A big problem with arts and crafts is how steep the financial curve can be. That’s a depressing way to start any post, but it’s a sad truth. As a beginner, you can get away with equipment from the kid’s aisle. But, there’s a point where we all want to step up our game. Yet that can be difficult, when you walk in a craft store and see the circle knitting looms cost £15 each (yes, I am still bitter). But no matter, that’s when a charity shop can come to the rescue!
So, I’ve compiled a list of bits and bobs you’re sure to find in charity shops and how useful they can be. Some might be obvious, some less so. I hope it persuades you to give your local shop a gander for some crafty inspiration next time you’re out!
If you have friends who need some crafty equipment tips, definitely share this post along to them. Don’t forget to bookmark it, too! It’s a useful reference if you’re stumped for inspiration or ideas.
This might be a weird one to start the list off with, but you bet I’m going to do it anyway. Jumpers are invaluable if you’re a yarn crafter on a budget. Look out for jumpers that have some unravelled yarn or holes in them. They’re much easier to unravel into a ball of yarn. Buy a whole bunch of them, and spend a good afternoon unravelling! This tip is especially important if you don’t have easy access to yarn, or yarn is more expensive in your area. Bear in mind, the yarn in a single jumper won’t be as much as a full ball. However, you can definitely make a bunch of pompoms with it!
Following on from that, old clothes are some of the best sources of fabric around. Fabric can be super expensive (it was in my area for a while), but charity shops saved me dozens of times. The clothes in a charity shop are one of the best sources of fabric around. It doesn’t matter whether you’re finding loose fabric for cosplay, or gathering enough for quilting! If you enjoy quilting, making cushions, or making soft toys, go to your local charity shop first!
(Please bear in mind that fabric found in a charity shop isn’t always up to safety standards. If you plan to make crafts to sell on, this is a super important thing to be aware of!)
Speaking of soft toys, these are just as great for stuffing! I’ve used the stuffing from old soft toys to restuff and repair pillows before and it really helps. It’s also much cheaper and saves you having to order stuffing online. If you make pillows, soft toys, or anything else that needs stuffing material, try this idea first!
(Like with fabric, keep in mind that stuffing found in soft toys in charity shops aren’t always up to safety standards.)
The bric-a-brac section of any charity shop is one of my favourites. When I’m not eyeing up whatever nicknack is available, I’m trying to find a way to cram them into my next craft project. One of my favourites? Mosaics! Broken pottery can be fantastic for making mosaic wall designs, and is a lot cheaper than special glass. Just be careful with broken pottery pieces as they can be sharp. Apart from that, get the satisfaction of breaking up some pottery, and make some unique art!
I know some of us can have gripes about ruining books, but trust me, they’re a beautiful medium to work with. Paper-mache models made using pages are covered in the print of the book’s story. This makes for a beautiful effect, especially for decorative bowls or plates. You can also use the pages for origami and, when glued together, you can carve interesting sculptures. Older books are especially good for this, as the aged paper is more unique than other kinds of paper!
If you work with beads, charity shop jewellery is a godsend. I can’t say how many old necklaces or bracelets I’ve cut up for the beads! If you want to try smaller beading projects, definitely rummage through the jewellery in a charity shop. You can usually find a wide variety of beads to work with and, if not, you’ll always come away with some inspiration. Some of my favourite bracelets were made using beads found at the local charity shop!
This one might be a little obvious, but trust me, it’s easy to forget. Never, ever pass up charity shops when you’re looking for crafting supplies. No matter what your niche is, you may just find what you’re looking for in a local charity shop. I don’t just mean knitting needles, either (though you’ll probably find those in a lot of charity shops). In my favourite local shop, I’ve found a beading loom and a full candle making kit! Chances are, you might not find these things, but it’s definitely worth keeping some money spare when visiting charity stores. Bear in mind, if you want to find craft supplies, bric-a-brac charity shops are much better for this!