For many people, learning to color inside the lines is the beginning of a lifelong love affair with arts, crafts and all things related. Some of us choose to concentrate on one or two main hobbies, like building model airplanes or crocheting itty-bitty baby clothes. Other artists prefer to operate as jacks-of-all-trades, dabbling in a little bit of this and that with few boundaries drawn. As with any hobby, if you keep at it long enough, you're likely to wind up with a ton of supplies. On the other hand, you might be missing some key crafting items and tools that other hobbyists swear by.
If you're serious about crafting, but aren't sure how your stock stacks up, take a look at our list of craft closet must-haves. We'll begin with items that aren't too crafty in their own essence, but are completely necessary, nonetheless.
We're not talking about the shears your Grandma used to give you haircuts with. Indeed, there's a specific type of scissors to meet every need out there, although some are more versatile than others. Before you get overwhelmed with all of the options, take a step back and consider the projects you'll be using them for. For example, if you spend most of your time dealing with fabric, you'll want scissors designed for cutting such materials. If you plan to use them for messy projects, pick a few cheap pairs that you'll happily wind up decorating with paint, glue or other hard-to-remove stuff. There are also special scissors that cut in particular designs, like zig-zags or wavy lines, which are perfect for scrapbookers, school crafts or others who otherwise love work magic with plain old paper. Don't forget to pick up a pair of child-specific safety scissors for your kids!
9: Storage Bins
Whether you're a painter, quilter, scrapbooker or all three, you're bound to accrue a ton of supplies over time. Do yourself and your closet a favor by purchasing some quality storage items to keep things from getting mixed and messed up. You don't want to risk your glue sticks melting all over your closet's carpet, do you?
However you choose to organize, there's bound to be a system out there for you. Clear plastic bins are ideal because they allow you to easily see their contents. Or, you could create a color-coded system and tape a key to the inside of your closet door. For example, the blue bin is home to painting supplies, the red bin contains thread, and so on.
8: Stamps and Ink Pads
By no means are stamps all you need to enjoy a successful run as a scrapbooker. There are literally dozens upon dozens of borders, spacers, designer papers, adhesives, artwork and other scrapbook-specific products available to flesh out your scrap supplies.
Scrapbookers don't mess around. They devote a significant amount of time and energy to the preservation of memories in an artistic manner. If you're thinking of dipping your toe into the scrapping waters, the first things you're going to need (besides a scrapbook) are stamps in whatever themes you're planning to develop, as well as ink pads. Surprisingly, stamps are pretty pricey, so you might devise a system through which you swap with friends (mark yours with your initials if you want them back) or consider buying them used online.
7: Assorted Paints and Brushes
Many painters have a medium of choice, but there's no reason your craft closet can't include a few different options! Obviously, the quality of the paint products you select will depend on your budget and how serious you are about painting, so research your options before dropping too much cash. A few of the candidates include acrylics, oils, tempura, watercolor and even poster paints for little kids and those who teach them. Grab a set or two of brushes and you're ready to channel your inner Da Vinci, provided you have some paper on hand. An easel wouldn't hurt, either.
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A selection of scrap paper in assorted colors, patterns and textures is a must for any craft enthusiast's closet. Poster paper, finger painting paper and construction paper are especially good for artists with little tykes starting to learn the trade. If drawing or painting is your game, be sure to have a supply on hand that gels well with your chosen medium. Don't feel like you have to trash smaller scraps, either! You never know what kind of project will pop up requiring pieces of all shapes and sizes.
5: Scrap Fabrics
You won't get too far as a quilter if you don't have a sewing machine to put your blocks together. Any quilter can get by with a basic machine, but the hard-core artists often select one that's portable, durable and has added features, like pattern stitching.
Quilters, in particular, find that having a wide range of scrap fabrics is helpful when designing a new project. First, it'll keep you from running out to the fabric store and spending a ton of money every time you come up with a new design. Second, a hodgepodge of complementing colors and patterns gives any quilt or other sewing project an added depth that just wouldn't be there if everything is perfectly matchy-matchy.
Those of you adept at making clothes or costumes are also bound to appreciate the helpfulness of the scrap fabric bin. So, when you're out shopping for new material, consider future projects when making selections, but also consider the fabric's potential down the line. That gloriously fuzzy, purple scrap could be an ideal component of your daughter's next Halloween costume, or even be transformed into an offbeat purse. When it comes to fabric, the sky's truly the limit.
4: Crafting Tools
Some crafting projects are so involved that they require their own host of tools other than a needle and thread. Whether you enjoy following kits with instructions or creating art from scratch, there are a few items you should consider obtaining to get the job done faster and easier. Among the most commonly used are wire cutters and a single hole punch. An X-ACTO knife is also a wise purchase for crafters who regularly need to score or cut as precisely as possible. A T Square ruler is another must have for sewers, quilters and any other crafter who needs to be able to accurately measure, trace and mark lines or locations for things like buttonholes or seams. A rotary tool is a must for anyone interested in woodwork, engraving or simply drilling holes required for a project. Be sure to wear protective glasses anytime you use this or any other type of motorized tool. Bits of glass and wood aren't exactly fun to dislodge from the eye.
Depending on the type of hot glue gun you select, they can reach temperatures of anywhere from 175 to 385 degrees Fahrenheit. Be cautious when using yours, otherwise your fingers and hands could wind up sporting painful burns.
Few and far between are the crafters who don't own a glue gun and the requisite sticks. Depending on the project, it's sometimes necessary to use other types of adhesives. Non-toxic glue (picture the stuff you used in elementary school) is available in liquid or stick form, and is practically a rite of passage for any crafty child. The purpose of wood glue is obvious thanks to its name, but should only be used on projects that are kept indoors. Craft glue is excellent for projects involving anything from paper to fabric to cardboard. Of course, any heavy duty project that calls for an adhesive with muscle should turn to any brand of super glue to get the job done. Ensure that all glues -- particularly the "super" variety -- are stored out of reach of children and pets. Many of the more innocuous versions are nontoxic, but plenty are not, plus they pack the potential for a mean, adhesive mess.
2: Things That Write
When you're getting your writing/drawing utensil drawer in order, start with plain old pencils and work your way up as needed. Fabric markers are best for sewing or quilting projects. Sharpies, which tend to bleed through cloth and most paper, are ideal for marking heavy-duty materials. Be aware that their marks are permanent, so use caution when applying. If children are involved, consider adding washable crayons, markers and colored pencils to your stash.
1: Things That Tie
The next time you have an awesome crafting idea, tape a sheet of paper to the inside of your craft closet door and write it down. This running list will ensure that you never forget the things you hope to accomplish.
You never know when a ball of twine or fishing line is going to come in handy, so it's a good idea to keep some lying around the house. So why not store some in your craft closet for jewelry making or other projects? While you're at it, gather up a variety of yarns, threads, ribbons and anything else you can tie a knot in. You'll be hard pressed to find a project that won't require one or more of these items. Be sure to store them in a manner that won't let them get all tangled, though. What a nightmare that would be to clean up!