If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you might assume that if I were to get asked which Cricut machine I’d recommend for others to purchase, I’d always say the Maker. And while my love for the Maker knows no end ;), I always have some followup questions before I can answer, and depending on a person’s crafting interests and intentions, I often recommend the Explore Air 2 rather than the Maker. So in the spirit of that, today I’m going to share 5 things I love about the Cricut Explore Air 2, along with a fun DIY workout leggings tutorial (sponsored by Cricut) that you can make with the Explore Air 2 and SportFlex Iron-On!
Let’s get right to it…
The Cricut Explore Air 2 is extremely user friendly.
The Explore Air 2 was my first Cricut machine, after I had been using a different brand of cutting machine. What I loved right off the bat, and what is still one of my favorite things about the machine, is the simple dial on the machine for selecting the material to be cut. It takes all the guess work out of deciding what pressure etc to use, and the settings always produce the perfect cutting result for me.
I am the person that will do something wrong when it’s supposedly impossible to mess up (after hearing how you can’t mess up cooking with an Instant Pot, I was the one with boiling oatmeal spewing allll over my kitchen while I watched helplessly in horror), and the fact that my very first cut with the Explore Air 2 was flawless says a lot about the machine, lol.
Knowing that I can use the Explore Air 2 to easily add Iron-on designs to my sewing projects like this DIY cactus shirt without the worry that I’ll mess anything up makes the creating process so much more fun.
The Cricut Explore Air 2 has wireless bluetooth technology.
I almost always use the bluetooth feature for my projects. I like to design my projects on my desktop computer, but love that I can then simply open the Cricut app on my phone, find my project, and connect wirelessly to my Explore Air 2 without having to move it closer to my computer to plug in. It makes projects like these DIY fanny packs faster to make than going to the store and buying them! For these workout pants, I was able to leave my Explore Air 2 on my cutting table across the room from my computer and cut everything from my phone!
You can cut your own uniquely created designs with the Explore Air 2.
Design Space allows you to upload your own images and fonts when creating a project, so you really can create almost anything you can dream up with the Explore Air 2. I shared a free unicorn backpack pattern as one of my first Explore Air 2 projects, and it was so fun to be able to design it and then also share the SVG file with you so you can make one too!
The Cricut Explore Air 2 cuts incredibly precisely.
In designing today’s project, I didn’t even have to think about whether the Explore Air 2 would handle the intricate scalloped stripes design. It really wasn’t a thought until I was writing this post, ha! I can always count on it to cut my designs perfectly, no matter how detailed or precise they need to be. Look how beautifully it handled the SportFlex Iron-On!
The Cricut Explore Air 2 has a great price point.
If you plan to only create with materials like paper, vinyl, or iron-on (which is fairly common for many of my non-sewist but craft loving friends), and don’t have interest in cutting fabrics or thicker materials like leather or wood, the Explore Air 2 will cover all of those bases for you, while being friendlier on the budget than the Cricut Maker. It’s currently on sale on Cricut’s website, and will save you quite a bit compared to the cost of the Maker. That doesn’t mean that the Maker isn’t worth every penny (because it is), but if you don’t need the extra features that separate the Explore Air 2 from the Maker, you can use those extra dollars for more supplies to you with your machine or an EasyPress 2 or Mini!
I could go on with many more reasons why I love and personally use the Cricut Explore Air 2, but in the spirit of getting to today’s project today, I’ll leave it at that for now! Feel free to comment with any questions you have that I didn’t cover!
Ready to get started on our DIY Workout Leggings with Cricut SportFlex Iron-On?
DIY Workout Leggings with Cricut SportFlex Iron-On and the Explore Air 2
Supplies: (affiliate links below)
Workout leggings (these are what I used and my very favorite!) – the Design Space project has designs for the 3 leggings in this tutorial, but you can just do one pair/design, two, or three, whatever you’d like! SportFlex Iron-On is designed for tech fabrics like polyester and nylon, not cotton, so keep that in mind as you choose your leggings
Cricut Explore Air 2
Cricut SportFlex Iron-On – I used the metallic blue and gold from this sampler pack and this neon pink
Standard Grip Mat
EasyPress 2/EasyPress Mini and mat (the Mini is helpful for designs that go around the entire leg which I’ll explain more below)
Open the project in Design Space. If you aren’t doing all three designs, you can click “customize” and delete the designs you aren’t using. You can also resize the designs as desired (the pieces to be wrapped around the leg are designed extra long to accommodate most sizes, and will be trimmed later, but check the measurements with leggings you’re using and adjust as needed). Otherwise, click “make it” to be taken to the cutting screen.
Note: I prefer leggings to have a design on one leg only, but if you’d like to make it symmetrical, you can simply choose “2” for project copies above the mats on left side of the cutting screen.
Be sure to click “mirror” on each mat, otherwise the text will be backwards when applied.
Turn the Explore Air 2 dial to “Iron-on”. Following the on-screen instructions, load each mat and press “C” to cut. I like to use a couple of mats so I can begin weeding the previous mat while the next one is cutting.
Weed all of the negative Iron-on and trim plastic around each piece, leaving “Run.” and “Repeat.” words as one piece with plastic remaining between the two. Layer “Craft.” and “Sleep.” pieces between “Run.” and “Repeat.” pieces (be sure plastic is trimmed close enough to middle words to not cover any of “Run.” and “Repeat.”.
One thing to keep in mind for designs that wrap all the way around the calf/ankle is that you’ll still need enough stretch to allow for comfortable wearing. SportFlex Iron-on is designed to be stretchy, but still has it’s limits when applied in the round like we are for two of our leggings. I found it really helpful to gently stretch the SportFlex once applied before wearing it, as it will likely need a little “working in” by stretching gently to allow comfortable wearing ease. This ankle was a bit snug at first after I made it, but is perfect now that it’s loosened up a bit after stretching. I was nervous it would lose color or it’s shape after being stretched but it did just what it’s designed to do so I was definitely pleased!
For our first design, we’ll start with the simplest design to fuse.
Follow Cricut’s online heat guide, which in this case was to heat the EasyPress 2 to 305degrees, preheat the fabric for 5 seconds, and fuse the SportFlex Iron-on to the fabric for 30 seconds. Turn the leg inside out and press for another 15 seconds, then peel the plastic protective sheet while warm.
So easy, right?!
Next, we’ll make our scalloped lace design.
Follow the same general steps as above, but as the design will be going around the entire circumference of the leg, you’ll need to press a section, rotate the leg, press again, and repeat until you’ve almost gone around the entire leg. I like to start near the inner leg seam as it will help hide the overlapped area where you started and finished.
Note: I used the EasyPress 2 to fuse this design, and used the EasyPress Mini to fuse the bow design (below). After trying both EasyPresses, I prefer the EasyPress Mini for fusing in the round as it helps to decrease the chance of creases since you can avoid pressing on the folded edge of the leg where Iron-on has already been fused.
When you get near the beginning of the Iron-on, peel back the plastic on the fused ends, hold the opposite end where it will be fused and trim, allowing the two ends to overlap slightly. They may or may not match up well, but you can adjust where you trim for the best look, and it won’t be visible enough for anyone else to notice.
Lastly, we’ll add a fun bow Iron-on design to the last pair of leggings.
Before we start, know that the diagonal strips (shorter rectangles) will be separate for each side of the leg (inside and outside in this case), so there are 4 total, and the horizontal strips (longer rectangles) will each wrap around the entire circumference of the leg, so you’ll have 2 total. To get an idea of how the design will be places, lay the bow and strip pieces on the outside of the leg as pictured.
First, follow the same steps as above to fuse the bow piece in place. Don’t worry about pressing from the inside yet, as we’ll do that after all of the SportFlex pieces are fused.
For the following steps, be sure to cover any already fused Iron-on that might come in contact with the EasyPress Mini again with a scrap plastic sheet to protect it from the heat.
Next, place one diagonal strip as previously layed out, allowing the ends to hang about 1/8-1/4″ off each leg folded edge. Fuse the strip in place with the EasyPress Mini (it comes in super handy on small pieces like this where you want to avoid pressing an entire area), but do not fuse 3/4″ from each edge. Rotate leg and fuse each free end in place. Peel plastic while warm.
Repeat previous step to fuse next diagonal strips in place, peeling plastic while warm.
Repeat steps above with diagonal strips on opposite side. Align strips so that the uneven overlap is on on the outer (upper and lower) edges of the diamond as pictured, as those will be covered by the horizontal strips.
Use EasyPress Mini to fuse one long strip near bottom of design, centered vertically with the bow, and beginning and ending close to the bow, rotating leg as needed (trim excess length before fusing last end of strip). Strip should be placed to overlap slightly with diagonal strips, covering uneven overlapped areas.
Fuse remaining long strip to top of design, rotating leg as needed, slightly overlapping where diagonal strips meet. When nearing first fused end, trim free strip end to slightly overlap first end and then fuse in place.
You have yourself some fun DIY workout leggings that are sure to help keep you motivated and moving! For more cool DIY projects, be sure to check out our tutorials gallery!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.