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.

Cricut Maker vs. Explore Air 2. A comparison post showing the similarities and differences between the Maker and Explore Air 2. #laurascraftylife #Cricut #Cricutmade #ad

** 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 Maker

Cricut Maker machine

Cricut Explore Air 2

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

* 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.

Use Cricut knife blade to cut chipboard

Cricut Double Scoring Wheel

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.

Cricut Maker vs. Cricut Explore Air 2

Still have questions? These posts will help:

Cricut Maker to Make American Girl Doll Clothes


Supplies needed to make doll clothes with Cricut Maker

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.

Projects in design panel - Cricut Design Space

Scroll through the categories list to Sewing or Simplicity. (There are a few other categories that include sewing projects, as well!)

Search sewing in Categories

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.

Search Simplicity srcset= 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.

Simplicity Long Sleeve Doll Top Cricut Design Space

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.

Print PDF assembly instructions for Simplicity pattern

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.

Printed patterns for Cricut Maker doll clothes

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. 

Mat preview for doll top

Use the brayer to make sure the fabric adheres well to the mat.

Use brayer to smooth fabric on 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.

Settings to cut doll clothes fabric on Design Space

Cricut Maker to cut pattern for sewing

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.

Pattern pieces cut with Cricut Maker

Use spatula to remove fabric from mat

Helpful tips for the pink FabricGrip mat:

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. 

Sew American Girl doll clothes

Finished American Girl doll shirt made with Cricut Maker

I used the small EasyPress 2 for pressing all my seams and ironing on the glitter flower I cut using the Maker.

Use small Easypress 2 in place of iron

The entire process is similar for completing the doll pants.

Simplicity Doll Pants Cricut Design Space

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.

Rinse clothes in water to remove washable marker

My daughter loves having new clothes for her doll, and I don’t mind sewing them as much anymore!

Use Cricut Maker to make doll clothes for American Girl doll

Long Sleeve Doll Top made with Cricut Maker

Doll pants made with Cricut Maker

Make an outfit for an American Girl doll using the Cricut Maker

Cricut Maker vs. Cricut Explore Air 2 comparison

You may also like:

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *