February 15, 2011

Becoming A Confident Crafter . . .


My friend Tracy asked me the following question:

How do you make the leap from home made (deadpan: You made this yourself, didn't you?) to handmade (disbelief: You made this yourself?!) Could you please give a few tips for a beginning crafter?

This is a GREAT question, Tracy!  Of course, it should be answered by a master crafter, which I am NOT.  I’m not even sure I’m an intermediate crafter. I’m more or less a fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants crafter. But I’ll do my best to give mention a few tips that have helped me to be a more confident crafter.

1. Find Successful Project Ideas.  While I’d like to claim many of my creations as my own ideas, I actually find a majority of my ideas online.  There are multitudes of ultra-talented crafters and designers who detail projects in tutorials on blogs. I usually have good crafting experiences when I am following a step by step process.  I like to keep a little folder on my desktop of great craft ideas, like the gumball necklace {pictured} that Hannie B. and I made for a few of her friends as a Valentine.  I filed that idea right after I found it over at One Charming Party. Give credit to the original crafter whenever you can.

2. Start Out Simple.  Making a handmade gift is such a thoughtful idea.  But biting off a bigger idea than you can chew is a recipe for disaster. Honestly assess your capabilities before you start a project.   As a rule of thumb, do not take on a sewing project if you’ve never taken your new sewing machine out of the box!  There are projects out there for every level of crafter.  As you become more confident in your crafting, you’ll be able to attempt more difficult projects.

3. Trial & Error, Baby!If I had a dollar for every craft I’ve tried and failed, I’d be rich!  I have thrown away full sheets of label paper due to botched design work.  I’ve hot glued crafts directly to my finger {ouch!}.  I’ve cut fabric too short. I’ve spelled names wrong.  I’ve cut paper in the wrong direction. I’ve done it all! But making mistakes is a good way to learn, and usually after a fit of frustration – and maybe a good crybaby session – I try again.  My confidence grows as I log my multiple mistakes in my brain so they don’t happen again.

4. Enjoy It.  If you find yourself thinking, “I should have just bought a stupid gift” whenever you are handmaking something, maybe crafting isn’t for you. A begrudging crafter is less likely to produce a gift that contains sincerity. I really love making things for people.  I hope it comes across as sincere and heartfelt.  And even when a handmade gift is given that isn’t ‘professional quality’, I appreciate the thought and effort put into it.

I hope this helps Tracy. Just keep crafting.  I know there are some pretty talented crafters who read this blog.  I’d love to hear how they gain confidence in crafting!


Angelique said...

Pick something you are totally excited about and dying to have completed so you can enjoy it in it's finished form. That will usually give me all the motivation I need to learn something new.

I taught myself to sew out of an old 1970's vogue sewing book back in my teens just because I wanted to design clothes so badly. It wasn't all fun and easy right off the bat but once I figured it out it was somethig I could do kinda on auto pilot. It's so worth the trouble becasue I just have to have that end result which at the time was totally original clothes I had taken from thought to paper to fabric.

I never make stuff I'm not excited about. It's always something I want to see completed just as badly as those childhood clothing designs. It makes it easy in the sense that you don't mind all the mistakes and retrys to get it perfected so that you can have it as you imagined it. It's very satisfying too!

Apis Melliflora said...

I too am a fly by the seat of her pants crafter usually using the materials I have on hand As a result, most of my crafts are high on heart-felt and low on the wow factor.

I have a folder on my computer where I bookmark good craft ideas for our block parties and Valentines, for example.

Jessie said...

I definitely fall into the "begrudging" category. I get so impatient and frustrated and usually mad whenever I try do anything crafty (because it doesn't come easily and I always mess up). I've come to the conclusion, that as you said, it isn't my thing and I'm okay with that. That's why I appreciate your talent and others like you. :)

The Queen Vee said...

I'm a phoney crafter, all smoke and mirrors.

Anonymous said...

I'm cautiously making my way into the crafting world. I also stick by the rule that if I'm not excited about a project then there's no point in attempting it.

TracyS. said...

Thanks for the thoughtful tips. I feel a little braver now!