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As the creator of a Cricut craft group, I often get asked for advice by friends or group members on which Cricut is the best for t-shirts. Whether you want to make personalized t-shirts for fun or want to start a t shirt business with Cricut, this blog will walk you through everything you need to know!
Let's do a quick review of each machine:
There are three models of vinyl cutting machine for t shirts you should consider. Let's talk about what each machine does, how it will work for you, and pricing. That way you can make the best decision on what Cricut machine to buy!
The Cricut Joy is the latest Cricut machine, released in 2020! The biggest question I hear about the Cricut Joy is "Can you make shirts with Cricut Joy?" Yes, you can! The Joy was developed as the smallest Cricut machine, which makes it perfect to carry with you on trips or to use for crafting in small spaces.
What makes it different? The Cricut Joy not only is tiny and portable, you can also use Cricut Smart Materials to cut easily without a mat or cutting the materials down to size! (This is such a lifesaver for quick projects!) The Joy works with 50 of the most common materials that you'd want to use, all in the project size that most people use for small projects. It can cut 4.25" x 4 ft sections of Smart Materials, or in a repeating pattern up to 20 ft in length!
The Cricut Explore Air 2 is the workhorse in the Cricut craft machine lineup. The Explore Air 2 writes, draws, and cuts over 100 materials. Since it is a larger machine, it has the ability to cut shirt decals up to 11.25" x 11.25" on the mat. Just for reference, adult shirts use decals easily made in that size. The Explore Air 2 also has a 2x cutting speed option, the ability to use cartridges from older machines, and it's at a very reasonable price.
The Explore Air 2 is my recommendation if you're on a budget and want a Cricut machine for shirts and personalized home decor! It's the best t shirt machine if you are on a budget! I love using this one to create a custom vinyl t shirt for family members on holidays.
The Cricut Maker is a full-size cutting machine. Similar to the Explore Air 2, it can cut vinyl and card stock. However, consider it a heavy-duty machine with TONS more options! The Cricut Maker cutting machine can draw, write, and it cuts over 300 materials. Cricut developed an advanced tool system that allows the Maker to use interchangeable tools to expand the capabilities, including scoring, engraving, debossing, creating tear-away pages, cutting thick materials, and cutting thin materials like fabric.
While the Cricut Maker is the most expensive machine, it has so many possibilities that make it well-worth the investment! The Maker is the best machine to make shirts and get upgraded features, such as greater force pressure for detailed cuts, ease of use with no knobs, the ability to charge a phone or tablet, and more storage.
Which machine is right for me?
Let's take a quick quiz to decide which Cricut for shirts! Yes or No to the following questions:
If you answered YES to any questions 1-3, consider the Cricut Joy.
The Joy is handy for small spaces, creating fun Cricut ideas for children, and you can organize your home with the Cricut Joy. Since you can take the Joy with you traveling or just from room to room, it's ideal for small projects like labeling things around your home. It's also very easy to use, making it perfect for crafting with kids.
There are some limits to the Cricut Joy for making t-shirts. Since the Joy cuts in a 4.25" x 4' section, you may find it more challenging to make adult-sized shirts. For smaller projects, such as kid's shirts, hats, shoes, tote bags, or pillows, it's the perfect size. On adult shirts, you will probably have to create the design in sections. If you're going to be making mostly adult shirts and not using the other features of the Joy, then I would suggest either the Explore Air 2 or the Maker.
If you answered Yes to questions in 4-5, consider the Cricut Explore Air 2.
The Cricut Explore Air 2 is a full-sized machine and has most of the options you will love for making t-shirts. The Explore Air 2 uses a 12"x12" mat with a cutting space of 11.25" for designs. This makes it ideal for creating shirts from child-size all the way to adult-size shirts. If you're crafting budget is tight, it will give you the most options for a great price point!
I also recommend the Explore Air 2 for small business owners just getting started. The Cricut Explore Air 2 is a tried-and-true workhorse. As the oldest machine in the lineup here, it's been extensively tested by other small business owners, and it lasts! If you're mostly interested in crafting with card stock, vinyl, and iron-on, the Explore Air 2 is a great machine for you! I recommend it the most because it's perfect for creating home decor, shirts, signs, and paper crafts at a very reasonable price point.
If you answered Yes to questions 6-7, consider the Cricut Maker.
The Explore Air 2 and the Maker do have some overlapping abilities because the Maker can cut everything the Explore Air 2 can and more. If you like to experiment with crafting and try lots of materials, the Maker is perfect for you! The Cricut Maker can draw, write, and cut with over 300 materials. It also has interchangeable tools that expand the uses for the machine, which is amazing if you like to try new crafting projects!
If you like to sew or quilt, the Maker is also the only machine in the group that can cut fabric without interfacing. The range of tool options also give you flexibility for paper crafting, engraving on materials like metal or acrylic, and cutting heavier materials like chipboard. While the Maker is a higher price point, the expanded range of options makes it wonderful if you want to try all the crafts, including t-shirts.
What were your answers for the quiz? Are you excited to get started crafting? Leave a comment below!
Also, check out the blog for tutorials and Cricut DIY ideas!
Hi! I'm Ashley, a Cricut Product Expert, and