Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What's in YOUR Craft Room? Shopping, Ideas and Reviews for Craft Supplies

Hello everyone!
Did you ever wonder what paper-crafters have in their crafty arsenal? I know I did when I first started out and when I see a project I like the first thing I look for is a supply list at the end of their post. Knowing can be useful for deciding what to add to your own craft room. This is especially true for people starting out or becoming more serious about their craft.
Today I'm sharing what I use to make my projects. I will include videos I've come across on YouTube to show how things work if you are new to crafting and wanting to prepare your craft space. I may throw a product review in here and there as well, but first things first. 

I'm not connected in any way to the companies whose products I'm speaking of. Actually I wish I was, then maybe I would be getting paid for just sharing products I love or getting free products. :)
I will use Joann Fabrics in my examples, because that is the store I have local to me and can be found in most cities across the country. Michaels is another one of my favorite stores.
To begin, let me share a tip.
  When you're preparing to shop and have a coupon always read the small print. Your best bet is to look for in-store sales or comparison shop online. For example, most of Joann Fabrics coupons state 
"...Offer excludes...all paper-crafting machines, cartridges, dies, printers & accessories;..."

When I first began crafting I made the mistake of excitedly running into Joann Fabrics wanting to buy my die cutting machine with a coupon just to have this pointed out. To say the least I was very disappointed. If you can't find a good deal in your local craft store there are many GREAT deals online and quite often with free shipping. Doing your homework on pricing can save you quite a bit of money. Money you can spend on other craft goodies.
I will usually check out ebay first.
Cutting Dies
There are a lot of different brands of cutting dies on the market. I own three different brands of dies so far, Spellbinders, Sizzix, and Impression Obsession.
Spellbinders and Sizzix dies are readily available to buy at just about any craft store. I'm a penny pincher when it comes to my craft supplies so I wait until there is a sale, look for buying programs with rewards and shop online. Scrapbookpal.com has some great prices on their dies. 
I began by purchasing basic shapes and added more intricate dies as I've gone along. It's helpful to have at least a couple of each kind (basic shapes, fancy shapes, borders/edgers, tags/labels, and of course your fun stuff such as flowers, insects and the like.
With just a couple of each to start out, you can make some beautiful projects. 
Spellbinders Cutting Dies
A little over half of the dies I own are Spellbinders dies. They are thin, easy to store, come in a wonderful variety of shapes and designs, can be found at excellent prices, are readily available to buy at most craft stores, and cut very well. The main thing that makes them my favorite is that they emboss too which makes each shape look fantastic.
My ever-growing Spellbinders collection.
Sizzix Cutting Dies  
I also love Sizzix dies which are becoming more detailed as well as cut a lot of different materials and Sizzix dies come in many different forms and sizes. The thick Sizzix dies not only cut beautifully, but you can cut many layers at the same time. This can be quite useful when mass producing a specific shape for purposes such as, selling die cuts in an online store or making a lot of Christmas cards at once.
Unlike Spellbinders dies, I can cut thick materials as well which allows me to make things like chipboard die cuts and other thick embellishments for my projects. The downside for Sizzix dies, at least the ones I own, is that they don't emboss, but their cutting ability makes up for it. Also if you don't own the Sizzix Die Cutting Machine, the Sizzix brand dies, except for the wafer dies, probably won't work for you.
My collection of Sizzix Dies
What to Keep in Mind
If your shopping for dies consider how you will use them to layer if you want dimension. Picking shapes that you can use one on top of another is very useful.
How a new die will work with your existing die-cut collection is another consideration that can be helpful when you just don't know what to get. 
Choices are wonderful, but with my fixed budget, I've stood in the die isle for hours trying to decide what would be the smartest purchase to make.

Before you shop do some research. It's difficult to envision how a die cut will look on a project such as a greeting card by just looking at the die. Google handmade cards and look on Pinterest. These should give you an idea of what's new, popular or is just your taste preference. Many of the photos on Pinterest will lead you to the person who made it and very often that person has included a supplies list at the end of his/her post. I did a "Spellbinders dies" search on Pinterest and there I found beautiful examples as well as great tips and techniques.
 Note: If you have a die that is just not cutting well, add a shim such as another piece of paper. I just keep adding as needed, but I don't need to do this very often. Since each die cutting machine cuts a little different, even among the same brand, you'll have to find what works for you. 
Which leads me to...
My Die Cutting Machine
My favorite thing in my craft room is my Sizzix Big Kick which is the exact same thing as the Big Shot. The name difference is just how Sizzix markets it. There are a lot of things that I can do by hand (the hard way), but I canNOT produce the same beautiful things that this machine does. You can cut leaves by hand and they may look good, but a die cutting machine will make them look perfect and most importantly save you a lot of precious time.
  So having one of these in my craft room is priceless and is the first thing I would recommend to anyone wanting to get into card-making and other similar paper crafts.
Sizzix Big Shot

  • Works wonderfully and is well built.
  • Does a fantastic job of embossing.
  • Can be found on ebay for as low as $70.00 instead of the $119.00 or more you see in stores 
  • Works with most brands of dies. In fact I haven't found any dies that I can't safely make work with it. 
  • You can now purchase the machine with the Extended Multipurpose Platform for the price I mentioned above. There are a lot of them out there that don't include the extended platform so make sure you read the fine print about what is included in your purchase.
  • If you have to purchase the extended cutting plates separately they will run you about $20.00, but right now there is an online sale at Joan Fabrics for $11.99 and you'll find sales often.
  •  There is also the Sizzix Big Shot Pro that accepts 12" wide paper and bigger dies are made for it, but it's an investment at around $400.00. I'm quite satisfied with my smaller one, but may get the other down the line for larger projects. 
  • I read a lot of reviews about die cutting machines before I made my purchase and the Big Kick/Shot was the right one for me because it works with most dies and the Multipurpose Platform makes it easy and convenient to use. 
Embossing Folders 
Joan Fabrics often has great deals on Darice embossing folders. I've gotten the majority of mine 3 for $5.00 and other times 5 for $10.00. When comparing different brands of embossing folders I have not noticed a difference in any of them.
Note: Something to think about before purchasing embossing folders is your style. 
Example: I love the "Three Snowmen" embossing folder pictured below, but have never used it because I love layers of embellishments on a card too. The embossed image is just too cute to cover up, but too plain on its own for me. So even though I intend to use it I find myself reaching for other embossing folders instead.
 The folders that are just patterned are my favorite because they give a nice textural backdrop for a focal point. I've used the flowers, snowflakes, and fancy patterns many times. They produce that extra special touch that can make a card go from drab to fab!
Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to embossing folders is size. It's nice to have a lot of the smaller ones (4.25 x 5.75), but it's great to have a least a couple of large ones. You can cheat a little to make the small ones work for bigger projects, but when you want, for example, a large greeting card to have a flowing background, large embossing folders make it much easier.
My Embossing Folders Collection
I also have a few Cuttlebug folders. The one I use most of all is the Polka Dot Page which is 5"x12". The large size of it makes card-making easier for me. The other two I bought so my daughter could use them for Valentines Day.
Paper Punches
I love my paper punches and use them almost every time I craft. I wasn't sure that I would use them once I had my die cutting machine, but they work in a way that my machine won't. You are somewhat inhibited at the length of a die, but not with a paper punch. With a paper punch you can punch as long of a piece of paper as you want.
So after I began crafting I realized that the two go hand-in-hand and that paper punches are important for creating certain looks. Paper punches are also quite versatile as people are constantly finding new ways to use them. Check out these videos and you'll see what I mean.

More ways to use Martha Stewart edges punches to create lace paper and rosettes

Martha Stewart Crafts Punch Around The Page Punches

Martha Stewart paper punches are a wonderful addition to a craft room, but there are other brand paper punches that are beautiful too. I only own two of the Martha Stewart Border Punch Sets, but I have to say they cut better than the Fiskars brand, squeeze, paper punches and I like the way Martha Stewart punches fold up for storage.
These are a couple of the latest cards I made using one of my Martha Stewart punches for the lacy background.
My second brand of go-to punches is Ek Success. They're very similar to the Martha Stewart punches as they come in many designs, fold closed for storage, and cut very well. Here I mixed punched strips from three different brands of punches, Martha Stewart, Ek Success and Fiskars border/edge punches to decorate a card.
Punches can also be used to make embellishments.

Tutorial - Easy Paper Flowers Using EK Success Dahlia Punch

My Paper Punch Collection
(I have a few others, but these are the ones I've used most)
One of the most important things in your craft room is the adhesive you use. Honestly I probably have every glue and tape on the market, but there is one I choose to use most of the time and that is my ATG. It's easy to use, has a strong bond, the roll last a long time, it's refillable, and you never have to touch your tape. Also the tape is narrow enough for many small projects.

I hope this has given you some insight into what I do when looking for supplies as well as helped you determine what you might look for yourself and how to look for it.
Comments are always delightful and welcomed :)
 Happy Crafting!
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