3 Best Cricuts for Quilting and Cutting Fabric
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I love my Cricut and its versatility as a sewing and quilting companion and a vinyl, iron-on, and so-many-other-things cutter.
Besides my sewing and embroidery machine, my Cricut may be my favorite item in my crafting room, and it’s survived hundreds of hours of craft use.
But for those new to the Cricut universe, how do you know which will best serve your crafty needs?
Well, I can help!
If you’re looking for a Cricut fabric cutter, keep reading to learn which Cricut is best for quilting and cutting fabric. Plus, why I recommend these machines.
Best Cricut for Quilting and Fabric Cutting
Choosing the best Cricut machine for fabric depends on your plans for your Cricut.
Do you want it to cut fabric for quilt squares and applique or just create free-motion quilting stencils?
What about doing other crafty things like engraving, debossing, or cutting thicker materials like balsa wood?
How often do you quilt? Will a slower cutting speed really make much of a difference if you only make a few quilts a year?
These are all questions to keep in mind as you read through these reviews and explanations of features.
And, before starting, if you’re still not sold on purchasing a Cricut yet, here are some helpful posts I’ve written to help make your decision: 7 ways to quilt with the Cricut Maker and 5 ways to embroider using the Cricut Maker.
Now, onto the machines!
1. Cricut Maker 3
The Cricut Maker 3 is the newest Cricut cutting machine and the updated version of the original Cricut Maker.
It’s better than the original Cricut Maker but also more expensive for those added functions. (Although, if you start a Cricut Access subscription, you get 10% off machine and accessories purchases!)
The big difference between the Maker 3 and the original Maker that will appeal to quilters most is the 2x increased cutting speed on the Maker 3. For large king-size quilts with many small fabric pieces, this can cut HOURS off the cutting process.
Also, in terms of differences, for select Cricut Smart Materials, the Maker 3 allows you to cut without the cutting mat required for all Cricut Maker cuts. And, if you purchase the Cricut Maker 3 Roll Holder, you can cut material up to 12 feet long.
One caveat for fabric lovers, though, is fabric is not considered a Smart Material and still requires a mat. Thus, the maximum size limit for the Maker and Maker 3 when it comes to fabric is slightly less than 12″x24″, which is the size of the largest Cricut fabric mat.
All you need to start cutting is the Cricut rotary cutting blade (included with purchase) and pink FabricGrip cutting mat. (I recommend getting a 12″x24″ mat to make cutting go much faster!)
Simply smooth fabric down with a brayer to stick it to the mat, load the mat into your cutter, set your design, select the fabric material, and press go.
While you can cut some bonded fabrics (think quilting cotton for applique) with the fine-point blade, hands down, the best Cricut blade for fabric is the rotary blade.
- Most technologically advanced Cricut available right now and thus the best Cricut for sewing, quilting, and other fabric crafts
- Cutting speed is the fastest of Cricut machines, so more time to sew and less needed to cut fabric
- No need to bond fabric before cutting
- Is it worth the extra money over the original Cricut Maker?
- Cricut machines are more difficult to use for non-tech-savvy users. (I’ll explain more about AccuQuilt and other die-cutting machines later to see if they may better fit you.)
- Cricut Access is expensive, and the number of free Cricut quilt patterns has dwindled over the years. You usually must create your own patterns or purchase them.
2. Cricut Maker
The original Cricut Maker debuted the rotary cutting blade and is what sits in my craft room.
I’ve owned my Cricut Maker for years and can’t see a reason to upgrade to the Cricut Maker 3 yet for those few features. (Not to mention, I have a Sizzix Big Shot Plus, AccuQuilt Go!, and Brother ScanNCut to fill in crafting gaps.)
It’s my gut feeling that Cricut is trying to discontinue this electronic cutting machine, so you can currently grab it at a good discount.
Despite having a newer model, the original Cricut Maker is still an excellent fabric cutting machine, and the only way I’ll part with it is if it breaks.
Now, while I didn’t mention it in detail above, it’s important to note that Cricut machines require Cricut Design Space software to work. This program must be installed on a device like a computer or tablet.
To work Design Space, you must have basic computer knowledge. For instance, how to save and open files and a rudimentary understanding of working with images.
A Cricut machine will likely not be the best fit if you don’t own a computer or know how to use one well.
Also, as a note for finding projects. If you use Electric Quilt 8 software, you can use InkStitch to take EQ8 PDF printouts of quilts you design and convert them to .svg files to use with your Cricut fabric cutter. So cool!
- Less expensive than Cricut Maker 3 but with most of the same features
- Access to more than just fabric features with the Adaptive Tool System: use the knife blade to cut thicker materials, perforation blade to perforate, engraving blade to engrave, etc.
- Same as Cricut Maker 3: minimal access to free quilt patterns or sewing patterns and difficulty for beginners who aren’t computer-savvy.
- It doesn’t cut smart materials and is slightly slower than the new Cricut Maker 3.
3. Cricut Explore 3
If you’re on a budget and the Cricut Maker fabric cutters aren’t in your price range, the Cricut Explore 3 is also a good Cricut for quilters.
However, there are a few things to know before purchasing.
First, the Cricut Explore 3 has no rotary cutting blade, so you cannot cut cotton fabric unless it is bonded with a product like HeatnBond. To cut fabric with the Explore 3, you must use the Bonded-Fabric Tool.
This is no big deal if you only plan to cut applique fabric! However, I like to cut intricate quilt square patterns with my Cricut, and I do not like to interface or add fusible to quilting cotton.
In terms of versatility, the Cricut Explore 3 can cut 100+ materials. In contrast, the Cricut Maker 3 can cut 300+ materials like un-bonded fabric and thicker items (the compatible knife blade has 10x the cutting force.)
In addition to the knife blade, the wavy blade, debossing blade, perforation blade, engraving tool, and a few other blades that work on the Cricut Maker are incompatible with the Cricut Explore 3.
And lastly, the earlier version of this machine, the Cricut Explore Air 2, is now less expensive as it’s slowly being replaced by the Explore 3. The main differences between the two include a 2x faster cutting speed on the Explore 3 and the ability to use Smart Materials without a mat.
- More affordable than Cricut Maker 3
- There is no rotary blade, so all fabric must be bonded before cutting. Bonding is only ideal for cutting applique fabric rather than quilt pieces.
- Less versatility for other material cutting
And, as a note, there’s also the Cricut Joy, but I don’t recommend the Cricut Joy for fabric cutting.
Other Fabric Cutters to Consider
Cricut nears the top of my best fabric cutters for quilters list, but I also love my other cutters for different reasons.
For instance, I prefer using my AccuQuilt Go! (learn more in AccuQuilt vs. Cricut) for shapes I have dies for. It’s faster, simpler, and does not require electricity or a computer.
And, my AccuQuilt is instrumental in creating perfect 2.5″ fabric strips, which is impossible in such a length with my Cricut Maker.
I can also use my Sizzix Big Shot Plus with Accuquilt Go! dies, but the main scope of use for my Sizzix is cutting and embossing paper products.
Lastly, the Brother ScanNCut is an impressive machine that works with my embroidery machine.
What’s fun about the ScanNCut for fabric lovers is you can take a picture of a quilt block piece, scan it in, and have the machine cut the pieces from that scanned image.
My SDX330D also has hundreds of built-in quilt block patterns. And, you don’t have to use a computer if you work with the built-in designs and use the interface.
The downfalls of my ScanNCut are it’s difficult to find compatible products (no local major box stores carry accessories), and there are significantly fewer tutorials available plus less support.
Also, the cutting mats don’t last near as long as Cricut mats!
And that’s it! I hope you now understand which Cricuts work for quilting and how you can add them to your craft room to maximize efficiency and minimize hassle.