what is a cricut machine

Best Cricut projects: Ideas to make with your Cricut machine

We round up some of the best Cricut projects that you can make with your Cricut machine and give you two step-by-step guides to using vinyl with the Cricut Joy.

Published: December 1, 2020 at 1:19 pm

Cricut is a brand of electronic cutting machines that are fast becoming a staple for artists, small business owners and crafters all over the world. They enable anyone to cut intricate details, create vinyl stickers, make cards and personalise items to a professional standard. With different accessories or blades, you can deboss, score, engrave, cut fabric and even customise t-shirts or tote bags.

Cricut project

If you're thinking about buying a Cricut machine, check out our buyer's guide to find out which is the best Cricut machine for you. We walk you through the pros and cons of the Cricut Maker™, The Cricut Explore Air™ 2 and the Cricut Joy™, as well as offering an in-depth guide as to what you can do with each one. We also walk you through the different Cricut accessories that are available for your Cricut machine.

On the subject of Cricut accessories, if you already have, or are thinking about getting a Cricut EasyPress™, why not start with this easy project using Infusible Ink™ pens, how to use a Cricut EasyPress to decorate a coaster.

If you have a Cricut machine, don’t forget to share your makes (or machines!) on Facebook or post them on Instagram, we love to see what you've been creating!

If you want to go straight to a particular section, just click on the links below to jump straight there.

What can you make with a Cricut machine?

So what does a Cricut do? Depending on the machine, you can cut, write and score. You can even create your own t-shirt designs, tote bags and drinks coasters by using your Cricut machine with Cricut Infusible Ink™ and the Cricut EasyPress or Cricut EasyPress mini.

Neon iron on step out application

Cricut machines work with the free Cricut software, called Cricut Design Space, which is connected to your machine via Bluetooth, while the Explore Air 2 and the Cricut Maker can also connect via USB. This software tells your machine what to cut or draw and is designed for PC, Mac and iOS and Android, giving you plenty of options to access it.

The basic software is free, but there is also a paid monthly subscription which you can opt for at £7.49 per month and offers a much more comprehensive library of designs and projects. When you sign up for the first time, you get one month's subscription for free! You can also purchase images individually if you prefer with prices starting at 79 pence. There are also more than 1,000 free images, shapes and fonts to choose from.

Kitchen pantry

What are the different types of Cricut vinyl for the Cricut Joy machine?

One of the key innovations with the Cricut Joy is its compatibility with smart materials, which include an impressive range of Smart Vinyls. What is Smart Vinyl? Smart Vinyl is a special type of vinyl that auto-loads into your machine without the need for a cutting mat, virtually eliminating prep time (and is yet another reason why we recommend the Cricut Joy as the best Cricut machine for beginners). It's easy to weed and effortless to apply, so you can get on with the really important stuff of creating.

Permanent Vinyl - Smart Vinyl for the Cricut Joy

2007121-Joy Smart Vinyl Permanent-Beachside Sampler

Permanent Vinyl is the most popular type of vinyl and comes in a huge selection of colours, including 25 standard colours, 7 shimmer colours, a range of metallics and a gorgeous selection of holographic vinyl including silver sparkle, pink crystal, gold threads and art deco yellow. They're all water and UV resistant, and the permanent adhesive lasts up to three years making this Cricut vinyl ideal for outdoor projects, such as signs, decorating mailboxes or car decals.

Removable Vinyl - Smart Vinyl for the Cricut Joy

2007158-Joy Smart Vinyl Removable-Gold

Removable Vinyl, as the name suggests, peels away from surfaces without leaving a residue. It comes in 20 different colours as well as silver and gold. Cricut removable vinyl is ideal for making stencils, decorating walls, mirrors or even nail art! Or, if you want themed crockery for a special event, removable vinyl is perfect for spicing up existing items, ready to return after the big day. Laptop decals anyone?

Writable Vinyl - Smart Label for the Cricut Joy

Writable vinyl

Writable Vinyl allows you to create your own peel-and-stick labels, which you can customise using the Cricut Joy Pens and Markers. So far it only comes in white, but if you're wanting to create your own branded stickers, then this is a great option (and there are lots of options for different pen colours!).

Iron-on Vinyl - Smart Vinyl for the Cricut Joy

Neon Iron On Sleeve design

Iron-on Vinyl does exactly what the name suggests. Cut your design from this Iron-on Vinyl as normal, then apply heat to transfer your design to a t-shirt, jacket, apron, softie, backpack or tote bag. For an effortless application that will outlast more than 50 washes, use with the Cricut EasyPress, or simply use a household iron. It comes in 20 different colours as standard as well as 14 different glitter colours and 3 different holographic colours!

Transfer tape - for the Cricut Joy, Explore Air 2 and Cricut Maker

2007373-Joy Transfer Tape (1)

Okay - so this one isn't a vinyl and it doesn't go through your machine. But if you've got intricate designs or lettering (especially where the letters are separate) you are going to want this transfer tape. It comes in regular strength for matt and glossy vinyl and strong grip for glitter and shimmer vinyl. Basically, transfer tape keeps your cut-out vinyl designs in place until you transfer them to your project surface. By using this transfer tape, your designs will stay in exactly the same position as they appear on the screen. For the Joy, it comes in whopping 20ft rolls too. Nice.

Writable paper - Smart Label for the Cricut Joy

Cricut writable smart paper

This one isn't a vinyl either, but it's a must-have in your craft stash. Like the writable vinyl, with this smart writable paper, you can create your own peel-and-stick labels, and customise them using Cricut Joy Pens and Markers (or by hand!). But as a paper in the classic kraft brown, rather than a craft vinyl, it provides a completely different finish to your projects. We love this product and makes organising the home office a piece of cake.

15 Cricut projects to make at home

There are lots of Cricut projects that will get you that instant dopamine craft hit, so we've rounded up some of the best Cricut projects to make with your Cricut Joy. Which one is your favourite?


Phone case

Personalise your phone case with the Cricut Joy - Hey Let's Make Stuff

Cori at Hey Let's Make Stuff shares with us her super-easy guide to making your own bespoke phone cases using Cricut vinyl. You can pick up phone cases relatively cheaply, and they make a great project to learn how to use Cricut Design Space. Because this is a solid design, you don't need to use transfer tape with this project either.


Wooden tray

How to apply Cricut vinyl on wood

This Cricut project definitely has the wow-factor. Courteney over at Craft e Corner has upcycled this wicker tray and shows you how to use Cricut vinyl on wood in her fab step-by-step video tutorial. We love this design and the white vinyl on the wood conjures up a real country cottage chic vibe.


Wall art

How to make a Cricut wall art decal using the Cricut Joy - Extraordinary Chaos

Sarah at Extraordinary Chaos loves finding new uses for her Cricut Joy, and in this project, she shows that the small aperture needn't be a barrier to creating big designs, in this case, a 27" x 17" wall decal. She used removable vinyl for this Cricut project and transferred the individual letters by lining them up along a spirit level held to the wall. We love this, Sarah!


Mini canvas

Bee Happy mini easel using Cricut Joy - Better Life Blog

Nancy at Better Life Blog has created a detailed step-by-step guide to making this ultra-cute mini canvas. She walks you through using Design Space for desktop and shares helpful hints and tricks along the way. This is the ideal first project, as you can stand up your creation for all to admire and say, "I made that".


Candle gift

DIY gift ideas for the Cricut Joy - The Crafted Sparrow

With Christmas just around the corner, you may be thinking about giving out more personalised gifts this year. Rebecca over at The Crafted Sparrow shares her tutorial on how to make this gorgeous multi-coloured personalised candle, among other projects. Her instructions are clear and she even shows you how to create tassels with your Cricut Joy!


Party cups

Party cups using a Cricut Joy - Happiness is Homemade

This Cricut project is ideal for kids and adults alike. When social distancing allows, why not turn the creative process into part of the party itself? Guests can customise their own reusable cups, which they can take home afterwards. It's a win for wasted party products and a win for the guests! Thank you to Heidi at Happiness is Homemade for this fantastic Cricut project idea.



I'm fine t shirt made using Cricut Joy - The Idea Room

Amy over at The Idea Room has created this fantastic shirt using the Cricut Joy with the Iron-on vinyl. Even though the design features individual, slim letters, the Cricut Joy is still able to pick out all the fine detail in the fonts, making sure not to cut through any of the design. We're certainly feeling the sentiment this year, Amy.


Desk tidy

School Supplies using Cricut Joy - Brepea

Bre at Bre Pea blog has created an exciting range of back-to-school products using her Cricut Joy. She shows us just how easy the Cricut Joy is for beginners, and we just love this stylish way to organise school supplies! Bre uses Cricut's permanent Smart Vinyl in black for this project which took her around 10 minutes to complete from start to finish.


Mini flowers

Paper flowers using a Cricut Joy - Bethadilly

Bethany at bethadilly has created these sweet 3d flowers using her Cricut Joy. Quick and easy to make, they are ideal for adding embellishments to gift boxes, cards, or home decor pieces. She has a clear and easy-to-follow video tutorial, and we just love her personalised Cricut Joy!


DIY card

DIY card using Cricut Joy - Creative Ramblings Blog

Being able to whip up a card at a moment's notice is incredibly useful, and thanks to the Cricut Joy has never been easier. Sarah at Creative Ramblings used the Cricut Joy with the card mat, card blank and pink insert card. The insert cards come in ready-made packs from Cricut and have been perfectly sized to work with the Cricut Joy card mat. We love the white and pink colour combo!



Monogrammed backpack using Cricut Joy - Sew Much Ado

Abby at Sew Much Ado has created this beautiful DIY monogram backpack using Cricut's iron-on vinyl. For this Cricut project, she used the app version of Design Space and has written a step-by-step tutorial (with photographs) so that you too can make your own in less than 15 minutes.



Decorated Mailbox using Cricut Joy - My Breezy Room

Kala at My Breezy Room proves that the best Cricut projects don't need to be complicated. Her mailbox design is simple, clear and stylish (and easy for the postie to read!). She uses the iOS app and shares her creative process along with screenshots from the app itself.



DIY stencils using Cricut Joy - Club Crafted

Stuck at home? Like many of us, you might be thinking about making your home living space more comfortable by adding the DIY touch. Holly at Club Crafted has created this fantastic upcycled terracotta side table using her Cricut Joy with removable vinyl. Sponging acrylic paint through the stencils (which you can reuse multiple times), she was able to complete this very impressive Cricut project in under an hour!


Nail art

Nail art using Cricut Joy - What Abi Makes

You wouldn't necessarily think of using your Cricut machine for nail art, after all, the designs are much too small. Well, they are small, but that doesn't mean the Cricut Joy can't cut them! Abi over at What Abi Makes shares her step-by-step tutorial on how to make stunning nail art using a Cricut Joy with removable vinyl. We think this is the perfect project to use up those precious vinyl scraps!



Coasters using the Cricut Joy - But First, Joy

We love these fun coasters! Joyce has a brilliant step-by-step tutorial on her blog, But First Joy, where she guides you through the entire process of using your Cricut Joy with Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets. There's also a comprehensive video tutorial (love), and we're confident this is a comfortable Cricut project for beginners. It looks impressive, too.

Cricut project inspiration: how to personalise a mug with a Cricut machine

Can you use Cricut vinyl on mugs? Yes, you can! Making a personalised mug is a fantastic, inexpensive gift that just about anyone will enjoy. Not into hot drinks? How about a personalised water bottle instead?

Cricut mug

We recommend using the Permanent Smart Vinyl for this Cricut project as it will last longer and withstand more wear and tear.

I'm using the Cricut Joy for these tutorials, which is a great entry point for new, or up and coming artists. The machine itself is small, taking up just 8" x 8.5" footprint in your craft area when open, and 5" x 8" when closed. This makes it 75% smaller than the Cricut Maker and the Cricut Explore Air 2 and it weighs in at less than 1.8kg (that's less than 4 pounds!). It's able to both cut and draw, making it ideal for creatives who like to dabble, and perhaps do not have time to dedicate to learning an all-bells-and-whistles machine.

Cricut Mug close up

You Will Need

Step 1

Best Cricut project

This is a great beginner project that will teach you how to cut on Cricut using craft vinyl in two different colours. First, open up Design Space, and click on templates. We are going to be adding Cricut vinyl on to a mug, so select the mug template and import. The templates are just a guide and won't be cut so they are a great way to visualise how your finished project will look.

Step 2

Cricut Mug - Step 2

My mug is a different size to the template. If yours is too, at the top under the drop-down menu for size, select 'custom'. Measure the width and height of your mug and enter the measurements. Click on the padlock to unlock the aspect ratio and change the width and height independently from each other.

You can switch between cm and inches by selecting the menu icon (the three lines in the top left-hand corner) > settings > imperial/metric.

Step 3

Best Cricut project

If you like, change the colour of the template in Design Space to match the colour of your mug!

Step 4

Best Cricut project

Now comes the hardest part. Deciding what design you want on your mug. Click on the 'images' icon on the left-hand side and find one you like. I'm using #MBF604E6 (hey there, beautiful) for this project. Click 'insert images' in the bottom right-hand corner to pull that design through to your workspace.

Step 5

Best Cricut project

Drag your image into place and resize it until you're happy with how it looks on your mug. I am using two colours, but if you would prefer to make it from one colour instead, click on 'Colour Sync' in the top-right and drag one of the sections onto the other. This will tell the software that you are cutting from one piece of material instead of two.

Step 6

Best Cricut project

Click 'Make it' in the top right-hand corner. The view will change and Design Space will tell you what to prepare. I am using Smart Vinyl, so I selected 'Without Mat'. Next, select the type of vinyl you're using. I'm using the Champagne Matte Metallic colour from the Elegance Sampler, so I selected 'Matte Metallic'. Load your material into the machine and click Go.

Best Cricut project

Once complete, click unload.

Step 7

Cricut Mug - Step 7

It will automatically move onto the next part of the design, so repeat the process for the second colour vinyl. Once this second piece is cut, click 'Finish' and it will take you back to the canvas. Cut off your cut design from the rest of the roll.

Step 8

Best Cricut project

Now that you have your design in smaller, more manageable bits of vinyl, you need to weed out the parts you don't want in your final design. I am using the Cricut weeder tool to help get at the fine detail.

Cricut Mug - Step 8.2

If you don't have a weeder, you could do this using something with a sharp point (like a pokey tool), but the weeder is angled so that it can get under the teeny tiny bits of vinyl and lift them up.

Step 9

Cricut Mug - Step 9

Now to transfer your design onto your mug! To keep all the little pieces in place, I am using transfer tape. How to use Cricut Transfer Tape? It's actually very easy and Cricut Transfer Tape is an absolute must-have for projects like this. Because I'm using two colours, I decided to cut out the 'hey, there' sentiment and position on top of the 'beautiful' before adding my Transfer Tape.

Step 10

Cricut Mug - Step 10

Lay your Cricut Transfer Tape over your design and press hard using the Cricut scraper tool. The goal is to make each of the cut vinyl pieces stick to the Transfer Tape. Gently lift a corner to make sure the design has stuck.

Step 11

Cricut Mug - Step 11.1

Peel off the Transfer Tape and line up on the mug. Don't press too hard to begin with, as this will allow you to reposition if needed.

Cricut Mug - Step 11.2

Once happy with your positioning, go ahead and press firmly to stick it down.

Step 12

Cricut Mug - Step 12

Now, slowly and carefully peel off the Cricut Transfer Tape and admire your handiwork!

Cricut Mug

Here's a top tip: did you know there is a dishwasher safe version of Mod Podge? If you're worried about your creation going through the dishwasher, apply 2-3 coats of dishwasher safe Mod Podge and voila! You can bung it in the dishwasher with the rest of your dirty dishes. Otherwise, handwash your creations for best results.

Cricut mug

Cricut project inspiration: how to use Cricut vinyl to label kitchen objects

Breathe new life into kitchen canisters by turning them into statement pieces in their own right. We love this white and champagne colour combo!

Cricut Jars

You Will Need

Step 1

Best Cricut projects

In Cricut Design Space, click 'New' to bring up a blank canvas. As with the personalised mug project, navigate to 'Images' on the left-hand side. I am using #M124473E3, #M1244738F and #M124473FB. Select all of the images you want and you'll see a small thumbnail pop up in the bottom right corner. Click 'import' to import your labels onto the canvas.

Step 2

Best Cricut projects

The images will import ontop of each other, so go ahead and separate them out.

Step 3

Best Cricut projects

Measure your jars and resize your labels to fit. The Cricut Joy can cut very fine details, so zoom in if you need to get a better view by using the toggle in the bottom left corner.

Step 4

Best Cricut projects

Click 'Make it' in the top right-hand corner. Rearrange your labels if you wish. I increased the magnification so that I could get a better view. Click 'Continue' and wait for your computer to pair with the Cricut Joy via Bluetooth.

Step 5

Best Cricut projects

Select your vinyl. I'm using the Cricut Smart Vinyl in Matte Metallic (Champagne) again. Load your material into the Cricut Joy when prompted and click on 'Go'.

Step 6

Best Cricut projects

Once complete, click 'Unload' and trim off the excess.

Step 7

Cricut Jar - Step 7

Cut your labels apart, making sure not to snip into any of the design elements.

Step 8

Cricut Jar - Step 8

For each of the three labels, weed out any of the unwanted vinyl. That is - vinyl you don't want to appear on your finished product.

Step 9

Best Cricut projects

If you've completed the mug project, you'll be feeling more confident about how to use Cricut Transfer Tape. So go ahead and stick some Cricut Transfer Tape over your three labels to hold the individual letters and small details (looking at you, tiny sugar lumps!) in place. Press the Cricut Transfer tape firmly down.

Step 10

Best Cricut projects

Carefully peel off the Cricut Transfer Tape and the design should stick.

Step 11

Cricut Jar - Step 11.3

Place your labels gently onto the kitchen jars, and once you're happy with the positioning, press firmly to secure.

Step 12

Cricut Jar - Step 12

Peel off the Cricut Transfer Tape and admire your work!

Cricut Jars
Cricut Jars

Where can I buy a Cricut Joy machine?

UK customers can purchase the Cricut Joy (or ask Santa to purchase!) from lots of retailers including Hobbycraft, Amazon, John Lewis, GMCrafts, Ryman, Argos and Very. For US Customers, you can purchase the Cricut Joy from Amazon, Michaels, Joann, Walmart and of course, Cricut.com.

If you’re a Cricut Access member and shopping on Cricut.com, you can save 10% on your Cricut Joy purchase (and any other purchase).

Buy Cricut machines online from Hobbycraft

Buy Cricut machines online from John Lewis

Buy Cricut machines online from Ryman

Buy Cricut machines online from Argos

Buy Cricut machines online from Very

Buy Cricut machines online from Littlewoods

Where can I buy craft vinyl for a Cricut Joy machine?

You can purchase vinyl for your Cricut Joy machine at lots of retailers, or online. Hobbycraft and John Lewis work closely with Cricut, so these stores and websites are great choices for all the latest colours and finishes, as well as your staple buys.

Here's a pro tip: if you're stuck as to which craft vinyl to buy - we recommend purchasing the samplers. These are packs of shorter length vinyl, but you get a selection of different colours. A white and a black roll are also useful (great for adding drop shadows), and with plenty of retailers in the UK and the US, you can buy on a project-by-project basis, saving pennies and avoiding stockpiling (unless you want to, of course!).

Buy Cricut Joy Vinyl online from Hobbycraft 


Buy Cricut Vinyl online from John Lewis

Gold Iron on Pillow


Holly SpannerStaff Writer, BBC Science Focus

Holly is the staff writer at BBC Science Focus. Before joining the team she was a geoenvironmental consultant and holds an MSc in Geoscience from UCL.

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