15 Low-Cost Craft Hobby Ideas for Beginners
From knitting and crocheting, through paper and clay craft, to soap and candle making, ideas for craft hobbies projects are endless.
If you are good at drawing or painting, choose something that involves decorating, like making cards or charcoal drawings. If you find that working in three dimensions and modelling things in your hands is what makes you tick, then go for clay, candle, or soap projects.
Finally, if you are patient, and find repetition soothing and relaxing, then there is nothing better than crochet or needlework. Some projects may take hours, others weeks, but all of them can be done for pennies if you engage your creativity.
Crochet and Knitting
I knitted my first jumper when I was ten. In fact, I made two of them as Christmas gifts for my parents. I have never been more proud of myself.
I do not actually remember when I learned to knit and crochet, but I know all my knowledge comes from my grandma. She used to knit or crochet all the time so I had plenty of occasions to watch her working. And she was the one who gave me the old spare yarn for those jumpers. I spent a lot of time making them but did not spend any money at all.
Nowadays the internet provides so many tutorials and videos for beginners that each of us can find a perfect teacher. There are also hundreds of free patterns for everything, from a simple doily, through ponchos and jumpers, to complex clothes or jewellery designs. If you want to make a big piece, the yarn might become expensive purely because of the amount involved, but for small projects the materials will not cost much.
There are places when you can buy yarn in bulk quantities very cheaply, and obviously eBay offers a lot for almost nothing. Apart from the yarn, you will only need needles or crochet hooks, and a lot of time. This craft is for patient people, but it's very rewarding and soothes the nerves.
If you like detailed work and have plenty of time and patience, then embroidery projects are the way to go for you. The easiest and probably the cheapest way to start is by buying a cross-stitch or embroidery set. Choose something small for your first piece, to make sure you will finish it in a reasonable amount of time. I must confess that I have projects I started years ago and I do not know when I will finish them. So choose wisely.
Once you get more confident using a needle and working with patterns, you may create your own designs. Patterns are easy to find online or in printed magazines. Buying canvas and a big selection of coloured threads will be much more expensive.
For doing it on a budget, try black-and-white patterns, like stitching your favourite pet. If you are looking for something more challenging, I would suggest looking at Richelieu patterns. They are usually done on a piece of white cotton fabric using white threads.
Once you become tired with embroidery projects, or simply need a short break, you can put your new skills into sewing. There are endless things you may want to sew, so I give one example here that takes into account a limited budget.
When I was at school, I made a handbag out of scraps of old denim trousers. I cut out square pieces and arranged them in a checker pattern, then sewed all together. I added an inner lining of a different fabric and a few denim pockets. I finished it all off with a double-stitched denim belt. I used that bag for years to come and was very fond of it. It was a simple design, and I am sure you can create something similar yourself or find ideas online.
Look into your closet for old clothes; you may find great fabrics to re-use. Other places to check are car-boot sales and shops that sell clothes by weight. If you prefer brand-new fabric, go online or to fabric shops. Most shops sell their leftovers or remnants for a very low price.
If you like crocheting but are looking for some variety, tatting is a way to achieve it. Instead of a hook, you use either a shuttle or a special long tatting needle. The latter was invented to speed up the process, as tatting is very time-consuming. Still the results are so magnificent that it is worth the effort.
Tatting is a way to make a kind of lace. You construct a series of knots and loops over a core thread, creating rings and chains, which you combine to make beautiful designs. This technique can be used for making doilies, bookmarks, jewellery or any other decorations.
You can usually use the same threads for this technique as for crocheting. AIDA brand, however, is one of the best thanks to the very silky, smooth texture of the thread.
Making a Flower Pendant Using a Tatting Needle
If you like working with knots and loops but do not like the tiny scale of tatting lace, take a look at macramé projects. You only need a pair of hands and several yards of ordinary cotton cord to get yourself started. As for any patterned work, there are hundreds of free designs online. Once you become ready to use more colours, look on eBay for proper macramé cords.
If you prefer micro-macramé designs, you will probably need finer threads. One of the most popular macramé projects these days are friendship bracelets—you can braid them yourself very quickly.
Weaving is an old technique. You usually need a loom to do it, but there are other ways to use weaving technique to achieve amazing results. You can practise weaving with paper strips; it will allow you to create interesting designs that you may want to incorporate in your paper craftwork like cards making.
Once you become familiar with the technique, I would like to challenge you to make pictures, but instead of using traditional threads, go for something more creative. Gather together ribbons and old clothes cut into strips of different thickness. Then prepare a wooden frame of a size big enough for your design and put nails evenly around it. Prepare the vertical line base, using strong cord or anything you find suitable.
Then start weaving your ribbons, clothes strips, cords, etc. creating any design you like. I have seen beautiful pictures of trees and fields created with this technique. You may like to dye your fabric strips to the create colours you need for your project. Do it and have fun.
Painting by Numbers
If you have always wanted to paint, but like me you thought you lacked for that, then have a look at painting by numbers sets. You might think those are for children, but trust me, some are very demanding and working on them is rewarding. After all, you end up with a great picture you can happily hang on your wall.
There are many sets available, so it is easy to find a bargain or something on a sale. Have a look around and try different mediums. Some sets include acrylic or watercolour paints; others offer pastels for drawing. Sets often include information about the difficulty level; you may want to start easy at first.
Be careful, though, as painting by numbers is addictive. I started the dog painting above one afternoon and was not able to put it down until it was finished, at 6 AM the next morning!
Art and Craft Suppliers
- Art and Craft Supplies
Products for Scrapbooking, Cardmaking, Beading and Art and Craft projects.
- Hobbycraft - The Arts & Crafts Superstore
Craft supplies, art materials and inspiration for over 250 different arts and crafts activities.
- Arts & Crafts | Michaels Stores
Retailer for arts, crafts, framing, floral, wall décor, scrapbooking and much more.
Quilling is a three-dimensional technique for creating pictures from thin strips of colourful paper rolled tightly into different shapes. It can be used not only to create pictures to hang, but to decorate holiday cards, calendar pages, and invitations. It can even be used to make jewellery, though that requires making the paper waterproof.
It is a good idea to start with a beginner set to acquire the basic tools, but after that, you may either buy quilling strips or make them yourself. As for any other craft, the Internet is the best source for ideas and free patterns.
If you have ever wondered what to do with those colourful paper tissues lying in packages for months in your cupboard, the decoupage technique could answer your question. You can cut out parts of those tissues and cover jewellery or trinket boxes, creating unique compositions.
All you need, besides the tissues or paper cut out from magazines, is a frame or a box to cover, some appropriate glue, and some varnish or other sealant. You may also apply paint on top if you feel it would add to the overall appearance.
If you liked the idea of painting by numbers, you might want to add some variety to it. Go and print some images or designs and then colour them. Use acrylic or watercolour paints, depending on the effect you plan to achieve, or for black and white designs you could even use charcoal.
A set of miniatures of your favourite pets, landscapes or mountain cottages, made in charcoal, could be a great project on a budget. You could also transfer your printouts onto a piece of wood and burn it later, but that would become much more expensive unless you already have a pyrography set.
This is really a variation on printouts ideas. You may go techie here and create everything on your computer, collecting pictures of your family or places you like and incorporating them in a calendar design. You could also print just the blank calendar layout, and add hand-painted pictures. Or add collages made of fabric scraps, magazine cut-outs or even dried fruits or flowers.
Almost all the techniques above, like collage work, paper weaving or quilling, can be used in making cards. There are endless reasons for giving someone a card: season's greetings, thank-you and congratulations notes, valentines, and celebration cards or just feel-good cards. It is one of the most popular crafts, yet also one of the most useful.
Look at the calendar: there are so many days in a year we celebrate that you may run out of time if you try to make something for each occasion. There are many specially designed supplies for this craft like, stickers and card making sets, but honestly, you will get more distinctive results if you use your creativity instead of your wallet.
If you are fed up with flat, two-dimensional projects, then have a look at sculpturing with papier-mâché. Old newspapers and leaflets thrown into your letterbox can all be used as a base for your papier-mâché pulp. Apart from that, you will only need glue, some paint and a lot of free time and creativity.
Check the Internet for free tutorials on how to make the pulp and for ideas on how to sculpt different projects. And if you believe that this technique is for kids's school projects, then have a look at this papier-mâché gallery. I am sure you will agree that this is art.
- 1600 Pandas in Papier Mache
A giant effort to save a giant. The Panda is the rarest bear on the planet and among the world's most threatened species.
If you like unique handmade soap, you make it yourself. You can start simply by melting some old soaps into a new shape (you will need a mould). You can add oils or other ingredients of your choice. If you plan to do it often, a good online tutorial will help you to choose the soap-making process that suits you the best. There are many recipes out there, from simple soap blocks to body butters, scrubs and moisturisers, many of them using natural ingredients from your kitchen. Check the Soap Making Fun website.
Like soaps, candles also can be made at home. Start collecting dried flowers, cinnamon sticks, slices of dried oranges, kiwis and other fruits so you will have plenty to choose from for your candle decorations. You can melt leftovers from old candles into a base for new projects, or find an inexpensive online supplier of candle wax.
And always remember to keep some candles for yourself. There is nothing better than a scented bath in romantic candle light.