I know that reducing waste is a really important issue in a lot of our lives. And a while ago I was asked about ways I reduce waste when using my Cricut, so I thought I would put together a quick blog post sharing five ways to reduce waste while crafting with one. By all means, this isn’t an exhaustive list and won’t suit every project. As well as reducing physical waste, hopefully these tips will also help your materials go that little bit further (especially with the cost of things these days!)
So let’s get into it.
Five ways to reduce waste when using your Cricut
Tip 1: Positioning shapes
This is one of the most important steps! When you click “make” the Design space software will automatically sort your shapes onto mats ready to cutting. But almost 100% time I can re-position the shapes to fit more onto one mat or use the material I have more economically.
Here is an example where I want to cut three of these bags. Design Space sorted these into two mats. All that wasted space along the side!
And my repositioned shapes:
See how I rotate them to fit on one mat? All three on one mat!
You’ll need to leave a small gap between shapes-the software will automatically detect if there’s any overlap (turning the shapes yellow and stopping you from being able to take the next step).
If you’re cutting multiple mats of the same colour, you might find that you can actually fit more shapes onto a single mat- saving you time and materials.
P.s. You can move shapes by clicking on them and selecting ‘move object’ and then selecting the mat you want to move it to. See steps below.
Tip 2: Ungroup to smaller shapes
Ok, so this might not work for really fine detailed projects. But if you have a bigger design that’s made up of lots of smaller shapes think about ungrouping them so you can do tip no.1 and reposition them more space efficiently. Again, this won’t work so well if you want to get the Cricut to cut everything in the right position/alignment e.g. text but I do use this method a lot. This works especially well if you want to create a larger image with the Joy machine but it’s too big to cut as-is.
On the practical side, sometimes it’s as easy as ungrouping (or un-attaching) an image. But sometimes it’s a bit more fiddly and includes duplicating and ‘hiding contours’. This design would have been too big for the Joy originally, but after breaking it down to it’s individual elements, voila! I can cut on the Joy, on a single mat and reposition the shapes once I’ve weeded them.
Here I’ve had to duplicate the original design and hide elements so that I can get all the shapes individually.
Tip 3: Add a box around your design
We’ve all seen those videos of people weeding a small design and peeling away whole sheets of vinyl. I cringe every time. Simple ways of avoiding that faux pas is to simply grab a pair of scissors and cut around your design before weeding a much smaller piece. The downside to this method is you end up with sheets with squiggly bits cut out of them. Not really a big deal for me (see tip 5!) but it doesn’t really work with Smart vinyls because you need the backing sheet intact to feed through the machine. Again this won’t work with every project (e.g. finer details) but so far so good for me… but you can add a square/rectangle to cut around your design. Be sure to attach it so it stays around the design.
You can then either weed away the rectangle and then apply transfer tape to the top of the design or apply the transfer tape to the whole rectangle and reverse weed your design. But this way you get to weed just the are you need, whilst still keeping the backing in tact.
Tip 4: Scraps envelope
Ok, so I may a bit of a hoarder but honestly- if my scrap is a half decent size I keep hold of it. These can be from offcuts from tip 3 or just smaller remnants, each one goes into an envelope/drawer/box. I try and keep them sorted e.g. card stock in one, vinyl in another, iron on etc. It’s so handy because sometimes you just need a small amount of a specific colour. Black and white are always great to have for things like eyes or letters, and often small details need them. So many times I’ve been about to make a project and found just what I want in my scraps envelope!
Tip 5: Snap Mat
This is less of a new tip and more highlighting an awesome feature already built into Design Space. If you haven’t used this yet, it’s an absolute must. The Snap Mat feature allows you to take a photo of your mat and use this as the background for positioning your shapes.
This means that if you have a bunch of scraps (see tip 4) in all shapes and sizes you can pop them on your mat and see which shapes will fit where. It’s pretty accurate and I’m always surprised by how much I can cut/fit into random bits of cardstock/vinyl.
An extra time saver tip is that you can pop different coloured materials on the same mat (I like to go for the four corners) and use this function to help me position the shapes to the right colour. This also means less loading and unloading for cutting designs. Win-win all around.
Of course there is still going to be some wastage- much like most crafts- but hopefully these 5 tips will help you trying a reduce some of the waste when your getting crafty with your Cricut. As I said, they might not work for every project and in some projects you might find things take a little longer or require a bit more work on your side- but overall I find these have worked for me and the compromise is worth it.
Hope you found that helpful. And do share any other tips if you have them!