Reported by Jenny Barnett Rohrs
When I first heard about the Xyron Creatopia at CHA last year, I was really intrigued. A machine that could apply adhesive, die cut, and rotary cut? Wow. And then I was offered the chance to review the Creatopia and try it out for myself.
I’m going to preface the rest of my review by saying that I’m approaching my evaluation of the Xyron Creatopia as a quilter/fabric artist- there will be other reviewers who approach the machine as paper crafters.
So let me first tell you what it does really well. Xyron is known for it’s adhesive and lamination, and as far as the Creatopia is concerned, it continues to do that flawlessly. I tried the fabric adhesive on cottons, batiks, felts, and foams, and the machine applied a wonderful adhesive easily.
I applied the fabric adhesive to these batiks. The adhesive is REALLY sticky when you remove it from the backing paper, and it likes to stick to itself- so be careful! After die-cutting my shapes (more on that in a minute) I stuck them to a baby snapsuit and free-motion appliqued it. I was so impressed that my needle glided through the adhesive without gumming up my needle whatsoever!
I absolutely LOVE the fabric adhesive in the Xyron Creatopia, and it’s my go-to adhesive for my small fabric arts projects from now on!
After prepping additional fabrics, I thought I’d try swapping out the cartridge for the die-cut insert known as the Xyron “Shapez.” This ingenious little insert allows you to take out both the adhesive cartridge and the rollers, and drop in a manual die-cutting machine! The cuts has a span of 6 1/2 inches wide and will accept all dies- even Sizzex Bigz!
Now, I’m going to pause a moment and tell you that the first time I had to take out the rollers I did not have an easy time. The instructions are vague, and I struggled with the Positioning Arm trying to get it unlocked and moved into the right position. I kept worrying that I was going to break it. But then I found this handy-dandy video on YouTube, (Bless you, Xyron people!) and I felt more confident after watching it.
So once I got the Shapez installed, I really went to town trying out ALL of my dies! It cut like butter using the Cuttlebug dies, Sizzix dies, and Bigz dies.
Now, again, I ran into one annoying part of the Creatopia- the crank handle, which flips up, occasionally did so while I was trying to die-cut. Usually this happened when I was having to man-handle the machine while running a big chunky die through the Xyron. Another thing to note is the sheer weight of the Shapez insert- it easily weighs 7-9 pounds- so if you have problems lifting, this may be a challenge for you. These factors aren’t enough to make me avoid using the Shapez insert, but it IS something to be aware of.
I had such a fun time with the fabric-backed die cut shapes that I had to sit down at my sewing machine immediately and applique the snapsuit I mentioned above, as well as this fabric postcard!
So now on the last component I was given to try- the Cutz.
The first reason I have for this conclusion was installing it. It was difficult to get installed into the Creatopia base, and geez-oh-petes it’s HEAVY. Like 10 pounds heavy. I could quit my gym and just lift this instead! And while I was impressed by the amazing array of cutting wheels (like rotary cutters in a plastic cartridge), getting them to snap onto the rails was also challenging. Even after watching the video, I still had problems getting the tab to “snap” and securely lock into the rails.
Finally, when I got it set up and cutting paper, I tried sliding though quilters’ cotton. No go. It cut only intermittently. Next I fused some freezer paper to the backside of some cotton and tried again:
See those ragged threads? Yeah, me too. It was at this point I decided that I’d just stick with my trusty rotary cutter for fabric projects.
Now, as a fabric artist, I often used Pellon or Peltex, as a stabilizer for fabric postcards, and it cut that very well:
I also tried the Cutz with paper with some mixed results- it worked great on cardstock (after fussing with the rollers), foamie sheets, cardboard, and cork. However, on thin papers, like sheet music, it didn’t work as well. But like I said at the beginning of this review, I’m really narrowing my focus to fabric items, and it’s not my favorite for that.
All in all, it’s a great tool for a fabric artist. The fabric adhesive is awesome, and the ability to swap out inserts and use it as a die cutter will tickle most quilters. It DOES have a huge footprint, so you need a bit of room. But if you’ve never had a Xyron before and want to take the plunge, this is the one to have.
- Base unit is reasonable (about $150)
- Ability to have 3 machines in one is fabulous for the cross-over multi-crafter.
- YouTube videos really help the learning curve with installing the components.
- Adhesives are wonderful.
- Shapez big enough to accommodate all dies.
- Large footprint (14″ x 22″)
- Written directions aren’t great.
- Shapes and Cutz components are heavy.
- Everything is BIG- the cartridges, etc, and you need storage for it all.
- Handle can flip up while cranking.
One of our lucky readers is going to win a Creatopia of their very own… tell us what whiz bang ideas you have for the Creatopia, and you’ll be entered to win! One comment per person, per Vendor Spotlight: Xyron Creatopia article (this is 3 of 6), please. Winner will be randomly chosen on Saturday, June 26th.