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Silhouette Cameo vs Cricut Explore!

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Alright guys. I have been using my cutter for YEARS. YEARS.

You can see all my projects HERE

So to me it’s second nature. But every time I post a project I always get a few questions. and the one I get the most is WHAT KIND OF CUTTER DO I RECOMMEND…THE silhouette cameo or the cricut Explore air

(the Silhouette cameo 3 is the newest edition and the explore air 2 is the newest cricut edition.–They did release the maker but I’ll talk about that later)

Okay-Let’s talk cutters.

 

So listen. Most of these review posts that people do like to declare a winner. For me…there is no winner. What is a winner for me…might not be a winner for you. You might HATE the silhouette software and like the Cricut software better. (and I love the silhouette software) So I’m going to be straight up with you. I use the silhouette cameo.  I love it. BUT I’m putting aside my bias and giving you a 100% honest review. I dived in and did my research and asked all my friends who own machines! This isn’t a bash on either machine. This is laying out the facts and you can decide what one fits best for you!!!

(I know there are a few other brands of cutters as well–like the brother scan and cut. But I know nothing of those. Silhouette and Cricut seem to be the top of the crafter market and both have lots of great youtube videos on how get the most out of your machine!

SOFTWARE:

The software for me MAKES and BREAKS my cutter choice for me. (but the results might be different for you!)

 

Here is a screen shot of Silhouette Studio: The sidebars are full of fun features!

 

SILHOUETTE: In my honest opinion….the silhouette’s design capacity is so much more.  So many ways to design and customize your own logo or design. You can slice off pieces of a design you don’t like. You can release compound path and remove parts. You can upload and trace pretty much any image. (with a little finesse)  As a crafty person I love that I can put my creativity spin on it.   It seriously has so much. I’ve been using it for years and still come across things I never knew it did! BUT With all this power come great responsibility. It can seem very overwhelming. LOTS of  gizmos and gadgets (there is a learning curve with both softwares of course) BUT–I totally recommend starting small. Write something out in a fun font or pick a pre design from the silhouette store. Then as you get comfortable…play around a little more.

 

 

CRICUT: One thing I really like about the cricut software is that it has layers like in photoshop. You can easily unclick the little eye up there and it would hide the circle. That’s really cool! Cricut software seems a little more limiting. Not as many options-I think if you are a one and done kind of person-you might love it more than the silhouette. (and by one and done I mean it doesn’t have as many options..so it seems easier to just write something up. click a fun font. Size it and cut. One and done. People have mentioned the ease of using the design space. (and if you have a software where you can create -you can upload it to the design space.

For Example. I uploaded my Peter pan cut file to both softwares. With cricut…I get this.

I can click contour and delete random parts that I don’t want to cut out. It’s a little time consuming. 

 

With the silhouette I can ungroup and take duplicate and release compound path and drag and delete multiple things at once and color coordinate the designs. Then drag them onto the mat to cut out in the right color. 

I also love this because I like to see what my projects is going to look like before I cut it! 

So you *kinda* can do it in the cricut. This is why I love the silhouette software a little bit more than the cricut. You can do MOST of the same stuff in both…it’s just easier in the silhouette software.

Let’s keep going:

 

SCREEN: One thing that really bothers me with the cricut is that I can only see the mat space. It doesn’t leave me any room to create.

 

In my silhouette studio…I design on the side until I get something I like and then pull it on to the mat (the middle grid) when I’m ready to cut. (this was for my Disney shirt…)

The only thing that will cut is what is on the mat. (the white rectangle in the middle! You can zoom in and out–this picture is zoomed out quite a bit)   I uploaded a file to my cricut…and it drives me bonkers that I can’t see it all! (see below) you can size everything really small while you work on it…but you have to delete everything that isn’t part of the design before you cut.

 

FONTS: You can also use all your fonts on your computer with cricut AND silhouette as well (This wasn’t always the case with cricut so I love that it’s an option now! You can space out the fonts (make the letters closer together) You can also weld both (that makes it so when you cut it the cursive fonts are all connected instead of cutting them out individually.  You can NOT CURVE a font in the cricut like you in the silhouette though. I was showing how to do it on my instagram stories and a few people mentioned that it’s not an option in the cricut (you have to write each letter and arrange them to look curved.

PRINT and CUT: Yup. Both do it (Where you print out a cute something on your printer and then put it in your cutter and your cutter knows to cut around what you printed!)

SVGs: Lots of free cut files out there (I even offer some) . YOu can upload the SVG into Design space. You can only upload it into the silhouette studio if you have upgraded to the designer edition.  (I think this is probably because the trace feature is so awesome in the silhouette studio that it’s just as

ONLINE VS OFFLINE:  Cricut software has to be online. Silhouette is offline (it’s downloaded onto your computer) I live in the country with not the greatest wifi. And I literally took my computer camping and made some cute cut files from the middle of nowhere–so I think the offline is a big plus. BUT someone mentioned that they love that the cricut software is ONLINE because they can access all their files from wherever they are. So you have to decide if one is more important to you than another.

 LIBRARY: BOTH cricut and silhouette will store your designs and purchases in a library.

 

PREMADE DESIGNS: BOTH cricut and silhouette offer ADORABLE cut files made by awesome designers. So if you just want to click on something premade and start cutting….Both will do that. Silhouette files and Cricut files both start around 99 cents

 

APPS: Cricut and Silhouette both have apps.  I haven’t played around with them at all –I’m a computer girl. But the options are there!

Okay guys are you ready?

HERE IS MY BIGGEST TIP! I tell this to everyone who asks me what machine they should get!

You can actually Download both softwares (for free) 

play around with it to see what one you prefer! One might be a complete gang changer. One might be easier. One might be harder. (DO give them both a fair chance though. Everything new seems overwhelming!)

 

Okay. Let’s get off software and move on!

 

 

CUTTING:

I’m afraid Cricut wins this round. Everyone that I talk to does nothing but RAVE about how crisp and nice the cricut cuts. I have had no problems with my silhouette-I think it comes down to how spot on your cut setting are. but I have friends that have both the cricut and the silhouette and they say that the cricut overall cuts better. (not that the silhouette cuts bad–) THIS POST  is a good example of what I’m talking about.

(although she doesn’t compare vinyl and that is what I cut the most.)

WHAT CAN IT CUT: 

I use my silhouette 90% for vinyl 9% for cardstock and 1% occasionally random other things. That being said….Both cutters have loads of random materials they can cut! Cricut and Silhouette both have specialty media that you can buy. Tattoo Paper, leather sheets, glitter sticker paper, wood grain sheets, sketch pens. (I actually have a whole post on the stuff that silhouette has HERE) (and it looks like the cricut has pretty much the same kind of stuff give and take a few things) 

and guess what. Just because it has the cricut logo on it–doesn’t mean you can’t use it with your silhouette. and just because it has a silhouette logo…doesn’t mean it can’t be used with a cricut. For some reason people think that you have to use brands with brands. YOU DON’T! If you have a cricut and need to get you hands on the awesome gold tattoo paper from silhouette…DO IT.

I’ve heard that the cricut can cut DENSER thicker materials than the silhouette. But Silhouette has released a thick cut blade…Silhouette School did an awesome job showing it off here!

I’m not sure how comparable it is. But let me ask you this–what are you going to be cutting? When the explore was released..every was so excited that you can cut wood and felt and burlap and cork and fabric….and I kept thinking…cool. but I mainly cut vinyl!

So people get hung up on that fact that the cricut can cut thicker things..but if you aren’t going to ever use it to cut thicker things…than ???? (I HAVE cut the silhouette chipboard with my silhouette. Silhouette has a double cut option for thicker stuff…it will cut around it twice to make sure it cuts all the way through. So I really think this one is a TIE. Both cuts lots of ridiculously weird materials that you probably will never cut!

(side note: I cut vinyl a lot. I LOVE the vinyl from Expressions Vinyl.  For some reason, since it doesn’t have the silhouette or cricut logo on it, people don’t think it’s compatible. IT’S COMPATIBLE. and amazing. Cheap vinyl is not your friend. If you use no brand vinyl from the craft store…you will end up hating your machine. It can’t cut it. You can’t weed it. You will spend a lot of time with a bad outcome. Just take my word for it! I have use Expressions vinyl for YEARS and then I was asked to make a quick project for my church. The lady had purchased the cheap stuff and as we were sitting there trying to weed and it wasn’t cut correctly it reminded me just how great EV is. )

ALSO: Cricut just released a new machine…the MAKER. It’s a fabric cutting dream!) I don’t think either the explore or the cameo can touch it. So if you are looking to cut fabric exclusively…that might be the machine for you! (both machines do have fabric blades and fabric cutting options for occasionally cutting fabric. But it’s nothing FANTASTIC)

 

CUTTING WITHOUT A MAT:

Guys. Every time I cut vinyl without a mat on my instagram stories I get SO MANY COMMENTS. I NEVER cut vinyl with a mat (unless it’s small pieces)  It scares you. BUT you can do it. AND you can cut vinyl without a mat with the cameo and the CRICUT! BOTH. (thanks to Expressions Vinyl for the videos!)


LENGTH:

Silhouette cameo can cut up to 10 feet long. 1 foot by 10 feet. Cricut Explore can only cut to 24 inches. 1 foot by 2 feet.

 

 

ACCESSORIES:

What you don’t realize is that with the cutter comes a few additional purchases. Most everything you need is in the box when you buy a cutter. (besides vinyl/cardstock or whatever you want to cut)  BUT after so many uses–you will need to replace you blades and mats. They both have upgrades to their softwares.  And all in all about the same price. So this shouldn’t be a huge deciding factor. BUT I wanted you to be aware of it!

PRICE:

as of Today (march 7)

the silhouette cameo 3 is $249 on amazon.

and the Cricut Explore Air 2 is $249 on Amazon.

So Price isn’t a deciding factor. BUT I would totally recommend shopping around and getting a “bundle” Silhouette offers them on Amazon,   Cricut has one for a little bit more and I love this one from Expressions Vinyl that includes lots of fun vinyl!

Okay–so there you have it. Everything I know. You get to make the hard choice on what you want to spend your money on!

If you do chose silhouette– I do have some videos showing you how to use it (and some vinyl projects that you can make with both machines! Head here!)

 

Like I said…whatever cutter you choose will include a cutting mat and blade and everything you need to get your cutter up and running. But let me suggest a few things that I love to go along with the cutter (these are totally optional make-your-life easier things)

 

AND make sure to go to Expressions Vinyl to download these cut charts! Print them and put them right by your cutter!

About Kimbo

Kimbo blogs at A girl and a glue gun--where she puts her hot glue gun to good use (as well as her vinyl cutter and sewing machine) She loves all crafts and is thrifty (the nice way to say she's cheap) So she is constantly trying to come up with fast and easy projects that won't break the bank! She lives in Idaho with her hot husband and 3 kiddos.