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!

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  1. Reply

    Kaelyn Angelfoot

    April 28, 2016

    Have you tried using a non-fusible stabilizer with a little temporary spray adhesive to keep it in place during the cutting process? I would love a cricut but the required use of HnB Ultra would negate the purpose of what I want it for.

    • Reply


      April 28, 2016

      Good suggestion! I will try that and report back! It still might be a little too “stretchy” but we will see.

  2. Reply


    April 28, 2016

    I have a Silhouette Curio, but have been able to cut heavily starched quilting cotton (and I definitely mean heavily). I do find that the stickiness of the mats declines quickly when using fabric, so unfortunately it’s not a great solution for cutting a lot of shapes for a large quilt, but it is doable.

    • Reply


      April 28, 2016

      Interesting, I will have to try that. I have a fresh can of starch! Ha 🙂 I could definitely see the fibers from the fabric not doing any favors for the mat stickiness. I think the paper on the Heat n Bond probably helps with that (but again, then it needs to be fused to something).

  3. Reply

    Livia Boggs

    April 28, 2016

    Thank you! I’m going to have to try this! I have had a cricut for about 5 yrs. Never have used it! Well once just to try it! I was going to sell it but now maybe I’ll give fabric a try!!

  4. Reply


    April 28, 2016

    Are the mats made of silicon? If so, try washing them witha little washing-up liquid, rinse well under running cool water and allow to air dry. That restores the stickiness to sticky silicon surfaces so may work.

    • Reply


      April 28, 2016

      Hi Gloria! No, they are not – thanks for the idea though!

  5. Reply


    April 28, 2016

    Hi, it might be worth contacting the customer service department at cricut to see what they advise, they designed the machine to cut fabric as well as paper so should be able to advise. It must be very frustrating, not to say time consuming; best of luck.

  6. Reply


    May 4, 2016

    I just got a Silhouette Cameo and was eager to cut fabric and boy was it difficult. I was finally successful using heat n bond on the back, adhering it to the sticky mat and doing a double cut. Even so I had to snip a few places. I know Silhouette carries a deep cut blade so if I have trouble in the future I will try it, thanks so much for reporting this! I’m really enjoying cutting vinyl though, that cuts really well.

  7. Reply


    September 6, 2016

    I watched one video where someone lightly taped the fabric to the mat in the middle all around in four places and that seemed to keep it in place.

    • Reply


      September 6, 2016

      Good tip! I will try that next time.

  8. Reply


    September 22, 2016

    There are multiple tutorial on how to re-stick mats.

  9. Reply


    October 24, 2016

    I tried leaving the heat n bond paper on and the paper stuck to the mat so well I could hardly get it off. My solution is iron the fabric using starch. Iron on the heavy heat n bond. Remove the paper. Then proceed with the cutting directions above..

  10. Reply


    November 2, 2016

    I have been successful cutting fabric for applique quilts, however I have an issue. If I create an SVG file from my Everyday Embroidery Works software, when I import it into the Cricut software it is almost twice the size of the original design. I realize I have the ability to resize it in the Cricut software, but for it to work with the rest of the design, it needs to be EXACTLY the size of the original design. I also have Floriani Total Control U software, nut have not tried to see if the same problem exists there as well. Anyone else having similar issues?

  11. Reply


    January 17, 2017

    Faith, how quickly does your blade dull since you’re using it to cut not just the fabric, but also the paper?

    • Reply


      January 19, 2017

      Hi Tess! I haven’t cut enough fabric for it to be a problem, but I imagine it might.

  12. Reply


    January 20, 2017

    Try ironing freezer paper on the fabric rather than a stabiliser. I’ve found it worked on my cutting machine 🙂

  13. Reply

    Maureen Nevers

    January 29, 2017

    There is a (new?) product called Terial Magic that is a fabric spray that acts as a stabilizer. I just got a good sized bottle ($14 on Amazon) and tried it with appliqué. You spray it on the fabric, air dry for 15″, then iron the rest of the dampness out. The result is a VERY stiff piece of fabric – kind of like cardstock. I would think it would adhere to the mat just like paper, without the added bulk of the HnB. When you are done cutting, just run the piece under water and the spray is gone and the fabric is flexible again. I am thinking of lots of ways to use it for sewing, and even doing some stamping and embossing of fabric.

    • Reply


      January 30, 2017

      Oh wow, that sounds really interesting!

  14. Reply


    February 4, 2017

    I’ve been searching the internet endlessly to figure out how to cut fabric since the cricut offers that feature. Thanks for the info. I will have to try this. I tried it with the heat and bond originally and a purple mat and it tore up the fabric. I’ll try changing the settings as you did.

  15. Reply


    April 26, 2017

    I just got cricut Explore Air 2. I have been trying diff.things. I just love it. But I have tried fabric and on luck. So now I got the heat and bond heavy duty from Walmart and going to try that. I really want to cut material. So will be using all your tips. Thank you

  16. Reply


    May 4, 2017

    I am so glad I found your page I have been trying fabric to make flowers and I have used the heat and bond in between to pieces of fabric and it has been disappointing. It has bunched my fabric several times ruining the fabric I was working with. I used a strong grip mat and a new needle and nothing has worked. I am going to try the way you did it and hopefully I will have better results . I will just have to fuse the front and the back of the petals but adding this one more step will be worth it if it works

  17. Reply


    May 17, 2017

    Hello, I have a cutter, but not a cricut. I have a different brand, however, I have been told by my instructor to spray with Terreal magic, hub on the back. If you still have issues with cutting cleanly. Press a layer of freezer paper on the front as well. The freezer paper would probably be used if you are cutting intricate designs.

  18. Reply


    May 18, 2017

    When I use paper on a new cutting mat it always get stuck. Is there anything you came with to prevent this

    • Reply


      May 18, 2017

      Arlene – When I’m using a new mat, sometimes I will put my hand on it all over to make it slightly less sticky.

  19. Reply


    May 30, 2017

    The tote is beautiful! I made appliqued totes for my daughters 31 years ago. They are still sturdy and useable. They still use them , sometimes for their own kids! I didn’t put their names on them- didn’t need to, they were one of a kind!

  20. Reply

    Molly Gift

    May 30, 2017

    Hi – I am trying EVERYTHING to get my Cricut to cut fabric. I am using light weight fabric and only found success one time using the regular blade repeating the process about 6 times. I tried the deep cut blade a few times but never saw success. Do you have any additional tips? Do you have to run it through again or do you find success on the first try with the settings you showed? Please help!!

  21. Reply


    October 25, 2017

    You just saved my life!!! I have an apparel brand that utilizes appliques in my designs. I recently was gifted a Circut Explore Air and I’ve been having the toughest time trying to cut fabric. One of my main designs is quite intricate so I was at the verge of buying the new Circut Maker just for the rotary blade feature. I’m so glad I found your blog article. I did exactly what you described and my cut came out just about perfect. Thank you for sharing your method!!!

  22. Reply


    January 7, 2018

    Hi! I’m wondering if you’ve upgraded to the Cricut Maker since it cuts fabric with no bonding? If so, how do you like it?

    • Reply


      January 8, 2018

      Hi Lora! I don’t have the Maker but I’d LOVE to get one! From the videos I’ve seen, it looks like it does a great job and fills a need for us fabric lovers. 🙂


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