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3 ways to craft without crafting

Day 5 - Notions

There's a lot of crafting to be done without handling any materials. That may sound strange, but it's true. Some of the best graphic design teachers I had required a plan drawn and written up before we ever went to the computer. Why? Because it gets you to think things through and that idea holds true with making projects.

It's especially helpful when you're feeling stuck and not sure what to make or how to make it. As a blogger, this "crafter's block" can get scary fast, so next time that happens, try one or more of these three ways that I craft without crafting:


This one shouldn't be surprising, but getting some blank paper and penciling out ideas can really get things going. The sketches don't have to be pretty...they don't even need to be sketches! There's just something about taking an idea out of your head and putting it on paper that changes how it looks. New ideas come up and old ideas get refined.

When I sketch, I almost always include notes, which helps me determine what I was thinking when I go back to my doodles. They're really that rough. And they usually have lots of arrows and question marks to go with them!


If you don't want to look completely strange, this requires a second person. Similar to sketching, when you talk about the projects you are making or want to make, you get out of your head. (Perfect when you feel like you're already going out of your head!) Explaining what you hope to do, or the process you plan on using, and discussing it with someone else can really develop a project.

I'm so blessed to have a mom who will listen to me go on about the things I'm making (and it helps that she is a sewer and crafter!). When I'm stuck, we'll sit down with some coffee and I'll talk out a project. Sometimes she has the solution I need, and other times I have a revelation as I'm talking. Either way, I'd be sunk without these sessions!

New embroidery supplies

This last one can be helpful or a time-waster, but staring does wonders. Stare at supplies. Stare at a blank page. Stare out the window or into space. Stop thinking so hard and your brain might just relax its way into a fresh thought!

Truthfully, I feel a little guilty when I do this, but a good stare clears my head, so it's worth taking the time to do. Pair it with a few deep breaths and I'm ready to move on to actually making stuff! Try it!

How about you? Do you craft without crafting? What do you do when you're stuck?


  1. Sleep. Doesn't always work, but I learned in high school that the morning may bring a fresh idea, un-knot a problem or just a brighter perspective. :)

  2. Fabulous! That's a great reminder, thanks for sharing

  3. Anonymous11:24 AM

    I have not gotten stuck in a long time. I can give you the reason. I have a folder on my hard drive that contains potential projects and future inspirations. I use my hard drive, so I will not have to keep a library full of books that I do not have room for in the house. After a number of years, there are so many things in the folder, that I can just go through that. I get the ideas that I have in that folder everywhere, literally everywhere. When my dad brings pictures home from a trip in the foothills or at a museum, those come in handy. Like old rock and brick walls are nice. Photos in articles about arhcealogical digs or historical studies that interest me are also in there. I scan ads from our local nursery and grocery store for pictures of flowers, plants and food. I even have pictures of (usually little girls socks) socks in there. Not because I want to wear them, but because the patterns on them might make good embroidery projects. Old embroidery (or craft) magazines often no longer have the actual iron on transfer inside, but they often have photos of the ones they originally offered that can be, with transfer ink pens and tracing paper, turned into one. I did a crinoline lady that way. Though, it was a late 18th century ad, and she was roller skating, big hat, puffy sleeves, long skirt and all. I am literally saying that ANYTHING inspires me, here we have a museum full of tableware, plates etc, and the ones I liked were photographed and I can use the patterns on them for something someday. I even saw an old metal bowl with a lid that I photographed. The bowl had a lid that had a (sort-of) Jacobean style bird on the top that I liked. What I am saying, is that when I see something that interests me I keep it, even if it is not what I want now, it may provide some inspiration later, when I am doing something new. If I get "stuck" I skim through that folder and something always pops up, even if that is not why I originally saved it. Used book stores can be useful as well. A few years ago I bought a book full of cottage and outdoor style scenes for 2 dollars. I have done some research several times since then, where it came from or what it was used for, even googling the authors name, nothing, absolutely nothing pops up. It has no copyright information inside, just that it was printed in Belgium. I think it was an unused kids coloring book or something similar. I do not draw too much myself because I flunked (seriously) drawing in college.

  4. Anonymous3:56 PM

    We are told to Be Still. Just sitting to clear mind and focusing on Jesus helps too!

  5. I spend 5 minutes on Pinterest or read one of my favorite crafting blogs. I live near Ithaca, NY so there are always great re-use stores (there is even one for fabric) I can walk through and get great ideas. I find taking a walk is really inspiring. I like to see what nature has going on at that moment and take my cue from that. When all else fails, I bake something. Baking mimics crafting beautifully - blending separate elements into something new. And it helps the house smell wonderful!

  6. I look at Pinterest, too. I love looking and I am always looking. I try and take something and make it "my own." I also love looking at magazines, and not online magazines. I love Nylon, Uppercase, and Anthology. Marie Claire Idees is also fun to look at, as well as Japanese magazines like Zipper.

  7. Thanks for the good article. I loved reading the comments! ;-) I also am one of those people who never seem to run out of ideas or solutions. I enjoy the whole process of finding solutions and never had the impression that I got stuck. I have my ideas and a want to realize them, so I just look around for ways to do it until I found something. I collect ideas in my head, save some websites I liked (mostly from craftgawker.com), I go through junk shops and buy things I like, fabrics, jewellery, ... but most of all: I stare at things! Haha I don't like having too many things around the house. So my collection of raw material for future craft projects is relatively small. But my collection of pictures in my head is huge! The clue to this extensive staring is my profession. I'm an art historian and that probably is the profession you stare at things more than in any other profession! Haha But it's not only staring, as it always includes an analysis of how the things I stare at are made, what they consist of, materials, patterns, methods of joining parts, composition, textures, surfaces, colours, visual impression, etc. So this always inspires me a lot. My recommendation is to go to art and design exhibitions. It doesn't need to be anything big. Your local applied arts school maybe already has some refreshing minds. ;-)
    Also loved the idea of baking! When I get "stuck" (as I said, I never feel stuck actually) I leave the project to rest for a time until the solution comes naturally. I always have several projects going. So I just swap. And one thing inspires another, whatever it is!

  8. I like the staring at nothing (or something) idea. I do a lot of that. I will see something interesting, or hear an idea, and off I go. It is called lateral thinking, and all crafters do it. We are always thinking, "what if?" and it is where we get our inspiration. Nice article, though.

  9. When I get stuck it is usually due to a drive to create the MOST beautiful thing or that great piece. I rummage through things I have collected to do and/or simple projects that are short and sweet. It helps to get that perfectionist out of my head and get my hands busy. Even if the object I create never is useful or beautiful, I get unstuck.

  10. I just sit down at the sewing machine and no "no think" sewing. Just handling the fabric, moving it under the needle lets my mind go elsewhere and starts things flowing. I also like to get into my stash and refold, handle and voila there is something there I have forgotten about and it kicks me in gear. Pinterest, my notebook labeled Inspiration, thinking about doing housework - that drives me quickly into creative mode.

  11. Shower. Some of the greatest thoughts come up there. Or go for a walk. Same thing. Sometimes just getting a little scrap of fabric and doodle embroidering can be helpful, too. Like sketching, but even slower.

  12. Great ideas. Thank you :)


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