Thursday, March 29, 2012

Craft Supply Secrets Revealed!

Scientific progress is all about the public sharing of information. When you do an experiment or discover a new cool species you get out there and publish your findings so others can learn from your conquests and further the world of science! Sounds great right? I often wish the crafting world was just as open, and although I don't support ripping off other people's designs or ideas, I am all for getting inspired by all the wonderful handmade goods people make and am always curious where crafters get their supplies from! My sister for one always seems to be asking me where I score my sweet crafty tools from and I figure if she's interested - some of you may be too so let's share the craft supply secrets!

As I mentioned in my button packaging post a few days ago, I like to get deals! It only makes sense to want to get the best possible price on a product, especially if you plan on selling your goods in attempt to make a profit! Over the years I have tried to find most of my craft materials locally since I often get inspired to make a craft on a whim and like the option of immediately getting whatever it was I was looking for and not having to pay shipping! My two biggest supply sources in town are Michael's and dollar stores.

Michael's is an arts and crafts supply super store and although their prices are often quite inflated, they give out 40% coupons like candy (in fact, you can almost always find one online) making them perfect if you're looking to get one or two things. I exclusively buy cardstock, paints, magnets, polymer clay, yarn, and wood pieces from Michael's and once in a while splurge on paper punches or scissors. I also pick up some acrylic recycled felt squares there that I use to make my pocket mirror cases. I like the low price tag and plethora of colours to chose from making it perfect for mass production.

Although the dollar stores of Kamloops have proven to be far superior to the dollar stores here in Victoria (who'd have thought?), there are a few items I love picking up there. Most of my packaging tools are dollar store purchased including tissue paper, lunch bags, ziplock baggies, and envelopes. Once in a while I score some nice acrylic felt to use for magic wands, mirror cases, and mustaches, but that is often touch and go depending on the quality. There is even a sweet dollar store in Kamloops that sells wooden dowels! Oh my!

I like to stick to local fabric shopping for my sewing needs since I really like to see the colours of the fabrics I chose in person and like to feel the quality before I buy. Fabricland seems to be the only place to get deals on a whole assortment of textiles here in B.C, but once in a while I pick up some accent cottons at quilt shops. Ikea is also an awesome source for fabric (although I don't live close enough to one to take advantage of their textiles very often...)

Once in a blue moon I also find really nice quality supplies at local shops like the amazing hand pressed 100% wool felt squares I get from the fiber arts store here "Knotty by Nature!" The price may be a bit higher, but the quality makes it worth it! That felt is what dreams are made of (well..maybe my dreams anyways...)

As for the rest of my craft supply shopping - I turn to the internet! Not only does it give you the comfort of shopping in your pjs without having to worry about store hours (I often get the urge to do some 5am binge craft shopping), but it offers some great deals on awesome products if you know where to look! It is also quite convenient for you blog readers since although you may not have access to a Michael's (e.g. my sister Leslie), you do have the internet! Hooray! The only downfall is having to wait for your parcel to arrive and the added costs of shipping fees. It does give you an excuse to check the mail though (for non-bill post even!) which in my mind is extra awesome...

One awesome spot to look for supplies is Etsy. Etsy has quite the selection of handmade, vintage, and craft supplies and all you need to do is turn on the "supply" search filter and start roaming for whatever product you may need! I buy the button blanks for my fabric button earrings from etsy as well as the 12mm black safety eyes I use on my plush microbes, and bezel pendants and glass inserts for necklaces. There is also a great selection of wool blend felt squares from shops like Giant Dwarf and Benzie Bazaar. This is a great compromise for felt that is higher quality (it keeps it shape well and doesn't pill) without the super high price tag for 100% wool felt! I've ordered from both shops a few times and love their selection of colours and amazing customer service - just check out that array of felt loveliness from Benzie's shop:

As far as printed products go - I am all about moo! They make amazingly high quality products and let me customize my orders enough that I can get a different image on each card! It also helps that they send me coupon codes in their moosletter and have quirky and fun packaging in their orders! They expanded their print shop site quite a bit from their origins in the UK and now offer an assortment of business cards, post cards, greeting cards, and stickers! Woo Moo!

Since I live in Canada, lots of the sweet craft supply deals I find online aren't so sweet when you factor in the shipping and duty costs. It has taken me years to find a good place to find a button machine (and ample button making parts) and was thrilled when I discovered Six Cent Press. Based in Vancouver, this little print shop makes and sells buttons in all sorts of shapes and sizes! Of course it is a little pricey to start out (their button making kits are $400+) but once I got mine I was hooked! I love being able to make my own pins and love having the option to do custom orders whenever I can. Heck, I liked them so much I bought 1" and 2.25" button presses and haven't looked back since! Yay!

As I mentioned above, I tend to do a lot of supply shopping at dollar stores. They have loads of paper products great for packaging up sales but since the move to the coast, I am finding the shops here less satisfying. After using up my stash of dollar store envelopes I took a trip around town trying to find more for a reasonable price. Ack! No such luck, the only bubble mailers and manila envelopes I could find were pushing the $1 each mark which really chips away at the profits when you sell an item online. Not to worry! The internet to the rescue! I looked at a few parcels I have received in the mail and noticed most of them said "Uline" on them. Time to hit google! Uline turned out to be an amazing resource for all my shipping needs and along with reasonable price tags they ship those babies out the next day! Woo! I may have gone overboard on my last order - but on the plus side, I won't be needing to buy any envelopes for a while...

The next two online supply shops I have just recently discovered and wish I knew about earlier (enter my "why can't we all share our crafty sources publicly" speech). Both shops seem to be stocked full of amazing craft deals and if you're willing to wait for shipping, are totally worth it! Create for Less is a US based company offering over 5000+ discount craft supplies with an easy to use online checkout system. Their prices are way better than Michael's (even with a coupon) so are perfect for getting slightly more costly items. I picked up a few paper punches, magnets, and some wooden pieces (I had looked everywhere for) a few weeks back and they arrived quickly:

My order even came with a hilarious (and so true to life) bumper sticker:

I also really like how they have product reviews on their site and share customer favourites (like Aleene's Tacky Glue and Fiskars 5" spring action scissors - two of my crafting staples!). They even offer free shipping with large orders (which I couldn't take advantage of since I'm from Canada) but do offer international shipping to Canada (obviously...since I ordered from them), Australia, and New Zealand!

The other online shop that has changed my craft supply buying ways is Consumer Crafts. I don't recall how I got linked to this site, but I am totally thrilled that I found it. They have so many products I've been struggling to get my hands on in large quantities and for awesomely low prices! It is really nice to be able to order 200 wooden dowels without having to bug Jim to keep checking Dollarama for them in Kamloops (which, if you know Jim - or even if you dont, he really appreciates). I ordered a whole bunch of items from them including embroidery hoops (for less than a buck a piece), jewelry findings, safety eyes, bar pins, and (as I mentioned) dowels! Yay!

They offer the same "free within the US" shipping deals as create for less too. Unfortunately, it was sort of a pain placing my order with them since you have to call it in if you're from Canada (so only Monday to Friday during business hours) and since I have pretty limited phone reception I had to drive around until I found more than one bar of service. I also got disconnected twice...and ended up giving them the wrong suite number so my parcel got delayed a few days (but my order was perfect so that's a plus!). Yup, sort of annoying, but not their fault by any means (well unless they offered online or email ordering). When I place my next order with them I plan on finding a land line to avoid the whole reception problem and I'll be set! Hooray!

Whew! That was quite the ramble I went on, but hopefully I shared some useful information with you that you can use to get yourself some sweet deals on your crafts! I'd love to hear where you do most of your craft shopping and encourage you to share some links if any of them are online! I'm also curious if anyone out there knows a good online linen or cotton fabric sources since my attempts so far has been pretty hit or miss (well...mostly miss at this point). What do you think? Are you an online buyer?


  1. Thanks for sharing, Kate! Great tips. Too bad you didn't post this last year, because my hubby bought me a button maker from Seattle - we didn't realize there was a Cdn one (to be fair, I didn't check, either - my bad). They look exactly the same so hopefully the parts will all work with my machine and I can stop ordering from the US!
    I don't buy much online, but I love moo, too. Thanks for the uline tip! That's great!

  2. I am staggered by your quest for materials! See you soon. Mom

  3. This post is epic! I totally want to buy all this stuff - not because I sell crafts or anything, but just because I kind of wish I had a stationery/craft supply store in my basement. You know, so I could colour code everything and look at all the pretty stuff. I would like to make Jean some felt play food, so I'll check out those two online blend places, and I may just have to check out the other shops just because! Leslie wants!

  4. Wow, I really really wish we had those stores here in México...This definitely the worst place to live if you make crafts:p Im always drooling over all the pretty fabric patterns, color felts and craft supplies I see around the blogosphere...
    Btw, please let me know when the package arrives(:

    I hope you have a lovely day!(:

    Carmila Ponycat

  5. This is a great post ... time for some online shopping! ~_^

  6. interesting post. Now you can use this exporters india directory to promote crafts supplies import & export business.

  7. This is really educational and very informative in this subject.

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