11 Ways To Save Money On Crafts and Creative DIY Projects

by Millie Kay G. on November 21, 2008

Don’t want to overspend on a hobby? Are you keeping a tight budget on your creative DIY projects? Here are some ways to save money on crafts and craft supplies.

crochet, craft project
Photo by Nadia

Over the last few years, I’ve made a number of handcrafted items to give as gifts to family and friends. Such items are great if you want to hand them out as DIY gifts (aka do-it-yourself, one-of-a-kind, custom gifts)! Not only that, it can also be considered the perfect hobby that can be turned into a business or a nice source of income as some people have done. If this sounds interesting to you, and you’re keen on working on a DIY project rather than buying something ready-made at the store, then please read on. You may likewise be interested in saving money on your craft materials and in further honing your artistic and creative skills by heeding a few tips.

How To Save Money On Crafts and Creative DIY Projects

Here’s how you can limit your expenses; I rely on a number of strategies, including the following:

1. Plan out your project and set a deadline.

When there’s a baby on the way or an oncoming birthday or holiday that you’re trying to do a project for, you’ll need to set a definite deadline. From there, you can figure on putting in a few hours a week into the project. With this in mind, you can select a craft item, find a pattern, and select your materials well ahead of the deadline.

For instance, if you want to crochet a baby blanket, then you’ll need a pattern, the right amount of yarn, and the right-sized crochet hook. By going into a craft supply store (like Jo-ann) with a list, you’ll avoid a panic and the unplanned purchase of thirty skeins of everything pastel. If you plan things carefully, you won’t give up and cave in to buy a blanket at the department store.

2. Try a small project before tackling a big one.

I actually still don’t know about all the crochet stitches out there, so I’m not going to pick out more advanced patterns just yet. In my case, I started out with easy afghans and scarves rather than the elaborate sweaters that might have confused me. If I’d started with a sweater, I suspect my yarn would still be tangled up in a drawer.

When I tried cross-stitching over a decade ago, I bought a few tiny kits to get started. Good thing I didn’t get too ambitious, because my attention eventually wandered away from the craft.

3. Buy some supplies in bulk if they turn out cheaper.

A couple of years ago, I went online on eBay to purchase a specific type of yarn called Lion Boucle that wasn’t easily available at my neighborhood store. I did find what I was looking for on eBay, which were these yarns of a particular color I wanted; however, the auctions were offering the product in a fixed set of six skeins. It seemed too much for what I needed at the time, but the price per skein turned out less than it would be offered at my local store. So the per unit value was worth the purchase, and I ended up with a couple of bags. The lesson? Check your per unit price and if it’s good value, purchase in bulk!

Whether you’re building your yarn stash, amassing a collection of beads for jewelry, or seeking out fancy paper for your scrapbooks, you may find that buying in bulk may be worth the money. Use what you need for the current project, then store the rest.

4. Trade supplies, or barter services and items with fellow crafters.

When another crafter I know gave me some yarn, I went through a stack of patterns from an old book and passed them on to him in return. I made a table runner for a relative, in exchange for a stack of plastic rings she had given me for my pot holder project. If you check around, you might find a local crafting network that you’d be interested in joining.

5. Check out the craft books at the library.

I’ve checked out all sorts of craft books at the library. In addition to yarn-related topics and kids’ crafts, I learned more about crafts I haven’t tried yet like sewing clothes and quilting. If you come across an interesting craft book at the bookstore, check your library for a copy first, before you decide to buy the book. You may be able to save some bucks by first visiting the library to determine if the book is a must-have.

6. Try to finish old projects.

Instead of embarking on a new project, at times I pull out unfinished projects to assess their suitability for my gifting needs. A shawl I started for myself a few months ago could work as a gift for a new mom. A teen girl could get a lot of use out of a bag I’d been working on the previous year. By finishing my old projects, I can share my work and move on.

Sometimes, I may not complete a project because I’ve decided that I’m not really liking how the project is turning out. I’ve decided, though, that if I don’t like a pattern or project as it’s written, I’ll simply try to get creative and to modify things as needed.

7. Manage your inventory of supplies.

Before I go shopping for my next project, I’m going to have to use up my inventory of supplies. I, of course, don’t want to buy three skeins of blue yarn when I already have more than enough. So a spreadsheet can make my inventory more formal, or maybe I’ll just keep using my trusty notebook. By managing my inventory, I’m better able to keep my hobby costs low. By knowing just how much I have in supplies, I’ll be able to keep myself from overspending on materials.

8. Subscribe to sites about crafts.

The CRAFT blog has lots of information about a variety of projects. Sometimes, the craft sites will even share free patterns, projects and how-to podcasts to show off techniques.

9. Join a craft group.

There are local craft groups around, as well as a lot of online craft groups like Ravelry, which offer community members access to many resources. By joining a community, you’ll be able to ask for advice about projects, share your experiences, and have fun admiring the work of others.

10. Enlist your family for group projects.

One family I know decided last Christmas that their group project for this year would be to make scarves for everyone on their list. Next year, I may copy their idea for hats! If my family and I start making four hats a month, we’ll be ahead of the game for Christmas 2009. 🙂

11. Borrow equipment or take lessons before committing a lot of money.

For a long time, I wanted to learn how to knit. But it turns out that I prefer handling a crochet hook; if I had borrowed my knitting needles instead of buying them, I would have saved myself the cost of the needles. I’m only out a few bucks, but it may be a whole different story if I had invested more time and money on a hobby that I eventually lost interest in.

For crafts that require more equipment and supplies like quilting, you’re better off borrowing a sewing machine for a few days and taking a few lessons, rather than buying a machine you may end up not using regularly over time.

Hopefully, these tips offer you a way to exercise your creativity without spending too much. Do you know of some ways to save money on your craft? Do share!

If you enjoyed this post, you can get free regular updates through our RSS Feed, or you can have our latest posts delivered to your email inbox by supplying your address here. Your address will only be used for this purpose, and you can unsubscribe anytime.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sharon November 22, 2008 at 4:34 am

Great tips! Wanted to share tow sites to find projects and crafts using recycled items from around the house. One is Ziggity Zoom, for young kids, that has lots of fun and easy craft projects for anyone, especially someone with kids of any age. http://www.ziggityzoom.com The other is Mommie 911, a new site for moms, that has great ideas for saving money and recycling for crafts and other more. http://www.mommie911.com

2 Miss M December 9, 2008 at 8:02 am

Wonderful ideas, I have a bad habit of picking up a new hobby and immediately dumping tons of money into supplies. Then the novelty wears off and the supplies sit around. I broke out an old bead collection to make some christmas gifts, there was so much money invested in that plastic crate.

3 Slinky December 10, 2008 at 4:24 pm

Personally, I would never buy in bulk a supply you’ve never used before – you may find out you hate it. I’m still using up the last of my lion brand homespun. I also try to buy in quantities that are actually useful for something. I always buy two skeins of sock yarn, because I like knee highs. With an odd number, I’d probably end up with a lone ball floating around forever. And for non depleting supplies and tools – sewing machines, knitting needles, etc. – go for quality.

4 SVB December 10, 2008 at 4:50 pm

Thanks for the feedback and leads Sharon!

@Miss M and Slinky,

Good point on buying in bulk. You’ll have to see if it’s really worth it.

Also, I agree that getting too involved in a hobby can be an easy way to “waste” money and materials. It’s actually happened to me once. I had a sport I was so involved with, that at one point, I considered upping my participation in the sport by joining competitions. Well, competitive sports cost more money, and I learned this the hard way when I dropped $750+ for the requisite outfit and equipment. Bad move, as I realized I wasn’t cut out for the competitive arena and I ended up chickening out and totally wasting the money. I felt quite terrible after that, believe me!

5 RecycleCindy March 2, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Love your post and these are such wonderful ideas and suggestions for everyone to use to save money crafting. I also find using recycled materials is another excellent way to be frugal and green in ones crafting projects. It saves money and helps our Earth when we recycle!

6 Claire March 3, 2009 at 4:09 am

I found your post on the All Things Eco blog carnival and really loved it.

It would be great to have some of your articles over on http://www.ooffoo.com under the craft tag – there is such a big re-use community already talking to each other over there, and such a big overlap between re-use and frugal crafting, I’m sure they’d love posts like this one.

Maybe see you there?

Leave a Comment

{ 6 trackbacks }