Yes. You can cut fabric with your Cricut. No. It won't make your machine blow up. But yes, there are some tricks that make it a little easier. So after cutting many a lettering kits I thought I'd share how I cut fabric with the Cricut.
I've owned my Cricut for almost three years and I love it. I purchased it on Black Friday from Walmart.com. About 95% of what I cut with my Cricut is fabric. The Cricut cuts fabric wonderfully and I thought I'd share my technique if anyone out there is attempting this. (I am sure the method is very similar for the Silhouette. Just make sure you use the appropriate fusible webbing that Silhouette recommends.)
- Heat n' Bond Ultrahold (red package) I'm not affiliated with Heat n' Bond, or Cricut for that matter, neither know I exist. Heat n' Bond is the brand that has given me the best results. You don't need to sew with this fusible webbing. Don't use Heat n' Bond Lite (purple package) with the Cricut. I just haven't had good luck with the Lite when cutting with the Cricut. However, it is still a great product if you need a sewable or light-weight fusible webbing.
- You can buy Heat n Bond in 1 yard packs or 5 yard packs.
I usually buy my Heat n' Bond at JoAnn's when the notions are 50% off or BOGO. That way it is only about $5.00 each instead of $10.00 each for a 5 yard roll. Edit 2/2014: JoAnn's no longer offers Heat n' Bond in the 5 yard packs. However, you can get the 5 yard packs at Walmart in the sewing section for about $7.99 or $8.99.
- Fabric - the amount you need depends on your project. For this project I used 1/2 yard cuts of fabric.
- I haven't had the best results when I use CHEAP CHEAP fabric, think the FQs at JoAnn's. I've had great results with the stripes, polka dots, and vine fabrics from JoAnn's Keepsake Calicos. (see the title picture above for examples) Designer fabric cuts perfectly.
- A new blade or one that has NOT been used to cut paper. I mark the blades I use for fabric with a Sharpie marker. I don't have the Deep Blade Housing for my Cricut. I just use the regular blade housing that came with my Cricut. However, I've only cut cotton fabrics. If you are cutting thicker fabric, then you probably want to get the Deep Blade Housing. Edit 2/2014: I have since purchased the Deep Blade Housing for another project and tried it on fabric just for fun. It works great! If you are having troubles getting a clean cut with the regular blade/housing this could solve your problem. Again, I've had great luck with the regular blade, I made a gazillion lettering kits with it, and just mention as an option. Try eBay for the Deep Blade Housing. I got an awesome deal that included the housing and several blades for about $20.00 including shipping. (The Deep Blade Housing runs about $24.99 at Hobby Lobby.)
- Iron - I bought a cheap iron from Walmart that I use for projects that use fusible webbing/interfacing. This is totally optional, but I ruined the nice iron we got as a wedding gift from such projects, so I just paid $7 bucks for a cheapo one and use it for my sticky projects.
When cutting fabric with my Cricut, I only prewash my fabric if I am going to wash the finished product. If you prewash your fabric, don't dry with fabric softener. After washing, iron with heavy starch. You want your fabric to be as crisp and smooth as possible. The starch helps bring back some of that sheen and smoothness you get with not washed fabric. You don't need to make the fabric super stiff, so just a little is fine.
1. Press your fabric well, very well. You don't want wrinkles or creases at all. Use water or steam to get all wrinkles and creases out.
4. Flip over the fabric to the right side and press well. The webbing has to be fully-adhered to the fabric or you will not get a good cut.
Finished sheets after trimming.
6. Again, I like making sure the webbing is fully adhered, especially around the edges. So I just quickly go around the edges with the iron after I've trimmed down my sheets.
7. Now you are ready to cut! I like to prepare all my fabric at once if I am doing a big project, like the lettering kits. So if it has been a few days since adhering the webbing, I will quickly give the sheet a quick iron before placing it on the mat. Totally optional, but it just makes me feel better. Place the sheet on the mat and smooth well with your hands. Cut as desired! I set my pressure to high, blade depth to 5, and speed to slow. You may want to practice on a scrap of fabric with webbing just to see what works best with your fabric and machine.
8. If you are cutting small and intricate shapes/letters there may be a few places where a thread of fabric is holding shape/letter onto the sheet of fabric. Most of the time I can just give the shape/letter a tug and it comes right off the sheet of fabric. Sometimes though, I have to get out my little applique scissors and trim a thread or two. I only have this happen with SMALL letters/shapes. I've NEVER had this happen with larger shapes. Larger shapes separate from the sheet of fabric just like when you are cutting paper.
9. Adhere your letters/shapes to your project following the package directions. If I am adhering to felt, I always use a pressing cloth between the project and my iron. This is because you use a higher temp on your iron to adhere the letter then you would want to use with felt. And yes, felt can and DOES melt...I know from experience. Again, you don't need to sew to reinforce this type of fusible webbing. (That is from the manufacturer, not me.) I've heard you can gum up your needle if you do, my mother's experience. I did try it on my machine and it sewed fine but it isn't something I do regularly. Therefore, I am not going to give you the go to try it on your nice sewing machine.
Hope this helps anyone out there attempting to cut fabric with your Cricut. It really opens up so many possibilities for fabric!