Supplies to Stock the Craft Cupboard

One of the most common questions I get from readers is "how do I encourage my children to be creative?" One of the ways I've encouraged creativity in our home is by stocking the shelves with supplies. When I've mentioned this people want to know, "what supplies?"

This is my second post in response to that question. You can find my complete answer to "how do I encourage my children to be creative?" in this four part series.

bead bin

The first post on this topic (published ahem, over one year ago) Supplies for Creativity ~ Paper Crafts focused on just that - paper related craft supplies. Not just paper but all the artistic mediums you use on paper - markers, pencils, pens, crayons, paints, rubber stamps etc. That post also included the basic home office tools every home should have for encouraging creativity.

This follow up post is everything else we stock in our craft supplies. Fabrics, clay, wood, beads and all the rest. Anything that isn't flat and paper related. See this video post for how I organize all these craft supplies.

I'm pleased to introduce Artterro, the sponsor for this post. You can read more about this great company at the bottom, skip there right now if you want. There's a coupon code for you there that you'll want to check out.

Supply List Notes

In the list below I've marked the most basic items with an asterix (*). The remaining items are optional for the beginner.

Remember this is a post of what's in our home, not a theoretical supply list. I don't own every craft gizmo and gadget - hardly! What I recommend in this post are the tried and true supplies for the crafting my children like to do.

Which raises a good point. If you, or your child, are really into a particular art or craft, say glass blowing (this is getting kind of advanced) your craft supply list would necessarily look different than mine. I'm sticking with the basics, and a few steps beyond the basics, in this post.

organized beads

Beads & Bling

Beads * - When the kids were really little we used large plastic or wood beads. They've graduated now to the itty bitty seedbeads, larger glass beads, metal beads and everything in between. We always have more beads than seems necessary. Brienne loves collections and beads are one of her favorites.

Buttons * - Before kids craft with beads, they start with buttons. We have used buttons for so very many things.

Jewel stones & sequins * - These have decorated untold sword hilts and crowns. Kids love these pretties, I think they're a must have.

Sea glass or other glass pieces * - You can buy bags of these at the craft store or if you're lucky enough to live near the ocean you can collect it yourself like we enjoy doing.

what the bead drawer looks like, unorganized
what the bead drawer looks like, unorganized

Silk flowers & feathers * - You know those ugly fake flowers in the craft stores that leave you wondering, "what the heck would someone do with those?". Take them apart and to make flower fairies - that's what! Colored craft feathers have come in handy many times for "embellishment".

Animal eyes - One of my kids' favorites craft activities has been making stuffed animals. We use and adapt free online patterns (sorry I don't have any book recommendations for you).

Yarn, Wire & String

Yarn * - We downsized our yarn in the move but I still keep a variety of yarns for knitting and general crafting. Most of these are leftovers given to us from family and friends. 

Wool Rovings * - We use wool rovings for felting (admittedly I don't remember the last time we did felt craft) and crafting in general. When we lived in Maine I was lucky enough to live near a farm where I could buy these directly from the goat growers/fiber artists.

wool rovings

Pipe cleaner * - The kids have mostly moved beyond this now and into wire (see next point) but pipe cleaner is an easier wire for little kids to work with.

Wire * - Rolls and wrapped florist wire, which is sold in lengths. We have a couple different thicknesses of rolled wire and also some colored metal wire. We sometimes use these for beading and jewelry making but mostly the kids use wire for making toys. Critters, fairies & medieval folk have been some favorites.

String * - Of all sorts. Hemp, cotton and thicker twine for beading, general crafting and household use.

Elastic string * - We use these mostly for beading crafts. Colored ones are pretty and clear is especially good for nicer jewelry making projects.

Elastic bands * - These are used constantly for craft, science projects and household use. What did people do before elastic bands?

craft yarn

Fabric & Sewing Supplies

I'm keeping the following list simple, just the basics. Once a child (or yourself) gains more skill and experience and wants to sew more, you'll have a better idea, simply from using some tools already, what supplies you'll need.

Felt * - Hands down the best fabric to get kids started with sewing. My kids use felt all the time - to make toys, dolls, and doll clothes. Felt doesn't fray and takes a beating with hot glue. There is some really cheap felt that doesn't hold up as well. Thicker felts will hold stitches and not pill as easy. If you can only buy one thing to start, start with this.

Fleece * - Fleece is another go-to fabric for beginner sewists - children and adults alike. Again, not all fleece is created equal. The good thing is, any rinky-dinky craft or fabric store stocks fleece (and felt).

Socks and gloves * - We keep a bag of old socks and mismatched or worn-through-the-finger gloves for kids' crafting. Because there is already a shape to the fabric there is less sewing and it's easier for little hands to make their own "stuffies".

Wool sweaters & old clothes * - You don't want to keep too much of this stuff (it can get out of hand) and if you run out there is always second hand stores. Once again, there is "shape" already to the fabric (arms for example) and kids can get really creative with this. Wool sweaters are one of our favorites to craft and sew with.

quilt pieces

Stuffing * - Wool, cotton or poly. Your choice.

Embroidery floss * - As far as kid crafting goes I think this is almost more important than thread. It's so thick and easy to use. My kids use it for everything. We were lucky when Nana was downsizing her stash and passed it on to us.

Pins & Needles * - Sewing pins, safety pins, needles (including large ones for sewing with yarn and embroidery floss).

Thread & Ribbons * - For hand sewing and machine stitching. Ribbons for crafting in general.

Fabric * - What you need really depends on what you're doing. In addition to felt and fleece we have all sorts of fabrics. If your kids like needle craft you'll want some pieces of embroidery fabric also.

Sewing Machine - This is not necessary-necessary for beginners. But I've never not owned a machine, or not had one accessible to me through relatives, so I can't imagine living without a sewing machine. Mine isn't super-duper fancy so I've taught the kids on that machine from the time they were about five years old.

Wood, Plastic & Clay

Supplies for sculpting and building.

Craft sticks (aka Popsicle sticks) * - Where would the world be without popsicle sticks (& hot glue)? In the crafting dark ages I tell ya! Worth buying in bulk when you can, that way you don't have to ration the kids as much. What I love about crafting with wood is that when the toy or craft has lived it's useful life you can burn it - and we do! Burn old crafts all the time.

Bamboo skewers * - You can find these at the grocery store.

cardboard castle

Wood "head" beads * - Our kids use these specifically for making heads for their handmade miniatures. They are handy for other crafting also.

Wood clothespins - We've never owned the spring-less type that are used for making little dolls but many people love using these.

Miscellaneous wood pieces * - These could be craft store purchased but can also be household DIY project cast offs. We keep a bin of these (often have to downsize it because it could easily take over).

Re-purposed cardboard pieces * - Toilet paper and paper towel rolls, any and all cardboard boxes. We used to keep an actual stash, now we just raid the recycling box. The kids have made amazing toys with cardboard.

Balsa wood - This is an easy wood to learn to carve with, though Laurent practices carving with any wood he finds.

Carving tools - We own a set of real wood carving tools, kind of like this that Laurent purchased with birthday funds one year. Honestly, he hasn't used them that much. His Leatherman Micra Multitool gets more use and is so much more versatile (comes into the woods with us all the time). We also own an Xacto kit that we've had since before children and it has come in handy many times.

Perler beads * - The kids loved these when they were little. Someone gave them to us as a gift. Perler bead projects kept little hands occupied for many hours. Not as eco-friendly as fiber and wood crafts but bought me a few hours of sanity.

Shrinky Dinks * - Fridge magnets, jewelry pendants and window hangings are a few things we did with shrinky dinks. Like Perler beads, this activity kept my kids engaged for quite a long time, but parents have to help with the oven part. I had a friend in Maine who made beautiful jewelry from this material.

Play Dough * - Homemade or store bought. There is a dizzying array of sculpting dough available now. We always just used play dough but I don't stock it anymore since the kids have graduated to polymer clay.

Polymer clay - The kids use this mostly to sculpt miniatures toys. We use Fimo and also Sculpey. As Céline has gotten more skilled with this we've added extras like varnish and powders for creating life-like dollhouse miniatures.


The following is a list of essential adhesives for basic crafting.

  • Scotch, masking tape, duct, and clear packing tape
  • Stick glue and Elmers-type white glue. Mod Podge is not necessary, you can make your own if you want.
  • Glitter glue
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks - Our kids use the hot glue gun nearly every day. They have used this tool from the time they were preschoolers.

Vegetable & Mineral

I don't keep these in the craft cupboard, they are either accessible outdoors, in the garden supplies, or in the kitchen. These include items like sand, rocks, moss, dirt, cornstarch, and borax to name a few.

Basic Tools

  • knitting needles and crochet hooks - you can make your own knitting needles and I recommend large crochet hooks for beginners, super easy to crochet a chain with thick yarn. See FIMBY's amazon bookstore for knitting and crochet instruction books as well as other kid craft books we own or have used. 
  • scissors (see the rest of my home office tool list in my first craft supplies post).
  • basic pliers - for cutting and bending wire
  • hammer and nails - for wood craft
  • old kitchen butter knives etc. that can be used for sculpting clay
  • clothes iron - for Perler beads and also sewing projects


As long as this list is I feel like I'm missing something. We're currently in Montréal without craft supplies so I can't just go rummage through to check what we have. If I think of something later I'll add it.


One of the craft projects we did bring with us this month was an Artterro Eco Friendly Art & Craft Kit.

Artterro kits are "all-in-one" craft kits. They have everything you need, except the most basic of tools, like scissors. They even have the needles.

But unlike a lot of other craft kits on the market Artterro has strong environmental and sustainability ethic. Their kits feature high-quality natural materials like 100% wool felt, 100% post-consumer waste decorative handmade paper, glass and wooden beads, cotton thread, hand batiked cotton fabric, and copper wire. (No plastic Perler beads I'm guessing).

Artterro sells a bunch of different kits with a lot of the craft supplies I've listed above - rovings, wire, beads, wood and felt pieces. As well as gorgeous papers and painting supplies.

These kits are great for gifts and travel (Brienne brought the art dolls kit with us this month). I think these kits are also genius for parents who are crafty challenged but want to get quality supplies and do-able instructions into their children's hands. The do-able instructions part is really important.

arterro crafting

If you'd like to try Artterro kits for yourself, or order some for gifts, Artterro has provided a coupon code for FIMBY readers, FIMBY20 for 20% off. That's a good deal! Code valid through till July 7th.

I know this is a long list and a long post. If you have anything you'd like to add (must have's for crafting), please leave a comment. And do go check out Artterro's Kits - they're lovely.
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  • Ginger Allman

    Ginger Allman on June 26, 2012, 4:12 p.m.

    Excellent list and great examples of what kinds of things kids can make. My kids are a bit older now, but I also was a mom who encouraged creative crafting. Sadly, though, my kids just didn't seem to have the interest even though I kept a fully stocked supply cabinet. This is more a philosophical statement, but it speaks my truth of my experience. My kids wouldn't craft because they had TV. Even "educational" TV is more interesting to kids than independent creative crafting because honestly, crafting is hard work. It requires thought, planning, trial and error, perseverance, self-direction, and willingness to fail. (All good things kids need to learn!) Kids raised on a steady diet of TV find that too hard. I know you guys aren't a TV family, but I thought your readers might want to ponder this. At the time I didn't think it mattered much. But now that my family has been TV-free for over 5 years, I see how much it did.


    • renee

      renee on June 26, 2012, 4:24 p.m.

      Thank you for sharing this Ginger. You know, in my attempt to not alienate people I don't bring up "no TV" very much. I have mentioned it in my book (I think) and on other posts but I don't want to be one of those harping "don't watch TV" people. In part because we are not screen-free. We depend on our computers for a lot.  So thank you for bringing this up and I think you are right on the money. Stop entertaining your kids and teach them how to create instead (full disclosure: written while we are in Montreal with very few craft supplies so my kids are, at the moment - watching TV!)


    • Aimee

      Aimee on June 26, 2012, 4:26 p.m.

      great thoughts, Ginger. I have found that to be true too. "Crafts are boring"...but I am not ready to get rid of the TV...LOL! We enjoy Netflix documentaries and movie nights too much!


      • renee

        renee on June 26, 2012, 4:48 p.m.

        We too are a big movie family and we do all that on our computers, which I don't see as all that different from TV, which is also why I don't talk about being TV free, because we aren't screen free (smile).


  • Susan

    Susan on June 26, 2012, 5:03 p.m.

    We are not tv free but we do very much limit screen time. Today my sons are making duct tape wallets. I find not being in front of a screen helps them to be more creative


  • Kika

    Kika on June 27, 2012, 4:42 p.m.

    Sometimes I think my must need for crafting is an entire studio - and housekeeper!!! Which is funny since you guys still manage wonderful crafting in small spaces. My sewing room/guest space has long been taken over by my middle daughter. People often ask if they can pass extra fabric etc. her way which is nice, and she really does create constantly, but she did not receive the "order is beauty" gene:)

    Pinterest has been a huge hit with this daughter for yet more crafting inspiration. She never follows anyone's idea perfectly but they jump-start her.

    For my seven year old some of the best resources are still toilet paper tubes and cardboard boxes of different sizes. Amazing what they can create with these and some paint and glue.


  • Theresa

    Theresa on June 27, 2012, 7:43 p.m.

    This post was great. I have always encouraged creativity, but with 3 kids under 5 I didn't have it readily available for them for whenever they had an idea. So this week I moved a dresser out and filled it with materials from around the home - leaving the top drawer "for mom" (large scissors,non-washable paints, etc.) They love it - thanks for the inspiration.

    Also I agree TV can stifle creativity. We are not screen-less,but my kids get 1 cartoon (25 min) before nap so I can get the youngest asleep and collect my life a little. And until a few weeks ago they were getting a second one before bed for the same reasons.

    So really it was for me, not them. I began to feel they didn't need TV twice a day (though we have movie nights) so I finally looked into Sparkle Stories which has now replaced the bedtime cartoon since they're so wonderful and about 20 min. long. They fussed a bit the first night but now they ask for it. So thanks for introducing me to the stories as well!


  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on June 27, 2012, 8:22 p.m.

    When my three older children were young I always limit "screen" time to no more than two hours per day. They had an abundant collection of supplies and tehy loved to do arts and crafts. To this day they still do but the screen time has increased (they are now 18 and 16). There is a 15 year difference between my first three children and my now 20 month old son and soon a new one to join our family. I am no longer a house wife and I fear that I will not have the time to instill that creativity onto my younger children. I am in the process of updating our craft materials and I really appreciate your information.

    It is interesting to seen right before my eyes the difference in raising children when you are a stay at home mom and when you are a working mom.


  • Lora

    Lora on June 28, 2012, 1:50 a.m.

    This is very inspiring. I appreciate links to the resources. Our five year-old is a drawing fiend! So! What do you do with all of the products of your kids' creativity? Our son is a bit of a hoarder, every piece is special to him in some way. But at some point we need to winnow things down a bit. Suggestions?


    • renee

      renee on June 28, 2012, 9:59 p.m.

      Lora, I actually answered that question in this post - The Gallery ~ Saving Children's Creative Projects. For the past year we haven't had a gallery wall so the precious pieces have gone in portfolios and in general there was a different crafting vibe for the past year. As the kids get older they spent more time on longer, quality projects - there isn't a plethora of popsicle stick art anymore (smile).


  • Cath

    Cath on June 28, 2012, 7:11 p.m.

    This is a wonderful post and I got so many more ideas for my craft-hungry littles! The only downside is that I went to order an Arterro kit to surprise them at the cottage and was totally dismayed to find out that they don't ship to Canada. Such a shame.


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    Sure Stock Cash Tips on Nov. 27, 2015, 11:55 a.m.

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