The monthly craft question for July was, How do you save money on craft supplies? We asked some of our favorite craft bloggers to respond. Read all the great money-saving ideas below. You can also see reader answers on the FaveCrafts Facebook Fan Page.
Here is a summary of ideas on how to save money on craft supplies:
- Craft Store Coupons– 12 Votes- Amy Anderson of Mod Podge Rocks says, “You don’t even have to sign up for mailing lists – just go here to get coupons for all the major craft retailers: http://www.mycraftcoupons.com.”
- Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose– 9 Votes- Love Maegan says “Many things that are tossed into the trash are actually quite usable in projects …not to mention less waste from recycling materials..”
- Thrift Stores– 7 Votes- Cheeky Magpie– “I can always find cool stuff like wallpaper, sewing notions, and fabric there. Everything is one of a kind, and I like the fact that I’m keeping stuff out of a landfill.”
- Yard/Garage Sales– 7 Votes- Crafterella says, “Yard sales have all sorts of things that are priced to sell, there is room to haggle and they is a huge variety of things all lumped together.”
- Sales/Clearances– 5 Votes- Sharon Staker says, “The supplies I buy usually aren’t being used what they were intended for. I shop the clearance isles at Joanne’s and Walmart.”
- Share Materials with Friends- 5 Votes- Kendra of Me and My Insanity Blog says, “When we made our bandana tablecloths, my friend ordered enough bandanas for four of us to make tablecloths, so that she could buy them in bulk. We split the cost of the order between us.”
- Budget/Organization– 5 Votes- June Scroggin says, “This year I implemented a system to manage those projects I want to accomplish. In a 3-ring binder I keep a printed spreadsheet of selected projects with a picture of the project, notations citing the source of the idea, supplies needed, copies of pertinent tutorials (if available), and available resources. By checking my stash supplies first, I am frequently surprised to discover I already have most everything needed to do a particular project.”
- Buy in Bulk/Wholesale- 4 Votes- Sharon Staker says, “You can get better deals when you b uy more and store it away!
- Auctions/Online Acutions (eBay)- 3 votes- Crafterella says, “Auctions can be a great source of vintage notions and patterns and digging through a box of vintage sewing supplies it like a treasure hunt.”
- Etsy– 3 votes- Sayra the Hat Diva said, “I shop for supplies on Etsy using the word ‘destash.’ Great savings!”
- Swap/Barter Craft Materials- 3 votes- Jessica Fediw of Oh So Happy Together– “Another fun thing is to do swaps with someone. That way you get new things to inspire you, but you aren’t really spending money either (just shipping if applicable).” (Craiglist offers a barter section.)
- Giveaways– 2 Votes- You can win craft products every week at FaveCrafts.com! To learn about current giveaways, subscribe to our free eNewsletter.
Here are the full answers:
Fawnda Norman of Fireflies and Jellybeans
I get a lot supplies from the thrift store or garage sales… I love to reuse and recycle! I will also look around my house to see if I can repurpose something. My friends and family know of my craft addiction and will often times ask me if I want some of their unused crafting items. If I do buy something I only buy crafting supplies when they are on sale or when I have a coupon!
I buy in bulk (wholesale) when I can and I scour the pages of Ebay for yarn lots and odds and ends.
Sara of Kitty Baby Love
- Never buy retail
- If forced to buy retail, only do so with a coupon (such as 40% off Jo-Ann’s love to hand out in their emails) or some kind of student/military/senior discount
- Visit reuse centers such as SCRAPs in SF and Portland- where individuals can donate items specifically for creative reuse
- eBay or Craigslist!
Christina, The Sometimes Crafter
Joann’s coupons, of course!
Wow. I think I am a pro at saving money on craft supplies. My first response would be coupons…But besides coupons because I am not really a matress person is be inventive. The supplies I buy usually aren’t being used what they were intended for. I shop the clearance isles at Joanne’s and Walmart. You tend to see me in the back of the store. That is where the cheapest least deisred items are usually found. And I buy in bulk. You can get better deals when you b uy more and store it away!
Suzanne of Crazy for Collars
Great question Caley–for my general crafting (not the items I sell in my Etsy shop), I find lots of my supplies at yard/garage sales. You can find almost anything, sometimes still in their original packaging at these type sales and the prices are usually too good to pass up. Think outside the box when at a yard sale–even articles of clothing in fun prints can be cleaned, cut-up, and recycled to be incorporated into a craft project.
I used to spend a ton on money on crafting supplies. I forced myself to cut back on spending, way back. Now I hardly spend anything and here’s how I do it.
If I have a burning desire to shop, I go to yard sales and thrift stores. I can always find cool stuff like wallpaper, sewing notions, and fabric there. Everything is one of a kind, and I like the fact that I’m keeping stuff out of a landfill. I do have a rule that if I go to a thrift store, I have to take something to donate. That helps keep my stash down to a manageable size.
I’ve found that if I stay organized then I don’t buy stuff that I don’t need. Knowing what I have helps me stay focused. I also tend to pick up stuff to buy and then mull it over before I pull out my wallet. I’ve learned that I can impulse buy paper, embellishments, and even expensive tools. I need to think it over and figure out if it’s the right fit for me. It all adds up over time.
I have a budget I can spend per month and I really stick with that. If I want a large item then I simply save up. Even while I’m saving I can shop the yard sales and find unique items that inspire my creativity, and being inspired is what it’s all about.
When ever I begin a project, I like to look around at what I already have and determine what can be adapted to work. For instance, I had a vision to create a paper quilt, a mosaic using scrapbook paper. Buying all the different patterns of scrapbook paper would have been expensive, so I looked around an discovered many paint chips laying around from previous home improvement projects. I used them instead with a piece of scrap wood. Cost? Less than $10.
Korinne Zimmerman, Crafterella
I save money on craft supplies by shopping creatively at dollar stores, thrift stores, yard sales, and auctions. Dollar stores are good for discontinued supplies, like yarn, and frames.
Thrift stores can yield clothing to re-fashion, fabric, patterns, furniture to refinish, sewing and knitting notions, it really depends on the store. One of my local thrift stores has baggies of game pieces (think scrabble tiles) . Yard sales have all sorts of things that are priced to sell, there is room to haggle and they is a huge variety of things all lumped together, I see a lot of boxes of acrylic yarn. Recently I have been VERY lucky at auctions. Here they often throw a lot of like objects in boxes and sell the whole box, sometimes you can get the box for a little as a dollar. Auctions can be a great source of vintage notions and patterns and digging through a box of vintage sewing supplies it like a treasure hunt. The only disadvantage I found shopping this way is making something fabulous and not being able to find the supplies again to make more.
For supplies that I can’t find used I often will try to trade for them in the crafting community or I comparison shop online. Trading can be a lot of fun, making new friends and destashing a bit is always good. I have had a lot of success with trading, but a few times I never got anything for what I sent, so keep that in mind. Shopping online is a great convenience, I’m looking for a good price, bulk discounts, good customer service, and low or no shipping costs. I’m not really interested in sites with a lot of coupons all the time, that just tells me there is already a huge mark up on their items. I prefer to deal with stores located in the USA and I also always use paypal to pay for added credit card safety.
Kathy Beymer of Merriment Design
This is a good one because craft supplies can quickly add up. Call me old fashioned but I use coupons and look for free shipping deals. If I’m ordering a good amount of fabric on etsy I will convo the seller to see if they’re willing to give me a deal. This saved me a bucket on my baby Elise’s curtains because I was buying 15 yards.
I also try not to buy too many “I might use this” supplies, like “I might use this craft punch someday.” I allow myself a little of that but try not to buy too much without a decent purpose in mind.
I save everything! Anything that looks like it could be used to make something else, I save. Ropes and ribbons from packaging, the front/tops of cute patterned cards, etc. Many things that are tossed into the trash are actually quite usable in projects …not to mention less waste from recycling materials.
I just snipped shoulder pads out of a vintage blouse I found at a thrift shop and added them to my crafts closet because it’s possible I will need them for a future project. Not sure what it is yet, but it’s there.
Sayra, Hat Diva
I save money by buying lots in bulk! I buy a whole fleece of wool, you get a better deal. Same thing with my dyes! Dharma Trading Co. gives a better price if you buy more. My spinning supply company gives free shipping to those that buy $100. and more.
I also shop for supplies on Etsy using the word ‘destash’. Great savings!
The most efficient as well as economical way to save money on craft supplies is through good old-fashioned planning. This year I implemented a system to manage those projects I want to accomplish. In a 3-ring binder I keep a printed spreadsheet of selected projects with a picture of the project, notations citing the source of the idea, supplies needed, copies of pertinent tutorials (if available), and available resources. By checking my stash supplies first, I am frequently surprised to discover I already have most everything needed to do a particular project. If an item is needed, I can take advantage of sales offers and coupons to supplement existing supplies by planning ahead. My project management system is proving to save me money because I’m not shopping for craft supplies without a plan or purpose. It’s also enabling me to be much more mindful of what I’m doing and how much I’m really spending.
Kendra of Me and My Insanity Blog
That is a great question! If you can’t cut costs on supplies, crafting can become very expensive, and usually one of the reasons I craft is to try and save money–so it can defeat the purpose.
For a long time, I would frequent craft stores and stock up on good basics (like scrapbook paper) when they were on sale or clearance. I also have a lot of friends who know I have a hard time saying “no” to free stuff, so they would pass along their supplies to me, whenever they felt the need to purge and organize their craft rooms.
At the moment, I am on a spending freeze for supplies, unless there is a particular project I need a particular item that I don’t already have on hand, until I can make better use of what I have and get it organized! It is nice to have things on hand to work with, instead of needing to buy everything for every project.
Craft stores like JoAnn, Michaels, and Hobby Lobby, usually offer 40% or 50% off coupons. I won’t buy much from these stores unless it is on clearance, on sale, or I can use one of these coupons (they often take their competitors coupons, as well!). Sometimes, you can find better deals at on-line craft stores or through Etsy supply vendors. When we made our bandana tablecloths, my friend ordered enough bandanas for four of us to make tablecloths, so that she could buy them in bulk. We split the cost of the order between us. I made scrabble tile pendants with some friends for Christmas gifts a couple of years ago. We ordered most of the supplies from an Etsy vendor (again sharing the supplies and the cost), and found that by sharing some of the glue, etc. between us, we needed to buy fewer supplies and consequently saved money over crafting by ourselves. I’m a big fan of having a craft night, ordering in bulk, and sharing supplies. It’s a good excuse to hang out with the girls and have some fun, too!
One other tip, is just to look around your home. Do you have fabric from an old skirt that could be repurposed as a new lampshade, instead of having to go out and buy brand-new fabric? Eco-Chic is hot right now! I just saw a really cool purse made out of candy wrappers! What do you have lying around that can be recycled as craft supplies?
Jessica Fediw of Oh So Happy Together
I am all about saving money on craft supplies! I always, always, always use coupons. I receive ones from JoAnn’s in the mail and by email and find ones to Hobby Lobby online as well. I like to wait for sales as well. I very rarely buy anything not on sale. I also keep an eye open at yard sales and thrift stores. You never know what you will find. Another fun thing is to do swaps with someone. That way you get new things to inspire you, but you aren’t really spending money either (just shipping if applicable). I try to enter crafty giveaways/competitions as well to win free craft stuff. I have won some great stuff that I use all the time!
Amy Anderson of Mod Podge Rocks
I get my printable coupons online before every visit to the craft store! You don’t even have to sign up for mailing lists – just go here to get coupons for all the major craft retailers: http://www.mycraftcoupons.com. I have saved hundreds of dollars over the years printing coupons.
To save money, I stock up on things when they are on sale. With back to school sales right now, it is a good time to stock up on glue, markers and crayons.
This is really bad but when I am about to throw away the crafts, I will take off things like wiggly eyes and reuse them.
Kate, Centsational Girl
I do most of my shopping for craft supplies at Michaels and Joann’s and never shop without my 40% off coupon ! Often, you can print them online.
Mandy of Little Birdie Secrets
Hmm, that’s a great question for a round up. Let’s see, besides shopping with coupons, I always try to only buy what I need for a specific project. If I’m not careful, I’ll go home from the craft/fabric store with way more than I went in for, and not only will I have spent too much, but I will have more projects than I can reasonably finish. My other good tip is to shop from your stash. Try to make something you already have work instead of buying something new. You might be surprised at the great results you get when you push yourself to be creative and use what you have!
I recently went on a search to find yarn for a better price than what I pay at my local dept. store. Almost five dollars a skein adds up quick when you need alot of yarn for projects. I have found two ways to save money and fill my yarn cabinet at the same time. First http://www.herrschners.com. They have great deals on yarn and I also purchased their Smart Savings Club (good for 1 yr) so I save even more. Second in the Summer one day out of my parent’s weekend is usually spent yard saleing. I requested they add yarn to their list of items to search for this Summer. The first basket my Dad found cost a dollar. It had a few skeins of yarn that cost at least ten dollars normally plus several other skeins. The next find was a box of yarn. I estimated the yarn in the box to be around ninety dollars at the dept. store the actually cost at the yard sale was ten dollars! When I checked my phone messages yesterday I couldn’t help but laugh. It was my Dad. The message simple said “We got yarn!”. Alot people try yarn crafts… crocheting, knitting, etc. but find it is not for them. A yard sale is a great place to get rid of the yarn they bought and don’t want. I now have quite the collection and I am sure Mom and Dad will add some more to it before the Summer ends. I love my Mom and Dad! and I just love a bargain!
I save on fabric by purchasing when prints I like are on sale, especially when I can get an additional coupon. I try to purchase tools I need when I have a 40% coupon to a retailer as well. I find picture frames for under $2 at our local thrift store, and sometimes find old sheets or clothing that can be re-purposed there too.
Ashley, Domestic Fashionista
I save money by stocking up on my favorite craft items (fabric, lace, doilies, buttons) at thrift stores and yard sales. I love the vintage feel plus it is so much cheaper! I also shop for premade items–like pillow cases and curtains–and use the fabric to make new items like aprons. Half the sewing is already done for you which makes the project even faster! Plus reusing is very green and it feels good to be able to reuse instead of buy new.
Trish Jones, Simple Up
I generally try to use up, or make do with, what I already have before I acquire anything new, but my favorite craft suppliers would have to be the local thrift stores–I love to sift through the linens for gently-used vintage sheets, tablecloths, and fabric remnants, not to mention yarn and knitting needles.
Catherine Peart of Gingham Cherry
I save money on craft supplies by trying to recycle as much as I can (use giftwrap in scrapbooking type applications and so on). I never even walk past a lost button on the ground. When I lived near my sister, we also shared our equipment so we didn’t both have to buy the same stuff and we could use our money for fabrics etc. Now that I live in the US, I make sure to save vouchers for Michael’s too!
Kelly of Kelly Knits
I save money on supplies by looking for yard sales and website contests to enter. A lot have free yarn or knitting supplies if you win.
I’m frugal on how I use the supplies I have!
- I save smaller batting pieces and will even sew 2 pieces of batting together for some projects. Once you quilt it you press down the seam and you won’t even know it’s there
- With my heat n bond fusible I always cut away the centers of shapes and I then can reuse those centers to other shapes (I have some photos)
- For smaller scraps of fabric and paper, I save them and give them to a friend that does use them!
- I enjoy buttons on projects, ask your friends to give you buttons they won’t use, some clothing has great buttons!
- And of course thrift stores are fabulous places to find fabric, wool, books and even supplies!