I have a confession to make: I own a lot of craft and DIY supplies. My husband even had to build a wall of shelves last winter to organize it all into some semblance of order:
(Lil Blue Boo / Ashley Hackshaw)
Of course I have my favorites: the tools that allow me to make almost anything my little heart desires. Wood working projects, school projects, upcycled clothing, etc. These are the best investments I’ve made to fuel my creativity.
1. An Electronic Cutting Machine. I own a Silhouette Cameo, but there are other options out there as well, like the Cricut system. I use the Silhouette to make wall decals, stencils, and even custom vintage-inspired labels. My daughter’s favorite project using the machine is a travel map bulletin board.
2. The Dremel Moto-Saw. This is an inexpensive and portable scroll saw. The best part is that it hooks right on to any table and can quickly be put away for storage. It’s an easy way to dive right into the world of wood working projects. I made a cute little wood camera for my daughter in just a matter of hours.
3. Willow Charcoal. I use willow charcoal for any type of painting project. If you draw a design with a regular graphite pencil or pen, you’ll find that it shows through the first few layers of paint. Willow charcoal is easily painted over, and the soot wipes away easily with the swipe of a damp cloth if you need a do-over. I also love the sketching quality of it. Kids will too.
4. Chalkboard Paint and Chalk Ink. I’ve made so many things with chalkboard paint I can’t even list them all, but the key is I also have Chalk Ink Markers. This is what you see used on restaurant signs. The chalk goes on smoothly in a variety of colors and doesn’t wipe off until you use Windex. I’ve made everything from chalkboard journals to custom peg doll toys.
6. Super Soft T-Shirt Transfer Paper. This is the best transfer paper I’ve used, but it’s not just for t-shirts! I’ve used it to make cute little Matryoshka stuffie dolls, Valentine’s Door hangers, and custom apron gifts. My favorite DIY project using the paper was a custom Instagram iPad cover. Print out any image onto the paper using your inkjet printer and you can transfer it to clothing, fabric, etc. The possibilities are endless.
7. Dremel Rotary Tool Kit. I love my rotary tool. It’s great for sanding, drilling, buffing and more. My first project with it was turning a piece ofbroken china into a keychain. The ideas took off from there. You can even carve into stones and rocks.
8. A Drill. I’m not talking about any drill. I have to have a powerful drill! And with my drill I’ve made jewelry, furniture, school supplies. Every DIYer needs a good drill as an investment. Two of my favorite projects made using a drill are a personalized crayon holders and office supply holders. The simplest? A donut-inspired necklace.
9. A High-Temp Glue Gun. There’s not much that can’t be made with a glue gun. I’ve even made my own little cabochons using those little silicon molds from the craft store with glue. I’ve made a ton of one-of-a-kind headbands for my little girl, and the key is to make sure you have a high-temp gun! And be careful not to burn yourself. Oh and did you know glue guns can be used to make stencils?
10. A Serging Machine. When I discovered the art of serging, I was floored. A serger sews fabric together, but also overlocks and secures the edges to prevent fraying. A little knife cuts off any excess as you sew. I’ve made some great clothing for my daughter using recycled t-shirts and the most sentimental project was a memory quilt. Sergers can be quite expensive, but the Brother table top version is the best bang for the buck!
Ashley Hackshaw is the creative force behind the DIY/lifestyle website Lil Blue Boo. After spending six years in the ruthless world of investment banking, Ashley decided to pursue her passion in the creative world. Her writing about the unexpected loss of her father, and her battles with cancer and infertility, has resonated with readers across the world. In addition to writing for Parade, she is a regular contributor to Disney’s Babble.com and MOYO Magazine.