Friday , 20 April 2018
There are times when you as a crafter might say to yourself, “I don’t have to buy that. I can make one.” I venture to say that we can probably each claim a piece of that pie.

I Can Do It All By Myself

There are times when you as a crafter might say to yourself, “I don’t have to buy that.  I can make one.”  I venture to say that we can probably each claim a piece of that pie.  Sometimes, the pie is fresh-baked apple pie goodness.  Sometimes the pie is half-baked, four-and-twenty blackbirds badness.  Let’s explore both sides of that coin.

Below is an excerpt from a recent conversation with Jennifer Hutchings, Etsy owner of Dances With Flowers.  I closed our conversation with “I’ve had to come to the realization that even though I can do anything I set my mind to, that I don’t have the time to do it all!”  This is her response:

“Wow, that is sooooo true that just because you CAN doesn’t mean you should! My sis and I have a joke about saying “I can do that!” We’ve spent YEARS seeing something we like, then thinking we can do it better/cheaper. OMG, the money and time I’ve spent chasing that particular tail! /lol

I think the “I can do that” that finally sank it was a couple years ago at Halloween. I’ve never been a big fan of silk flowers, but I saw an autumn arrangement in a catalog that showed a big pumpkin as the vase, along with the most adorable little owl… and they wanted some horrible amount of money… and I just HAD to have it… so I went to Michael’s and spent HOURS picking out all the stuff… got up to the register and almost fell over when the total was twice what the catalog had asked – and I still had to assemble it! Rofl”

I can so relate to that!  I have tons of tutu-making material shoved in a box in my closet.  I finally broke down and ordered this one for my daughter’s upcoming 4th birthday.  Too bad she wouldn’t be just as happy with a cord cover.

Most of the time, you can’t buy only the amount that you need for your project, so you really end up spending more than the item would have cost if you had purchased it out right from someone who has made it their profession.  And you’re stuck with an expensive, probably crappy, version of what you could have purchased for less money and frustration.

Now on to the good pie.  I fell in love with mason jar lighting.  But I was not about to pay the price that was being asked for them.  My husband and I went to Lowe’s and found the pendant kits on clearance for $7 a piece.  I already had the mason jars.  Twenty minutes after we got home, I had my new mason jar lighting completed, adding wonderful character to our country cottage.  Granted, I am so blessed because my Jim-of-All-Trades had electrical and minor engineering know-how to make this a reality.  Thanks once again to my marvelous, outstanding husband!  To buy your own, check out Lamp Goods on Etsy.

Only you know your craftiness skills (or your husband’s) and your procrastination tendencies, which can also be classified as a skill.  If it is just a few extra dollars out of pocket, save yourself the time and frustration and just buy the product already made, especially if it benefits one of us many indie Etsians.

If you would like for me (aka my husband, but I’ll hold the camera) to make a tutorial on mason jar lighting, please comment and let me know. 

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  1. This is soooo true and I have a shed full of bits and pieces to prove it!

  2. Very true :) I don’t even know how many unfinished “projects” i have from thinking this same way…

  3. A very honest and helpful way at looking at the way a DIY mentality can sometimes hold us back. Being a person who is used to just buying things, it’s weird dating a guy who “is too cheap & would rather make it” himself. I feel like knowing which battles to pick (or what fun projects to tackle) can be the key to truly enjoy being a crafts-person.

    And yes, Jennifer – I’d LOVE to see a tutorial on Mason Jar Lighting!

  4. Here is what I learned with “I can make that” You end up with so many supplies and no time to do it that now you are working in a room with no room. Unorganized, discaboobliated for sure. Now I spend my time trying to organize what I have done. You can make it an illness or you can make yourself well. I’m on the road to mental health, I hope, lol

  5. Tutorial, please!

    Yes – one must evaluate the trade off between a DIY sense of pride and a practicality about the time and energy we have available… I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to focus on little bottle caps for the last two years…wow… that’s a long time! And am making headway with the business.

    The worst part of “I can do that” is like LaShell said, but deciding in a cluttered craft room what is ‘non-essential’ and ‘has to go.’ Because we crafty people see potential in everything (very positive) we can often end up surrounded by EVERYTHING (very negative!)

  6. Bobbi helms. Fatdogbeads

    So so true. I’ve accepted the fact that there are some really talentEd people on etsy who specialize in things I only dabble at and can make something much better much quicker and at a really reasonable price. I now proudly shout out that say the metal stamped charm on my pendant was made by so and so who has a shop on etsy.

    We all need to concentrate on our strengths and accept that we can’t or shouldn’t do it all

  7. I purposely steer clear of taking my art skills in certain directions because I want to have something to buy at art fairs – like pottery! Great article.

  8. It is good to know your own limitations when approaching DIY projects…I’ve spent way more time and ended up with something not nearly as nice as things I’ve seen in stores and online.

    And tutorials are great – but unless the tutorial is for something that you sell in your own shop, it’s really not appropriate. Melinda, if Lampgoods is your shop, OK, but I can’t tell if it is – if it isn’t….well, the whole idea of saying that you wouldn’t pay the price and then showing how to make it….after linking to the shop….well, not the best post I’ve read here on handmadeology. A bit worse than “calling out”, it seems.
    Just my opinion. Hope I’m wrong about Lampgoods not being yours.

    • Linda, you’re a girl after my own heart–one that speaks her mind! Please bear with me while I respond:

      The mason jar lighting that I had seen was in a magazine.

      For this article, I found the best mason jar lighting on Etsy at LampGoods. She has great feedback and great prices. I also notified her that she was in my article, and she was so pleased and was not offended. She offers DIY kits, and I was going to purchase one to use in my tutorial, because I do believe in giving back to the community.

      After giving up my corporate job making $40K+, we now live solely on my husband’s salary. He makes $35K a year, and that is all the money that we have to provide for our family of four, which is why I have started my business (cord covers). So when I say, “I’m not paying that price” for something, sometimes it’s just that I can’t.

      I guess I expect people to look at my butt and read my mind, as my husband says. :) When I write, it’s from the heart, and I mean no offense.

      Please accept my sincere apologies if I have offended you or anyone else in the Etsy community. It makes me sad to think that, because that is so not my intention.

      Good looking out, though! Don’t ever hesitate to bring a problem to the floor. I would rather it be said to my “virtual” face than behind my back.

      Be blessed!

  9. I come from a long line of DIYers. I grew up without a swing set because my dad was going to make it himself but of course it never really happened. We have tried to be better with our own children, we did build them a play set, a basketball court, a chalkboard, and a table for legos.

    Having said that, I’ve been trying to change my thinking into the idea of “I’ll buy yours if you buy mine”, and supporting the independent businessman. I say trying, because it is hard. This idea though, goes beyond crafts to the butcher, the baker, the farmer’s market, etc., etc.

    • Good for you, Callie! My son has been looking at a non-running go cart in my husband’s shop for over a year now. My husband works a full-time job and also does prison ministry two nights a week and we have regular church on Sundays and Wednesdays. Life is busy!

      I did splurge on my daughter’s birthday and got her the above-mentioned tutu set. It was painful for me to spend the money, but she deserves it. I put off going to the doctor, because we don’t have the money (everyone has insurance except me), but my baby girl is going to have that tutu, lol!

  10. As a children’s clothing designer, people always ask me if I make all my own clothes. They are shocked that, while I’ve created a couple patterns I make again and again, I love shopping! It’s a treat for me to go buy beautiful pre-made clothes, as I spend such a large amount of my time cutting, sewing and pattern-making for work. It’s also a way for me to support other artists in their work. Unless you are going to enjoy the process of making an item yourself, it is often not worth it in time, money, energy and, more often than not, stress, to attempt to make it yourself.

  11. Great article, Melly! And the comments are worth their weight in gold, too. I am currently trying to dig my way out of a whole storage-unit full of supplies that I’ve bought in order to Do-It-Myself. It’s exactly what several of the commenters described – I’m drowning in “good” stuff! Sheesh.

    I think that for many years I thought that having a lot of stuff somehow kept me safe. It was sort of a hedge against the financial straitjacket I’ve been enduring for so long. I mean – what if I got rid of something but then DESPERATELY needed it later? Or if someone offered me perfectly good stuff and I didn’t take it, only to have to SUFFER without it down the road?

    Thankfully, I’ve had a real shift in my perspective and am now really sort of ashamed of all this stuff. I really NEED very little of it!

    Thanks for a thought-provoking article!

  12. Soooo true. I make hand made cards in my Etsy shop. I recently purchase some die cut flowers for cards, even though I have the same cartridge for the die cuts. It made sense for the price to do so, because it would have cost me alot more in my time to cut them out. I felt really good with my purchase and will do it again next time.

  13. Many years ago, when I was making everything myself, and I mean EVERYTHING, including jeans and shoes, I came to the realization that it is better to do one thing well and get paid for it, then use the proceeds to buy what someone else can make well.

  14. Great article & discussion. I can find myself on both sides of the fence here.
    I love seeing if I can make something I see (thinking mostly manufactured items here) but I am old enough now to realize just what I want to spend my time on.
    I am grateful for parents who taught me the life lesson………..If someone else made that, so can you. Talk about supporting creativity & imagination.

  15. This is so funny and true. I wonder how many more crafters with a shed load of unfinished bits are out there? I wonder how many (unlike yourself) would admit it?

    Now were did I put the key to the shed?

  16. When you add in the cost of materials plus your time in making the item & in many cases, the time it takes to come up with a design/pattern/plan for making something, it often comes out cheaper to just buy it. Plus, in buying the item, you are supporting the handmade community…I often find that, best intentions aside, I end up never finishing the project, anyway. It’s better for me, in most cases, to create what I make & buy the rest.

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