Your dilemma: You see tons of cute geeky craft projects everywhere you turn on the interwebs and you want to hop on board…but you can’t craft to save your life. And you may be afraid that trying to take up crafting is going to leave you with a ton of junk that’s going to sit around your house for the next few years as you mumble, “I’ll get to it this weekend…” every time you walk by.
I’ve rounded up a short list of crafts that require very little time, space, and money investment to get started in.
Amigurumi is a very simple crochet style that is beginner-friendly for a variety of reasons:
- Most patterns only require you to know the first two stitches a crochet student has to learn: the chain stitch and the single crochet.
- Since toys are much more forgiving of size variation than clothing, you only need a few hooks.
- You can buy the absolute cheapest, bargain-brand, super-clearanced yarn you find, since you don’t have to worry about it being comfortable to wear and 99% of projects require less than a single skein of yarn per color (Added bonus: the cheap stuff is the easiest to wash if your ami ever gets dirty).
- Because it had an explosion of popularity a few years ago, there’s a staggering amount of tutorials and you can get free patterns for hundreds, if not thousands, of amigurumi on sites like Craftster and Ravelry. There are entire blogs dedicated to giving out free amigurumi patterns. If you don’t mind spending a few dollars for patterns you have access to an even greater variety.
- Because of the simplicity, once you’ve had some practice and can comfortably follow patterns, it’s very easy to start coming up with your own designs. Eventually you’ll be able to whip up cute figures for your favorite characters.
A few links to get you started:
- Craftster master list of free amigurumi patterns and tutorials
- Planet June has numerous helpful amigurimi tutorials, with many being available in several formats
- Amigurumi baby monster video. It’s fairly long but she takes the time to really explain the steps.
Note: Sometimes it can be hard for crochet newbies to understand exactly what is going on in a video tutorial because a strand of yarn being twisted around can be a hard target to follow. Don’t be discouraged if you have to rewatch portions of a video several time to be sure what is being demonstrated.
2) Decoupage (Picture + Glue + Surface of your choosing + Sealer)
This is a very simple craft technique that can be adapted to a variety of base materials. You can use decoupage to make coasters, pendants, cell phone cases, wall art, cigar box purses/containers, magnets, switchplate covers, etc. There are two main limitations: you want the surface to be free of lumps, and the material you’re using for the image should be tested to make sure it doesn’t bleed colors when you brush on the Mod Podge.
The easiest method is to cut up pictures from comic books, magazines, or your home printer, adhere with Mod Podge, and spray with sealant. Allow to dry for as long as the sealant says it must cure (often 72 hours).
Note: Decoupage was the original go-to term to describe this technique. Mod Podge, the most commonly used product as a dual purpose adhesive and sealer, has begun to supplant decoupage as the generic word for the technique itself in common usage. When you’re looking for tutorials and inspiration, you’ll often have better luck doing searches for both terms.
Some basic tutorials:
3) Cross Stitch & Embroidery
All you need is an embroidery needle, a package of several floss colors, and some fabric. It’s literally as simple as learning how to make a few lines and “X”s on fabric. If you’ve seen the extremely detailed counted cross stitch and needlepoint kits in stores, you may have been too intimidated to try this craft. I assure you that you can find (and design) simple beginner projects that are orders of magnitude easier than commercial kits.
Like decoupage, this is a case where a very simple technique can be used to create any image you can think of on a variety of surfaces. Aida cloth and felt are the most common, but you can graduate to harder surfaces like leather, denim, and canvas once you have a hang of the basics.
Some basic tutorials:
- In this very short and basic Youtube instructional video, the crafter makes much bigger-than-normal “X”s so you can see very clearly what the technique is)
- Sublime Stitching tutorial section
- This diagram-heavy cross-stitch tutorial is made by DMC, one of the most well-known brands in the industry
- This is the DMC instruction for embroidery
- DMC’s guide to various techniques for transferring images to fabric is very helpful for anyone who wants to make their own designs
- Craftster needlework tutorials