Monday, March 8, 2010
So there is a LOT to cover when it comes to cutting vinyl with your Cricut. I was having a hard time deciding exactly where to start. First, you need a machine to cut the vinyl with, any of the Cricut machines will work, even the personal cutter. You may have limitations with the size of vinyl you can cut based on which machine you have but most of the time even the smallest one will do the job of cutting simple things like letters.
If you want to be able to cut shapes or letters, besides what is on your Cricut cartridges, you also need to have one of the programs to do that. The two I know of are Sure Cuts a Lot and Make the Cut. I have played around a tiny bit with Sure Cuts a Lot, which seems to be a pretty good program. I have also played around alot with Make the Cut. I really like Make the Cut. It seems just a little easier to use. You can purchase either of these online by searching for the programs or ebay or another similar site. The coolest thing about these programs is that you can use ANY true type font you have on your computer and cut it out. So you wouldn't need to have a ton of Cricut cartridges. You could just use all of the fonts you already have! There are also a TON of freebie font sites that you can download other fonts from too. A few of my favorites are Da Font, ScrapVillage, Two Peas, and Kevin and Amanda. These sites alone will probably give you more fonts than you could EVER use!! It is easy to download fonts on your computer. I could give you a big step by step tutorial on how to do that, but over at Kevin and Amanda, they have an AwEsOmE one already. So I will just leave it up to the experts to teach you that.
If you are having a hard time deciding between the two programs, it is probably because they are both great. I don't think you could go wrong with either one. I do know that with Sure Cuts a Lot, in order to get jpeg images into a svg file (which is the type of file you need for your program/Cricut to cut) you will also need to download a free program online called Inkscape. Make the Cut has a built in feature that allows the program to automatically convert the jpeg image into a workable svg file type. All of that probably sounds like mumbo jumbo, so basically just know that if you want to use any jpeg file and cut that shape, you might need to download Inkscape too. It is an easy program to mess around with. I had never seen anything on it and was able to figure it out pretty quickly. But here is a very easy to follow tutorial I just found online if you need a little help on how to use it.
Don't forget that there are a ton of You Tube videos on how to use the software as well as forums where people have posted questions or comments on how to use the software. There are also a TON of blogs that people have shown how to use both programs. I think it is a trial and error type of thing where you just need to get your hands on it and mess around til you can figure it all out.
Now, if you have bought one of the programs mentioned above for the Cricut and you want to hook your Cricut up to the computer, you are going to need to do a couple of things. First, you need to update the firmware on your Cricut. You can do this by downloading a free trial version of Cricut design studio. It will help you download the newest firmware for the type of Cricut you have. If you have further questions on how to do this, there are You Tube videos out there for this as well. It is really pretty simple though.
Once you have the Cricut firmware updated, you now need to use a USB cable to hook up your Cricut to your computer. The first time you do this, your computer will probably try to download drivers for the Cricut. This is just computer speak for the way the Cricut communicates with the computer. If you are having trouble with this, don't despair. Mine didn't find them on its own either. I used this website to help me download them manually. She also has a few instructions on how to do the firmware too if you still need more help with that. And she has a page where she compares Sure Cuts a Lot and Make the Cut although, it looks a little outdated because I know that Make the Cut has already come out with quite a few more features than what she shows.
Once you have the software ready to go on your computer, the firmware of the Cricut updated, and the drivers to your Cricut on your computer, you are ready to start creating!! In the next Cricut Vinyl tutorial, I will tell you more about where to buy vinyl and transfer tape as well as show you how it works. If you have any more questions you would like answered relating to the software or other questions you would like to see in future tutorials, please leave me a comment or email me. I hope this helps!!