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Living on a Budget #2: Crafty Bits

December 28, 2010

With a little patience, forethought, and innovation, you can save lots of money on craft supplies or make entire projects with little scraps and left-overs. My A+ number-one-best-tip: Become a garage sale junkie.

About half of my arts and crafts supply (or maybe more) is sourced from garage sales. Snag ugly old purses and clutches to deconstruct for their parts (straps, zippers, kiss clutch frames, snaps, buttons, handles). I have found tons of yarn, doilies, snaps, button-makers, thread, hooks, embroidery hoops, ribbon, trim, and fabric at garage sales (I think this is because either: 1. A matriarch has passed and the younger generation doesn’t want her knitting/tatting/sewing supplies, or 2. People decide to get into one craft or another, then decide they don’t like it).

I have also had luck finding pastels, stamps, ink, pens, paper, box-makers, paper punches, scissors, and sketch pads. Also, be savvy about clothing — even if something is hideous, think of how you can revamp that old dressing gown, cut apart that jacket for buttons and zippers, unravel that sweater for its yarn, or cut up that muumuu for fabric. Curtains, sheets, and table cloths are excellent sources for sewing fabric or to rip into strips to crochet rugs or baskets. You can almost always get small shelves and furniture for a song (these make for great re-dos and make-overs). I always haggle prices, especially if I’m buying a whole scad of stuff — I can’t count all the times I’ve walked away from a garage sale with two huge bags of stuff that I paid a total of three bucks for. Remember: try to go early in the day, carry small bills and change (it looks ridiculous to haggle when the seller has to make change for your 20 dollar bill), smile, and be pleasant.

Want more?

  1. Never throw away an old lumpy pillow. Wash it well. Dry it. Cut it open and use the stuffing for amigurumi, pincushions, stuffies, softies, or new pillows (this obviously won’t work with feather pillows).
  2. Save your security envelopes (you know — the ones you get in the mail that have patterns on the inside). These can be carefully deconstructed and turned inside out to make pretty, new, decorative envelopes. Or, they can be used in paper crafts, gift tags, art, or a variety of other crafty applications (use your imagination or do an internet search — there’s TONS of links to envelope projects).
  3. Save your clothing tags. Lots of clothing tags are quite interesting, and they already have a ribbon hanger. All it takes is a few snips or some doodles to turn these into cute gift tags.
  4. Save your yarn bits. Little yarn ends can be used for a variety of different uses — stuffing, card-making, sewing on buttons or eyes, stitch markers, or tie all of them together to make a technicolor ball of yarn that you can crochet or knit into something else.
  5. Save old necklaces, costume jewelry, and bracelets for their beads, clasps, and jewels.

Here are just a few links to help you use up your scraps, bits, and ends:

Felted beads from scrap yarn

50 fabric scrap projects

Using yarn scraps in crochet and knitting

10 projects using felt scraps

inside-out envelopes

Security pattern business card or gift card holders

10 crafty things to do with old sweaters

How about you? What are your best tips and tricks for saving on craft supplies?

More Living on a Budget:

#1: Freezing Food

#3: Buying Staples in Bulk

#4: Cleaning Up


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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Connie Baggett permalink
    March 17, 2011 9:33 am

    Hi! I am new to your site and haven’t looked at everything yet, so I was wondering if you know how to make “plarn”? It is really easy and makes great door mats and sturdy-strong tote bags

    • March 17, 2011 9:38 am

      Hi, Connie! Yes, I do. When I worked at the co-op, I turned tons of bags into plarn. I haven’t done that for a while . . . thanks for reminding me about it!


  1. Valentine Smack-Down: Warm and Gentle Fuzzies « Speckless Blog
  2. Living on a Budget #1: Freezing Food « Speckless Blog
  3. Living on a Budget #3: Buying Staples in Bulk « Speckless Blog
  4. Living on a Budget #4: Cleaning Up « Speckless Blog

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