The Lazy DIYer’s Craft Bag


I attend a monthly craft group. Most of the attendees are avid and skilled knitters who bring the most gorgeous array of fibers and objects-in-progress to work on. I’m a lapsed knitter who can’t even remember how to cast on, and really have no crafting skills to speak of. But I show up, my giant craft bag in hand, and inevitably cook up something fun from its bizarre and varied contents.

On any given day, my craft bag may contain leather scraps, grosgrain ribbon, faux pearls, bits of feather boa, and buttons. But here are some items that, as a lazy crafter, I’ve come to see as essential.

  1. Super glue: I can’t remember the last time I cooked up a project that DIDN’T involve super glue. The ultimate in laze, this product allows you to bypass truly permanent adhesion techniques that require actual know-how in favor of squishing two things together and hoping the bond holds. Seriously, though, aside from fabric there are few things that super glue can’t successfully adhere. It’s fab for all manner of jewelry and accessory projects.
  2. Rotary cutter and self-healing mat: These two constitute a bit of an investment, and may seem a bit too specialized for a truly lazy DIYer. But mine have come in handy at least a dozen times since I purchased them. Want to hack 4 inches off the hem of a thrifted dress for the world’s easiest infinity scarf? Want to make those leather pants into leather shorts? Unless you’re a scissor ninja, having a very sharp cutting tool, a safe surface on which to use it, AND guides for snipping straight lines will prove invaluable.
  3. Jump rings: You might not know it, but the entire world of jewelry is held together by jump rings. Take a look at your necklace or bracelet clasp. That simple ring of metal that can be pried apart? That’s a jump ring. And without it, your adornments would suffer. Having a bag of jump rings on hand is especially beneficial for jewelry repairs, but also essential for jewelry creation.
  4. Sewing kit: You know those little boxed kits you can buy at the gas station that have a tiny pair of scissors, needle and threader, and a few colors of thread? Yeah, those things RULE. Whoever decides on the thread colors is a supergenius, as I’ve absolutely never needed to run to Michael’s for a closer match. And just having access to the basics of hand-sewing is incredibly helpful. Any button, cloth, or ribbon-based project will undoubtedly require needle and thread, so keep one of these kits on-hand.
  5. Needle-nose pliers: I find these so useful that I actually have two pairs. Your hands generally lack the strength and agility to do everything that a pair of tiny pliers can, and although they’re mainly helpful for jewelry projects, they come in handy for all manner of crafts.

Secondary items include a spool of silver chain, a crimp tool and crimp beads for finishing bead/strung projects, earring and pin backs, and tigertail. But if I could only take five crafting items to my proverbial desert island, I’d pick those listed above!

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  • poodletail

    I am a skilled knitter and the contents of your craft bag make me happy. My ability with yarn & needles is nothing compared with creating something beautiful out of snips & snaps. Handcrafted anything is the ultimate.

  • Depending on the day, I might have some yarn and a loom (because I’m not coordinated enough for needles), felt fabric squares in a variety of colors, mini-sewing kit, and sizzors.

  • i’ve sewn for decades now…..do yourself a favor and buy some high quality thread (gutermann’s great), some decent sharps (needles) and some beeswax.

    personally, i’ve found the thread in those kits is so crappy i spend half my time de-tangling it. good thread, run it over the beeswax 2-3 times (so the thread picks up some wax) and it’s smoooooooth sailing! start with a mid or ‘shadow’ grey color for max matching capability.

    don’t forget your tweezers!

  • Anna

    Tweezers! Swiss Army knife!
    (Also, I’m a dedicated knitter, but I won’t burden you by describing my equipment and supplies for that activity. That stuff takes up too much room already.)

  • Diana

    I am a knitter, so I’d have knitting stuff as well, but I think your list is pretty good! I’d add a measuring tape probably. I’d make my own sewing kit (I have one actually) with better thread, and I’d swap the super glue for Duco Cement though… true story: when I was in fourth grade, I did a science fair project on glue strengths and found that Duco Cement was the strongest and most versatile (glued lots of different surfaces) so I’ve used it ever since (for household, crafting, you name it. My bassoonist boyfriend says that all wind players use it for their reeds too…)

    • Kat

      I am a bassoonist, which is how I found Duco! I use it for everything… In college my roommate and I wanted to make curtains but didn’t have a sewing machine; we decided to try to Duco the hem instead and it held all year. (I’m also a beader–it’s great for gluing ends of necklaces and threads and such.)

  • I knit and sew, but sometimes I consider myself to be lazy because I don’t spend as much time on craft projects as I would like to.

  • I am TOTALLY a lazy crafter. Most of my craft bag contents are random items I collect that I didn’t buy. Broken jewelery, ribbons from presents, spare buttons, clothes that are fabulous fabrics or prints but no longer wearable, that sort of thing. I am so lazy, I also have some Stitch Witchery in there, a sewing kit (with a variety of sizes of needles), super glue, Tacky Glue, embroidery floss, and scissors dedicated to fabric.

    I have embellished some of my and my daughter’s clothes, made her some ribbon headbands, and even whipped out my sewing machine this past year and sewed up some embellished dishtowels. Other than fixing a dropped hem or replacing a button, that’s about all I do with this kit. I need to do more… yet again you have inspired me Sally!

    • Kat

      Your stash sounds like mine. OK, I have the baggies of of beads I bought. But I also have the bin of fabric from unwearable clothes, broken jewelry, pretty wrapping paper, ancient sheet music, old buttons… I can’t justify spending too much on crafting stuff, so it’s whatever bits of this and that that drop into my lap…

  • Steph

    I’m a skilled craft DIYer and sewist, but your list doesn’t make me cringe at all. What makes me cringe is people who say they would loooooove to do X or Y, but won’t even try. The thread and “scissors” in those gas-station kits may be crappy, but even as an experienced, dedicated sewist, I still keep one of those kits in my luggage and in my desk at work for quick fixes.
    My “craft bag” is really my entire spare bedroom, containing just about everything I need for just about any project. Somewhere under the piles of fabric stash.

  • I need a needlenose pliers! And I’m a total crafting dilettante. Right now on my closet floor is an unfinished skirt and bag, pre-2000, an unfinished sweater for my husband, about 5 years old that I decided to turn into a vest when the arms didn’t fit the holes, an aborted attempt at rug-hooking, an unfinished baby sweater set that has been passed back and forth between my sister and I since the mid-1990’s, and a punch needle kit that I bring out every weekend and set on my coffee table.

  • Hot glue gun. My mom did more crafts with a hot glue gun when I was growing up.

    I’m “not allowed” to be such a lazy crafter. My MIL bought me a sewing machine and is making me learning. My aunt taught me wire-craft and jewelry making as I grew up so it’s all sort of stored in my head. Granted I’ll take shortcuts and use easy tools if I have access. I even self-taught basic knitting, but it just wasn’t my thing.

  • I sew a lot, but can’t knit for crap. I love gluing stuff together, esp. things that weren’t meant to be glued together … FabriTac is amazing for fashion DIYing bec. it glues fabric, dries clear & flexible, & can be hand-washed (but be gentle). If you want to add appliques or bling, that’s the thing. I find E-6000 to be more of a wonder-glue than Crazy Glue, it’s like an epoxy that doesn’t require mixing. Great for things like adding flat-backed gems/beads to stuff (including fabric). Better than hot glue, won’t burn your fingers, but use in a ventilated space. And as s’one else mentioned, Stitch Witchery or Steam-a-Seam is awesome for fabric, great to fix or shorten hems with your iron, also good for adding trim. I could never pick just five things! I love them all.

  • I dont know what I’d do without my hot glue gun. Favorite purse is now ugly and no money to replace it? Hot glue gun + scraps I’ve saved from various projects = purse is like new!

  • yeah, the sewing kit from the drugstore. I will use those in a pinch (in which case, they’re wonderful), but in general, I loathe them! That thread is so thin, it just snaps if you put any pressure on it! I just don’t like it if anything I make breaks; it feels like such a betrayal, such a waste of effort.

    Witness: my junior prom, my own updo (that I had done at a salon) was full of frizzies and parts of it fell out after a few dances. I won’t say it ruined the evening, but I WAS disappointed that I’d spent money on it. Meanwhile, I did two friends’ updos that afternoon – both complicated 30s styles. They were sleek, perfect, and shellacked with hairspray and pinned within an inch of their life. Those girls boogied all night and left with nary a frizzy.

    type A? Who, me? 😉 Nevertheless: I 7 friends paid me to do their updos the next year, and I got home from college in time to do four more the year after that. Yes, I’m a little nuts about craft (in terms of the process of making things; craftsmanship), but I think that in DIYing (just like in cooking), the quality of ingredients you put in have a direct impact on the quality of the product you churn out! (Though I’ll admit, it really sucked when I messed up a sewing project involving expensive silk charmeuse. Yep, about that time I wished I had been sewing polyester! 😉 )

  • I’m an occasional crafter and I don’t actually own a crafting bag. So I actually learned a few tricks from your bag. (thank you for that!) talking about infinity scarf – I just adjusted a dress that was too long and got myself a lovely checked scarf for summertime! That and few pants the kids keep on destroying here and there.

    However, if I had to pick something I absolutely can’t do without – the sewing machine – my mum brought it over when she came visiting last weekend and I’m making the most of it! Pants, tees, dresses, anything goes!

  • No cringing here. I love crafty shortcuts, and I use them all the time for my own stuff. But even for the skilled work I do for my shop, I do use my rotary cutter and mat, as well as needlenose pliers, all the time. You won’t find any glue in my hats, though! 🙂

  • I am a somewhat lazy DIYer, I suppose. I have crafting ADD– I have multiple kits for my multiple obsessions. One thing that I love, and get made fun of by my friends for, is Mod Podge. I basically use it all the time. If I can’t Mod Podge it, I go straight to Epoxy Resin. There is no in between. 😀

    Also, at least one crappy paint brush is essential– for directing all those weird adhesives I own. I’ve also noticed that I rarely use scissors– I’m a prolific Xacto knife user.