The Definitive Guide to Craft Tools
Lately, I reviewed Sizzix Big Shot, and I was quite satisfied with it.
Now I’ve got my hands on Big Shot Plus, and I’m so curious what’s the difference.
If you’re interested in this as well, read on - here’s my Sizzix Big Shot Plus review.
As I mentioned in one of my several reviews of die-cutters, die-cutting was first preordained only for professionals - it originates in the shoe industry and leather cutting.
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Nowadays, the act refers to creating cut-out shapes in a broad set of materials, and it beautifully pairs with embossing to create custom-designed cards, books, envelopes, labels, cardboard boxes, letters, quilts… The list is extensive and does not end here, especially since your creativity and skills can add new entries to the list. Novelty is guaranteed.
These convenient gadgets let you mass create, too: with these, you can cut or imprint the exact same shape for an infinite number of times, unlike their forerunners, scissors and embossing powder.
The manufacturers have, of course, put competitive offers on the market. One of the options is Sizzix Big Shot Plus with its starter kit I will be unboxing today.
A Word About Sizzix
Sizzix is a brand that offers a wide array of home products for die-cutting and embossing machines made by Ellison. Their first die-cutting machine was made more than 40 years ago, in 1977.
Since then, they’ve improved and expanded their range of products so that now they produce not only quality manual, motorized and electronic machines that can cut and emboss a long list of materials, but also diverse add-ons.
The company cooperates with graphic-design artists, so their assortment of add-ons is creative and unique.
Sizzix Big Shot Plus - Specs Table
The machine is good as its specs are, on a table presented below. If you’re skilled enough to know what you need and what suits you, this table will represent my personal opinion on Big Shot Plus.
|Sizzix Big Shot Plus Reviews|
|Supported accessories and materials||5/5|
|Value for money||4.5/5|
If you want to find out why this product scored these grades on my table, read on - my detailed review awaits!
What can you Find in the Box?
Big Shot Plus machine
2 cutting pads
Adapter sheets A&B, which make it compatible for other brands’ dies
- Thinlits Plus Die Set - die sets for cardstock and papercraft boxes
- Bigz L Die - larger die
- Textured Impressions Plus embossing folder with an even pattern
- 4 double-sided A4 cardstock sheets
- 10 double-sided cardstock sheets (5.5 x 6 inches/14 x 15 cm)
Warranty card (1 year, additional 2 if you sign up on their site)
Tech Specs and Features:
Dimensions: 15.8 x 7.5 inches (40 x 19 cm)
Weight: 17 pounds (8 kg)
Length of the opening: 9 inches (21 cm)
Middle-sized handle with Sizzix logo
Diagrams with guidelines on the platforms and adapters
- Textured Impressions
- Texture Fades
- Embossing Folders
- Bigz Pro
- Plastic bags
Sizzix Big Shot Plus In-Depth Review
Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to analyze all these features and see how Big Shot Plus performs.
Appearance-wise, this white-grey unit is not giant but would not be classified into the lightweight category, either. It will take up a whole table, and with 17 pounds, you won’t probably be too eager to move it around. It’s around 15-20% heavier than it’s predecessor.
After all, the “Plus” part of the name is there for a reason.
The 9’’ cutting opening is wide enough to let you cut and emboss in any direction and it accepts large dies. Because of this, you can even cut several projects at the same time and cut 3D objects (such as gift boxes).
Here is where the “Plus” part is an advantage.
The process isn’t complicated: first, you position one cutting pad, then position the die-cutting shape side up, and then your material, following with the other cutting pad. This is the simplest recipe for the so-called “die-cutting sandwich”.
With embossing, the procedure for making the sandwich to roll through the gadget is almost the same: first the cutting pad, your material between the embossing folder, and the second cutting pad on top.
Again, add adapters if needed (for example, you will need adapter B when using the Textured Impressions Embossing Folders). You put the sandwich in the machine, turn the handle and voila! Your material is imprinted.
It has very reliable and stable fixed rollers to ensure you that your cuts will be precise and consistent.
The handle is easy to grip and comes in handy here. Once you’ve put your die-cutting or embossing sandwich in the machine, you will manually turn the wind-up handle to cut your shape into the material or emboss it. With Big Plus Shot, this step is smooth and precise.
The Accessories & Compatible Packs
At this stage comes one disappointing side of this gadget: accessories included in the box.
If you buy this machine without the starter kit, the only thing you will get is the cutting pads set and adapters.
However, while this tool does not essentially come with any accessories, there is a wide range of compatible add-ons:
- Embossing folders, etc
They extend the functions and possibilities of this machine in terms of materials and cutting shapes. Sizzix Big Shot Plus even accepts some extensions from other brands.
I would say that you should buy at least a starting kit along with your machine so that you can properly start your homemade business.
Available Starter Kits
There is a variety of Sizzix starter kits to choose from. I’ll review them for you, and elaborate on which one you should choose.
Sizzix Big Shot Starter Kit inspired by David Tutera, a famous US designer.
This starter kit includes:
- A cardstock pad with 12 sheets with unique designs (most of their designs are hand-drawn) 6 x 6 inches (15 x 15 cm)
- Thinlits die set for a single sheet of material (usually with floral designs, these are one of the most popular Sizzix dies)
- Textured Impressions Embossing Folder (A6/4.1 x 5.8 inches)
- Clear Stamp Set, with various captions in artistic handwriting for your greeting cards or scrapbooks
- Cards and envelopes for your design (A2/16.5 x 23.4 inches)
This starter kit is great if you want to design grey, flower-patterned custom-made papercraft. It was designed for Big Shot, but all the attachments are compatible with Big Shot Plus.
Sizzix Big Shot Plus Fabric Series Starter Kit
The add-on that you get with this purchase is Bigz Plus Die with three circles in different sizes: 3 and a half, 4 and a half and 7 inches.
While this kit is not full of accessories, with a low price, it is a good starting point if you have some ideas for this circuit design.
Sizzix Big Shot Plus Initial Starter Kit
This is the starter kit that I purchased along with my Big Shot Plus. This kit is ideal if you want to make sure that you have everything needed to dive into this craft, as Thinlits and Bigz dies are a must for this machine, you have an embossing folder and the materials to apply these to. If you have serious intentions with this craft, I recommend buying your machine with this kit.
Apart from starter kits, there are some additional upgrades to Big Shot Plus you should consider. One of them is Sizzix Extended Crease Pad.
The pad comes in various colors, its dimensions are ⅛ x 13 ½ inches, and it is compatible with all steel-style crease dies (Bigz XL, Movers & Shapers XL, Pop ‘n Cuts XL).
With this accessory, your lines and folds are even more precise. It is made of polyurethane plastic, specially designed for high-quality craft projects.
The use is simple: another sandwich recipe. You should position one of the compatible dies and the material that you want to cut between a cutting pad and this crease pad and roll it through the machine as you would roll a regular sandwich with two cutting pads.
Attachments that can be paired up with the pad to use its full potential are Mylar Shims. These 0.10 mm shims can be added to the regular cutting pad that you get with the machine or to the Crease Pad in order to cut or emboss thinner (one layer) materials. The precision of the machine with this add-on will be upgraded to 100%. It is not necessary if you are using the machine for quilting or with other fabrics, but it is ideal for paperwork projects.
An embossing folder that I suggest buying is Sizzix 660580 Embossing Folder. It is a blue variant designed by Rachael Bright.
Compatibility With Third Party Accessories
I noted that Sizzix Big Shot Plus is compatible with a variety of other brands’ products and that is a very convenient feature: if you already have them bought, you won’t need to put them away. Inasmuch as this gadget is efficient with Sizzix products, it will be efficient with other brands. Some examples are Cricut Cuttlebug dies and QuicKutz.
Apart from the lack of the accessories included, another drawback is the fact that it does not come with any instructions or a booklet (there is one that can be bought separately) except for the obscure ones on the platforms.
Included Instructions (and lack thereof) & Support
The lack of separate instructions and accessories included in the box left me with an impression that this device was made for customers who already have some experience in die-cutting (and some extensions already bought).
Don’t worry if you’re a newbie, though - it is easy to use, there is a full manual in many languages included on their website, and you will get the hang of it very soon.
Furthermore, their online customer support is good - people have reported many satisfactory cases of using them.
Several customers reported that the handle of the Big Shot Plus was a little bit fragile, or that it bent, but this happened after the machine fell on the floor. Even if this happens to you, the high-quality material of Sizzix Big Shot Plus will be strong and durable enough to withstand the fall. The handle may suffer, but it surely won’t break. (Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure).
On a positive side, the quality of your projects with this tool will be excellent. Its durability, quality parts, and your artistic ability will account for that.
In no time, your wallets, scrapbooks, boxes, greeting cards, quilts and paper bags will be beautifully ornamented and designed.
To wrap up this discussion, let me consider the strengths and weaknesses of Big Shot Plus:
- Easy to operate
- High-quality projects
- Professional and powerful cutting & embossing
- Precise and fast operation
- Bigger cutting area than most of the machines
- High compatibility for accessories
- A long list of supported materials
- Effective die-cutting and embossing with the same device
- Larger and heavier than the most machines, therefore less portable
- Requires separately sold accessories to achieve its full potential
- Separate instructions do not come in the box
Sizzix Big Shot Plus Review - My Final Thoughts
If the disadvantages that I listed in this Sizzix Big Shot Plus review discouraged you, I want to reassure you: this gadget is really effective and consists of quality parts for your artistic projects.
You will just need to explore a bit before operating, and you will quickly learn tricks on the go (if you already have some experience, even better). This machine is designed for long and stable use, though it will require a few additional purchases (again, if you already made them, even better).
My recommendation to buy Big Shot Plus with a starter kit is based on satisfactory results that I achieved during my little trial (honestly, I tested the basic Big Shot version a bit longer).
One thing is for sure: whether you are card-artist-to-be or a professional quilt designer, this machine will help you fuel your creativity.