Splurge vs. Save: What Craft Supplies Are Worth The Money?

If you haven’t noticed by the increased amount of tutorials, I’ve been feeling extra craft happy lately. I reorganized my office and workspace and dug out old supplies that have been collecting dust in our basement. And seeing everything all together at once has really made clear what was worth the money and what was a total waste. In the market for craft supplies? Learn from my mistakes and find out where to splurge and where to save.

SPLURGE: Elastic / Cord / Chain / Thread

I was working on a project yesterday and the cord snapped before I was able to tie things down… multiple times. And yet, I continued to use the same cord because I already own it and it seemed wasteful not to. This could have all been avoided if I had just bought the good stuff from the start. Think about what your base is doing – normally for me it’s holding jewelry together – and how it will be used when it’s done, then decide what level of shit show a snapped string would create. Feel like buying the cheapest stuff now? Me neither.

SAVE: Embellishments

Whether you’re looking for scrapbook stickers, beads, buttons, or ribbons, there’s almost always a cheaper embellishment option if you look around. Did a holiday just pass? Retail items are normally grouped together by collection, not if the item is actually specifically for Easter or Mother’s Day. Dig through the sale bins for plain-color items that might be mixed into the post-holiday clearance.

If that doesn’t work, check endcaps, grab bags, and multi-packs before falling in love with a single item. When I was working on our wedding scrapbook, I found (and sadly bought) several single-page wedding embellishments, only to later find an entire book of them for way cheaper per sticker. Oops.

SPLURGE: Hand Tools

Yet again, I’m dishing out advice I didn’t take. You don’t want crappy hand tools, like scissors and pliers. Your projects don’t want them. Your cramping fingers don’t want them. More often than not, I currently use children’s scissors WITH MY NAME ON THEM IN MY MOM’S HANDWRITING from childhood and a pair of pliers from our home tool kit – and because of it, I’ve accidentally smashed and/or improperly cut several projects. Don’t create extra waste and serious anger. Buy the right stuff.

SAVE: Paper

I can’t believe they still sell scrapbook paper by the page when the books exist. Grab your 40% Off One Item coupon and pick up a book of paper for a fraction of the cost. I’ve seen them as low as $5 per pad at Michaels. Save the single pages for truly special occasions, like needing one sheet of pure glitter.

SPLURGE: Adhesive

I’ve bought cheap glue too many times only to find out it was already dried up or not sticky enough. Whether you need glue sticks, glue dots, or rubber cement, just grab the name-brand stuff when it’s on sale.

SAVE: One-Project Kits

Man, these get me all the time. One-project kits are great if…

  • They are deeply, DEEPLY discounted
  • You want to try a project in a totally new field and therefore don’t own any supplies for it
  • There are tools included you can and will reuse

But here’s where they’re problematic: one-project kits, in my experience, don’t come with the best supplies. The beads are cheap. The scissors aren’t sharp. The paintbrush is literally falling apart. Plus (and maybe this is just me here) I tend to want ones for crafts I could otherwise make myself. If I’m drawn to it in the store, it’s probably because I make that kind of craft as it is – so no, I do not need you to box it up for me, I just need the idea. One-project kits can be great at certain price points or for certain projects, but read the supply list first to see how many of the items are currently in your workshop. You might already be able to make it at home.

SPLURGE: Cricut

Alright guys, this is a big splurge: If you work with paper or thin leather, I think a Cricut cutting machine is worth the cost. If you find yourself buying a lot of paper punches – which sell for up to $25 per punch! – you should really consider a Cricut. For the price of 10 jumbo punches you can get a robot who will cut out anything. Can’t argue with that craft math.

My husband got me the Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint Machine + Everything Starter Set for Christmas and I’m frankly addicted. This was a great way to get going with the machine, as it came with a hefty sampling of materials and the evergreen supplementary tools. Cricut cutting machines are available for purchase at tons of craft stores and websites, so hunt for the best price and consider waiting for a shopping holiday like Cyber Monday.

SAVE: Storage

Ah, craft storage. I know we all want a workshop like Martha, but if that isn’t in the budget remember it isn’t the furniture in her space that makes the projects so good. Spend your money on the supplies and look around your house for storage.

About half of my supplies are in vintage suitcases I have stacked in my office, a quarter live in a small dresser from my childhood bedroom, and the rest are in mismatched containers like a record case and a lunchbox. It’s great when everything goes together, but you can still find your supplies using a garage sale trunk and some shoe boxes. Remember that labels can keep things organized, even if they are stuck on different types of containers.

If you need the plastic, craft-specific storage for a certain item or space, look for doorbuster sales and dollar store items. You see tackle boxes, three-drawer chests, and scrapbook paper bins on super sale all the time. Don’t settle for full price here.

Did I miss anything? Tell me your splurge and save supplies in the comments or on Twitter!

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