on the hunt: how to find budget friendly craft materials

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When Adam and I sat down to make our budget for the four years while he’s in dental school, there were many (many!) categories that were reduced drastically or eliminated completely. My heart was so sad to see “craft and sewing materials” wittled down to nearly nothing.

As a result of this budget slashing, I have become a craft supply deal sleuth, finding ways to support my need to create with only the slimmest of funds. These are the ways I keep my craft room stocked for nearly nothing:

Frequenting Thrift Stores

DIY cake stand (by design*sponge) made from thrifted plates, vases and candlesticks

While I sometimes succomb to the dreaded “I-don’t-need-this-but-it’s-such-a-great-deal” phenomenon, I still think that thrift stores are a treasure trove of crafting materials. In some thrift stores, there is a specific section for craft supplies (fabric, yarn, etc.), which is helpful. I also have found gems in the furniture section, the housewares sections, and the linen section. If I have some time, perusing through sweaters usually yields some fabulous wool-y wonders for felting.

Thrift store items to repurpose into crafts:
-pillow cases and sheets
-tea towels
-wool sweaters, skirts and blazers with at least 80% wool content (felt ’em and use ’em)
-frames (a little spray paint goes a long way)
-cool plates, vases and glasses (did you see my post about DIY cake stands? fabulous, right?)

Finding Gems at the Dollar Store

vintage earrings (tutorial by grosgrain) made with buttons from the dollar store

Now I’ll be the first to admit that, as a general rule, items do not find themselves on the shelves of your local Dollar Tree because of their quality craftsmanship. However, there are a surprising number of items with potential to be used as raw craft materials (or craft tools!) that can be found at the dollar store. One other benefit? The ever-changing merchandise sometimes turns up little gems that were overstocked, discontinued or given new packaging at major retailers.

Things to look for at the dollar store:
-tea towels
-scrapbook paper
-fake flowers
-butcher paper
-bubble wrap (for creating custom packaging for all your finished products)
-containers or vases

Be sure to check dollar store crafts for ideas of ways to use your fabulous dollar store finds.

Estate Sales and Garage SalesThis is probably my most hit-or-miss category for finding bargain crafting materials. People getting rid of the stuff that they don’t want anymore definitely provides the greatest margin of discount… At the same time, you can just never be sure of what you’re going to find, or whether you’ll find anything at all.

Doing some research online beforehand can improve your odds of stumbling upon that much sought after cache of vintage fabric. Searching craigslist for your the terms “estate sale” or “garage sale” plus your specific supply-of-choice is a good place to start (for example, search “estate sale sewing notions”). Once you’ve found a list of potential fabric, yarn and paper sellers, go to www.gsalr.com to map out your route (and perhaps find another estate sale or two to stop by). Also, multi family events, neighborhood garage sales and church rummage sales seem to frequently land in my it-was-worth-the-trip category.

Clearing out the Clearance SectionsWhile this may seem obvious, finding your always-needed items on sale is one key to saving money on crafting supplies. The linen section at Target always has a selection of placemats, curtains and tea towels for a fraction of their regular price.

Also, the clearance sections at big box craft supply stores (Michael’s, JoAnn’s, Hobby Lobby, even Archivers) occasionally turn up drastically reduced paper, fabric, glue, ribbon, or other crafting accents.

And while not as frequently fabulous, I have found absolute bargains on linens and paper at stores like Crate & Barrel, Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, and Papyrus. Mid- January is a great time to check these stores’ after Christmas clearance… you never know what you might find.

Stores (and sections) to check:
-Target (linens, cards/school supplies, housewares)
-Michaels, Hobby Lobby, JoAnn (pretty much all craft supplies)
-Archivers (paper, accents and paper crafting tools)
-Crate & Barrel, Anthropologie, PB, Restoration Hardware (linens, decorating supplies, wrapping paper and Christmas miscellaneous, housewares)

Happy craft supply deal finding, friends!

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  1. Like your ideas for thrifty a crafting. Any suggestions on how to keep myself to a list, though? I love getting a good deal so much that I will overspend on cheap items, while being oh so careful with more expensive purchases.
    Loved the Vintage Earrings from Dollar Store buttons idea. Thanks – think I'll head to my local dollar store next payday….

  2. I wish I could help you there… I, too, am sucked in by a good deal. It helps to genuinely not have the funding to underwrite such purchases- and the prioritizing that occurs because of that- haha! 🙂

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