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Cricut Mats - Best Ideas and Tips

Updated on November 29, 2018
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Professional scrapbook artist, paper crafter, and author, I have taught people how to make family memories into legacies for 20 years.

Cricut Mat Basics

The Cricut Mats are made to hold a number of materials that can be cut with the Cricut line of electronic cutters. The mats have a stickiness to them so that the material you are cutting stays still for a perfect cut.

Types Of Mats

There are four different mats and each has it's own use.

  • The Blue Light Grip Mat-This mat is meant to be used with lighter and more delicate materials.Think about using it for lightweight cardstock or printer paper, vellum, wrapping paper and even crepe paper. The mat releases the material very easy. If you find the paper is shifting on the mat when you are cutting, it's time to go to the green mat. This mat makes it easier to remove more delicate paper.
  • The Green Standard Weight Mat-This is your go to mat for the majority of your projects. It really grips well and releases pretty easily. Use it for cardstock, embossed paper, vinyl, and iron-on vinyl. If you are going to cut felt, use one of your older green mats. Felt will destroy a mat pretty quickly.
  • The Purple Strong Grip Mat-This mat is made for heavier materials that the other mats might not hold. Think more like leather, glitter cardstock, and chipboard. It can also be used for stabilized fabric with the fabric blade on the Cricut Maker.It lives up to it's name and should be primed before using it.
  • The Pink Fabric Grip Mat-This is the newest mat that Cricut makes. It is designed to easily hold and release fabric specifically. Unstabilized fabric holds perfectly if you are using the Maker's fabric rotary blade.

Using the right mat for the right project makes all the difference in the world.

There are two basic sizes of Cricut mats. The standard mat is 12 by 12 inches. The larger mat is 12 by 24 inches. The larger mat would be used for making large signs, large wall decals and larger T shirts.

Mats come as single purchases or in packs of different mats.

Cricut Mat -Materials Guide

Cricut Light Grip Mat-Blue
Cricut Medium Grip Mat-Green
Purple Cricut Heavy Grip Mat-
Cricut Fabric Grip Mat
Printer Paper
Heavy Cardstock
Light Cardstock
Printable Vinyl
Embossed Cardstock
Window Cling
Iron Ons
Construction Paper
Patterened Paper
Glitter Cardstock
Magnet Material
Printable Vinyl
Printable Sticker Paper
Window Cling
Embossed Cardstock
Fabric With Stiffner
Iron Ons
Faux Leather
Sticker Paper
Poster Board

Priming Your Mat

When you get a new mat, there is one trick that will save you a lot of frustration. That trick is to prime your new mat before you use it for the first time.

All you do is to place the mat against the shirt that you are wearing just a couple of times. You just do it a few times that first times you use it.

Sounds a little crazy because it is always stressed to have clean mats. But when the mat comes out of the package, if you don't prime it just a bit, you will have a lot of problems removing the material that first use.

If you are cutting felt, fleece or other linty materials, it will help to put transfer tape behind the material before putting to on the mat. This will help keep the fuzz off the mat and make it easier to remove it from the mat. Once you are done with the cut, just remove the transfer tape.

How To Use And Care For Your Cricut Mats

The Cricut Bug has bitten me and I have been a fan for a few years now. There are lots of people who buy a cutting machine, only to have it sitting on the shelf. More than that, they don't get the full benefit of the Cricut Cutter because they don't know how to use everything that it has to offer.

One of the most important part of the unit is the cutting mat. Using your mats to their best advantage will save you lots of time and money. Here's how to get the most out of every mat !

Remember to remove all materials from your mat as soon as you are finished using them

There are many different ways and hacks to add life to your Cricut mats. The idea is to make the most out of your investment, Here is how

The Cricut Toolset

Using the Cricut tool set can help you avoid curling and rips. Use the spatula rather than your fingers to remove projects from the mat. Pick up any small pieces with the tweezers. Use the scraper to remove any leftover pieces to clean the mat off after a cut.

Applying And Cutting Mat Tips

Get the best cuts and projects by using these tips :

  1. Make sure to apply the paper or other materials correctly. To secure the paper. press down all edges and corners
  2. To prevent the blade from cutting through the mat, make sure to use the proper setting for cutting the material you are using
  3. Rotate the mat to use it evenly. Alternate the edge that you load in first
  4. Always peel the mat away from the material rather than peeling the material from the mat. Doing that will help keep the material from curling.

Date the back of the mat with a Sharpie when you start using it to help with mat rotation. Then you can use your older mats for things like vellum or pattern paper and the newer mats for cardstock and Bazzil.

Cricut Cutting Mat Tips

  1. Buy the bigger mats the 12x12 and cut them in half once to give me two 6x12 mats.There are two 12x12's in a package yet they only cost $4 more than two 6x12's but you'll end up with 4 once they're cut!
  2. Never put lighter weight paper on a new mat. I use it for heavier cardstock only for the first several cuts. Then, when it's not so sticky, I start to use if for the lighter paper.
  3. Cricut mats can be loaded from either leading end.
  4. Load mat aligning left side with flat edge of casing to allow the mat to load straighter.
  5. Roll a brayer over your paper and mat several times to help it stick better. You will not have to clean it as often.
  6. Date the back of your mats when you start using them so you know which one to get rid of first.
  7. When cutting a 3x3 piece of paper or smaller, use a newer or tackier mat.
  8. NO LONGER STICKY MATTS - DON"T throw it away when it is no longer sticky. Just use a small piece of masking tape, and tape down the corners of whatever size paper you're using. (If its a 12 inch piece, I also put a small piece along the long edges to keep it tight. ) I've used the same mat since Thanksgiving, and although I've got a new one, don't see the need to break it open.

No Scraper, No Problem

If you do not have a scraper tool. an old credit card or gift card will work fairly well to clean your mat. A spatua from the cake decorating area of your craft store, helps in lifting your cuts from the mat with ease.In a pinch, a small putty knife can be used to scrap your mat clean

Removing Your Projects From The Mats

Before you remove the cut project, remove all negative material from around the cut. Then lift the cut project off the mat with a Cricut spatula. Always remove the material from the mat usingan upward motion, rather than putting it back over the top to prevent curling.

Before removing your project from the mat, bend the mat slightly. Removing material from the corner and trying to lift it will cause a lot of ripping.

Watch Those Fingers !

Try to keep your fingers and hands off the adhesive part of the mat. The oils and residues on your fingers and hands will break down the adhesives on the mat. This is especially true of the fabric mat.

Cricut Tools And Tool Kit-Dos And Donts

The tools that you need for your Cricut are relatively few. But having them sure makes your life easier. Each of these tools make your cricut experience complete and are well worth the cost !

I prize my cricut tools and wouldn't be without them. They are kept in the cups on my machines

The spatula is used to remover materials from your mat. It is really useful for removing delicate cuts. You will get less tearing if you use it rather than your fingers.

The tweezers are perfect to remove those tiny bits of paper or vinyl.

The weeder is a must have if you are cutting vinyl. It is a must have for removing all the negative material around and inside of your cuts.

A plastic ruler can be used to scrap the mat to clean it It's an easy tool that you are going to use anyway.

Every now and then, move the Cricut blade to the CENTER of the mat so that portion of the mat gets used. Saves paper and the mat.

Ripped Mat? Quick Fix

Sometimes mats will rip, I know that it has happened to me. Well you can extend the life of your mat by using heavy packing tape on the back of the mat.

Mat Cleaning Ideas From Other Cricut Users - As Seen On The Internet

  • Baby Wipes seem very popular and the one cleaning tool that I use most often. I keep a container of them in my craft room. use store brand baby wipes. But never use alcohol wipes ! They will dry your mats !
  • Basic cleaning is with warm water and let them dry. You can add a mild dish soap-but it will take a little of the stickiness away. Another suggestion was to soak the mat in dawn soap for24 hours Then use a scraper to scrap the stuff off the mat and dry Then take reposition tape runner all over mat. Wait 10 mins. Worth a try.
  • A product called "Goof Off" has been used by a lot of crafters. Many of them swear by it
  • A lint roller is another tool that I keep handy to keep off those bits of paper
  • Remove materials from the mat right away. The longer you leave them on the mat, the harder it will be to remove them.

Tips And Special Care For The Fabric Mat

To get the most wear out of your pink fabric mat, you have to take care of it in an entirely different way.

Do not follow any of the cleaning or re-sticking procedures that you do for other mats. It has an entirely different adhesive.

You might see threads all over it, but that's ok, The materials will still stick on it and the rotary blade will still cut through it.

If it drives you crazy to see the left over threads, you can try a piece of sticky transfer tape. But proceed with caution.

Fabric Mat Tips

  • Cut your fabric down to size before using the mat. You need to cut the fabric to fit the sticky area. If it extends beyond that it may get caught in the rollers. That will cause your machine to jam. If you see that the fabric extends beyond the sticky part of the mat. use a rotary cutter to trim.
  • Iron your fabric to remove any wrinkles before placing on the mat. Wrinkles will cause the cut not be be precise.
  • The printed side should be placed down on the mat. If there is no defined printed side, place the size that you want to show on the mat.
  • Lightly position your fabric over the mat and then smooth the fabric with your hands. If the fabric does not appear to be sticking well, use a brayer or a kitchen rolling pin to smooth the fabric on the mat.
  • Once the cut is made, remove the excess fabric first. Avoid touching the sticky part of the mat, as the oil on your fingers will cause you to lose some of the mat adhesive. Use a broad tipped tweezers to remove your cut piece.

Never cut vinyl or paper on the fabric mat ! Remember this mat is only to be used with the Cricut Maker

Another Mat Cleaning Option

How To Renew Your Mat

I have found this technique to be the best one to both clean and renew your mats

What You Need

Mr Clean Magic Eraser

Zig Two Way Glue -The Wide Side

Painters Tape

  1. Wet your magic eraser and wash your mat. Use one side of the eraser to wash the mat, the other side to wipe over it. Make sure to get all the bits of paper off. If you need to clean more, use a baby wipe. Let mat dry completely
  2. Cover the edges of your mat with painters tape. This will prevent any glue from getting on your rollers
  3. Using the wide side of the Zig, two way pen, cover the mat completely with glue. You will be able to see the blue glue cover, so you can see where the glue is. Once the glue is dried completely you have a mat that is like new

I have also read about people using Elmer's Repositional Glue to restick their mats

Never Wash Your Cricut Mat !

I used to wash my mats in warm water with soap. Little did I know I was "washing" the stickiness right off the mat. Now I use baby wipes with each use. Then when the mat is dry, I replace the plastic mat cover

How To Store Your Mats

If you want to get the most wear out of your mats, then storing them properly has to be on your to do list, for sure.

One way to do the job, is to store them using felt lined pants hangers. You can store them on a rod in a closet or on a hook

Office binder clips would be another option, but I would glue some felt on the edges so that they do not eventually cut into the mats

Another way to store them is to use a command hook on the side of a desk or storage unit and hang them

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