From reducing costs to being kind to the environment, there are many reasons to look for creative ways to acquire materials for crafting. We have included some suggestions below- come back often as we post ways to use all of these materials.
1. Look in your closet (and your family members’ and friends’ closets)
Spring cleaning is a great time to find space in your closet and restock your craft supply at the same time. Look for cottons, silks, wools and colorful fabrics with which to try some of our projects made out of re-purposed materials such as t-shirt yarn, silk strips, and fabric scraps. Put assorted notions, such as buttons, snaps, zippers and drawcords aside for use in a new craft project. Items with stains or rips as well as unmatched or holey socks (items that can not be donated elsewhere) are ideal to set-aside. Often family and friends will be happy to pass on pieces that are just taking up space in their closets.
Sonja made a keepsake throw pillow from her daughter’s baby clothes, and we made a handbag from an old leather coat!
2. Get free old/unusable clothing, materials and supplies on Freecycle
The Freecycle Network (https://www.freecycle.org/) is made up of over 5200 groups from around the world. It is “a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns” with the goal of “keeping good stuff out of landfills”. It is easy to sign up and use, especially with the “Freecycle-Trash Nothing” free mobile app. However, in trying to use this resource we found that offered clothing items were quickly claimed and difficult to actually get. So it is important to act fast if you see something you like.
A request for a specific item may be more productive: we requested used corks from wine bottles and were able to get quite a few. With them we’ve made a sparkling wine cork star craft and a wine cork bath mat.
3. Get free/inexpensive clothing and materials on KiJiJi/Craigslist.
Kijiji (http://www.kijiji.ca/) and Craigslist (http://craigslist.ca/) are centralized networks of online urban communities for posting online classified advertisements. They are easy to sign up and use. Browse categories for specific items you are looking for. Sellers will post classified ads and often the price is negotiable. You can also post your own wanted ads looking for craft supplies under specific categories, such as crafts and hobbies. Remember to arrange pick up from a public location.
4. Call local businesses to ask for unsold/scrap products
We compiled a list of fabric shops, knitting shops, apparel manufacturers, upholstery and dressmaking businesses in our area and started calling. We didn’t have much success with the larger shops, as they seem to have systems in place to sell their ends and unused products. For example, one large shop said that they “clear out” events for their customer base that aren’t open to the public.
However, we did have luck with a local dressmaker. She was happy to give her unused, scrap fabrics away, saying that she felt bad just throwing them into the garbage, but didn’t know what else to do with them. Here’s a picture of a bag-full of materials she passed on to us, and has indicated she will call us again when she’s accumulated more. We used some of the fabric to make these adorable Minion finger puppets!
5. Re-purpose inexpensive or second-hand materials
A few dollars and a little imagination will yield interesting and useful materials for projects. New blankets, towels, and clothing can be acquired at outlet stores or clearance/end-of season sales. Look for extra-large sized items to make the most of your dollars. Also consider second-hand stores such as Value Village, Goodwill and the Salvation Army in your community.
On a recent outing to our local Value Village we got lucky and hit on a 50% off sale! For $30 we came away with a large bag of items including silks (look for scarves, suits, blouses, neckties), linen (tablecloths, shirts), wool (sweaters, skirts, suits) and cotton (XXL t-shirts, bedding). With all the t-shirts we’ve made useful large crochet baskets and a beautiful finger-crocheted round rag rug. We also have a full video tutorial on how to make t-shirt yarn using the whole shirt!
6. Look to nature
My daughter spent hours scouring the beach last summer looking for sea glass (you can find five creative sea glass crafts here) and small shells. And we have a bit of an obsession for crafting with driftwood! We’ve also collected pine cones and acorns (great for kids projects), and mulberry branches for wreaths.
Do you have any suggestions to creatively sustain your craft habit?