Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thrifty Cricut

So I wasn't going to get a cricut machine because of the continuous cost, but after I found this post it might be worth it!
Thrifty ways to save BIG with your Cricut Machine

I think the vinyl tip is really helpful! I was trying to figure out where to get it!

I have had so many questions, comments, and e-mails lately about the cricut....I thought a nice little post was in order! So many people are afraid of their machine and don't know where to start. Others are considering buying one, but worry about the added cost of supplies. Guess what? I felt exactly the same way when I first got mine. It totally intimidated me. So today I'm gonna hold your hand and walk you through the scary parts. And I'll share with you some helpful tips I've learned along the way. So.....let's get started!

First of all, don't be afraid of it...embrace it. The possibilities are endless and they're just waiting for you to figure them out. Literally, every single time I sit down to use my cricut I find out something I didn't know before. There is a wealth of knowledge to be gained through trial and error. Another thing that bothers people about the cricut is all the added costs. This is where they really get out! The cricut can easily nickle and dime you to death.....don't let it. I'm here to tell you that there are creative ways to get around buying all those expensive cartridges and constantly replacing those sticky mats.

Frugal tip #1...the best advice I can give you is to buy the Sure Cuts A Lot (SCAL) software. For an initial investment of about $75, you will be afforded the luxury of never having to buy another cartridge again. Each cricut cartridge will run you anywhere from $40 - $90. SCAL will allow you to hook your cricut up to your computer and use any true type font, dingbat, or wingding you already have. There are tons of websites out there that offer free downloadable fonts (google it). Another thing I love about it is that you can design your own stuff right there on the computer monitor. It shows the mat with the dimensions and everything. What you see on your computer screen is exactly what gets cut. You can move your image anywhere on the mat, resize it, weld it to another image, just about anything.....pure awesomeness. Ladies, let me tell you.....this software is invaluable and will save you hundreds of dollars! I seriously cannot say enough about it. I LOVE it. It is easy and very straight forward. And if I can do it....anybody can.

Ok, let's talk vinyl. I know y'all loooooove the vinyl. It is actually my absolute favorite thing to do with my cricut. I was so intimidated at first, like many of you. I started out watching some YouTube videos on cutting vinyl, and I was good to go. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Again, don't be afraid of it....embrace it. You'll never learn if you never try, right? Frugal tip #2 is to buy your vinyl somewhere other than the craft store. They only have a few colors, you barely get any, and it's $10 a roll. I buy all of my vinyl at our local sign shop. They sell it by the yard (24" x 36") for about $6. I think that's a great deal, especially since I can pretty much get any color I want. They have tons and tons of colors to choose from and to top it off, it's excellent quality. I had one reader tell me that her local shop actually gives her their scraps of vinyl. Most of us are likely not that lucky, but it never hurts to ask, right? I have established a friendly relationship with the staff at my local place. They joke when they see me coming that it's "the cricut lady" again, and that I'm going to put them out of business. Actually most of their customers who buy vinyl by the yard are cricut owners....word is spreading fast!

This is just a sample of some of the things I've cut out in vinyl with my cricut and the SCAL software. The birdcage font I paid 99 cents for....LOVE. I'm working on a cute canvas door hanger for my sister that I'll show you in a day or two.

Cutting Vinyl 101

I usually cut a piece of vinyl off the roll, close to the size I want my image to be. I hate waste. I set my pressure to medium, my blade depth to 5, and my speed on max. You want the blade to cut through the vinyl, but not the paper backing. After your image is cut, you'll need to peel away the excess vinyl. This includes the outside edges, the middle, even those tiny bits and pieces in between each cut....see above. When you're all done picking it'll have a beautiful vinyl image ready to play with.

Next you will need to use a transfer paper or tape to lift the image off the paper backing. Frugal tip #3.....use contact paper. I cut off a piece the size I need and I reuse it over and over and over again. I bought a $3 roll of the stuff about 6 months ago and I am just now running out. The roll they sell at the craft store is even smaller than the roll of vinyl they sell, and it's also about $10.

Once you have your transfer paper cut, peel it off the paper backing and lay it on top of the image...sticky side down. Now run your fingernail, a scoring tool, a credit card,or a pampered chef scraper (perfect for this) over the image with some pressure. As you peel the transfer paper away, the image should peel right up with it. If some of the vinyl is not pulling up, simply lay the transfer paper back down and rub harder. That should do it.

Now you're ready for the fun part. You can stick vinyl to pretty much, walls, painted wood, unpainted wood, notebooks, canvas, frames, plates...just about anything. Paneling and textured surfaces are tricky, but can be done.

For demonstration purposes I chose to put this image directly onto the glass of a frame. Lay your transfer paper, sticky side down. Be sure and score it like I said before with your fingernail or other tool. You want it to be stuck down pretty good before you start peeling the transfer paper away. As you peel, rock it back and forth, and peel it back onto itself.

My cute little impromptu frame for spring. Now that I'm looking at it, I guess I should have laid the bird down first. He should be behind the bars of the birdcage, not in front. Oh well, live and learn, right?

Frugal tip #4.....repurpose your unsticky cutting mat and make it sticky again. I shared this tip with y'all back in February and got a huge response from that one simple trick. You can read about how to do that here. It is so simple and it works like an absolute dream. It will seriously make your old worn out mats as good as new!

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