T-shirts are a wardrobe staple year-round, especially in the cooler months, and we all have to confess that we have more than we can wear.
However, if you are one of the many with a wardrobe full of them, you may want to spunk it up with a custom design or two, and that’s where a cutting machine heat press come into play.
Cricut is a well-known and dependable brand for cutting and design-transfer equipment. With their cutting machines you can easily and quickly cut the vinyl in the right shape, and with one of their heat press machines you can transfer the vinyl to the shirt.
So whether you simply want to make a few custom shirts for yourself or if you want to start a small T-shirt business, Cricut machines are a great option to go with.
I’ll go over all the different Cricut machines one by one. But if you are looking for the quick summary, here are the best Cricut machines for making shirts:
- Cricut Maker 3 – Best For Cutting HTV
- Cricut Explore 3 – Runner Up For Cutting HTV
- Cricut Maker – Best Value For Money
- Cricut Joy – Best Portable Cutter
- Cricut EasyPress 2 – Best Heat Press
- Cricut EasyPress Mini – Runner Up For Heat Press
Best Cricut Machines For Designing T-Shirts
Designing your very own personal artwork and applying it to a shirt is a thrilling and exciting experience. Most crafters envision perfect artwork, logos, patterns, or catchphrases on their shirts and can’t wait to jump straight into getting it done. That said, there are a few steps to take to ensure that the project gets done correctly.
The first aspect of this is knowing that you will need a Cricut machine best tailored to your crafting skill and one which excels at cutting HTV (Heat transfer vinyl). Furthermore, some Cricut machines perform faster than others, while different models are best suited for beginners in the crafting world.
Next would be either using a clothing iron to apply the HTV onto your clothing piece or using one of Cricut’s EasyPress machines. In my experience, I prefer the latter, as it achieves the best results, every time.
1. Cricut Maker 3 – Best For Cutting HTV
If you have a lot of shirts to create and want to make them faster and with less stress, you’ll need a machine that can cut materials quickly. With the Cricut Maker 3, you can do so with simplicity and flair.
It ensures professional-level cutting and cuts quicker than other Cricut machines. This device is capable of cutting up to 300 different materials.
Plus, there’s more. The machine works with 13 various smart materials from the same company, including Cricut Smart Paper, Cricut Smart Vinyl, Cricut Smart HTV Iron, and many others. Furthermore, this machine can cut your HTV design to size without the need for a cutting mat.
All Cricut cutting machines can perform almost identical jobs, with the primary differences being size, cutting power, cutting sizes, and overall bulk vs. occasional cutting.
The Cricut Maker machines, on the other hand, are the largest and most powerful of the Cricut cutting machines, and while they may appear to be overkill for someone who only wants to produce a T-shirt, they are designed expressly for huge projects and are ideal for 100+ shirts. That said, it’s the best option if you wish to expand your horizon in the crafting world along with making shirts.
|It includes 13 different cutting blades to meet all of your requirements||It is expensive|
|It is the fastest of all the Cricut machines||Its heavier and takes up more space than other Cricut machines|
|Includes a free design app|
|Wireless control is possible|
2. Cricut Explore 3 – Runner Up For Cutting HTV
The Cricut Explore 3, which takes second place, is a consumer-grade cutting machine from Cricut and one of the greatest computer-controlled cutting machines intended exclusively for home crafters.
The cutting size is 11.5 x 23.5 inches, which is more than adequate for any T-shirt design, and because it can cut 100+ materials, you may further diversity the appearance and feel of your T-shirts.
One of the best features of this machine is how quiet it is. However, if you don’t mind a little additional noise, you can use the Fast Mode to execute all jobs at twice the speed without sacrificing cutting quality.
The Explorer is compatible with six cutting, writing, and foiling tools and Bluetooth wireless technology for convenient device management from a smartphone or PC.
Furthermore, if you want to go crazy and let your creativity run wild, you may use Cricut’s free Design Space program for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.
|It includes six different cutting blades to meet all of your requirements||Using The Design App Requires Constant Internet Connectivity and lacks Android compatibility|
|It is compatible with 100+ materials||It is a noisy machine|
|Includes a free design app|
3. Cricut Maker – Best Value For Money
If you’re dead bent on producing your own T-shirts and want to do it not only for yourself but also for your social circle and family, a Cricut Maker is a good option.
Even though the Cricut Maker is an older version of the Maker 3, it is a better value for money for most crafters. Both machines have comparable features, such as cross-compatible cutting, folding, or embossing tools, and compatibility for up to 300 plus materials.
In contrast to the Cricut Maker 3, the Cricut Maker does not support Smart Materials. Another significant change is that, while the Cricut Maker remains a popular choice amongst designers, it is significantly slower than the Cricut Maker 3, cutting at around half the pace.
Because the Cricut Maker is still supported by the Cricut Design Space app, you can cut anything and put it on your t-shirts because the software will simplify the process.
|Cricut Maker makes use of some of the most cost-effective cutting machine consumables available.||Using The Design App Requires Constant Internet Connectivity and lacks Android compatibility.|
|It includes 13 different cutting blades to meet all of your requirements||Its heavier and takes up more space than other Cricut machines|
|Includes a free design app||It is not compatible with Smart Iron HTV Vinyl|
|It is excellent for commercial use|
4. Cricut Joy – Best Portable
Want to make something while you’re traveling abroad? Now you can!
The Cricut Joy, which is incredibly tiny and portable, is your best bet. It’s substantially smaller than other Circut machines, with dimensions of 8.4-inches by 4.3-inches, and a modest weight of 3.8lbs, making it easier to store and transport from place to place. It also makes it an excellent alternative for minor handicraft projects.
So, for example, I’d recommend this Cricut machine for cutting catchphrases for shirts, smaller logos, best for toddlers shirts and designs, and on-the-go minor branding ideas while on vacation! That said, the Cricut Joy is still capable of greater things.
In fact, you can use the Cricut Joy without a cutting mat for continuous cuts up to 20 feet long and 5 inches wide. In general, it can cut over 50 different materials, including iron-on HTV, cardboard, vinyl, paper, and smart materials. However, while you may connect this machine to your PC through Bluetooth, it lacks a USB port.
|It is a surprisingly fast machine for its size||It may not be large enough for some users.|
|It can cut without a cutting mat||No wired connectivity.|
|It is portable, easy to move around, and easy to store||May require additional purchases for tools used on other projects.|
|The machine is easy to learn for beginners|
5. Cricut EasyPress 2 – Best Heat Press
The Cricut EasyPress 2 is a great device that can be used for pretty much any sort of heat transfer project you can think of. Heat transfer vinyl may be made in various methods, but getting the picture printed on fabric, no matter how wonderful, colorful, or sophisticated the design is, can be challenging.
The Cricut EasyPress 2 features a uniformly heated ceramic-coated plate, which makes it great for basic T-shirts, pillows, aprons, and more when compared to regular irons. The heating plate is also available in two sizes: 9′′ x 9′′ and 12′′ x 10′′.
Cricut includes a smartphone app that allows you to precisely adjust the temperature and time of the machine, all dependent on the qualities of your HTV and the materials your T-shirt is made of.
There are many videos on the internet demonstrating how to apply HTVs with regular irons at home, but this method isn’t ideal, and you may end up doing more damage than good to both the HTV and the fabric.
For example, irons do not have a level surface since most modern-day versions have holes in the sole where vapors escape. More importantly, the form of typical irons isn’t appropriate since it’s not designed to optimize coverage of HTV templates’ usual square-shaped surface.
Finally, the fact that head distribution on the iron surface is never the same is the cause of many headaches. However,If you use the Cricut EasyPress 2, designed specifically for HTVs, this is no longer true. The machine itself is quite safe to operate because there is no way to burn oneself with it.
More importantly, the design is very ergonomic, and the materials used to construct it are quite light, so producing T-shirts will never seem like a job or physical labor. Furthermore, the heat distribution on the plate is even, resulting in consistent, high-quality transfers, as well as extending the life of your transfers over countless visits to the dry cleaners.
Cricut machines aren’t only for cutting; they can also be used to print custom-designed T-shirts, tote bags, pillows, aprons, hoodies, banners, blankets, and other items. For transferring Iron-On or HTV patterns on fabric, the Cricut EasyPress 2 is the best option.
|It comes in different sizes to meet different projects||Various heat pad sizes must be purchased separately|
|Consistently provides the perfect amount of heat||It can be a bit pricey|
|The temperature can be controlled from your mobile device|
|It eliminates the guesswork when applying HTV to shirts|
6. Cricut EasyPress Mini – Runner Up For Heat Press
Finally, the EasyPress Mini is essentially a pocket-sized Cricut EasyPress, as it was designed with compatibility in mind above everything else.
That being the case, you might be asking why this machine is on a list of the top Cricut machines for making T-shirts, and the explanation is simple: infants wear T-shirts, too!
And to top that up, this device would go swimmingly with a Cricut Joy, with each item basically going hand in hand(since they both are portable, lightweight, and easy to carry).
Not only is this gadget convenient to take about due to its size and weight, but the considerably smaller plate also makes it excellent for transferring HTVs to tiny pieces of cloth, such as a crazy cartoon on a 3-month-old baby’s T-shirt.
Of course, the EasyPress Mini’s small size makes it excellent for particularly small or difficult heat transfer crafts like hats, shoes, or stuffed animals, so you’re not confined to flat surfaces as you are with the larger EasyPress.
Furthermore, smaller proportions don’t imply that Cricut skimped on materials, as the Cricut EasyPress Mini has the same high-quality ceramic-coated heat plate that gives the same dry, uniform heat distribution from edge to edge.
On the other hand, The Mini lacks the smartphone app features of its larger cousin, instead offering only three heat settings. Thankfully, all three are still compatible with any iron-on or Infusible Ink project. The EasyPress Mini includes an insulated Safety Base and an auto-shutoff mechanism, so you don’t have to worry about your children’s safety around the gadget.
|Perfect for applying HTVs on more complex surfaces||Not ideal for large HTV projects|
|Includes many safety features|
|It comes with three different heat settings|
|It is a cheaper alternative|
Pretty much all Cricut machines could be used for creating your own T-shirts; however, the models mentioned above are the best at it. Furthermore, this list helps you identify which machines are best suited for your needs.
That said, any Cricut machine can handle most homemade tasks, and as long as you’re aware of the machine’s cutting and heating limits, you can make just about any type of T-shirt you desire.
If you want to make more than just Vinyl T-shirts, you might want to read one of the following articles as well: