Crafts,  Motherhood

How To Set Up Your Cricut and Make Your First Design

Step by Step Guide


Wow! I am so in love with my new machine the Circut Explore Air 2. I did not realize all of its capability and all of its magic till this week. I have made so many fun things from faux earrings, customized shirts, koozies, to a welcome sign. The sky is the limit with this thing. And if you have kids like me, I was always ordering their birthday shirts with their names on it or matching mommy and me things. So I feel like I have already made my money back because now I will design and make our own shirts, cards, labels, and more. I wanted to write a blog post about how to unbox your cricut and get going. I have had a lot of people ask me how to do this and that so I wanted to inspire others to get their cricut out of the closet or go get one today. It is so amazing!!! Amazon has bundle you can get and highly recommend the bundle for beginners. It gives you so many things you need to start with to make your project immediately.

I researched so many different ones and narrowed it down to the Cricut Explore Air 2 and Silhouette Cameo 4. I mulled over this decision for a couple days and did my homework, asked around, and watched tutorials. I went with the Cricut for so many reasons but they are both amazing machines. You cannot go wrong with either one.

Cricut Explore Air 2. I find it is more user friendly when it comes to the design space. It is quite and I was able to make my first t-shirt in a breeze. I also love the color and the design of it. I am slightly obsessed now with all the things it can do. I have made roughly 15 things in one week alone.

Silhouette Cameo 4. I think the design studio is my more for graphic designers. It seems very complicated but if you are tech savvy this is your machine. I get frustrated easily and so I wanted my first experience to be positive so I went with the cricut. I do love how the silhouette allows you to design your own SVG but you have to pay $50 or more for the design studio and even more if you want the business package. I can see where this pays of in the long run because when you purchase your SVG for the cricut it can add up.

Step 1. So back to the Cricut Explore Air 2. How to set it up and unbox it? If you already have one and it is set up for you great. The new one has blue tooth and so you can work on it without plugging it into your computer but only if your computer or laptop or ipad has blue tooth capabilities. No worries if not just plug the cricut into you computer and connect the two. You will need to install the cricut design space app onto your desktop and it will show you a step by step process to do this. It was fairly easy.

Step 2. Decide on what you want to make. This will depend on what material you have? No worries, I will give you a list of things you need to start with that I wish I had as a beginner so that I did have to take multiple trips back and forth to the craft store like I did. It is also overwhelming if you have no clue where to start or what to buy.


Siser brand is apparently is the best HTV vinyl for making T-shirts and so many other things.

Vinyl: There are so many different types of vinyl. The first two I would start with if you want to make t-shirts and signs and make labels would be the Adehesive Vinyl and the HTV vinyl. The crazy thing about the vinyl too is it comes in so many different colors. I love the glitter vinyl and again you can go to your local craft store or order if from amazon. The Orcal 651 brand is also really good from what I researched.

Heat Press. Cricut Press. Iron. Another thing you may want to purchase is a heating press. I am currently using my iron but if I start making a lot of shirts I will probably go ahead and purchase a heating press or the Cricut Easy Press 2. I heard they are amazing and make your shirt making process a lot more efficient. You do not need this right away. An iron works fine too.

Cardstock. If you want to make beautiful cards and things you will need cardstock and cricut pens. These things should come in your bundle. You can make so many 3d shapes and designs using cardstock.

Faux Leather. This is probably my favorite designs yet using faux leather ribbon. Again, amazon for the win. Hobby Lobby also has some pretty prints of faux leather. You can make bows, earrings, little moccasins. I am obsessed with this material and all the things it can make. I cannot wait to make more things. I will be writing more details about this process next.

Subscribe to Mamma-Tribe to print this list of where you can get all the free SVG files.

Step 3. Find an SVG file and upload it to cricut design space. For example, I want to make a shirt that says America. You can make your own or find an SVG file. There are 30 websites that you can find these files for free. Some people also upload PNG or JPG and clean the pictures up and use those images as well. Remember if you are using certain Vinyl like HTV you always mirror the image. You can also go to dafonts and upload some fun fonts and use to make your welcome home signs and other things. However, if you are using adhesive vynl and just want to make labels you don’t mirror and shiny side is turned up. Trial and error.

Step 4: Resize your image, change the color, click select all at the top, attach it at the bottom, and then click MAKE IT. I would start with one color once you get into layering of colors it gets a little more technical. I started with two color shirt and had to figure that out pretty fast. If you have questions about that part comment below or email me. I will be writing another post about that process next.

Step 5: Make it. After you click make it, make sure you mirror your image and ta da. Load your material and vinyl into the machine. Make sure your vinyl is shiny side down on your mat that came with your machine!!! I messed up once on this part and vinyl is not cheap so get it right! Oh and don’t forget to take the clear paper off your mat. The Click”C” for go. The computer will walk you through this as well.

Step 6: Weed your vinyl. I would also buy a weeding tool. This should come in your bundle. After you weed your vinyl it is ready to iron on the t-shirt. I used an old pillow case to cover the shirt and vinyl with, you can also use parchment paper. Hold your iron down for 20 seconds over the vinyl and slow take away the contact paper and wa la. Make sure your iron setting is on cotton. You should have a beautiful new shirt or sign whatever you decided to make! If you are making a sign you will need contact transfer paper. I had to go back for this. Grab it with everything else. It will come in handy right away!!

Weeding Tool

I hope this helps you get on the Cricut train. I am so in love. Follow me on Facebook at Mamma-Tribe for more cricut inspiration or subsribe to Mamma-Tribe for weekly emails. I would love to stay connected with you as you go on your cricut journey. I will be providing a lot more resources on how to make different things, what vinyl is best, what mats to use and much more!!! What has been your favorite project?

What are your thoughts?