Creativity and Minimalism - 10 essential tips for makers + a free download

January 03, 2017

Creativity and Minimalism - 10 essential tips for makers + a free download

I don't know about you, but I would love to take up residence in a tiny home. The thought of ditching all non-essential items and going off the grid is the very stuff my dreams are made of. But let's get real. My husband could never part with his books and tech, and I could never downsize my craft supply stash to fit within such tight quarters.

However, last year my friend Virginia and her family downsized in a major way and spent the summer living that minimalist life and exploring the country in an RV. I was so excited for her journey, and it also changed the concept of minimalism from a lofty goal to a tangible people-I-know-are-actually-doing-it lifestyle. And it has completely motivated me to downsize my belongings in all areas, including craft supplies.

Okay, so what exactly is minimalism?

In simplest terms, minimalism is about owning only the things that are useful, beautiful or important. But what does that mean for people who have craft-based hobbies? We are serious hoarders. Isn't every yard of fabric, paint brush, bottle of paint, or skein of yarn useful, beautiful or important? Well, yes and no - but more on that in just a bit. By incorporating a minimalist approach to creative hobbies, you will make the mental and physical space that will allow your creativity to flourish, and also save a boatload of time and money in the process - bonus! Scroll down to the bottom for a free tip sheet you can download.

1. Take inventory of your tools and supplies and challenge yourself to eliminate half of them.

Okay, so I hit you with a doozy right out of the gate. But chances are, you have stuff from old hobbies that you no longer need. Like that time you tried to teach yourself embroidery and dropped $20 on supplies - and then decided you hated it (why does embroidery floss tangle so easily? Why do they make the eye of the needle so small anyway? And dang, those needles are sharp). And that yard of Liberty fabric that's years old but you haven't found just the right project to use it on? Donate it or gift it to a friend who will appreciate it. Round up all of your craft tools and supplies and divide them into three categories: keep, donate, and trash. As you evaluate each item, ask yourself these questions:

When was the last time I used this item?

Do I see myself using this again in the near future?

Is this something I can easily replace if needed? 

You'll quickly discover that you tend to use the same tools and materials often, while other items in your craft collection have been collecting dust and taking up space for years.

2. Organize a craft supply swap.

Okay, so now that you've got a bunch of craft materials to get rid of, invite your friends over for a craft swap. Ask each guest to bring their unused craft items (and maybe a bottle of wine). Then set up a table where all items are on display. Everyone takes a turn choosing one item at a time from the table. Keep going around the room until all guests have chosen what they want, and then dotate remaining supplies to your favorite re-use center. Use restraint when choosing items to bring back to your craft space. Remember, the point is to majorly de-stash your supply. 

3. Ready to start a new project? Force yourself to use the materials you have on hand when possible.

Yep. I said it. Trust me - this is a super hard one for me. There are few things as exhilarating as browsing the aisles of a fabric store on the hunt for the perfect fabric for a new project. Meanwhile, I have heaps of fabric at home that would work just as well. Again, this is hard. But as you work through your stash, keep in mind that you'll still receive all of the benefits of making (pleasure, stress reduction, etc...), without the added expense.  Plus, the faster you use up your materials, the quicker you can justify buying new supplies. Yay!

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4. Need that specialty tool for a project? Borrow before you buy.

We've all been there. We're working on a project that requires a tool that we don't have. Instead of rushing out to the store, try reaching out to your local crafty friends to see if anyone has one that you can borrow. Yes, you'll save money, but you'll also make your life easier in the long run because you won't have to worry about selling or storing it after it's served its purpose. Pro adulting tip - make sure to always return items that you borrow ;) 

5. Want to learn a new skill? Instead of dropping cash on supplies to learn on your own, take a local workshop.

Full disclosure - we offer local workshops in southern California and I'm being 100% biased here.  So, one time I was determined to learn wire wrapping. I was sure that I was going to just love it, and also be, like, so good at it that I'd eventually open an Etsy shop that would take off and allow me to make jewelry full time on the beaches of Puerto Rico. And then I took a class and realized... I HATED it. I lacked the hand dexterity and (more importantly) the patience to make wire wrapped jewelry. But by taking the workshop instead of trying to learn on my own, I avoided the expense of having to buy wire (probably the wrong gauge), different types of pliers (expensive), wire cutters, that cone thingy that measures ring size, etc. Though the instructor was awesome, I realized that wire wrapping wasn't for me and I was able to walk away without extra supplies that would have eventually ended up under my bed.

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6. Finish your current project before starting a new one.

It can be so tempting to start a new project when you're in the middle of another, especially if you're feeling stuck. And then start an even newer project when you get bored of the other one you had just started. Before you know it, you've got a stack WIP's and the likelihood of ever going back to them decreases with the start of each new project. Power through one project at a time and you'll learn to be more intentional with your time and supply purchasing.

7. Trends come and go. Maybe don't spray paint everything rose gold.

Pinterest... am I right?! I'm just as guilty of falling hard for trends as the next person. The struggle is real! Choosing projects that are time-tested will prevent them from ending up in the landfill in a few years. Plus you won't have to find storage space for the 50 pounds of concrete and 10 pounds of potting soil you purchased to make one succulent planter.


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8. Carve out a small space just for your art and craft supplies. Don't outgrow that space.

One surefire way to keep your crafty purchases in check is to limit your supply storage to just one, organized area. Any time you want to purchase something new, ask yourself these questions:

Do I see myself using this in the near future?

Do I have space to store it?

If not, what am I willing to donate so that I can bring this home?

If you bring it home, keep yourself honest. It may be difficult at first, but will become easier over time.

9. Avoid making impulse purchases. 

Did a favorite craft company introduce a new product that will completely change your crafting world as you know it? You got by just fine before it was released and you'll certainly get by without buying it now. Give it some time. Repeat the questions from #8. If it's something you truly want and will use, then give yourself permission to purchase.

10. Go ahead and splurge on high quality tools.

With all the money you'll be saving by cutting down on supply spending, you'll have more room in your budget for high quality tools that will last a really long time. Like this sewing machine, or these shears. Or maybe you need a new set of paint brushes. Spring for the tools that will inspire you to create more, or will make your hobby easier.


Becoming a minimalist creative is a process; have patience with yourself. Sometimes it will feel painless, and other times you'll be asking yourself why you started down this crazy path in the first place. Remember, the point is definitely not to create a pinterest-perfect craft space. That wouldn't be sustainable or very fun anyways. Using some or all of our tips will help you to clear years of crafty clutter, allow you to spend more time making and less time shopping (and starting projects that may never be completed), and save lots of your hard earned cash.

Click here to download our free tip sheet to help you on your own journey!

Have you thought about minimalism? Do you think you could get rid of half of your stash? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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