fun to be had with making stuff, and endless inspiration via Flickr, craft
blogs, magazines and books, not to mention art trails and galleries.
You suddenly get an urge to lino print on a tea towel, embroider flowers
on a napkin, make a baby quilt for a new arrival, knit a Clanger or make a
garland of paper butterflies.
Ideas appear from all directions, and it's easy to fly out to the shops and splurge like crazy on what suddenly seems like a total necessity. You must have a tube of bronze coloured glitter!
You need a metre of calico, some pale pink thread, a larger sized crochet hook, some velvet
ribbon in just the right shade of mauve...
But ... but ... but ... in life there's always a 'but' isn't there? The sticking point in this
case being a definite lack of money. Craft shops, haberdashery
departments (where you can find 'em – they’re getting as rare as hen’s teeth),
ebay and online wool and fabric suppliers, they all make it fantastically easy
for us to part with our cash. But crafting needn't be expensive, or at least you
can limit your expenditure to match your income.
Firstly, understand how much you currently spend on crafts. Add up those
till receipts for the last few months. Include things like craft magazines.
(I've had to call a halt to my love of Selvedge magazine. At a tenner a
pop it's too much for me.)
Once you know your recent outgoings then set yourself a crafty budget.
That doesn't mean you're only going to buy the cheapest of cheap materials
in future. You can still buy your gorgeous Rowan kidsilk or hanks of
jewel coloured sari silk yarn. But you're going to make a more conscious
decision about spending, not splurging on everything you see in a
scatter gun approach, but buying what you really, really want. Often it's
better to buy less, but buy better quality. (That applies to clothing too.)
BUYING 2ND HAND:
Or should I call it ‘buying vintage’, the trendier phrase! We
all know about charity shops and the value of having a good rummage.
Car boot sales and – where you can find them – old fashioned jumble
sales, the elbows in the ribs bunfight versions – are even better.
Often cheaper and in the case of jumble sales often great fun, the
queue-ing and jostling all adding to the day. Keep an eye out for good quality
fabric. That might come in the form of a single pillowcase or a
velvet curtain. Good finds can be found on the outsize rail. There’s
a lotta material in a size 20 dress or a flared skirt.
Look for hardback craft books, often sold cheaply as there’s not as much
demand for them as for the latest racy paperback novel.
Search out trimmings – lengths of braid, bags of buttons, embroidery
silks, odd skeins or balls of wool.
You can often find knitting needles, crochet hooks, half finished
needlepoint canvases. (With the canvases you can unpick the partly
completed design, turn the canvas over and use the back of it to
stitch on, making up your own pattern.)
These free networks are ideal when you’re on a tight budget, but
many people just think of them in terms of furniture or larger items. You
may find someone’s had a clear out of unwanted crafty items or – sadly – cleaned
out their parents/grandparents home and have lots of items to find new homes
for. A friend gave me fabric from her late mum’s dressmaking stash,
and I’ve incorporated them into patchwork quilts.
Also, ask around for stuff. I don’t mean become a pain-in-the-neck scrounger,
but ask friends for unwanted tee shirts, mens shirts, duvet covers etc. All
useful. Plus, if you’re a candle maker they could save the remains of
largely burnt down candles for you, or if you make mosaics you
might find a use for broken vases, plates etc.
Look to upcycle/recycle everything you can. Gift wrapping
(even if a bit creased) can be saved for paper projects.
Make little origami animals and birds (see You Tube for turtorials).
Cut the ribbons off gift bags to make tiny bows to stick on homemade gift tags.
Tee shirts can be chopped up to make a homemade version of polyester toy stuffing.
Or cut into spiral strips to knit or crochet with, to make a bathmat for
instance. You could also use otherwise unwanted fabric to cut into long strips,
plait and coil into a rug. You can even make ‘plarn’ – yarn from chopped up plastic bags.
It’d make a sturdy doormat to keep mud out of the house.
Necklaces can be bought in charity shops or at car boot sales.
Dismantle them and restring beads or make into brooches or earrings. Ask friends/family members if they have unwanted costume jewellery, maybe necklaces with a
broken clasp or single earrings. All can be used to make new creations.
A torn bedsheet or duvet cover can be cut up and reused. As
backing for a quilt, for instance, or remake into pillowcases, perhaps tarted up
with some ric rac in a contrasting colour.
If you find an old desk diary from previous years, they often have maps inside.
Rip those pages out and use for decoupage, origami or put in a clip frame
for a simple, crafty way to decorate your wall.
LOOK AFTER WHAT YOU’VE GOT
Keep your crafty tools in good order. Always wash out
paintbrushes after use. Keep scissors sharpened. Don’t use your
decent dressmaking shears for cutting paper. It’ll blunt them in next to no
time. Have a specific pair of scissors for cutting paper and thin card instead.
I’m sure I could think of more, but that’s it for now. Any ideas of your own to add?
What’s been your best find or most ingenious upcycled