It will still hold up well in most applications. Just because it is removable doesn't mean it is not going to stick well, just that you can take it off if you want to. 

For some projects I find that it is very important that you choose the right strength of adhesive, permanent or removable, you don't want your wall decal to destroy your wall when you try to take it off, or your tumbler decal to fall of the first time you wash it. But other times I feel like it doesn't make a huge difference and either one will work, like if I am making a decorative sign, I am not planning on removing the vinyl at any point so it doesn't need to be removable, but it also isn't really going to be handled a lot so it doesn't need to be permanent, with one will do the job just fine in that case. At that point I usually just use whichever kind I have, or can get, the color I need. 

Specialty Vinyl

In addition to permanent and removable you can also get different types of vinyl, many of them will say whether they are permanent or removable. These will give you options beyond just a solid color, so you can have vinyl that is sparkly, shiny, printed, etc. Some of the specialty vinyls you can find are:

Transfer Tape

Before we finish talking about vinyl, I wanted to mention transfer tape really fast. One of the most common beginner mistakes I have seen in Cricut Facebook groups is people using the wrong transfer tape and either not being able to get their design off of the transfer tape or not being able to get the design to stick to the transfer tape. 

There are a lot of different types of transfer tape out there, but Cricut makes 2 types and that is what we are going to talk about. You can either get regular transfer tape, or strong grip transfer tape. The strong grip is made to work with heavier vinyls, specifically glitter vinyl. For most vinyl you will want to use the regular transfer tape. The strong grip will be too strong and you will not be able to get your vinyl off and onto your surface. Regular transfer tape is best for pretty much anything besides glitter vinyl. 

Iron On Materials

Iron on, also known as Heat Transfer Vinyl, or HTV, is another one of the most common materials people want to cut with their Cricut. I would have to say iron on is probably my favorite and most used material. Iron on has a heat activated adhesive, so it sticks to a surface when pressed with heat (an iron, EasyPress, or heat press). Iron on is most commonly used on fabrics, but it can also be put on wood, paper, and other surfaces. Often used to make clothing, accessories, and decor, there is a lot you can do with iron on vinyl.

You can use the Cricut Heat Guide to see make sure your materials are compatible as well as get the temperatures, times, and instructions for pressing in order to get the best results for your project. 

Everyday Iron On

First we are going to talk about Cricut's Everyday Iron on. This is just kind of their basic, solid color, lots of colors, standard iron on. It is the kind I use most often. It works on pretty much anything you can use iron on on and it can be layered up to 3 times. It is easy to weed and press. 

SportFlex Iron On

SportFlex is a thin, lightweight, and flexible iron on. It stretches and moves with your body so it is great to use on active wear. SportFlex is recommended for tech fabrics like polyester and nylon. 

Specialty Iron On

Just like vinyl, iron on comes in a large variety of different types, some of those specialty types are:

Infusible Ink

Another heat transfer option that Cricut has is Infusible Ink. It is different than Iron On Vinyl because instead of pressing a layer of vinyl onto your surface, you are actually infusing the ink into your project. Because of this you get a smooth finish that will never peel off, crack, or wrinkle. But there are a few important things to note when using Infusible Ink. The sublimation process that the ink uses to transfer onto your project doesn't work on just any surface. Cricut has a line of Infusible Ink blanks that you can use that includes t-shirts, coasters, pillows, bags, etc. that it will work on. If you use something other than a Cricut Infusible Ink compatible blank you need to make sure that it is a high percentage of polyester if you are using a fabric item, or a blank that is made for sublimation, and even then they can't guarantee the same results (since they obviously can't test every product out there) so try at your own risk. If you try Infusible Ink on a 100% cotton shirt you may be very pleased with the finished product right after pressing, but then you wash it and the design washes right out. The chemical process that makes the Infusible Ink work requires that polyester to adhere the ink to the fabric. I don't totally understand all of the science behind it, but the finished product is pretty amazing. 

Iron On Designs

And last, I just wanted to mention iron on designs. Cricut does have a selection of pre-made iron on designs that you can get to use on your projects. They can be a fun thing to use if you want a quick and easy project. 

Other Materials

Finally, lets talk about other materials. I don't want to go into too much detail with this category because it could be never-ending. The Cricut machines can cut a huge number of materials, some all of the machines can cut, and some work only on one or two machines. 

Paper and Cardstock

Paper and cardstock are two materials that I also use a lot with my Cricut. They can be cut on any of the machines and come in a variety of types just like the vinyl and iron on. My number one piece of advice for working with paper and cardstock is choose the correct custom setting. If you are using an Explore and are cutting regular cardstock you can use the cardstock setting on the dial, but for anything else turn the dial to custom and select the exact type if it is a Cricut material, or as close as you can find if it is not. You will find there is a big difference in thickness between regular cardstock and glitter cardstock or shimmer paper. Some of the materials Cricut makes that fall in this category are:

Fabric and Felt

Fabric and felt are another group of materials that I like to cut with my Cricut, that can sometimes be a little confusing. The Cricut Maker can cut both of these very well with the rotary blade. The Cricut Explore can cut certain types. With the Cricut Explore you can cut bonded fabric only. So only fabric that is stiffened by having some kind of interfacing ironed on to it prior to cutting. You can not cut just regular fabric unless you have the Maker. Felt is similar. You can cut felt on the Explore, as long as you use certain types of felt. The Cricut brand felt is a thinner stiffer felt and will work ok, but if you try cutting felt sheets from the craft store you will probably end up frustrated. So with these two just make sure you know what your machine can handle so you use the right materials. 

Cricut Maker Materials

Like with the fabric and felt, there are some things that the Maker can cut that the other machines can't, and some that it just cuts better. Some of the materials that work with the Maker but not the others, or work better with the Maker are:

Cricut Joy Materials 

The Cricut Joy also has some machine specific materials. Some of these are made to work in the Joy because of their small size, others really only work with the Joy. The Smart materials are made to work with the Cricut Joy without needing a mat, which is something unique to Cricut Joy. These materials include:

A Cricut can cut so many different materials. This list doesn't even cover them all, but hopefully it helps answer some questions of which types to use when and with which machine. 

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