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When you’re first looking at cutting machines, the two major contenders are Cricut and Silhouette. In 2014, my husband said he would get one for me for my birthday, all I had to do was tell him what I wanted :) Easier said than done!
I spent quite a while researching Silhouette and Cricut. The Cricut Explore had just come out, everyone loved it and said it was easier than the Silhouette Cameo, so I went for it! My trusty Cricut served me well in my crafting journey from just pinning things on Pinterest (you ALL know what I’m talking about), to actually crafting things. Signs, shirts, paper flowers—you name it, I wanted to figure it out and do it.
Don’t get me wrong—my Cricut Explore was great, so much so that when there was a sale on the Cricut Air 2 I purchased one so I could have two machines. Often times one ended up at work so I could label all the things!
Two of the major factors in me deciding to steer away from Cricut to Silhouette was the ability to design and work offline. With Cricut, I was frequently designing what I wanted in Illustrator, saving as an SVG and then importing to DesignSpace. And, on more than one occasion, I needed to cut something, but DesignSpace was down or having an issue, which meant I couldn’t use my machine. Totally not ideal, but didn’t happen that frequently. Cricut has since developed software that you can use offline, that is a huge benefit now!
In 2016 I stumbled upon this amazing patterned vinyl company, SparkleBerry INK (if you haven’t heard of them, check them out here!). You may have seen some of my hand lettered digital files featured on their Facebook Lives and included in their SparkleBerry monthly subscription box. Mandy is absolutely amazing, and for her crafts she uses a Silhouette Cameo. She was always talking about her Cameo, about the ability to design cool things within the Silhouette Studio software and that you don’t need to be online to use it—one of the previous downfalls of the Cricut.
Late 2018 I finally did it, I purchased a Silhouette Cameo 3 on a black Friday deal from Expressions Vinyl. I couldn’t wait to open it and get started.
When it first arrived, I couldn’t wait to get it out of the box! I also chose the day of one of my craft parties to try to figure it out—ha, I don’t recommend that ;) It took some trial and error, but once I got it all figured out, I was off to the races! Silhouette School Blog is a great resource for anyone just starting out. Any of my questions I had she had an answer.
Ever since then, I think I used my Cricut once. ONCE! I completely fell in love with the Silhouette Cameo 3 and couldn’t imagine going back. I eventually sold my Cricut Explore One and Air 2 as they were both just sitting there gathering dust.
Both machines have amazing communities and followers. For people just starting out with no other crafters for help, I would probably still recommend the Cricut. It’s easy to setup right out of the box and hit the ground running. Don’t get me wrong, it has it’s quirks and you may need assistance with some things, but I would rate it as a great beginners tool.
The Silhouette Cameo 3 had a slight learning curve. Going from Cricut to Silhouette, I was used to the way things worked in DesignSpace, which settings to use, etc. Had I stared with the Silhouette, it may not have been that bad. I really like that Silhouette Studio was a lot like Illustrator and I could do everything I wanted to do there—and I didn’t need to be connected to the internet to do it! There are different versions of Silhouette Studio, the basic version is free. The different versions allow different abilities within Silhouette Studio. I decided to upgrade to the Business Edition after multiple people recommended it in various craft groups—I believe I also got it on sale. I also recommend that version, it gives you the ability to do just about anything! You can upgrade your Silhouette Studio software here!
I would hands-down recommend the Silhouette Cameo (the Cameo 4 was just released!). If you are serious about your crafting and want to be able to have more Adobe Illustrator like abilities, Silhouette is the way to go. Is it a challenge to learn at first? Sure, but many things are. With the right tools, you can succeed! There are also so many craft groups out there on Facebook that are incredibly supportive and will help answer your questions. I have my own Hey There, Crafty! Makers Group, feel free to check it out!
Not sure which one to go with? Both machines have free software you can download and try. I would suggest downloading both and playing around. See what you can do in Silhouette Studio that you can’t do in DesignSpace and vice versa.
Look for more Silhouette tips and tricks coming soon on my blog. It’s a great machine with great design software. I want to be that resource for you and all your Silhouette questions!
Links to purchase a Silhouette Cameo or Cricut: