Saving Money On Crafts

One person's trash really can become another's gold with a little ingenuity and imagination. For various reasons (including choice and challenge), I am used to trying to make something out of nothing. For those of us who have fallen on tough times more recently, this essay is intended to help you find a creative outlet for free and perhaps the chance to make some gifts that will be all the more treasured simply because you made them. Save all the following:

  • Christmas and other special occasion cards

  • Ribbon, string and yarn from gifts like chocolate boxes and toiletry sets

  • Small, boxes and containers, even ones with branding on can be re-covered or disguised with stickers.

  • Wine corks (see my designs for making earrings from sliced winecorks here on thriftyFun)

  • Bottles and jars with interesting shapes. There was a fantastic craft tip using these as potpourri holders recently on TF.

  • Baskets of any size and shape (priceless not worthless)

  • coloured foil and paper scraps from candies

  • buttons from clothes that are beyond repair and destined for the rag bag. buttons are a fantastic resource and can be used for jewelry, and embellishments on cards.

  • Slice and dry any oranges that are sound but past eating, they are great in potpourri and make fantastic christmas decorations too.
You can quickly build up a stash of useful craft items that will soon get your creative juices flowing again! But it doesn't have to stop there because when the weather permits it is also time to begin collecting useful things from nature including: Pine cones, beech mast, acorns rose-hips and teasels, small attractive leaves like japanese maple, ivy and bay for pressing and drying, spring and summer flowers for pressing (these should either be from the garden or, if from the wild, very plentiful), dried flower heads, including marjoram, lavender and roses can be used to make fantastic, textured pot pourri.

If you don't have a garden, look in your local public spaces like parks or woodland walks, make sure you take a small bag with you to collect what you find fallen to the ground, but please don't take from displays without asking first. Ask neighbors if you can help tidy their yard in return for the pick of useful and attractive bits and pieces. If you live near a seashore or even when on a beach holiday, look for shells, sand dollars, sea glass, driftwood and seaweed. One tip I found useful is to put items you have collected outdoors into the freezer for couple of days to get rid of any little passengers.

In order to use what you have found it is important to sort, store and label items neatly. Once this is done, with the addition of cheap items such as clear cellophane wrapping, scented oils and candles you can create a wealth of exclusive and exciting items both for yourself or to give as gifts. These include potpourri made from the dried leaves, flowers and cones sprinkled with jasmine or lavender essential oil placed in a basket with a couple of cheap candles. Wrap the whole thing in cellophane and tie with some salvaged ribbon. Do the same with seaside items but add small sponges or wash cloths for a bathroom basket. Real wine corks make great kitchen decorations when displayed in tall or interesting shaped jars. Fill your pretty boxes with homemade sweets or cookies and use attractive jars with herbal salt scrub made from inexpensive sea salt, dried seaweed, herbs and a little sweet almond oil.

These are just a few of the almost limitless frugal ideas I have tried or heard about that have allowed me to remain creative whatever financial storm I am weathering. Finally, remember if you put a tip for a new idea onto ThriftyFun, you could win a contest too. With the money, buy a few basic supplies to help you give the things you make a little more finish, but that's another essay.

By ayesha christmas from Slovenia EU

Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here:

Editor's Note: In addition to the weekly tip contests, we also have a Crafting For Fun And Money program where ThriftyFun will pay for published craft instructions and photos. Here is a link with more information:

Here are the ThriftyFun links that Ayesha mentions in her essay:

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March 22, 2010

If you have an abundance of stuffed animals that you want to get rid of, instead of attempting to give them to Goodwill and being rejected or sending them to the landfill, why not use them in another way? Open them up and use the stuffing for other crafts.

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If you want to create incredible, long-lasting, vibrant, and ready-to-hang masterpiece but all you have around you are old throwaway materials such as Sheetrock, plywood, or some other sturdy but unremarkable surfaces...

Creating "Canvas Art" Without a Canvas

Comment Pin it! Was this helpful? 1

I keep a running list of things I am almost out of and things I need for crafting. After every holiday I go by the different stores and pick up bits and pieces of things on my list. I put it all in one area and mark it general crafts.

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August 31, 2005

When you get interested in a new craft, don't buy the books or magazines at the start. Use your public library. Many libraries are part of a regional network and they'll get books from other libraries for you. Check the online directory.

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7 Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

March 9, 2005

How do you save money on buying material for crafts?

Help me please.


By Marla (Guest Post)
March 9, 20050 found this helpful


I buy discounted materials from walmart for my crafts. If the craft I'm making is something I plan to sell, then I note in the product's description that the styles may vary depending on availability.


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By Sandy (Guest Post)
March 9, 20050 found this helpful

Hi Sarah,
I went to a sewing class and was told to start a "resource center". It is great! Anytime I go to a flea market or yard sale, I look for things to add. I mark the boxes and can pull out lace, material, rubber stamps and just about anything I need. I found it all at bargain prices and everything is at hand when I need it!

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By Marn (Guest Post)
March 9, 20050 found this helpful

Go to your local decorator fabric store and ask for out of date fabric samples and scrapes. They will probably give them to you free or at a very small price. I did this a few months ago and walked out with two large garbage bags full of fabric absolutely free!! Good Luck

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By syd (Guest Post)
March 9, 20050 found this helpful

Let people know that you are a crafty person.

Yard sales are a great source for craft materials ... cheap.

If you do crafts for a charity or nursing home, when you let people know, they will funnel materials to you for free.

Been there done that!

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March 9, 20050 found this helpful

Buy old clothes at garage sales, and go to thrift shops, and get things at a low cost, such as dresses, and use the material from things like that.

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March 9, 20050 found this helpful

Check with your local Freecycle chapter to see if anyone has any fabric that they don't need anymore and just want to give away.

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By starchild (Guest Post)
March 10, 20050 found this helpful

HI I am incredibly cheap when it comes to crafting!!! I recycle alot(quilts and crafts from gently worn clothing).

I find alot of my fabric at Wal-Mart, In the $1.00/yard or $2.00/yard. (I wont pay more than that). Jo-Ann fabrics sometimes has deals in their bargain area in the back.

You should also browse for fabric on auction sites....and remember always add the shipping price before you divide the cost per yard!!!(Of course you are saving fuel not driving into town)

And my favorite....ReStore. Look for a recycling store in your area where you can find all kinds of craft supplies at really reasonable prices. The ReStore in my area, they have large bins filled with Yardage and large scraps. They charge by the pound. Great Value.

Yard sales are great too!! I found 10 yards of 4 different (high quality) fabrics for $2.00!!! I love yard sales!!!

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March 10, 20050 found this helpful

I like to work with copper wire and I get it free from construction dumpsters...Contractors pay by the pound to have them dumpted. I always ask and then look for all the plastic coated wire used in wiring the houses. Even telephone wire and computer wires have copper centers. They vary in size. When home I strip off 1 inch of the plastic coating so I can see the size of the wire but leave the rest on so it won't tarnish. The dumptsters are also a good source of plywood, moulding, floor tiles (even broken ones are good for some craft projects).
Have fun crafting,

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By candice (Guest Post)
March 12, 20050 found this helpful

I go to yardsales and estate sales. i look for material that is interesting,pops and is very pretty.
Most of the time i pay only 1.00 to 1.50 for my material

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By Squirrel (Guest Post)
May 19, 20060 found this helpful

Check with local second-hand stores, they always get clothes that are stained, torn, or too out of date to sell. The ones in my area give them to me instead of the dumpster. Even stained items make good rag rugs.

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By Evelyn (Guest Post)
September 19, 20060 found this helpful

I go to GOODWILL every Sunday here,(50% off for Seniors day). Look for large sized garments ,household items. Sheets tablecloths, ect , in print and colors I like. Cut them apart at home an start making what ever it is I need . Especially baby Quilts. We just welcomed our 7th, 8th, and 9th GREAT GRAND BABIES!

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

March 22, 2010

Instead of paying the high price for "poly-fill" stuffing, I recycle unwanted stuffed toys. There is an almost ENDLESS supply of stuffed toys available.

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