Hello mamas! Frugal Frannie here, this week offering a peek into my craft cupboard and to have a yarn *ahem* about craft.
Why craft? It’s good for our wallets and for our souls, I say. It makes Christmas and birthdays fun again. Most kids love it. It improves our self-esteem and is good for our mental health. It promotes a DIY mentality that enables us to save money. Choose the right craft, and you always have a low-cost activity to fill your spare time that will bring you so much joy and fulfilment.
My goodness! Where do I start?
Sitting down to write this, I am realising that I have far too much to say for one blog. I am a BIG crafter, and it has enriched my life in so many ways.
The first thing I want to say is that craft can be very UNfrugal (is that a word?). In fact, it can be downright expensive! Actually, if I have an Achilles’ heel when it comes to frugality, it would definitely be buying too many bits and bobs for art or craft.
Confession time: my name is Frugal Frannie and I am a yarn addict.
Shops that sell craft supplies are dangerous places for me. Keep me out of them, Frugal Frank, as I am powerless to resist! I mean it. I can’t go into those shops.
Another frugal tip: don’t go into shops if you know you will not be able to resist buying things you don’t need.
Anyway, yes, craft is a lot of fun, but it is not terribly frugal at all if you are constantly buying supplies. I have had to call a moratorium on my own yarn habit. I have promised myself I will clear my yarn cupboard before I allow myself to buy any more. Even so, my foot hovers longingly over the brake pedal every time I pass my favourite yarn store…
Anyway, I don’t want to talk about that sort of craft. There is craft, and then there is frugal craft, and they are two quite different things. The skills used might be the same, but the philosophy behind them could not be more different.
It is the latter craft I want to talk about today: how it’s done, why it’s a good idea, what’s in it for you. It’s all about building a kick-butt craft cupboard, I think, and that needn’t cost much money at all.
Truly, just as necessity is the mother of invention, frugality is the mother of craft.
Crafts like quilting, basket weaving, preserving, sewing, carpentry… all of these were once necessary skills most people knew that allowed them to avoid throwing out precious resources. These days, we have factories and the like. We can go and buy pretty pre-cut coloured squares to make a quilt instead of saving bits of fabric from old sheets.
Craft is definitely something we do for fun rather than because we have no choice these days. I’m not denying that we are lucky to have that freedom. Nor am I saying that factories should be shut down and everybody should be sewing their own clothes out of rags. Even so, learning to sew, weave, preserve, grow and make also gives us another choice: to liberate ourselves from buying and teach ourselves the skills to create what we need with scrounged, salvaged or pre-loved materials.
Frugal craft will change your life.
Frugal craft is what I am interested in. We can choose to enjoy the convenience of buying what we need, but frugal craft means we don’t always have to. Isn’t that liberating?
Becoming a frugal crafter has certainly saved me money over the years. I love having the skills on hand to make so much cool stuff without spending much. In fact, some crafts don’t actually cost us a cent. Surely that alone makes them worth knowing.
I have made free gifts for friends and family in the past when I was at university and absolutely skint. That’s right, you read correctly. I made free gifts! It took a bit of scrounging and some time, but it was worth it. That’s handy at Christmas, I tell you what! What’s even nicer is that true frugal craft tends to be environmentally friendly, and that’s a good feeling.
Want some inspiration?
At the end of this blog, I have put together a slide show of a series of ways we have beautified our home using materials we have found in nature, scrounged or repurposed. They are unique, they are beautiful, they are what make our house feel like a home. They have given us an option other than buying things from shops and have equipped us with lots of skills.
By giving out what you make, you open people up to the idea of ecologically friendly living; people who might never have considered it before. I like to think that when I craft an upcycled gift, I am showing the recipient that another way of living is possible. Even if frugal living is not their scene, on the whole, I have found people really love home made gifts, especially if they are tailor-made for the recipient.
“But Frugal Frannie, I don’t have time!”
Don’t have time to do craft? I beg to differ. Do you have time to watch TV? I’m not trying to be snarky here. The beautiful thing about craft is that you can watch the box while you’re doing it. You don’t need a lot of energy either. I don’t.
Lots of crafts, like knitting or crochet are lovely and repetitive, so they are easy on tired minds. Craft actually helps me relax and unwind, and in that sense it fills my cup a little bit, rather than emptying it.
We all need that.
I love that I can catch up on my favourite telly and do something productive at the same time. It eases the mama guilt a lot of us have about being too busy to sit around. Bonus!
Speaking of mama guilt, craft is a great thing to do with kids. Not only does it give you some quality time together, but it also gives both of you skills. By making gifts or items for around the home, you are teaching your kids another option to buying.
It also teaches kids to be more resourceful and with a bit of time, may even put an end to those awful “I’m bored” complaints. I will always be grateful to my mum, who taught me crafts when I was little.
Be brave! I’ll let you in on a secret.
As a kid, my fine motor skills were so bad, I didn’t learn to tie my shoelaces until I was nearly 10 years old. If I can learn to weave, sew, knit or draw, you can too!
Teach yourself some sweet crafting skills. It is never too late to learn. I went to a crochet class a couple of years back and learned a few basic stitches. From these, I went online and taught myself how to read patterns and I’ve not looked back.
Go to a class with friends or your kids! It’s an investment that might save you money for years. Imagine if you were able to crochet a beautiful hat or bag out of op shop yarn every time aunt Maud had a birthday. She’d love it and you’d have spent a couple of dollars. Bonus, right?
Speaking of aunt Maud, our lovely elders are often great people to look to when we want to learn a craft. Many of our senior citizens grew up doing crafts of all kinds.
The really cool thing about elderly folk is that they tend to be fountains of knowledge about the most unexpected things.
They lived in a time when there was no TV; when family recipes were passed down for generations. Many of them have skills that will be lost forever if the youngsters don’t ask them to pass their knowledge on. In my humble opinion elderly people in the community deserve much more attention and love than they get.
Know a crafty nanna (or grandpa)? Why not make them a cake, pay them a visit and ask for a craft lesson? Don’t let all that expertise go to waste.
Don’t know a crafty oldie? Some crafts are simple enough to learn by watching other people online. This very much depends upon your aptitude at learning by watching, but lots of YouTube teachers are more than happy to take the time to answer questions. Whatever approach you take, mastering a craft will always be worth it.
All it takes is a little courage and imagination and you’re on your way to some mighty soulful, satisfying penny-saving.
Building your craft cupboard
The first thing I try to keep in my mind is that lots of crafts don’t require a cupboard!
There are so many things you can craft from objects you gather from nature: shells, pretty rocks, sticks, seed pods, grasses, flowers. Pretty much everything you find when you walk out the door can become something cool, and there is probably a YouTube clip or a tutorial on Pinterest to teach you how.
You can make jewelry, mobiles, baskets, drink coasters… the list is endless. All it takes is a bit of inspiration and maybe some Googling for ideas and you will have an endless list of beautiful things to make that cost nothing but time.
Here’s a tutorial on how to make baskets from willow. There are tutorials out there that use similar principles to make baskets out of everything from grass to plastic bags and they are all beautiful.
Crafted from nature
Here’s another fantastic tutorial on how to make bags and baskets out of plarn (plastic bags made into yarn).
The best part is that this kind of craft is often free. It doesn’t get much cheaper than free.
Get scrounging, mamas!
Scrounging and re-purposing can be a wonderfully satisfying (and cheap) way to create beautiful things. Here is one of my favourite YouTubers, Hectanooga1 demonstrating how easy it is to make beads out of old papers.
Hello, free necklaces!
As a side note, Hectanooga1 was my go-to crochet guru when I was getting myself past rows of single and double crochet and starting to try some simple crochet projects. She has loads of simple, beautiful ideas and she is a wonderful teacher.
I discovered her when I wanted to crochet a rag rug, another way to turn trash into treasure.
Ye olde rag rug
Scrounging is addictive once you get started. I actually can’t bear to watch people tear wrapping paper off gifts and toss it in the bin. What a waste of beautiful paper! A big part of frugal crafting is adopting a mindset of looking at everything as a potential craft item. Just about everything we throw out has some potential, providing it is clean and it doesn’t smell.
Channel your inner magpie
To be a frugal crafter, the most important thing is to develop eyes like a magpie or lyrebird, always on the lookout for materials to line your nest.
My craft cupboard is full of scrounged objects I have found; pretty fabrics from op shops, torn clothes, interesting looking feathers and shells, old gift wrapping, nice photos I have torn from magazines, bits of broken china, old pillow stuffing, doilies from garage sales…
Our house is slowly filling up with wonky, handmade bits and pieces and they have a kind of character and soul that mass-produced goods can never have.
A few things to invest in
Hopefully I have given you plenty of ideas for craft materials in your existing environment. These alone offer plenty of scope for creativity and play.
Having said that, there are a few basics that are worth buying for the craft cupboard. I try to keep my purchases to a minimum. That’s part of the adventure for me.
However, there are some things I am never without: a good, sharp pair of scissors, some quality pan water colours, a sharp scalpel, a cutting mat, fishing line, decent craft glues for varying purposes, good archival ink pens, watercolour pencils, a sketch book, crochet hooks and knitting needles.
I find clay is good for kids as well. Depending on your child’s level of interest, good quality art supplies can be a really great gift for them.
What you need in your craft cupboard depends on what kind of craft you plan to do. My philosophy is to buy the best quality I can afford, minimally, and really look after them. My son knows he daren’t leave a lid off one of my pens!
Sewing machines open frugal doors
One of the best things you can invest in is a good quality second hand sewing machine. Once you have one of those, you just need pretty fabrics (salvaged and scrounged are the most frugal).
Grab some simple patterns off the net and that old floral sheet or tablecloth can become a skirt, a bag, an oven mitt…
Having said that, it is worth doing a bit of research because you can easily get caught out with a lemon. It’s a bit like buying a used car. I’ve had a couple of sewing machines in my life that have really been a waste of money.
Well, that’s about it for this week. In keeping with my crafty passions, I will be running a series of giveaway competitions, offering home made, upcycled crafty goodies.
Later in the year, I also plan to write up a few tutorials of a few simple, eye-catching kid-friendly craft projects. I promise it won’t feel like you have more junk in the house! Watch this space! It’s going to be fun.
Until then, may your lives and wallets be full,
Frank’s 2 cents’ worth
G’day mamas. My Frugal Frannie sure is a craft freak! There’s no two ways about it. Some nights I have to wrestle the crochet needles from her grip just so we can go to sleep. [I’ve learned the hard way about telling her anything important when she’s counting stitches too, crikey].
I love craft too – however my pursuits seem to be the more “boyish” ones – fooling around with hammers, drills, grinders, spray cans and sharp knives – I couldn’t be happier. I’ve done a bit of damage to myself along the way but it’s all part of the fun!
I love wandering around the streets and spotting potential “furniture” items amongst people’s junk, ah that gives me a warm inner glow. Check out my metal table photo below.
I could go on all night, but I’d better go, Frannie’s checking out yet another crochet pattern on the internet and she ain’t made my tea yet 😉
Some of our frugal craft projects. A disclaimer: photography is not my forte! Hope these give a bit of inspiration… Click on the thumbnails to enlarge 😉
Frugal Frannie is a fictitious character based on a real-life mama who loves nothing more than to pinch a few pennies. She’s a saver, socially responsible and a bit of a greenie, with a strong interest in the DIY movement. Over the coming weeks, she will share frugal tips on all sorts of things, including family entertainment, budget date nights, dirt cheap gardening, home maintenance, setting up a frugal craft cupboard, luxury on a budget, cheap entertainment for kiddies, tricks to curb the spending urge and more.
Check out Frugal Frannie on Facebook, here.