What I Wish I Knew When I Started Crafting

The first time I went to a true craft store (not just the craft aisle at wally world) I was beyond excited to get my hands in all the great fun! When I started off crafting I was a fiber artist. I loved to crochet, knit, sew baby clothes and make bracelets from yarn. Then when my grandmother was sick and I decided to make a scrapbook I quickly fell in love with all things paper. After completing that scrapbook I dove in head first as a paper crafter.

Here I am 15 years later and there are things I wish I had known when I started this hobby. There are purchases I wish I had passed on, not been a loan crafter so many years, and concentrated more on the fun, not the perfection. Hopefully this article will help you whether you’re just starting out or you’ll probably agree with me if you’ve been crafting for a while.

You Don’t Need It All

About a year ago I went on a major purge in my craft stash. I’m ashamed to share some of the stuff I threw out. More than that I was irritated at how much money was wasted. Paper that I had to buy multiples of so I always had a sheet to spare, ribbons of every single color and design available on the cute tiny rolls, and the worst was 22 Mary Englebrite chipboard albums. Why would I ever need 22 chipboard albums?

I threw out Mrs Grossmans stickers that were so out dated my mother probably would laugh and whoever thought of the idea of STACKS should be grateful I didn’t “stack” them on their porch. I had them in every color, every shape, and every texture. Seriously, it was madness. And I know I’m not the only one who’s done it. Working at a scrapbook store it was not unheard of for a patron to come in, see the newest craze and say “I want one of every color”. Why? Because!

I’m here to tell you, you don’t need it all. You will live if you don’t have every color. You will find a substitute if you don’t have that exact embellishment. If you only buy what you know you’ll use and not because you “might” use it someday, you’ll have a more functional stash. Even after purging I still feel like I have things that don’t have a specific purpose.

And if you’re buying it because it’s on sale and instead of paying $100 you saved $20…. you didn’t, you spent $80! Those purchases add up over time and it adds to a pile you’ll never put a dent in because guess what, there will be new sales! Next week there will be something else you want. I now shop with purpose and care rather than coming home with a receipt that says “savings of” and a pile of stuff I will probably end up purging someday anyway.

Find your Crafty Tribe

Some people might say this is low on the totem pole but I’m here to tell you we crafters need fellowship. Yes, you can easily craft on your own. There were many times I put the kids down for a nap or to bed for the night and pulled out the craft supplies to spend a little quiet time doing something I loved. But if you’re not careful it can become a very lonely hobby.

Find some people in you community who would like to get together and play together. One of my girlfriends hosts a scrapbook day at her house for one day every few months and we get together a few times a year at a retreat here in our town. That small tribe of crafters is beneficial. You’ll have people to bounce ideas from, ask questions, borrow tools, and share your amazing final work with.

In addition to local community, I have an online tribe I like to stay in touch with. Facebook groups are the best thing to come out since sliced bread. Okay maybe not but I am a member of several crafting groups where we share our work, ask questions, give challenges, and more. I have built some amazing relationships with incredibly talented women all over the world. Who knows, maybe your crafting bestie is looking for you too!

Fun vs Perfection

This is a big one. I hear people all the time say “Oh I could never make something like that”. Well, I’m here to tell you, you’ve missed the point. When I started crafting I did it because I enjoyed creating and I wanted to “do it myself”. However I quickly fell into the copy cat society and was finding a project I wanted to recreate rather than just use for inspiration. I didn’t like the scrapbook pages I designed myself and only shared those that I copied from others.

Crafting is supposed to be about expressing yourself, duh. There is nothing wrong with copying another design or recreating something you love. But if it’s all you do then I encourage you to step out. It’s time to find out what YOU can do. It may not be perfect but it will be yours. If it comes from the heart I bet you’ll love it even more.

Number two, no one learns to walk in a day. We do it little by little until we’re proficient at it. We make lots of mistakes along the way, get a few bumps and bruises but eventually we’re pros doing it without much thought. Crafting is the same way. I’ve had people be super bummed when they finish a 2 hour hand writing workshop and aren’t writing like the professionals do. Well honey, I’m here to tell you they aren’t newbies. They have probably been doing it long before they started sharing their work online.

Don’t measure your progress against a professional. You didn’t see all the times they messed up and all the years it took to master that craft. The only person you should be measuring your progress against is yourself. Not all the amazing artists on instagram, not the owner of your local craft store, and not against another student in the same class you are taking. Keep all your original work from when you start to learn a new craft so you can see how far you’ve come. I have a hand letter notebook that I’ve been creating in for almost a year and it’s amazing how easy it comes to me now compared to remembering how difficult it was to write an “a” in calligraphy.

And last, if you’re not having fun, then quit! There’s no reason for you to hate your hobby. If you’re not enjoying yourself there is no one stopping you from finding something else that brings you happiness. There’s a multitude of crafting hobbies and suffering through one is not worth the hassle. Stroll the aisles at your local craft store and find something new to try that sparks a fire again.

I hope these three tips will help ease your mind when it comes to being a newbie at the latest craft. By limiting my purchases, finding my tribe, and putting the joy back in my crafting I’ve been able to grow as an artist. Breaking the cycle allowed me to start creating things I love and am super proud of and the tribe gives me people to share it with. Tell me your thoughts in the comment and whether you agree with my tips or not. I’d love to hear from you! 

Happy crafting!

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