How to Choose a Craft Project

If you craft, you almost certainly have unfinished projects sitting on the shelf. Did you ever stop to think about why or where those came from? Would you like to choose projects you're more likely to finish and use? Here are some factors to consider when choosing your next craft project.


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    Have a purpose in mind. Your purpose might be to make a gift for someone, to have something to exchange with another crafter, to use up certain materials you have on hand, to practice or demonstrate a new technique, to produce a useful or decorative object, or to encapsulate memories or sentiments.
    • Knowing your purpose will guide your design decisions. For example, it will help you to create an item that is sufficiently durable to withstand its later use. A bag that will be used to carry objects will need sturdier materials and construction than a wall hanging.
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    Have an audience in mind. Will you use or display the resulting craft yourself, give it to someone you know, or perhaps sell or trade the craft?
    • Thinking in terms of a purpose and an audience or recipient at the beginning will help you to choose a particular craft and design.
    • It will also focus the process itself and make it more likely that you will persist and complete the project.
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    Experiment and invent. Give yourself the time and space to doodle or tinker without purpose or direction. This is the opposite of the previous two steps, but crafting is a creative endeavor. At least every now and then, don't be deliberate, at all; just play. You can use scraps and leftovers if you'd like to conserve resources.
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    Browse around and be on the lookout for inspiration. You may find inspiration in others' work, in what materials are available, in craft kits, in books or on websites. You may also find inspiration in nature, in your friends, in your life, and in what you want to express.
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    Show your crafts to others. If you have already done some crafts, show them off or demonstrate them to somebody you know. They may have insights you don't about how to use a particular technique or what sort of project to do next. Even if they don't add much, explaining something may put you in the right frame of mind to build on (or expand beyond) your earlier creations.
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    Start small. Particularly if you are starting out with a new technique or craft, try a smaller sample piece to make sure it's something you enjoy and have a feel for. You might knit a small bag, rather than an entire sweater, especially if this is your first attempt knitting. Make a greeting card or bookmark rather than an entire scrapbook.
    • Work up to larger projects. If you know you can keep at it long enough to quilt an entire bedspread, go for it. If you're just starting out in quilting, go for a wall hanging, instead.
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    Read the directions. If your project has directions, read them. Do they make sense? Do they call for techniques or stitches you don't yet know? If possible, read the direction before you buy the pattern or any other materials.
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    Think it through or sketch it out on paper. If your project doesn't come with instructions, or if you'll be changing anything compared to plans or patterns you are following, plan how you'll go about it and make your own patterns or templates if you need to.
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    Make a sample. If you do need to try a new technique, try it on a small piece or scrap material first to get the hang of it before using it on a larger project. Samples and test pieces can also help you gauge and size a knitted or crocheted work and see what a finished color combination will look like on a larger scale.
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    Start in your stash or even your scrap bin, not the craft store. If you already have a supply of yarn, fabric, paper, wood, or anything else, chances are you collected these items because they interested or inspired you somehow. Sometimes you will incorporate these materials into a larger project. Other times, you can create wonderful things from materials and tools you already have.
    • Use the serendipity of combining whatever is in there. You might come out with a different result than you originally envisioned, and that might be a good thing.
    • Consider the ordinary pencil and paper. You almost certainly have them already, and if you can use them skillfully, you can create a drawing or a novel or sketch out a new invention or compose a song, all with the same simple tools.
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    Obtain any new tools or supplies you need. Do this after you have reviewed your existing supplies and committed to the project.
    • Don't forget about the possibility of borrowing an item or buying it used, especially if it is a larger item or something you will only use rarely.
    • Sometimes you can improvise a piece of equipment or build your own from items you have.
    • Don't let a craft project get bogged down for lack of appropriate materials.
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    Begin the project and be persistent. Many craft projects will require some practice to master the technique; many more will take a lot of time.


  • Do a little at a time on a larger project, and keep your purpose in mind. Don't dive in and do so much that you burn out instantly and fail to come back to the project. Keep it fresh.
  • Sketch, sketch, sketch!
    Keep a notebook, or sketch book or art journal. It's ok to work on more than one project at a time, but you may find that you think up more projects than you can reasonably pursue. Your notebook or journal gives you space to explore and record the extra ideas, until you can get to them.

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