Cricut Maker vs. Explore Air 2. A comparison post showing the similarities and differences between the Maker and Explore Air 2.
A question I get a lot from readers is which Cricut machine should I get – the Cricut Maker or Explore Air 2? It is a great question as the machines are similar and the two newest Cricut models, but they do have some striking differences.
** Scroll down to see a project I made that you can only do on the Maker machine. I created a long sleeve top and pants for my daughter’s American Girl doll. This project was made easy using ready-made Simplicity patterns available in Cricut Design Space. **
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Please read my full disclosure policy here. Thank you to Cricut for sponsoring this post and providing me with a machine and some of the materials for this project.
Cricut Maker vs. Explore Air 2
Similarities Between Cricut Maker and Explore Air 2
The Maker and the Explore Air 2 are the two newest electronic die cutting machines available from Cricut. So first, let’s talk about similarities between the two machines.
Cricut Explore Air 2
Both the Maker and the Explore Air 2:
- Are easy to use
- Cut, write, and score 100 popular craft materials
- Have Bluetooth® Wireless technology
- Use Cricut Design Space software
- Have a double tool holder
- Use Fast Mode (for writing and cutting on certain materials with particular designs)
If you mainly do projects with vinyl, iron-on, cardstock, and paper crafting either machine will work equally well for your needs.
Differences Between Cricut Maker and Explore Air 2
Now, let’s talk about what is new and different with the Cricut Maker. It is the newest machine made available by Cricut. The Maker can cut leather, fabric, paper, and balsa wood precisely and easily. You can cut sewing patterns with just a few clicks.
It is the only machine with the Adaptive Tool System™. What is so great about the tool system? It controls the direction of the blade and the cut pressure to match the material you are using. It has 10X more cutting pressure than any of the other machines so you can cut even more materials than before.
Tools for the Cricut Maker
- Fine-Point Blade
- Deep-Point Blade*
- Rotary Blade
- Knife Blade*
- Single and Double Scoring Wheel*
- Fine-Point Pen*
- Washable Fabric Pen*
- Calligraphy Pen*
* Requires additional purchase
With the rotary blade you can effortlessly cut fabric quickly, safely, and flawlessly without a backing material. The knife blade allows you to cut through dense materials up to 2.4 mm thick like balsa wood, mat board, and heavy leather. The scoring wheel tools give every crease and fold project a flawless finish with no cracks, even on heavier materials like sparkle paper and posterboard.
The Cricut Maker has a docking spot to hold your tablet or smartphone. Plus, there is an onboard USB port you can use to charge your device while you are using it with the Maker.
The other big difference is the price. The Cricut Explore Air 2 starts at $249.99 and the Cricut Maker starts at $399.99.
Which Cricut Machine Should I Get?
There are a lot of similarities between the two machines, so you really can’t go wrong with either one. However, if you plan to cut fabric, thicker materials, do a lot of scoring projects, or think you may do any of these projects in the future, I would suggest the Cricut Maker. The versatility of the machine is unbeatable. If you think you will mainly be cutting vinyl, iron-on, and cardstock, then the Cricut Explore Air 2 at the lower price point may be all you need.
Still have questions? These posts will help:
- Cricut Frequently Asked Questions
- Cricut Design Space Basics
- Is Cricut Worth the Price?
- Cricut Explore Air 2 vs. Silhouette Cameo 3
- Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Cricut Explore Comparison
Cricut Maker to Make American Girl Doll Clothes
- Cricut Maker
- FabricGrip Mat
- Simplicity Pattern – Long Sleeve Doll Shirt
- Simplicity Pattern – Doll Pants
- Washable Fabric Pen
- Sewing Machine and Coordinating Thread
- Elastic and Velcro
- EasyPress 2
Now, onto a project that was so much easier to do using my Cricut Maker. With the Explore Air 2, you can cut fabric but you have to have a stabilizer on the back. The Cricut Maker allows you to easily cut fabrics with no backing.
I don’t do a ton of sewing, but I do occasionally like to make dolls clothes for my daughter and niece, as well as things for around the house. You can see the other doll clothes I have made here. My least favorite part of sewing is pinning and cutting my fabric. This is where the Simplicity patterns and the Cricut Maker come in. Once you open Cricut Design space, you can easily search all the sewing patterns by clicking Projects in the Design Panel.
Scroll through the categories list to Sewing or Simplicity. (There are a few other categories that include sewing projects, as well!)
Then, you can type in Doll in the search bar. There are a ton of patterns available to make for both 18″ and 11.5″ dolls.
doll to find doll clothes patterns” width=”1920″ height=”896″>I started by finding the Long Sleeve Doll Top pattern. Once you click on the pattern you want to make you can click the Print icon to print out the instructions.
Then, you will want to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the instructions to download and print the PDF sewing assembly instructions.
Once you have them both printed, you can click the green Make It button. Follow the instructions for cutting and placing your fabric on the mats.
For this project you want to load your cut fabric on the mat with the right side down, so the washable fabric pen will write on the wrong side of the fabric. Click the green Continue button.
Use the brayer to make sure the fabric adheres well to the mat.
Select your fabric from the materials list. The screen shows to load the fabric pen into Clamp A and the rotary blade in Clamp B. The pen will mark some of your hems and other important placements on the fabric and then the rotary blade will cut everything out. The whole process only takes minutes! If you are making clothes for gifts, this would speed everything up so much.
Once you have your pieces cut, peel off the excess fabric from the mat first. Use the broad tip tweezers to help you grab the fabric. You can then help to prevent fraying by removing the cut pieces with the spatula tool.
Helpful tips for the pink FabricGrip mat: https://help.cricut.com/fabricgrip-mat-tips
Now, it is time to sew. The printed PDF is very similar to the sewing instructions you would find in any type of Simplicity pattern. I found it easy to follow, even as a beginning sewist.
I used the small EasyPress 2 for pressing all my seams and ironing on the glitter flower I cut using the Maker.
The entire process is similar for completing the doll pants.
Not having to pin and cut small fabric pieces was a huge time saver for me for both the shirt and the pants. Now, if I could just get the Cricut to press all my seams for me, I could possibly love sewing. Ha!
Since I normally don’t wash doll clothes in the washing machine, I was able to remove the washable marker markings on the clothes by rinsing in a sink of water. Then I tossed them in the dryer with a towel.
My daughter loves having new clothes for her doll, and I don’t mind sewing them as much anymore!
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.