Do you have to use Cricut brand materials?
Sick of paying through the nose on Cricut supplies?
Yeah, I hear you.
I go through a lot of materials to make crafts for this site. It’s not just the material cost that adds up, it’s also the equipment and the accessories that come with like blades and mats.
I know you’re technically not supposed to use non-Cricut brand accessories. It voids the warranty. But really, who’s going to find out with some of these.
So I’ve made a little list of all the generic (more importantly, cheaper) brands of materials and equipment that I like and my thoughts on it compared to the Cricut branded stuff.
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I make A LOT of intricate papercraft projects. I go through way more material than what you see in the finished good because I had to test my designs sometimes a dozen times before I get it right.
About five Cricut branded fine point blades in, I gave up and just ordered the generic stuff.
EWISWAY Blades – Nevermind the terrible name, there are just as good as the real stuff and cost a fraction of the branded ones. I’ve tried all of them. The blue and red tip ones are the most similar in terms of the blade angle but the yellow one works too. I’ve only noticed a subtle difference in cutting some brands of vinyl, I have to put it on the “less” setting but that’s a small sacrifice I’m willing to make.
The top blade is the Cricut branded one, the rest are generic brands. The red cap one is the closest in terms of a blade angle but it really doesn’t make that much of a difference.
I made a little comparison chart for everyone here. The Cricut branded blades always have a colored base where as the generic brand blades mostly just have a silver metal finish. The blades are shaved to three levels of steepness. The Standard Fine Point blade (Cricut brand is the white cap) is equivalent to the Red cap off brand blade.
Amazon Cricut Mats
This is where I really save money. These off brand Cricut mats are cheap but just as effective. Some of them are branded to target other cutting machines but they seem to have all converged on the standard 12×12 inch material size for the mats work across all the latest cutting machines in market today.
Yes, you can wash your mats but I like to use the Light Grip mat a lot because it is so much easier to clean up. It’s already not super sticky so washing it doesn’t help much. If you’re set on washing your mat, I have a separate tutorial on how to most effectively clean your mat.
Also, something happened with the recent batches of Cricut Standard Grip mats. They are super sticky and peel off with some materials. I just stopped buying them altogether.
Nicapa – This is my favorite brand of generics. They smell a little but I just put it by a window for a day and it’s fine. I dare say I might like it better than the Cricut branded ones. I might be imagining it since I’m saving so much!
Monicut – This one is just as good but I find it smells even worse.
There’s some reviews on Amazon that talk about how the size of the mat is wrong. I have no had issues with this.
Best Cardstock for the Cricut
I’ve never bothered with the Cricut branded paper. I find there’s plenty of other cardstock brands that have a better color selection. Here are some of my favorites:
- Assorted Starter Pack – Basic assorted colors, great starter pack, perfect weight for most papercraft projects
- Cricut Joy Insert Card Packs – You don’t have to use these with the Cricut Joy, they are nice material kids for cardmaking.
- Cardstock Warehouse Brand on Amazon – I love the quality of all the matte-colored cardstock with Cardstock Warehouse. It is my go-to brand for individual matte colors that I might need
- Poptone Assorted Variety Pack – This is the perfect peppy assortment of colors of heavy cardstock. It’s a heavy cardstock assortment with colors I actually use frequently for cardmaking.
- Seasonal Assorted Variety Pack – This is a slight variation on the Poptone assortment and has a quite few neutrals that complement almost any accent color.
- Stardream Metallics Line – For paper crafts, the Stardream line is the go-to for a metallic shimmer finish. It is the perfect sheen to make any project pop. The core is also colored is which hard to find for metallic paper.
can you use any vinyl with the cricut?
For vinyl, I found the Cricut branded stuff cuts most precisely with the Cricut machine. (big surprise!) It is also the easiest to weed partly because the cut not too deep but always cuts through.
Oracle 651 – I find this is probably the closest for adhesive vinyl. My only advice here is to use the light grip mat because the backing sticks too much to the Standard grip mat.
EZ Crafts – I have to mention this one because of the price. I have to warn you, the standard vinyl cutting setting is a little deep so it’s not perfect. I just put it on “less” and deal with a few trouble spots. Again, use the Light Grip Mat.
HTV, glitter, metallic – The rest of the varietals are a mixed bag in performance and no notable winners. I’ll be honest, I don’t use a lot of glitter. It gets everywhere, terrible to clean up and I’m terrified it’ll get into my kid’s eyes and cause permanent damage. (more common than you think!)
Other Cricut Craft Tools and Accessories
I don’t have any of the dedicated tools. I just use my cast iron pan scraper and tweezers. A credit card works too.
- Spatula Set – The spatula out of all the Cricut brand tools is the only one I actually like. Unfortunately, it only comes in a set with the scraper. The scraper is nice too but it is no different than other branded and non-branded scrapers. I mostly use this spatula to scrape stuff off the mat and peel vinyl.
- Weeding Tools – I’ve tried all the Cricut weeding tools and find them a little clumsy. The balance is off or something. I actually find the Tweezerman Point tweezers to be the best at weeding and just an all-around general tool for everything. Some people like to put a needle in a mechanical pencil which is not bad but that only gets the peeling started. The Tweezerman Point tweezers have a sharp enough point to start the peel but then they are tweezers so you can pick as well.
- Scraps collector – people like this ring for collecting scraps.
A Few Cricut Branded Materials and Accessories Worth Splurging on
Rotary Blade – The Maker is not necessary but it really opens up a lot of materials mostly because while you can cut a lot with the Explorer, it doesn’t cut well or it ruins the mat. I resort to my rotary blade a lot for materials like soft leather, felt and everything else with stretch.
Cricut Leather – Both the metallic and genuine leather are beautiful and more importantly, cuts well with all Cricut Machines. The generic stuff I can only reliability cut with the rotary blade which is limited to the Maker.
Cricut Pens – People on the internet love to talk about hacking their way with other branded pens. I’ve never gotten this to work. Plus, the pens are like the cheapest accessories they have! I love the metallic medium sized markers. I use them to do my faux calligraphy projects.
Wood Veneers – I love the Walnut wood veneer. It makes faux wood projects look so good!
Basswood – If you are doing any wood cutting with your Cricut, I would highly recommend the branded stuff. Other brands are too thick or split or both. Not worth the time.