On the subject of craft again

As anyone who has been reading here for a while knows, I have decluttered a lot of craft stuff over the last four years. My goodness, it actually has been more than four years now that I have been blogging about decluttering. Anyway, I had a tonne of paper crafting supplies which I reduced down to an amount I was happy with. I had designated a space I wanted them to fit into and achieved that goal. You can go to my Before and After page for a look if you haven’t already seen the results.

I did not declutter them all my supplies I spent very little time using them for the last few years. This is because I have always been a crafter and always will be. I love making stuff, creating with my own two hands. Both my parents are good with their hands, making and mending and it seem to run in the family. So I knew that one day my attention would return more fully to my creating, so there was no way I was going to let the best of my craft stuff go.

Well that time has come. I got creative again after christmas when I made my yearly supply of birthday cards. Then one day while taking a walk I saw a notice in an art space window. We have a project happening here in Newcastle called “The Renew Newcastle Project” the concept is that the owners of empty retail spaces loan their space to this project. Artist apply for the spaces and if lucky get to set up a gallery/shop there at next to no cost. So one of these spaces occupied by the NANA gallery had a notice in their window looking for people to volunteer to do four hour shifts manning their gallery. In return the volunteer is able to display and sell their own works. I jumped at the change and have been creating and selling my handmade cards there for about six weeks now. Each week my cards have become more and more popular.

Now don’t get too excited, I sell them really cheaply so I am not making a fortune. But I now have an outlet to sell what I make. This means that I am ploughing through my overstocked craft supplies at a faster rate every week. Decluttering, making money and loving every minute of being creative. I am also really enjoying the four hour shift, interacting with the other makers and the public. I make do with what I have on hand, actually designing around that, so that I am not adding to stocks of paper, ribbon, embellishments, etc. I do buy white & black cardstock as this is the base for many of the cards and also small tools but there is way more going out the door than is coming in. And what has come in is only stuff I have an immediate use for. No more buying stuff just because I like the look of it and “might use it some day”. That is what gets most crafter in a cluttered mess. That and having a limited outlet for the finished product.

So if you are a crafter, take it from me, only buy what you are going to use immediately. Only buy tools that are versatile and are guaranteed to be used over and over and over again. Know your own style and don’t buy random supplies and tools because they seem interesting. Consider the purchase for a good while to be sure it meets that criteria. And let go of all those things that you haven’t used for years and aren’t likely to. There are old folks homes, craft groups, schools, daycare centres etc etc etc, that will be more than happy to take your unwanted stuff off your hands.

Joyful creating and happy decluttering to all those crafters out there.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter an item that is only an alternative to another similar item that you now realise you don’t need multiples of.

Eco Tip for the Day

Don’t leave tasks linger for so long that you have to redo them such as drying the washing or folding it. This can cause you to have to waste more electricity rewashing and ironing. Need I also mention your wasted time and wear and tear on your appliances.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Good tips as always. I’m glad you are enjoying crafting again and getting to put your supplies to good use. You are certainly doing it corretly this time around by making and using more than you are buying and buying only what you need and truly want to use.

    • Hi Shoeaholicnomore, the fun part about that is coming up with creative ways to construct my own embellishments without having to purchase any. A little out of the box thinking using solves the problem for me. And a search on Pinterest sure is helpful.

  2. Colleen, what a good post. I’m so glad you have found an outlet for your cards. I think I would enjoy the 4 hour shift among the other artists and the public. What a great idea for the city to do. I’m hoping to start making more cards this afternoon. We will see if I have the time.

  3. That is fantastic, Colleen! I have also gotten rid of so many crafting supplies. If a new project comes along, I just buy what I need for that.

    My bad habit is that when someone has something they are going to throw out and I think, “Oh! I can do SOMETHING with that” and then it sits and waits for me to figure out exactly what. When my office remodeled the bathroom, I grabbed two (not big) boxes of the vintage yellow wall tiles. My plan is to get plain concrete pavers, break up the tiles, get some other embellishments, and create mosaic stepping stones to put in my garden. Yeah, right. When do I think I’ll get to this??? 😉

    • Hi Michelle, I know exactly what you mean. When a person is creative it is very hard to pass up potential project items that one stumbles across. I have gotten very good at walking away from these now. It was very hard at the beginning but. Mind you, that doesn’t stop me from ogling things for a while with that very thought of ~ “I could have fun making something with that!”

      • 😉 Get this: I went to the thrift store at lunch and set on the counter a pair of overalls, a purple plaid shirt, a pair of work gloves and a straw hat. The lady asked me if I was going to a square dance. HA HA HA I told her it was for my garden scarecrow. LOL

        • Well she wasn’t far off.

          • My husband thinks I’m whacko wanting to build a scarecrow. I found the greatest buttons for eyes! This will be one craft project that I am really going to have fun with and no leftovers except for the hat I already have because the new hat is way more stylish! I can donate that, I reckon, for someone else’s project.

  4. Colleen…..This is the source of most of the clutter in my home, and I have no one to blame but myself. I am yearning for the day I can get my supplies down to a manageable amount. The pieces I make take up much more room than your paper cards so storage of them (until I take them to a show or shop) are always in the way. I am working on a reshuffle of supplies off my shelves to making more room to keep my finished goods on. Do you or your readers who craft ever have guilt feelings of making “stuff” for people to buy? In my trying to reduce my load of supplies by making things, adds to someone elses “stuff”. The only thought that saves me is that my customers buy my work because it’s beautiful, (and sometimes useful)……

    • Kim – yes, I have thought about the irony of wanting to be decluttered myself and yet potentially adding to someone else’s clutter! So, I try to follow certain criteria when making crafts for selling or giving. I try to make only items that are useful, I try to recycle materials (such as outdated or worn clothing, including their zippers, buttons, trim, and hardware), and I try to use as much of my stash of previously-purchased craft items as possible. If I find a project that requires an item I don’t have, I try to be creative and substitute something already in my stash. I find I feel more creative that way as well as decluttering what I already own. Doing these things keeps that guilt at bay, because I feel I am using things that would otherwise be discarded, I am using from my stash, and I am providing items that are useful and that other environmentally-conscious consumers are happy to buy. If your crafted items are beautiful rather than useful, don’t forget that beauty is something we all need in our lives, too. Beautiful items have value to the buyer, so I would not feel guilty about that.

    • Hi Kim, the idea of producing stuff v environmental issues is what pops into my head on a regular basis. Although I am mostly using supplies I already have and try to use every square centimetre of every piece of paper, I still feel guilty about the waste from the backing of adhesive etc. And ultimately the cards will either just end up in landfill or clutter up someones keepsake box. However I override those thoughts with the idea that I am adding beauty to the world and joy to someones day. And once again I am mostly only using what I already have. Once the backlog of supplies is gone I dare say I will stop making to sell.

  5. How lovely that you can enjoy making again and also selling! Just been unpacking after three months in NZ, and looked yet again at 5 pairs of trousers in the wardrobe that I haven’t worn in years. Why keep them? Don’t wear them, so out of the door they went today, to a local Charity Shop.
    Hurrah! Once I’m over my jet lag I am determined to go through every cupboard and drawer and get rid of everything I don’t need.

  6. Great job, Linda. I’ll also be visiting a local charity shop today because I want to make a scarecrow for my garden. I’m looking for overalls, a shirt and some gloves. hee hee Already have the straw hat!!

  7. Terrific post.

  8. Colleen – it’s great that you have found an outlet for your creativity again, and in the process you are helping your artistic community as well. Enjoy!

  9. Colleen – I’m very happy you have found an outlet for your cards. Just out of curiosity, when you run out of stock will you continue or is it too far ahead to decide that?

    • Hi Moni, I think that once the supplies run out that will be the end of making to sell. I will really miss it though. I am sure my friends will still want me to make cards for them though.

  10. Great post Colleen.

    I’ve also always been a crafter, tried many different ones, got the supplies, got the books, got the tools. I have been taking a long hard look at what I actually still enjoy and do and have disposes of the rest. Recently I have passed on 20 books, lots of fabric and yarn and knitting needles. I haven’t done any scrapbooking or card making for six years, I occasionally do some beading. I still enjoy quilting, knitting and crochet, but I have trimmed down my stash, tools and books to my favourites, what a joy, and I feel more creative, not less!

    I’m sure this happens to a lot of crafters: I get given a lot of stuff from other people (most of my stuff I make I give to charity). I take it all, but instead of keeping it all, I go through it very carefully, keep the best and pass on the rest. (I always ask if the donors are happy with that, they always are.)

    The other thing that occurred to me is that over the years (I’m in my 60’s) I’ve done practically every craft in the old Golden Hands magazines (anyone remember those?) including macramé (anyone remember that?) and I had a lot of knitting and crochet stuff. Well I lost interest and went on to something else and gave away all my yarn, needles, etc. When I took it up again a few years ago I had a small regret about not keeping everything, but then the light bulb went on: I can get new stuff!!! And I haven’t had to store the old stuff just on the chance of wanting to do it again. That thought has helped a lot with my decluttering decisions.

    BTW I am up to 1099 items or bags of items I have got rid of, many thanks to your inspiration!

    • Hi Janetta, not only can you replace the craft items but you can often replace them secondhand from a thrift shop. I see tonnes of knitting needles passing through thrift shops. You can even pick up wool there at times.

      Oh and I remember all those crafts. I think macramé is due for a comeback. I also did latch hook rugs at one point.

    • Janetta, 1099 items or bags of items?! That is incredible! You are doing really great.

      • Small things that go in a bag I count as one bag, otherwise I count individual items. For my own interest I keep a list on Excel, I occasionally look through it and can barely remember what the items were!

        Yes Colleen I do always go to an opshop first if I need something, and am often successful.

  11. I know I’m pulling away from topic, but just wanted to give myself a high five! It being springtime, all the stores have Easter knickknacks, cute little floral arrangements, etc. At lunch today, I went to not one, not two, but three different knickknack stores (because they had really nice window displays). I didn’t buy a single item!! It was kind of hard to resist temptation – especially on some lovely smelling soaps and candles, but whew! Got clean away with checkbook intact! 😉 It was going through my mind that I probably have some things at home already that I could use to do some redecorating.

    • Michelle, good for you! I’m also a sucker for spring and easter decoration (much more than for christmas), but I have rather successfully restricted myself to fresh flowers and twigs and self-coloured hard-boiled eggs for a couple of years (plus the few things I already own, though they get fewer every year).

  12. My favorite way to use up craft supplies which for me is yarn is to knit hats for charity. Sometimes I sell the hats and give the money to a charity. Other times I simply donate the hats where they will be worn in cold weather or on a head that needs to keep warm.

    Unfortunately, because everyone knows how much I knit, I am constantly offered leftover yarn or half knitted items. My policy is to take it all, and if I can’t use it, I pass it on. I figure I’m helping someone declutter and then I use what I need and don’t have an emotional attachment to the rest of it because it’s not ‘mine’.

  13. Many cancer patients and premature babies benefit from knitted hats and blankets or quilts. Where I work, every premature baby gets either a quilt or blanket and a hat. We appreciate the donated items, and our nurses feel they are doing something nice for the baby. Hospital linen is practical, but very boring.

    • Hi Sheryl, I have heard of this kind of donation before. I think it happens in many a hospital throughout the world. It is a lovely way to enjoy ones craft and also the feel good habit of giving. Thank you for sharing.

      • I make “incubator quilts” for premature babies. They are 1m x 1m and go over the incubator to keep it dark for the baby. It also cheers up the ward and goes home with the baby. I love making them, they are small and quick to do and I try out different ideas on them.