Crochet, Frequently Asked Questions, Knitting, Sewing, Stampin Up

FAQ #1: “Isn’t ‘handmade’ expensive?”

When I was asked this the other day, I was kind of shocked. I’ve been crafting since I can remember so for me, I hardly looked at the actual cost of ‘handmade’. My response was, “If you’re going to look at it with Big Box Store prices in your mind, of course it is going to look more expensive.” You are going to frequently have leftovers from anything you make. Especially for me. Whenever I buy yarn for a project, I buy an extra skein just to make sure I have enough. Same with my fabric for sewing projects. I grab an extra 1/4 to full yard depending on how well I love print and, quite frankly, the price. As far as my papercrafting materials, I don’t like to run out so I keep a healthy stock of papers, adhesives, and embellishments around. Now, for the reasoning of the question being vague as to if this was from a makers point of view or the customers, I am going to answer in a mix of both.

First, I will tackle the question from my fiber arts point of view. Yarn varies. Each manufacturer, artisan or creator makes skeins and balls in different yardage, fiber content, and prices. This makes the breakdown of exact ‘handmade’ yarn costs a little funky to figure out and each project is a little different.

That being said, it is a unique project. If you are like me, and live in a town of limited clothing retailers, it gets hard to go out the door wearing something different from what others are wearing. If you are buying something that was handmade by another person, remember that their time and effort has also gone into making that piece. This wasn’t a press coming down on fabric cutting it out and a quick sew job around seams. The artisan knows and has completed every single stitch of that item. If it is something I have personally made, I have seen the flaws in machined yarn and have corrected them to give the best possible finished piece. Some of these flaws are unavoidable. Some of these flaws are left in machined yarn as a way to keep the cost of yarn down for consumers. Thus keeping the cost of finished pieces down. If said piece also includes your measurements and not a broad range size, this also adds in extra time and effort on the artisan’s part. Other materials such as hooks, needles, scissors, and stitch markers can all be used for years. As a matter of fact, some of my crochet hooks are 30 years old! Their cost breaks down to mere 7 to 16 cents per year!

When it comes to papercrafting, it’s a little easier to breakdown certain parts. Other parts are kinda tricky.

Things you use repeatedly are paper snips, Stampin’ Trimmer, and Simply Scored board. These, short of the cutting blades needing periodic replacement, are all going to last through the majority, if not your entire papercrafting life.

I also don’t look so much at the cost of ink pads and stamps unless, of course, I need to buy a specific stamp set or ink for a particular order. Say my non-papercrafting customer wants a set of note cards with a Peekaboo Peach Narwhal (from “Quirky Critters“). Now, I’m not saying I would add the entire cost of the stamps and ink because I can reuse both of which. Sure, another customer may not come along wanting a set of Peekaboo Peach Narwhal note cards, but there is a reusable quality that I just can’t charge the buyer the entire price of the stamps. Besides the stamp set includes a snail, a bird, a sloth and a cute little flower that could most definitely could be used elsewhere.

Stamps range in prices but you can save some of that initial shock by choosing clear mount stamp options when available. Photopolymer, which is my favorite because you can see through them and place them easier, are usually the cheapest option. Note that clear mount and photopolymer stamps require the clear blocks. Classic Stampin’ pads are available for purchase but there are the Stampin’ Spots which you get with Paper Pumpkin monthly kits. They are smaller and you aren’t able to choose colors as they are the colors that coordinate with that particular month’s kit. But, as you can see from my videos, if you have Stampin’ Spots they are the same colors as the bigger pads and coordinate to the the Stampin’ Up! cardstock. Once you’ve got your stamps, ink, and clear blocks – if necessary, as long as you care for them properly, you can get many years of use out all of them. With how some of my ink pads were well saturated when I bought them it’s hard to believe I will ever have to reink them. Stampin’ Spots, despite their smaller size, seem to hold a lot of ink as well. I have some that were handed down to me. They are easily a decade old and they are still going strong.

The true cost of paper changes compared to the project you are making. You can get a lot more out of a sheet of cardstock if you are making gift tags or smaller projects than if you are making cards or even boxes. But in my experience, I can make cards (5.5″ x 4.25″) for as little as 20 cents up to and above $2. Designer Series Paper, or DSP is used mainly as a decorative layer. Of course the more layers and the more embellishments, the more the card is going to cost to make.

Embellishments aren’t on every card but they can go pretty far when used. By embellishments, I mean sequins, glitter, bows, ribbons, tassels, rhinestones. Just about anything added with adhesive that isn’t flat paper. Notice I didn’t say “not paper” as embellishments can be made of paper. I guess by this you could say a punched or die cut piece of paper “popped up” on a dimensional counts as a handmade embellishment as opposed to a purchased embellishment….ehem, where was I?

Finally adhesives. Once again, a “bare bones” card generally doesn’t call for adhesives. But like paper, I don’t want to run out in the middle of a project so I always keep extra on hand. My most used adhesives are SNAIL, glue dots, dimensionals, and TomBow multipurpose liquid glue. My confession is, up until last month I’ve been working on depleting a stash of glue dots and dimensionsals I have amassed from my Paper Pumpkin subscription.

With all that information, I have left out punches, dies, thinlits, embossing folders and the Big Shot die cutting machine out. I don’t believe you need to have these items to make a meaningful beautiful card. The initial cost of the Big Shot is, in itself, quite a chunk of change for a newbie papercrafter to see. Although I do have ways for newbies to knock that down to a more acceptable bite. Plus, all of these are more items that, like the stamps and ink, are reusable and, when properly maintained, can last the majority of, if not your entire papercrafting life.

I suppose that this long blog post can be summed up by saying, you can put into your handmade items what you choose. Higher end fibers and yarns are going to make your costs go up whether you are and artisan or a customer. Hobbies aren’t meant to bankrupt you, so if you can’t afford $50 for socks, there are cheaper yarns to make socks out of and there are artisans out there who will make $6 socks if you don’t knit. The same goes for cards and papercrafts. If you are a newbie stamper wanting to make a set of Peekaboo Peach Narwhal note cards it might cost you a small chunk of change, but can you really put a price on spreading your individuality into the world? Also, if you are a newbie stamper or just want to save a little money, join a stamp class, workshop, or club to stretch your stamping abilities and start a collection of handmade cards for the cost requirements of what you choose. Plus, you might meet some new friends.

Now that all that has been covered, I hope you have been enlightened by some of this information. I intend to come back with more questions I am asked during my day-to-day and answer them here for you as well as for others.

Until next time…

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