a crafter’s essentials {my toolbox must haves}

So, did you see me on the Martha Stewart show yesterday?

Okay, technically I was not on the show, but rumor is when Grace Bonney was on talking about the Design*Sponge book…she shared a photo of FireCracker’s bed. I had no idea, but some comments were left on my facebook page about it. Now I have to figure out a way to see the episode!

On Tuesday, I shared my camera related recommendations. Another question I get frequently via email and in person is related to craft supplies. Not everyone has the space in their home for a dedicated studio or office space, myself included. I can’t spread out my projects or my supplies. A lot of you are the same way and have asked me about what I think are the ‘essential’ craft supplies. So, I decided to do a little round up of my own supplies.

I am going to include a lot of links in this post…so you can find where to purchase your own. If something is written in red, it is a link. Click on it for more info.

Here is my crafting space. The majority of my supplies are in that little white cabinet or piled on top of it. Surprisingly, I can fit a lot of stuff in all those drawers. If you look back at my old post on that cabinet, you can tell I am in dire need of cleaning up this space again. Some of the supplies, like Martha Stewart glitter, is very much not an essential, but sure is fun to have on hand.
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So now I am just going to list some of the things I think are more ‘essentials’ to always have on hand. Most of these could all fit plastic box under a bed. Obviously, I have a lot of other stuff on hand, but if I had to narrow it down to a few things…these are my ‘essentials’…my most used items.

Tools: My most used tools are a standard pair of scissors, glue gun, 1 1/2″ hole punch, standard hole punch, rounded corner punch and a ruler. All of those can be purchased at any craft store. Whenever I am out of town I try to find a locally owned shop that sells rulers…I picked this one up on Kauai. Makes me remember the beach each time I use it.
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Old Book & Scrapbooking Paper: I have two packs of Amy Butler scrapbooking paper (hard to find, I found mine at Micheals). I’ve had them for almost 2 years. I just use a little bit at a time. Last year I somehow managed to keep a book my friend Kara had used for a project. I use pages from this little book for all kinds of things.
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Scrapbooking tags & embellishments: I don’t scrapbook, but these are small so useful for many things. I get a lot from the Martha Stewart line at Big Lots…for $1.00 or less! I also have some from Elle’s Studio.
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Scrap Paper: I keep some of my favorite paper scraps….and paint samples….and cut up vintage postcards.
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Ribbons, Baker’s Twine & Ropey Stuff: This is a great thing to look for at estate and garage sales. The large spool of brown & white yarn like stuff was $.25 at an estate sale. Score. The polka dot tulle is from Hobby Lobby. The Baker’s twine is from Pretty Lil’ Package. The other ribbons and trims are from random places….
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Embroidery Thread & Clothespins: I use both of these all the time, but can’t remember what I’m always doing with them! The clothes pins are great for holding things in place while you are working, for displaying pictures and for sealing the bags of chips when you are done snacking. The thread is just a great thing to have on hand.
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Washi Tape: I need to think of a way to display these…they are too pretty to be tucked in my drawer all the time. I know tape can seem pretty expensive, but it is one of those items that goes a long way if you use it wisely. I just use a bit at a time, but I use bit all the time. I really, really like this stuff. Mine is from cutetape.com
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Letter Stamps: Great one time purchase. I used a 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby and they were cheap. Big size. Small size. Use all the time.
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My Sprays: I prefer spray finishes to spray tans. These don’t fit in my little white cabinet, but they are a must to have on hand – in my opinion. Easy Tack. Clear Finish – glossy. Clear Finish – matte. Decoupage. And now we can conquer the world.
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Random stuff: These don’t really go together, but they all fit into one picture. A sanding block found at any hardware store. When you paint wood, you should always lightly sand the first coat of paint to smooth the wood fiber down. E-6000 – the super glue of super glues. I’ve reattached FireCracker’s boot soles with this stuff. Black fabric paint. White acrylic paint. The last 3 items can be found at any craft store.
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Paper Trimmer: I use a paper trimmer all the time…such a must for me. Okay, so I admit to thinking all paper trimmers are the same. I mean, they cut paper…how many ways can you cut paper? I was wrong. American Crafts recently sent me their newest cutter, The Cut Up. All paper cutters are not created equal. This thing is amazing. Forget special scissors, I can slip in a variety of blades to cut my paper numerous ways….it is really cool. I gave my old paper cutter to the kids.
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Vintage lace and trims: I can usually find bags of this stuff for under $5.00 at flea markets and estate sales. I use it for embellishing projects.
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Fabric: Again, a little fabric can go a long way. Since we don’t all have space to keep tons of fabric, I recommend keeping little bits of your favorites to keep on hand. I used to keep these in a box, but I found myself carrying the box downstairs or somewhere else all the time. A sweet friend gave me this gorgeous Gussy bag….now I use it all the time for my favorite fabrics. And it makes me think of my friend.
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A GREAT pair of Fabric Scissors:  If you don’t own a great pair of fabric scissors…you should. These are the heavy, solid metal kind. They cut fabric like you wouldn’t believe. My kids steal my craft scissors, but they know not to even attempt to touch these. Mine are from JoAnn’s.
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So there you go. That is my short list! I tried to limit myself….apparently, that little metal craft cabinet has way more inside than it appears! I hope you all have a great weekend. I’ve got several emails asking if I am going to do the Best of My Days notepad again…the answer is “Yes!”. I will post the 2012 version next week!

And while we are on the topic of crafting, my sister is working hard on my new DIY page. It is so pretty and so easy to navigate. I can’t wait to share it with you all…along with some other big blog design changes that have me giddy!

*If you are a Google Reader user, I updated my rss feed which has caused a hiccup with Google Reader.

It should fix itself eventually. For a quick fix, you can unsubscribe and subscribe again.

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  • Hanna Finn - What a lovely post, I love looking at other people’s craft supplies for inspiration.
    Since you have featured not one but two pairs of Fiskars scissors in this post, I thought I’d mention that the small village the company started in is now an amazing artisan community… So if you’re ever in Finland (yes, I realise most readers of this blog are probably not planning a Scandinavian holiday), make sure you visit Fiskars: http://www.fiskarsvillage.fi/en/events

  • Christi Smith - martha stewart usually has her show from previous days on the following day on the hallmark channel, around lunch time central time.

  • RobyGiup - Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful!
    I would like to have… well… ALL the things you showed in the post! :D

  • amy jupin - you know after we left meg’s, the very first thing i did was buy a good heavy pair of scissors like yours!!
    now i don’t know how i lived without them!
    hope you have a wonderful day!

  • ingrid - such a great post!
    love the details and your pics

  • cailan - I love this. Thank you for taking the time to lay it all out…but I think my biggest problem is still where in the world to store it :)

  • Katie M. - Yeah! Thanks for the crafting info…but I’m especially glad to hear you’ll post a new Best of My Days. I’ve used them with my kids and a group of high school girls this fall. It’s a great way to be grateful for all the good things every day!

  • Alice H - I wish I would have known you years ago. My mom used to work at Bryan Industries before they moved out of Tulsa and she had TONS of fabric, buttons, lace, ribbon, etc. TONS! She has used some of it and then donated some to my kids art teacher.

    Washi Tape: I need to think of a way to display these… I was thinking a cute paper towel holder. I’m sure you could spray paint it and what not. But that would be good to display the tape.

  • Seriously Sassy Mama - Wow, you have alot of crafting supplies. I usually just buy for the craft that I need. I have recently started hitting the dollar bins for hidden treasures at all the craft stores. I love the white cabinet.

  • Jenni - I love this list!! Great job.

  • Krisi - Ashley!
    Your comment about the fabric scissors cracked me up–when I was young, my mom had the same rule, her sewing basket was OFF LIMITS accept with very rare permissions. Those giant, black, scissors where like a beacon of cutting delight that I could never touch.
    Glad to know it’s ‘a mom thing’…

  • Debbie C - This was fun! I have a lot of the same stuff on my must-have list! Including off course the Fabric Scissors that no one is allowed to breathe on. ;D Excited to see the new changes to the site!

  • Laura - I thought that I would let you know that in the December issue of Martha Stewart Living they have a doily table runner much like your own! I think that MS should higher you for there craft dept.!

  • denise - hmmmmmm….I think I am sensing a 2012 A Christmas Gathering segment…..hmmmmmmm

  • Alecia - Great post! So fun to see the different products that you use.

  • Karen - I just got my new martha stewart living and there is a dolly table setting in there that looks EXACTLY like yours. They should really have you on their show!

  • emmybrown - LOVE it! and I especially love how you slip in your humor throughout your sentences. Makes me smile!!! :)

  • Kristy Life-n-Reflection - What fun, I love a good crafting session!

  • tobi - yes! your photo of her room was on. i literally JUST watched it! she didnt say your name, but it was on! and for more than a second! wohoo for you!

  • Ryan - This line made me snort-laugh:

    “I prefer spray finishes to spray tans.”

    Classic Ashley Ann. :) That should be the tagline for your site!

  • anne c - I’m posting a video link to the martha show for you on your FB page!! :)

  • Friday Reader Roundup — SoEclectic - [...] today, AshleyAnn over at Under the Sycamore posted her crafter’s essentials. So. Many. Pretty. Crafty. Things. I don’t have enough storage in my small house for her lot, [...]

  • Ryanne - Good post. Very helpful. thank you

  • able mabel - My sewing sissors are off limits also. My kids know to leave them alone!!

  • giozi - I just shared this link with two friends, because I didn’t want to die alone by the envy. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH
    I keep all the links but I musn’t ha ha ha.

  • Katrina - Hi. Very helpful post. Its amazing what craft stuff you accumulated….still there is always room for more! Clear straw holders with the stainless steel lids look good with washi tape or cupcake papers in them.

  • Dina - I love your collection of supplies!

  • Ashley - Thanks, I love this post! Also, this is what I use to display/store my washi tape. I have the “apple” color and it is really pretty! http://happytape.bigcartel.com/product/new-12inch-multi-roll-tape-dispenser-pick-a-color

  • Nori - Ashley… You are the sweetest! Thank so much for linking to my Etsy shop & bakers twine.

  • Emily Peck - I love this post and seeing a peek into your crafts – you seem to score such amazing stuff for cheap, I love it!!! I started storing my washi tape in a straw dispenser (kind of like this one: http://www.amazon.com/Prodyne-F-36-Acrylic-Dispenser-Straws/dp/B000E7XMKY). I spray painted the metal part YELLOW and it’s fun to sit on a table. :)

  • salina - Oh wow…thanks for sharing your craft space and crafting goodies. Very inspiring for sure.:)

  • darcy - i read your blog everyday, but from my google reader . . . so all week i have been checking and thinking something must be wrong! i should have popped onto your blog a couple days ago . . . thanks for telling us about the google reader deal!

  • Lissa (Bellenza) - Fabulous (and enviable) post! So much to love here…especially those wooden letter stamps!

  • kiley - “…I prefer spray finishes to spray tans.” HA, HA! Great list! Thanks for sharing!

  • Katie - Thanks for the info – and the eye candy shots! Your photos of even the simple things are oh so beautiful.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Mmm… this makes me want to go pull out some fabric :) and glue. and trim. and markers. happy day.

  • Trish Burma - Stumbling on your blog has been like stumbling into disney world. I’m new to crafting and this post was amazing! You have so much talent. You are like the McGyver of crafting! Keep up the great work! Thank you!

  • CindyML - Thanks for the detailed photos. I have sewing scissors that everyone knows…. DO NOT CUT ANYTHING BUT FABRIC WITH THESE. Love all your glitter too.

    Yea! I am happy you will be doing the Best of my Days 2012 notepad. My daughter wants to do these for her friends. Can’t wait. Thanks in advance. CindyML

  • Abby - Wow! Great collection! Oh, I was wondering where you found your paper scraps and doilies? Also your fabric scraps? Oh, and I was also wondering what your favorite craft store is.

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