Welcome to HLCW Crafts Blog

Crafting is all about breaking out of your comfort zone and making something that is truly yours. After all, a little bit of elbow grease, coupled with your brain’s creative juices, can lead to remarkable results.

That being said, welcome to HLCW Crafts Blog! Be sure to keep reading! Never stop crafting!

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Cricut Maker for Beginners

The 6 Best Cricut Machines for Beginners [2020]

Cricut machines have revolutionized the crafting and hobby industry by allowing normal, everyday individuals to have a professional cutting machine right in their own homes.

However as a beginner it might be intimidating when deciding on which cutting machine to buy. So to make sure that you make the right decision as a beginner buying your first Cricut machine, we have curated a list below that includes some of the best Cricut machines for beginners that you can consider purchasing depending on what suits your needs.

#1 – Cricut Explore Air 2

cricut explore air 2 for beginners


The fastest variation of the Cricut Explore range of machines, the Explore Air 2 has the ability to cut more than 100 types of materials including but not limited to specialty paper, adhesive foils, cardstock and much more.

The intricacy of the Explore Air 2 is quite impressive as it has a function that allows it to create cuts at just the right depth and with the perfect amount of pressure that is dependent on the type of material being cut. With a cloud-based free Design Space software, users can customize and edit their projects on the go as they please.


  • Beginners will find the Explore Air 2 to be extremely useful as they can enjoy more than 3,000 pre-made design ideas and projects.
  • Unlike other Cricut machines, this one does not experience any difficulties when cutting through printable images.
  • It is two times faster than other Cricut machines in the Explore range of machines.
  • The design of the machine is extremely stylish with beautiful vintage colors that users can pick from to suit their aesthetic.
  • It is quite sturdy and durable as it is well made.


  • Several users have reported that they found the software to be problematic.
  • The machines cutting mat loses its adhesiveness pretty fast.

#2 – Cricut Maker

Cricut Maker for Beginners


Debuting in August 2017, the Cricut maker is extremely versatile as it has the capability to cut wood and fabric, unlike other Cricut machines. Equipped with a rotary cutter for crepe paper and fabrics and a knife blade for thicker materials such as foam board, and wood this device can be used for almost any project including vinyl decals, iron-on, and papercrafts and leather crafts, balsa models and sewing projects.

Beginners will appreciate the fact that the Cricut maker is equipped with a bunch of helpful paraphernalia such as blades, pens, and scoring tools that they can use. The Cricut maker is more than ideal for beginners because of how it simplifies quilting and sewing projects. Finally, the Cricut Maker is Bluetooth enabled and is available in four different colors that you can pick from depending on what suits your aesthetic.


  • In comparison to its competitors, the Cricut maker is more versatile.
  • It is easy to use.
  • Users can achieve elaborate scoring when embossing
  • Fabric designs are included as part of the package.
  • Users can upload their own designs, images and fonts effortlessly


  • The knife blade and scoring wheel must be purchased separately, which adds onto the cost of purchasing the machine.

#3 – Cricut Explore One


The first Cricut machine to include internet technology for its design space functionality, the Cricut Explore one is ideal for novices who are just starting their crafts journey. The Explore One is an inexpensive version of the Explore Air 2 Cricut machine. The Cricut explore one introduces beginners into the DIY world as they can cut almost anything including vinyl, leather, paper, cardstock, poster board as well as fabric. Unlike the Explore Air 2, the Explore one does not have Bluetooth technology, but users can purchase an adapter that they can use when they want to cut designs wirelessly from their gadgets. With the possibility to design user-specific designs on different materials, beginners can achieve precise cuts of different sizes and shapes. Additionally, the machine uses a German carbide blade that offers users quick and accurate cuts on a lot of fabrics.


  • It is equipped with a smart set dial function that facilitates cut accuracy for the designs regardless of the materials.
  • Beginners are guaranteed of precise cuts if they use this machine thanks to the various technologies that facilitate this.


  • For the Bluetooth adapter, one has to buy it separately from the machine, which increases the cost that one has to incur.
  • It still uses cartridges which tend to be quite costly.

#4 – Cricut Explore Air

Cricut Explore Air for Beginners


The Explore air is a perfect entry-level machine that allows beginners to customize designs as they wish. The Explore Air includes everything a beginner may require to accurately create spectacular crafts and projects using different materials such as thick fabrics, vellum, adhesive vinyl, iron-on amongst others.

Unlike the Explore One, the Explore Air can cut a card and simultaneously write a personalized message on the card in a single step thanks to the dual carriage that includes a cutter and marker. Similarly, it can cut boxes and thereafter score the boxes’ fold lines.

Equipped with an integrated Bluetooth function that facilitates wireless cutting, users need to connect the machine to their phones or computers which are used to control the machine without the need for wires.


  • Beginners can rely on the machine for wireless cutting.
  • The designs cut using the Explore air are typically centered thanks to the orange grid lines.
  • The installation and set-up processes of the machine are quite effortless.
  • The Explore Air can precisely cut over 60 different materials
  • The build of the machine is well done such that it ensures durability. And it has some equally well-made blades.


  • The machine’s design software is rather slow in comparison to its competitors.
  • It can only function if it is connected to the internet.

#5 – Cricut EasyPress 2

Cricut Easy Press for Beginners


One of the best ways to customize your gifts and things is by heat transferring vinyl and iron-on on to them. Unlike the other Cricut machines we have discussed in our list above, the Cricut EasyPress 2 machine is a little different as it is mainly used for high-speed heat pressing on T-shirts, blankets, banners, sweatshirts and several other materials.

With intuitive buttons that help with the operation of the machine, beginners can effortlessly enjoy working with crafts and DIY projects


  • The machine is available in three different sizes, with the largest being 12 x 10 inches.
  • Beginners can easily transform iron-on onto several materials in a minute or less.
  • It is extremely compact and lightweight with a slim build that is aesthetically pleasing and ideal for use in small spaces and at home.
  • It is extremely easy to set up and use which makes it perfect for newbies
  • The machine heats up pretty fast


  • Several users have complained that the machine requires several presses for the iron-on to stick as the machine loses heat easily while it is in use.
  • It is rather costly, falling on the higher end of the price spectrum which a few beginners may not appreciate.

#6 – Cricut Cuttlebug Die Cutting & Embossing Machine

Cricut Cuttlebug for Novices


The Cricut cuttlebug is also ideal for beginners who are interested in die-cutting and embossing on different materials such as foils, thin leather, acetate ribbon, tissue paper amongst others. Beginners will enjoy using the Cricut cuttlebug machine as it adds dimension and texture to their projects, and the cuts are crisp and clean with a professional appearance. This machine features a compact fold-n-store profile, a suction, and a collapsible handle.

  • Pros
  • It is extremely easy and straightforward to use.
  • It can be used on a variety of materials, including thin leather and even tissue paper.
  • It is the perfect machine for embossing.
  • Despite its simplicity, you will be hard-pressed to find a machine that can deliver similar results for the same price.


  • Users may want to consider a different machine for their more intricate designs as the Cuttlebug does not cut all the way through for the extremely detailed designs.

Final Thoughts

Cricut machines are well-regarded by most DIY enthusiasts and professionals for their ability to perform precise cuts and enable computer designed patterns when crafting on paper, cardstock, vinyl and even wood. While the market is flooded with many alternatives for Cricut machines, Cricut is still the gold standard.

Picking the one that best meets your needs as a beginner might be extremely complicated. A lot of times, beginners are usually tempted to choose the latest, Cricut machine which is not always a good idea simply because as a beginner you may not know how to manipulate the machine. So how then does one decide on which Cricut machine to acquire? The most important elements that should influence your choice of a beginners Cricut machine should be your needs, budget, and ease of use.

If you are a craft lover, a Cricut machine is a handy tool that should be included as part of your arsenal. The machine takes away the hassle of hand-cutting shapes and designs on the different materials and as such, facilitate the ability to create beautiful decorations, letterings, and shapes on the said materials. Aside from the previously mentioned factors that beginners have to consider, there are a couple more considerations that may need to be made before the final purchase decision is made. Some of these considerations include; the machine’s software, wireless capability, wireless capability, compactness, cutting speed, and finally its ability to cut through as many materials as possible.


Womans Weekly – How to Use a Die Cutting Machine to Impress

CuttingMachine.Reviews – Reviews of the best cutting machines on the market, including lots of info on Cricut Machines and comparisons between models.

HSN.com – Breakdown of the various cutting machines on the market, with pricing.



Your Guide to the Ultimate Kid’s Birthday Party

What’s better for kids to look forward to, besides Friday afternoons, the weekend, and Christmas?  Well, their birthday of course?  It’s such an important time for them, and as parents its really important to take time to think about how you can help them celebrate it.

Of course, we shouldn’t spoil kids (not too badly), we’ll save that for grandkids.  Nonetheless for a parent that enjoys planning and design (like me), it’s a great time to show off your skills and get some really cool ideas laid out.

So in this guide we’ll look at what I think the ultimate guide for a birthday part would be.  Some of these ideas might be outside your price range (bounce houses and a dunk tank, for example), but some don’t really cost much at all (water balloon toss, for example).  In any case, you can pick and choose which ones you want to include that fit within your budget.

Let’s go!

Bounce Houses – Turn Your Backyard into an Amusement Park

SpongeBob Squarepants Bounce House
A SpongeBob Squarepants Bounce House can be a great centerpiece of your kids party.

Did you know that in many states a bounce house rental company is a registered amusement ride provider?  They go through many of the same certifications and inspections as amusement parks!  (As they should, considering your kids will be jumping around on these things.)

But what this also means is that renting a big ol’ bounce castle in your backyard is like turning the house into an amusement park.  Neat, right?

Taking into account the fact that these things are booming in popularity with the kiddos these days, I think it makes sense to make it the centerpiece of your party.

Here’s a couple of tips:

  • Pick one that will comfortably fit the kiddies at your party.  Otherwise, you’ll need to be sure to that an adult is always watching to make sure its not over populated.
  • Many bounce houses come with character themes, such as SpongeBob SquarePants, or Dora the Explorer.  This is where you can really get relevant to the interests of your kid in particular.

One last shout out, we are in New Jersey and used Bounce Houses New Jersey for our party.  They were really amazing to work with, so highly recommended if you are in the area.

Dunk Tank – Now we are getting crazy

Dunk Tank Rental

The same companies that rent bounce houses can also rent lots of other party goodies, including a big option, the dunk tank.

Now one immediate caveat, this is kind of crazy.  This is for big parties with lots of kids AND adults.  You’ll be wanting to dunk a willing adult (usually this is Dad or a likeable Uncle), and you’ll need lots of people to participate in order to make it worth it.

There is a reason why these are usually saved for corporate events, however, since this is the “Ultimate Guide”, why hold back?

A few tips if you decide to go this route:

  • Have a yard that big enough to house the dunk tank and have space for people to throw the ball (at least 20-30 feet to make it challenging).
  • It’s filled with hundreds of gallons of water so you’ll want to be near some good drainage.
  • Make the most of it by scheduling at least 3 dunk sessions.
  • Careful with dunking kids, they might get mad and upset.  Might want to stick with adults.

A last shoutout, we used Above All Party Rentals, and they were great to work with.  Recommended if you are in the area!

Popcorn and Cotton Candy – Your Own Concession Stands!

Taking the amusement park concept to the next level, we have to add in some goodies from the concession stands.  Party rental companies with usually always have food machines such as popcorn machines and cotton candy machines.  Additionally you could always fire up a grill with hot dogs, hamburgers/etc.

Obviously food and treats are always a necessity for kids at parties.  Kids are easy to please, generally, so you could always go with a pizza party, however if you want to stick with carnival theme, you could consider going to extra mile and get yourself a cotton candy machine (making the cotton candy is really fun and cool looking too!)

UPDATE: Apparently Amazon has Cotton Candy Machines for less than 60 bucks, so if you want to pick that up, it could work really well.  Of course, who knows if you’ll ever use it again, so make room in the garage or basement!




Choosing the Right Color for Your Kitchen Cabinets

Most people would tell you that living in a rental often leads to an undesirable cabinet situation. However, as any expert crafter would tell you, there is no problem that you shouldn’t be able to solve by yourself.

Choosing the right color

It is vital that you understand that the number of shades and colors are virtually limitless. The most important thing is to take your time and figure out what works best. The secret to success is working with your space and the existing colors.

Consider the color of your floor, backsplash, and walls. You will need to start from there and choose a color that complements these elements. If you wish to establish a neutral color scheme then simply paint it white. You can also opt for gray or beige for a subdued look.

Just a word of caution, though, painting kitchen cabinets entail a long and tedious process. However, if done right, then all your efforts would surely be worth it. Luckily, we are here to help you do just that.

DIY Project: Watermelon Invites

The summer season is finally upon us once again. While basking in the sun and getting a tan is nice, it is also important to let your hair down a bit and unwind. It just happens that there is no better way to do just that than to throw a tropical-themed beach party.

Presented below is a guide to help you craft the perfect invitation for your summer shindig! First, you will be needing the following materials:

  • 8.5 x 11 Card Stock (choose warm colors)
  • Scissors
  • Hole puncher
  • String

Download a printable template or design one of your own. Be sure to state the theme of your party and make the layout as attractive as possible. Then, once you are done designing the invitation, the next step would be to print it out on your 8.5 x 11 card stock.

If you want to keep things simple then you can stop here. However, if you wish to step things up a bit, then feel free to do so. Just take your scissors and cut the invitations according to the desired shape. Just be sure that it follows your party’s summer theme.

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