Cutting Fabric using a Cricut Explore Air

Cutting Fabric using a Cricut Explore Air

Today I’m sharing some tricks and tips I learned when personalizing my son’s Elementary Tote (tutorial). I purchased a Cricut Explore Air last Fall and I have cut all sorts of things out of paper with it, but I hadn’t been successful with fabric. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Cricut, this is a personal cutting machine. I use my computer to design what I’d like cut, and the machine cuts it! I bought the Explore Air version that allows cutting via BlueTooth, so I don’t have to have my computer plugged into my machine.

I tried a lot of different things when it came to cutting fabric: plain fabric stuck to my mat, using freezer paper on the back of the fabric, using freezer paper on the front and back of my fabric, using Heat n Bond Lite on the back of my fabric. Honestly, I didn’t have success with any of those techniques. I almost gave up, but I’m glad I persevered because I found the magic combination!

Cutting Fabric using a Cricut Explore Air

First, I ironed Heat n Bond Ultra Hold to the back of the fabric according to the instructions. Then, leaving the paper on, I stuck it to the mat, firmly pressing down all over. I used a very sticky, brand new green mat. You need a lot of stickiness. If you don’t have a new mat handy, I suggest a purple Strong Grip Mat. I plan on buying one to use exclusively for fabric.

Second, I replaced the standard cutting blade with a Deep Cut Blade. Your Cricut comes with instructions on replacing the blade – it’s very easy and takes all of 5 seconds.

Third, I turned the dial on my Cricut to Fabric.

Cutting Fabric using a Cricut Explore Air

Then I moved to my computer. I imported the image with my son’s name into the Cricut Design Studio. This font is called Pacifico and it worked great. I’d recommend a thicker font for cutting fabric. I clicked “Go” to start the process of connecting to the machine.

Cutting Fabric using a Cricut Explore Air

I verified that I would be cutting on a 12″ x 12″ mat and clicked “Go” again.

Cutting Fabric using a Cricut Explore Air

I found I needed to customize the pressure settings on the machine. From the below screen, click on that link all the way at the bottom (sort of hidden if you ask me!), “Edit Custom Materials”.

Cutting Fabric using a Cricut Explore Air

Click on the word “Fabric”. It doesn’t look like a link, but it is.

Cutting Fabric using a Cricut Explore Air

When you select it, further information will pop up below it. I set my Cut Pressure to 340 and my Blade Type to Deep Cut. Then click the “Save” link to the right. Then click the “Done” buttom at the bottom.

Cutting Fabric using a Cricut Explore Air

You are all set to cut now. Follow the typical cutting steps of loading your mat and beginning the cutting process. You can see here the finished name that I fused to my son’s Elementary Tote.

Cutting Fabric using a Cricut Explore Air

I also cut out some cut orange peel components. Pretty!

Cutting Fabric using a Cricut Explore Air

I made a quick video of the Cricut cutting, so you can see the speed as well.

I’m a bit disappointed that I haven’t been successful in cutting fabric without Heat n Bond Ultra Hold on the back. It would really be awesome to cut just plain fabric with nothing adhered to it to stiffen it. But for customizing bags, shirts, onesies, making quilt labels, or cutting custom appliqué for quilts, this is a really cool machine. I hope this helps you explore more ways to have fun with with your Cricut Explore Air!

This posts contains affiliate links.

Elementary Tote ~ A Tutorial

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

My son is going to a music camp this year at School of Rock. It’s the same camp my daughter attended a couple years ago – she loved it. Before she went, I made her a little tote bag that she could use to bring her ear plugs, notepad and snacks each day. My son has not forgotten about this, and told me that he cannot wait to see his bag for class.

I whipped up a little bag for him and I thought I’d share the tutorial with you. I think of it as “Elementary” sized – great for 5 to 10 year olds. (If you are looking for a mom-sized bag, check out my Farmer’s Market Tote tutorial.)

I personalized his tote bag with his name using my Cricut Explore Air (affiliate link). After much trial and error, I finally am successfully cutting fusible fabric with it! I plan on sharing a tutorial later this week with my tips. See my tips in this post!


Elementary Tote

Approximate size: 11-1/2″ x 11-1/2″

Elementary Tote Supplies : Fresh Lemons Quilts

Supplies
Cut (12) 3″ x 13″ rectangles for outer tote bag
Cut (2) 13″ x 15-1/2″ rectangles for lining
Cut (2) 13″ x 15-1/2″ rectangles from fusible interfacing, such as Pellon SF101
Cut (2) 20″ strips of cotton webbing, around 1″ wide

1. Lay out your 3” x 13” rectangles in 2 groups – 6 rectangles for the front of the tote and 6 rectangles for the back of the tote.

Note: The bottom rectangle on each side will end up being on bottom/underside of the tote bag, so you probably don’t want to use your favorite fabric in this location.

2. Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew each set of the 3″ x 13″ rectangles together along the long sides, resulting in (2) 13″ x 15-1/2″ outer tote panels. Press your seams as desired.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

3. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, fuse your Pellon SF101 interfacing to the back of the outer tote panels.

4. Cut 2″ squares out of the bottom left and right corners of your outer tote panels, as well as your (2) 13″ x 15-1/2″ lining pieces. This is for your gusset later.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

5. Place your outer tote panels right sides together. Using a 1/2″ seam allowance, sew down the sides and bottom of the fabric. ** Do NOT sew the cut out squares! **

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

6. Now it’s time to sew the gussets. If you have never done this before, this is probably the trickiest step.

“Open” up your bag in the corner where you cut the squares, and place the fabric back together matching up the side and bottom sewn seam, as shown.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

7. Pin as shown.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

8. Sew using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

9. Repeat on the other side to make the second gusset.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

10. Flip your outer tote shell so the right sides are facing out.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

11. Repeat steps 5 – 9 with your lining pieces, with the exception of leaving approximately 5″ open/unsewn along the bottom, for flipping the bag right side out later. Leave the lining wrong sides out.

12. Personalize your bag! (Circuit Explore Air Tutorial will be posted on Thursday ~ Stay tuned!) I posted my tips, just click over to this post!

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

13. Measure and mark the top center of the outer tote shell. Pin your cotton webbing straps approximately 2” to each side of the center marking. Take care not to twist your straps. Baste in place using a 1/4” seam allowance.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

14. Place your outer tote shell right side out, into the lining wrong side out, as shown.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

15. Pin along the top of the bag, and sew together along the entire top, using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

16. Flip your bag right side out through the opening in the bottom of the lining. Stitch the bottom of your lining closed.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

Push the lining into the outer tote shell.

17. Press your bag and top stitch around the top.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

You are finished! Gift your bag to your favorite person. 🙂

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

Blue Squared

Blue Squared Quilt : Fresh Lemons Quilts

It is now officially that moment of the year where I look at the calendar and freak out that I only have one month to make teacher gifts. Throughout the year I ask my kids to try to get hints as to what color quilt their teacher might like. Yes, I even go so far as to suggest they ask what color their family room is painted. I am always met with a look of horror by my children, so I am left guessing which fabric to use. This year my daughter provided me with “she wears blue, black and white a lot.”

Blue Squared Quilt : Fresh Lemons Quilts

So. I present to you a blue, black and white quilt!

Blue Squared Quilt : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I have been wanting to make a quilt of big scrappy squares for quite some time. Although I came up with this on the fly, you could achieve the same look by using my Starfall pattern layout diagram, and simply using large squares of fabric in place of piecing the stars.

Blue Squared Quilt : Fresh Lemons Quilts

Bonus ~ I was able to cut and piece this quilt in one day! And most of the time I didn’t even sit down.

Blue Squared Quilt : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I am very excited with how this quilt top turned out. My daughter wants to embroider the tag for the back, just like she did with her teacher’s quilt last year. That should give me just enough time to decide on the main fabric for the backing and then I will finish it up!

Cross Stitch with Kids ~ A New Adventure

Cross Stitch with Kids at Fresh Lemons Quilts

Last week, a bit out of the blue, my daughter announced she wanted to learn to cross stitch. In my usual style, as soon as one of my children expresses the slightest interest in a crafty hobby, I go all out. I can’t help myself! We headed straight over to my friend Amanda’s website, The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery. I had a feeling my daughter would love everything in her shop and I was right! She immediately picked the Leaning Tower of Macarons for her first project.

Cross Stitch with Kids at Fresh Lemons Quilts

I decided I needed to make her a little tote to carry around all her project supplies. (I did mention I can’t help myself, right?) I happened to have the Road Trip Case Pattern from Noodlehead and decided it was perfect! I made one easy modification and put a vinyl zipper pouch on both sides rather than just one side. It holds pretty much everything she needs!

Cross Stitch with Kids at Fresh Lemons Quilts

Then for my final splurge, because I couldn’t resist the cuteness, I bought a thread organizer from my friend Holly over at Bijou Lovely and a llama needle minder from A Needle Runs Through It on Etsy. (For those of you who knit, Holly also sells a version of her heart that is a knitting gauge.)

I bought two sizes of Aida cloth for my daughter to try out – 6 count and 11 count. She doesn’t like the idea of 6 count because it’s so big (even after I explained to her that it would be much easier for a beginner). So she is going to try the 11 count first. We will see how it goes! I promise to share progress and any lessons learned along the way. 🙂