I have two rules for my own craft purchases: Do I love it and Do I need it?
As a quick aside, there has in the UK been a lot of talk about stashes of craft supplies (often wool with knitters) being hidden in the mainstream media. And then I read a great article by Maddie at Badass Quilters Society, which basically summed up my personal opinions on the need to hide a stash or purchase. The first point is simple, if you are hiding something because you couldn’t afford to buy it, you shouldn’t be buying it. The second is that why should you be ashamed of buying supplies for your hobby. The word stash is always associated with hidden so even if the stash isn’t actually hidden, there is still the connotation of being hidden. Anyway Maddie definitely describes it better than I do,but my takeaway point was that I’m going to try and use the word collection for supplies rather than stash. It implies a little more pride in my supplies and also recognises that they are important and necessary. It doesn’t hurt that ‘a collection’ is often associated with valuable items. I don’t personally know the value of my collection of supplies but I do know it would be well beyond my means to replace it if where lost or damaged.
And back to the topic of buying supplies. I don’t have specific crafting budget, the money I spend comes out of my monthly ‘free money’. Which means if I make a big craft purchase, I can’t spend the money elsewhere and vice versa. So the amount I spend fluctuates a lot but my spending falls into the two catagories mentioned above: love and need.
The latter is actually the key one. I try incredibly hard to only buy things if I am actually about to start a project which will use them. I used to buy supplies if I had a project in mind for them, but I just ended up with small piles of supplies, without the time to actually make them and often I was no longer inspired by the time I got round to it. So now as one project is being finished, I start planning the next one and picking up any supplies I don’t already have. I do also try and start projects that maximize use of the supplies I have.
Modern life means it is very easy to get supplies and pretty quickly. I’m incredibly guilty of using amazon prime to get emergency supplies delivered the next day. I am aware that this doesn’t do actual shops any favours so I do try and be organised enough to buy stuff in advance from real and preferably independent shops (although I still do most buying online).
I personally don’t collection build (formally known as stash building), mostly due to lack of space and the ever looming threat of having to move that haunts every renter. I do have a collection of beads bought over the years and a small pile of fabric but as I am a beginner quilter/sewer who is fairly inconsistent with how much sewing I do, its not really necessary for me to have a large collection. Also while there is plenty of fabric I love and would happily buy given a bigger budget, I don’t know where my sewing journey is going to take me, and don’t want to end up saddled with materials I’ll never use. I also find that with each project I complete, there’s leftovers – from scraps to significant bits of fabric, so I am slowly building a collection. This also provides enough material for an emergency projects.
Which brings me on to the other category of things I buy: Things I’ve fallen in love with. It happens – no matter how good you try and be with planning and deciding what you need, sometimes you just want to own that bit of fabric or wool or colour of bead. My opinion is if you can afford it, why not. If you make something as a hobby its because it brings you happiness and making with a supply you love will only make you happier. If you can’t afford it, then its time to start saving or hinting madly at people who can afford to buy you presents.
Do you have a proper craft budget? or if not how do you control what you spend on your supplies?