easy crafts for beginners (who want to spend more time offline)

2021, crafting

Hello!

After a year of lockdown after lockdown (after lockdown), everyone’s coped in their own way – whether it’s fitness, writing quizzes or a new hobby.

I’ve seen more people learning to craft than I ever would have expected – I’ve found a collection of people who love cross stitch, I’ve seen so many Instagram profiles for new Etsy candle businesses and air dry clay earrings have become surprisingly popular (let’s not talk about the banana bread or the sour dough, okay?).

Crafting is a popular activity for a reason – it’s so broad, it’s so relaxing and it’s a relatively easy way to start a side hustle too. Whether it’s sewing face masks or digital drawings, I’d love to see the statistics on new Etsy shops that have been set up in the last year. I’ve really gotten into crafting myself – cross stitch, knitting, sewing, paper craft, anything I could get my hands on over Christmas! So I thought I’d write a ‘beginner’s guide’ of sorts (as I am still very much a beginner myself) to some of the easiest and cheapest ways to get into different crafting skills and spend less time scrolling twitter.

  • cross stitch

The entire reason I got into cross stitch was due to the little kits available to buy on Hobbycraft – I messed the first one up big time but I found it so therapeutic. Knowing how precise it all is without even trying due to the aida cloth (the one with holes in it!) and how it looks so cute and pretty but really homely – and such a thoughtful gift that shows how much you care!

I also realised cross stitch is like sewing in 8-bit which was really fun.

To start off with, I recommend these little kits from Hobbycraft – they’re really easy to follow and come with really clear instructions (if the link doesn’t work, look for the ‘mini’ cross stitch kits, less than 10cm). I then stepped up to a larger cross stitch kit from Etsy – you can pick any design you like, buying a kit means it comes with all the materials and generally very well laid out instructions, but a bigger project feels more advanced. Then, if you really fancy it you can buy your own aida cloth, a selection of embroidery threads and you can even make your own design on websites like stitchfiddle!

  • knitting

Knitting feels intimidating – the big needles and all the different kinds of stitches – but if you want a soothing, repetitive activity to do while you’re watching some background telly (that doesn’t count as screen time, does it?), then knitting can be just the ticket.

I started by knitting ear savers – my mum sent me the pattern and it was a small little project to get me into knitting. I was watching a new Youtube video for every kind of stitch in the pattern but there are so many brilliant tutorials that I could comfortably knit one ear saver from start to finish in about half an hour (not including sewing on the buttons).

From there, I tried to advance the skill but I found it was just a little bit too stressful and that’s not what I wanted! So I took my needles and a ball of wool (I like to call it a loaf) and just sat and knitted row after row. I find the repetitive motion very soothing and a great relaxing activity for me. If you did want to advance this skill, there are loads of patterns available online and buying wool is definitely something I can see becoming very addictive!

  • sewing

After making the ear savers, I figured it would make sense to try and make the masks to go with them! I lovingly cut up an old duvet into small squares (r.i.p space cats sheets) and found a pattern and I was off! The first pattern wasn’t ideal – it was too big to be an effective face mask and it was a lot of work to sew it by hand. I then bought a kit from Hobbycraft (don’t ask me how much money and time I’ve spent in Hobbycraft in the last year) and I found that pattern was better to use and included the metal nose strips that help your glasses not to fog up (in theory).

I have since found another pattern that uses a rounded shape which is easier to sew and looks better. I was very lucky to get a sewing machine for Christmas (thank you mummy <3) and it’s made the face mask sewing process both quicker and slower – quicker to sew, but slower because I’m learning how to use a sewing machine too! I’m absolutely adoring my sewing machine – I’ve taken in a skirt that was too big for me and I’m hoping to learn to make bunting this month! One day I’ll brave making my own clothes but for now that feels intimidating and fabric is expensive.

  • paper crafts

It sounds silly to include paper crafts on the list, but I made a cotton wool ball snowman at Christmas, a 2021 vision board and some spreads in my bullet journal and rediscovered a primary school-level love for cutting and sticking. It sounds silly, but it brings me joy, so I will talk about it!

This one isn’t quite as much of an offline activity, as for me it started on Pinterest – making a digital board of all the things I wanted to include; the aesthetics, the quotes, whatever you like! I then copy and pasted them into Word (which is probably more hassle than it was worth, but I couldn’t think of an easier way!) and, simple as, cut and stuck them! I have a little collection of scrapbooking bits and bobs that I could use to embellish the pictures – a bit of washi tape, some string and some patterned card to use as backgrounds (though I intend to up my sticker game when the shops reopen). But it’s such a therapeutic activity! Literally just cutting and sticking pictures.

There’s not much of a purpose to it – my 2021 mood board is going to go up in my new office when we move house (I’m getting an office!) and I make little collages at the beginning of each month in my bullet journal but I thoroughly recommend it if you’re feeling a bit fed up – find some pretty pictures, maybe line them up with any goals or resolutions or ambitions you have for yourself and give yourself an afternoon with a cosy movie!


This post is already far too long, but I thoroughly enjoy talking about crafts – I can definitely do more specific posts about cross stitch patterns, learning to use a sewing machine as an absolute beginners and recycling household items in craft projects (water bottles and cereal boxes etc!).

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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my recent craft projects

2021, crafting, creativity

Hello!

I’ve been very vocal about how much I’ve been loving crafts since all of this started with the initial lockdown last March, but cross stitch, knitting, sewing and paper craft have become part of my routine where I try to get away from screens. It’s been lovely for spending more time offline and learning a new skill in the process!

So I thought I’d share with you some of my most recent projects as a nice little diary of what I’m doing, maybe something sweet to look back on!

  • monthly bullet journal collages

2020 was the year of discovering that I still love cutting and sticking things like a primary school art project – call it a mood board, a mind map, whatever! I very much enjoy finding pictures on Pinterest that represent my intentions, my goals and generally a nerdy picture of something Marvel or Harry Potter related, sticking them all together and using it as a monthly divider in my bullet journal.

My next step is to invest in more washi tape and stickers. Maybe some stamps!

  • face mask sewing

My mum very kindly bought me a sewing machine for Christmas and although it took me a couple of months to find the time (and the courage) to actually start using it, I’m actually getting better at it! Usually if I’m not perfect at something straight away I find it very difficult to want to put the time in to build the skills to get better but already I’ve seen progress.

I’m getting to know the machine by sewing face masks – I’ve been sewing face masks by hand for about six months now, I’ve tried a few different patterns and I got a kit from Hobbycraft that I really liked and I have a few leftover material patterns to practice with.

Now I’ve found a different pattern that I prefer, my mum has sent me a bunch of material samples that I can practice with and I can already see that I’m getting to know my machine better and how it works! I’m going to keep practicing face masks, I’m considering starting an Etsy story but that will be a little while down the line for sure.

  • taking in a skirt

Another thing I wanted to use my sewing machine for was adapting some of the clothes in my wardrobe rather than ‘giving up’ on them and passing them on. I bought this green circle skirt from a charity shop before the first lockdown – it’s from ASOS curve and it’s lovely but I was optimistic that ‘a couple of sizes wouldn’t make a difference’… they did.

I had to wear it rolled up like I was in secondary school trying to make my skirt shorter or wear it with a belt that was very uncomfortably gathered.

But I took it in! It’s not the most professional job and it definitely doesn’t hang quite the same as the rest of the skirt but it now fits me! I’m still figuring out how to style it though.

  • knitting a ‘scarf’

I really like knitting – it’s a really relaxing, repetitive task that I can sit and do whilst I’m watching TV to occupy my hands.

But it turns out I just like doing the one basic stitch that I know how to do over and over again rather than following a pattern and actually making something functional…

So I’m calling it a scarf, but it’s just rows and rows of the same stitch because I find that kind of repetitive knitting very calming and a perfect thing to do just before bed with some evening telly. (and having both my hands occupied makes it harder to snack)

Next month I want to:

  • Start a new cross stitch project
  • Finish my knitting project
  • Sew something other than face masks

I’ll no doubt be sharing what I’m working on over on Instagram because I get overexcited and proud when I finish something, so if you’re interested that’s the best place to get the latest updates!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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