Best Cricut for Making Shirts

There are so many options when you’re starting on your shirt-making journey. From heat presses to cutting machines, there are so many choices.

To make it easier for you, we have a list of the seven best Cricut machines to make your shirt designing dreams come true. We’ll look at everything from the cutting power to the speed to the heat to the effectiveness.

Cricut for Making Shirts – Reviews & Comparisons

PRODUCT FEATURES LATEST PRICE
1. Cricut Maker
  • 4000g cutting power cuts through all craft room materials
  • One of the fastest electric cutting machines on the market
  • Accessories are inexpensive, boosting your profits if you plan to sell your shirts
  • Vast range of blades available
  • Cuts through fabric without backing materials
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2. Cricut Explore Air 2
  • Affordable vinyl cutter with a decent amount of power for the price point
  • Dual carriage system speeds up your workflow
  • Great for beginners
  • Comes bundled with cutting mats and other materials for better value for money
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3. Cricut EasyPress 2
  • Portable to ensure you get the job done quickly
  • Behaves precisely like an industrial-style heat press without the bulk and high initial cost
  • Heat distributes evenly to make vinyl stick perfectly all the time
  • Comes in a range of sizes
  • Warms to 400 degrees Fahrenheit in 2 minutes
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4. Cricut EasyPress Mini
  • Prevents steam holes thanks to the even pressure and heat
  • Reliable temperature setting to work with any heat transfer materials
  • Compact, lightweight, and easy to store
  • Solid safety to base to limit accidents
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5. Cricut Joy
  • Brilliant for children and school projects, thanks to its easy use features
  • Lightweight and small enough to travel with
  • Setup is quick and easy, allowing you to get any project complete within 15 minutes
  • Perfect for baby gear
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6. Cricut Explore Air 3
  • It’s a tremendous mid-level machine that will be just enough for most crafters
  • Far more sophisticated than the previous model (Explore Air 2)
  • Very well priced to suit the average t-shirt maker
  • Can cut up to 2x faster when using Smart Materials
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7. Cricut Maker 3
  • Can cut Smart Materials up to 12 feet without needing a Cricut Mat
  • 2x faster than the original Circut Maker we discussed earlier
  • Can cut over 300 different materials and works with 13 sold-separately tools
  • 10x more cutting power than the Cricut Explore machines
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1. Cricut Maker

Product Highlights

The Cricut Maker is the ultimate crafter’s companion, regardless of the craft type. It has a 12″ x 24″ cutting size, ensuring it’s one of the best Cricut machines for making shirts.

It works with over 300 materials, and connects via Bluetooth to your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. There are also many specialist tools you can purchase separately to improve your shirt designs and increase workflow.

Features

  • Cuts over 300 materials
  • Docking slot to hold your smartphone or tablet
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Double tool holder

What We Like

It has 4000g of cutting power that allows you to cut through over 300 materials. Regardless of the material, it’s one of the fastest electric cutting machines on the market, letting you make your shirts quicker than ever before.

The accessories cost less than other machines. So, you can increase your profits easier.

What We Don’t Like

While the accessories are inexpensive, the machine itself is pricier. If you have a small budget, this might not be ideal.

You will need a solid internet connection to make the most out of the Design Space software.

PROSCONS
  • 4000g cutting power cuts through all craft room materials
  • It's one of the more expensive Cricut machines
  • One of the fastest electric cutting machines on the market
  • Design Space software requires an internet connection for most projects
  • Accessories are inexpensive, boosting your profits if you plan to sell your shirts
  • Vast range of blades available
  • Cuts through fabric without backing materials

2. Cricut Explore Air 2

Product Highlights

The Explore Air 2 has been around for a while. But that doesn’t make it any less worthy than the newer models.

It easily handles HTV and boasts a cutting force of 350g — more than enough to tackle vinyl. Plus, this comes along with noise reduction technology and double speed upgrade from Cricut’s flagship model.

You get a cutting size of 11.5″ x 23.5″, enough space for crafting any shirt design.

Features

  • Bluetooth connectivity for wireless cutting
  • Cuts over 100 materials
  • Dual carriage for cutting and writing simultaneously
  • Works with Cricut cartridges

What We Like

The cutting machine is powerful — especially for the price. In addition, you get a lot of decent technology, including the noise reduction feature as mentioned above.

It has a dual carriage which quickens your workflow. Not to mention it is easy for beginners to get up and running straight out of the box.

What We Don’t Like

Nowadays, it’s an “outdated machine.” But shirt makers across the country are still using them to create incredible designs.

Unfortunately, its age means it isn’t compatible with the special blades produced by the company like the Knife or Rotary.

PROSCONS
  • Affordable vinyl cutter with a decent amount of power for the price point
  • Blade selection is far more limited than with the Cricut Maker
  • Dual carriage system speeds up your workflow
  • It cannot cut a broader range of materials
  • Great for beginners
  • Comes bundled with cutting mats and other materials for better value for money

3. Cricut EasyPress 2

Product Highlights

The Cricut EasyPress 2 is a fantastic heat press. It gets your shirt-making job done in a flash.

It comes in three sizes — small (6″ x 7″), medium (9″ x 9″), and large (10″ x 12″). The smallest one heats up in less than one minute, the medium in less than two minutes, and the large in less than 3 minutes. For t-shirts, the medium or large one is recommended.

Features

  • Adjustable heat up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Even heat and pressure application
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Compatible with all major brands of heat transfer vinyl

What We Like

Even the biggest size is portable, lightweight, and wonderfully easy to use. The larger you go, the easiest it will be to tackle all shirt sizes.

You don’t need a lot of space like you would for an industrial heat press. Not to mention it’s far cheaper than getting your hands on a professional model.

The heat distributes evenly, and the press comes with tried-and-tested temperature/timer settings for all kinds of projects.

What We Don’t Like

No matter which size you pick, the EasyPress 2 can’t handle uneven surfaces — making things like caps to go with your shirts won’t be possible. Of course, this won’t matter too much if you plan to stick to shirts only.

Additionally, you’ll find it tricky to complete bulk jobs with this press. It’s not built for industrial-sized wholesale orders.

PROSCONS
  • Portable to ensure you get the job done quickly
  • Not suitable for fulfilling large t-shirt orders
  • Behaves precisely like an industrial-style heat press without the bulk and high initial cost
  • It's still fairly pricey for many at-home crafters
  • Heat distributes evenly to make vinyl stick perfectly all the time
  • Comes in a range of sizes
  • Warms to 400 degrees Fahrenheit in 2 minutes

4. Cricut EasyPress Mini

Product Highlights

The EasyPress Mini is the smallest heat press offered by Cricut. The ceramic-coated heat plate is a tiny 3.5″ and the entire press weighs just 0.8lbs. It’s great for smaller areas on shirts or for making t-shirts.

It has three heat settings — low, medium, and high. The plate works to distribute the heat evenly, allowing your iron-on designs to stick flawlessly every single time.

In addition, the Mini comes with a Cricut guide for heat transfers, ensuring you use the right setting for your T-shirt project.

Features

  • Ceramic-coated heat plate for edge-to-edge heating
  • Three heat settings
  • 120V maximum input
  • Auto shutoff feature

What We Like

Unlike a bog-standard iron, the EasyPress Mini comes with a safety base and a timer to ensure your shirts don’t burn. The size of the press promotes ease-of-use for hard-to-reach areas like around buttons and seams.

The three temperature settings allow you to watch the heat so you don’t damage the shirt’s material. Moreover, it applies an even amount of pressure without much effort from you.

What We Don’t Like

Some people might not be okay with the cost of the device for such a small surface area. However, if you’re a hardcore shirt maker, it’s worth it because you can tackle all the small crevices of the garment.

Sadly, it’s only offered in one color — raspberry. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, some crafters like to ensure their craft room has a consistent aesthetic.

PROSCONS
  • Prevents steam holes thanks to the even pressure and heat
  • Somewhat pricey for the size
  • Reliable temperature setting to work with any heat transfer materials
  • Its small size limits the range of project compatibility
  • Compact, lightweight, and easy to store
  • Only comes in the "raspberry" colorway
  • Solid safety to base to limit accidents

5. Cricut Joy

Product Highlights

This tiny cutting machine is pretty niche. It’s made with wanderlust crafters or those making customized baby clothes in mind. But the Cricut Joy can be used as a label maker by those wishing to update and organize their home.

It offers a 4.5″ x 6.5″ workspace and is compatible with vinyl (including HTV and other vinyl varieties) and paper. The newer version of the machine allows for no-mat-cutting when using Smart Materials.

Features

  • Continuously cuts up to 4 feet, repeated cuts up to 20 feet
  • Works with Cricut Smart Materials without using a cutting mat
  • 4.5″ x 6.5″ surface
  • Compatible with paper and vinyl

What We Like

The compact, lightweight construction makes the Cricut Joy perfect for the road. Even if you’re not constantly traveling, it will certainly save a lot of space in your craft room.

Despite its size, the machine is pretty powerful. It can cope with all sorts of materials, including vinyl with ease. You’ll be up and running with your custom baby t-shirt designs in no time, thanks to the super simple setup.

What We Don’t Like

Cricut had a great chance to provide some less expensive tools to go with their smallest machine. However, they didn’t take this opportunity and the accessories are too costly.

You can’t use the blade and the cutting mats with other Cricut machines. If you buy this to make baby shirts on the go, and want to use a bigger machine at home, you will have to purchase two sets of tools.

PROSCONS
  • Brilliant for children and school projects, thanks to its easy use features
  • Sadly, we feel the accessories are overpriced
  • Lightweight and small enough to travel with
  • You can't use the cutting mats and the blade in other Cricut machines
  • Setup is quick and easy, allowing you to get any project complete within 15 minutes
  • Perfect for baby gear

6. Cricut Explore Air 3

Product Highlights

This cutting machine is similar to the Explore Air 2 but different in all the ways that count. The most notable difference is the Smart Material compatibility that allows you to cut Smart Vinyl, Paper, and HTV Iron-On without using a mat.

It works with six tools ranging from cutting blades to scoring wheels and 100 plus materials, including bonded fabric, cork, cardstock, vinyl, and standard iron-on.

Features

  • 2x faster than the Explore Air 2
  • Compatible with Cricut Smart Materials, allowing cutting without a mat
  • Works with six tools
  • Compatible with over 100 materials

What We Like

The Cricut Explore Air 3 allows you to create high-quality t-shirts in no time at all. Whether it’s scoring, cutting, or drawing, it does it two times faster than its predecessor, the Cricut Explore Air 2.

It’s compatible with Smart Materials, meaning you can use Smart HTV Iron-On and Smart Vinyl to increase the quality of your products and speed up your workflow. Plus, it’s compatible with over 100 other materials, so you can stick with your tried-and-true materials.

What We Don’t Like

There’s no denying that the price for the machine is excellent. However, the thing that gives the machine the edge over its predecessor — Smart Material — is expensive.

It also doesn’t come with many add-ons. Older machines tend to come with at least a blade and a pen. But the Explore Air 3 is packed with only the standard Fine Point Blade. Purchasing the extra tools adds up quickly, especially when using Smart Materials as well.

PROSCONS
  • It's a tremendous mid-level machine that will be just enough for most crafters
  • The add-ons are relatively expensive (i.e., the Smart Materials)
  • Far more sophisticated than the previous model (Explore Air 2)
  • Design Space isn't as intuitive as others
  • Very well priced to suit the average t-shirt maker
  • Can cut up to 2x faster when using Smart Materials

7. Cricut Maker 3

Product Highlights

The Cricut Maker 3 allows you to make beautiful shirt designs that wouldn’t be possible with even your trustiest pair of scissors.

The precision of the cuts is stunning. Creating clothing designs has never been easier. It’s simply a case of connecting the machine to your laptop, tablet, or smartphone, and then sending the design to the machine.

It’s compatible with a mind-blowing range of materials and even has 13 tools that are sold separately to help you create out-of-this-world projects. Not to mention that it is 2x faster than the original Maker. You also don’t need to use a cutting mat when creating with Smart Materials.

Features

  • Compatible with over 300 materials, including Cricut Smart Materials
  • 10x more cutting power than the Cricut Explore machines
  • Compatible with 13 tools
  • Provides professional cuts in half the time

What We Like

The compatibility with over 300 materials is a plus point. However, that isn’t unique to the Cricut Maker 3 since the original Cricut Maker can also do this. 

The two times faster-cutting speed when using Smart Materials is something we enjoy. It allows you to start and finish your t-shirts in record time.

Additionally, the Adaptive System is mighty. Found only in this Cricut machine, it ensures the cutter is ten times stronger than the Explore models.

What We Don’t Like

While we think the Cricut Maker 3 is worth the money, acquiring the tools and accessories makes it pretty pricey. It simply isn’t doable if you’re on a small budget.

Disappointingly, Cricut seems to have scrimped on the extras offered in the box. The original Maker came with a rotary blade and pen, but this model has neither of those items.

PROSCONS
  • Can cut Smart Materials up to 12 feet without needing a Cricut Mat
  • Getting the machine alongside the rest of the tools can be on the pricey side
  • 2x faster than the original Circut Maker we discussed earlier
  • It doesn't come with a mat, rotary blade, or pen like the original Cricut Maker
  • Can cut over 300 different materials and works with 13 sold-separately tools
  • 10x more cutting power than the Cricut Explore machines

FAQs

What Accessories Do You Need to Buy to Use the Cricut Machine to Make Shirts?

Besides the machine itself, you will need to purchase a few other items to craft your own shirts. The most important is the Cricut Iron-On Vinyl or Cricut Infusible Ink. The latter infuses the fabric with the ink; the former melts the vinyl’s glue to stick to the t-shirt.

Other accessories include:

  • Cricut Mats
  • Crucit Blades
  • T-shirt blanks (tip: vinyl works best with dark colors, infusible ink works best with light colors)

Do You Need the EasyPress Mini and the EasyPress 2 if You Want to Make Different Sized Projects?

No, you don’t need both. Although, not every crafter would agree with us here, because the EasyPress Mini can get into smaller crevices that the bigger presses can’t effectively get.

In our opinion, if you plan to make anything other than baby shirts, you should opt for the bigger model. That way, you can cover all your bases.

Conclusion

In our opinion the Cricut Maker 3 is the best machine for making shirts. 

With 4000g of sheer cutting power and compatibility with over 300 materials, you can’t go wrong with the Cricut Maker 3. It will certainly take your shirt crafting to the next level.

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