September 05, 2005

Frugal Crafter - Cheap & Easy Storage

I like to think of myself as frugal when it comes to crafting. I've visited enough scrapbook supply stores to know that the mark-up is over the roof. Craft stores chains, like Michael's, JoAnn Fabric's, and Hobby Lobby, are a bit cheaper than a specialty store. Even most larger chain department stores now have a scrapbook supply isle and carry supplies at a bigger savings over the specialty or chain craft store, but selection is often limited. Fortunately, I live near a Crafts 2000 superstore (there are only 3 stores nationwide) and their prices are unbelievably low - on the average, about 60-75% less than what you would pay at Michael's, but I've found even more ways to save money and will share my tips each week.

Before I begin handing over my budget crafting secrets, we need to talk about storage. Storage and organization is a must. Once you discover how many things you can reuse and recycle, you'll want to save everything, and you're going to need to be able to find what you've saved. If you can't find something, and have to rebuy that item, you've wasted money.

The dollar store is a great place to buy smaller sized plastic bins and containers. For larger storage pieces, watch the store ads for sales.
Over-the-door, clear vinyl shoe organizers work great for larger items - and the clear vinyl allows you to easily see what is in the pouch. There are also over-the-door spice racks and pantry type shelves that can be used to store larger items.

If you have a lot of small craft items, like beads or charms, I would suggest a trip to the hardware store to pick up one of those compartment storage boxes with the clear, see-thru drawers, the kind used to store nuts, bolts, screws and washers. I bought the one pictured, 10x10 inch, for $6 and am able to easily organize and find my smaller crafting items. Looking back, I wish I would have bought a much larger storage box. Maybe I can pass this one off to my husband if I find a larger one on sale. If you want to save the $6 use styrofoam egg cartons to store small embellishments.

Over the course of a few months, I purchased three plastic storage carts on wheels when I found them on sale. When I bought my first cart I thought one would be enough. HA!! I was surprised that I had filled it within minutes, and in truth, I could probably use three more. I prefer the carts with wheels because I can pull them close to my work space and don't have to keep getting up from my chair to find something. Since the drawers are deep, and I had a lot of smaller items to put inside, I used clear plastic containers, bins, baskets, and cutlery drawer dividers to help organize my things. I also have a three drawer bin on wheels that measures 30 inches tall by 18 inches wide that I use to store larger and heavier items.

I have a lot of ribbon. Whenever I needed it, I would have to dig through plastic storage bins to find what I wanted, and of course, the ribbon I wanted was always on the bottom. I came up with a solution for my most used ribbons. I purchased a cafe rod and two large, heavy duty hooks. Now you may be asking yourself "Why the huge hooks?" You need clearance from the wall for your ribbon and the hooks that come with the cafe rod are not long enough. Screw the hooks into the wall and make sure they are level, otherwise your ribbon will be leaning downhill. Most ribbon spools have a hole in the center, for the spools that didn't, I made a hole. I took the cafe rod apart and slid the ribbon spools on it. Once full, I put it back together and laid it across the hooks. Now my ribbon is in a handy spot. It rolls off the spool and I cut the length I need. No need to dig through boxes anymore.

Just as I would dig through bins to find ribbon, I did the same to find a rubber stamp. I looked through catalogs for a storage solution. I didn't find anything particularly for rubber stamps, and what I did find, that I might be able to convert and use, was expensive. Instead, I went to the lumber store and bought 8 pieces of 2 inch wide, 24 inch long, 2.5 inch deep, pre-cut boards. I measured out where I wanted to place my shelf boards and then used screws to hold the whole thing together. This project cost less than $15 and took less than 30 minutes to make. Now, instead of digging through boxes I can easily find the rubber stamp I need.

Next post I'll discuss trash to treasure embellishments and crafting items.