What die cutting machine is better for felt? Should you buy an electric machine like the Cricut Maker or a manual one like the Sizzix Big Shot? Both are a big investment and both offer a lot of benefits! We'll outline each one and share what we love to use them for and pass on our favorite tips!
There are many different types of manual die cutting machines. These machines need additional dies to work and come in loads of fun shapes. You sandwich the dies in cutting pads and manually roll them through the machine to cut out the shapes. You can read more about how they work here. Most brands dies are completely interchangeable -but our favorite is the Sizzix Big Shot. We have a couple different sizes at Benzie and they are work horses -lasting for hundreds and hundreds of rolls though! Check out our selection of favorite felt dies!
There are also a few different electric cutting machines. All of these utilize a digital design that translates to a cut file (think svg). Working with the machines design program, via a computer or an ipad, you can select your file and cut out any shape you wish! For cutting felt we recommend the Cricut Maker. The rotary blade makes it a perfect match for felt. Read more about the Cricut Maker here.
Pros + Cons of the Sizzix Big Shot
Pros of Sizzix Big Shot
-The biggest pro to owning a manual die cutter is the ease of use -there is no tricky technology to learn and even your kindergartener can help!
-Steel rule dies are heavy duty can cut several layers of felt at a time which really increases productivity! There is nothing quicker then a manual die cut machine and a steel rule die!
-Utilizes both steel rule dies and wafer thin dies.
-Great price point for the beginner!
-All cuts are clean and crisp, every time.
Cons of Sizzix Big Shot
-The shapes you can cut are limited by dies available. Die companies do offer custom service and range from $100-$200 per steel rule die.
-Adding new dies every time you want a new shape can get expensive.
-Even though cutting pads last a long time, they will eventually crack and need to be replaced.
Pros + Cons of the Cricut Maker
Let's Start with the Cons:
-Unfortunately upfront costs are pricy on the Cricut Maker. Long term costs include the replacement of cutting pads which tend to be more often then I would like.
-As well as being a benefit -technology can come with glitches and challenges. Basic computer or app knowledge is needed -as well as owning the proper device the software needs.
-Even though the Cricut Maker can cut out most things, shapes and curves smaller then 1/2" can get little jagged on felt -but I suggest trying out your design as it could be just what you need!
-Because this is a electronic cutting machine, it does require some time to allow the blade to do it's cutting. No rushing things here, you set up the files now sit back and watch it work!
Pros of Cricut Maker
-Don't let that long list of cons sway you because the Cricut Maker offers the ultimate dream in crafting machines: The ability to cut any shape your heart desires! You can purchase design files, get them for free (Benzie offers several on our blog! Check out our ivy plant here)... or even design your own. There are no limits = maker magic!
Ask yourself what sort of crafter you are -are you one that wants to just make a ton of one thing? Or are you more of a dabbler and want to try out a lot of things? The Sizzix Big Shot is better for those who are cutting out a large volume of similar shapes. Just make daisy crowns? Or have your narrowed in on coffee cozies? Even though it will give your arm a workout -you'll get it done quick and neatly with the Sizzix.
If your tastes are varied and bulk makes you bored you will have more fun with the Cricut Maker -and can try every new design that comes your way! Don't forget that both machines work super well with felt... but also other materials as well. Don't limit yourself to just one machine; start with the one that appeals to you the most -and work up to the one you don't have. Let me know in the comments which one is your favorite and why!
Read more about manual die cutters like the Sizzix Big Shot here.
Read more about electronic cutters like the Cricut Maker here.