Creative craft project I can do a little at a time
July 4, 2018 9:03 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for long term projects that I can do a little at a time. I want to end up with something cool, beautiful, and functional. It shouldn't take up a lot of space or require an elaborate set-up.

One of my resolutions has been to create more. I really love the feeling of accomplishment after completing a project. Throughout the years I have been more of a hobby collector. I see something or have an idea, do a ton of research, buy a bunch of stuff, and get started and that's it. I don't finish things and it affects my self esteem. I need a boost.

Knitting or crocheting squares to make a blanket seems like the obvious choice here but I was wondering if there were other types of projects that would fit the bill.
posted by mokeydraws to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I like to embroider table runners. The one I'm currently working on is a piece of cotton upholstery fabric that I've hemmed the edges. I picked out three colors of floss that complement the design and am just doing a running stitch around the motifs in the fabric. When I get done outlining everything, I may (or may not) go back and enhance areas with french knots or other decorative stitches. Limiting myself the the three colors of floss and a single type of stitch prevents decision-making fatigue. Bonus that it all fits in a 4"x 6" zipper bag that I can toss in my purse.
posted by sarajane at 9:09 AM on July 4, 2018 [5 favorites]

Marquetry/parquetry (making pictures or patterns by cutting out pieces of wood veneer) is a lot of fun, and you can start with very simple projects. All you need, supplies-wise, is a sharp blade (scaplel/x-acto), some small pieces of different wood veneers, glue, a cutting mat, decorator's/masking tape... and that's about it.
posted by pipeski at 9:12 AM on July 4, 2018

Embroidery is great for this, and is easy to store.

You can also make a quilt, and if a full-size quilt seems overwhelming to start you can make a smaller one to keep on your couch or give someone who is having a baby.
posted by bile and syntax at 9:15 AM on July 4, 2018

Mosaic trays, trivets and tabletops with commercial and/or broken pottery tiles.
Green wood carved spoons and bowls. Google images Looks like a steep learning curve.
Hand pieced quilt top, maybe a crazy quilt which is pieced and embroidered.
posted by Botanizer at 9:17 AM on July 4, 2018

I can’t link on my phone but the Beekeeper’s Quilt on Ravelry is exactly this kind of project. You knit many “hexapuffs” (hexagonal pockets stuffed with batting) out of sock yarn them stitch them together.
posted by lizifer at 9:49 AM on July 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

Another vote for quilting! If a full size bed quilt is too daunting (I do hand quilting, Amish style, and a queen size quilt takes well over a year to finish) then you could try a quilted pillow cover for a sofa throw pillow. An 18x18 pillow cover will take a 20 inch square pillow, if you like a reasonably firm pillow. And this type of project requires very little in the way of tools and supplies (basically just needles, thread, cotton fabric in whatever colors strike your fancy, batting, and piping for the edges), and is very portable. There are numerous tutorials online, but really, quilting requires no special skills -- just perseverance.
posted by RRgal at 9:51 AM on July 4, 2018

Irish lace crochet uses small thread and stitches as complicated as you want, even 3D, but you do it a few motifs at a time and the work fits in a pocket until you net it all together.
posted by clew at 10:39 AM on July 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

I just finished an English Paper Pieced quilt, and it 100% fits the bill for what you're looking for. This is a good tutorial on it, but really, its so easy you barely need instructions. Look up free hexie printable to make your papers or you can order them in bulk. I find it a better takealong/couch project than knitting, because you can take just a little section out at at time, instead of carrying around the 3/4 of a blanket you've already made. If you want to go a lot more intensive, there are really, really intricate versions to tackle.
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 11:00 AM on July 4, 2018 [6 favorites]

Perler bead art is often overlooked. I'm partial to pixel art but you can make all kinds of stuff.
posted by SaltySalticid at 11:27 AM on July 4, 2018

Modular origami, specifically the Sonobe unit
posted by SaltySalticid at 11:30 AM on July 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've done a few quilts, but I stopped when I had more projects in the works than finished quilts. I love the process, but it is sooo sloooow....

So I do crochet. Hats are relatively quick. Scarves are quick. I have done shawls and ruanas, which are unstructured.
Lap blankets and baby blankets are good starter projects. Simple rows of single crochet or double crochet in different colors can make a stunning blanket. Variegated or striped yarns can eliminate most of the dreaded tag ends that must be worked in (by all that is holy, get large-eyed needles and leave at least three inches at the beginning and end to work in!)
Once I got the hang of it, zigzag or ripple blankets are the bomb! Shades of blue, plus a few white rows and finishing off with sandy beige -- seashore blanket! You can add crocheted seashells and fish if you like.

I have my collection of stitch books, and have fun making 12-inch squares with multiple rows of a new stitch (sometimes broken up by simple single crochet or half double crochet). Then I go around the squares with several rows to make them a standard size, then sew them together. I can get a queen-size blanket done in a couple of months.

It's summer, so I'd rather do small projects than something draped across my knees.

Toteability factor: excellent. I use an 11 x 16 x 9 Sterlite box, several skeins of yarn, scissors, several large-eyed needles strung on yarn (a magnet helps). Preferred needle sizes are G, H and I.
May I recommend "Crochet-opedia" by Julie Oparka or any of the books by Margaret Hubert or Leonie Morgan?
Online resources by: New Stitch a Day, The Crochet Crowd, Jada InStitches, and Annoo Crochet Designs. You can also fall down the granny square rabbit hole with 365 days of granny squares with Yarnutopia.
posted by TrishaU at 11:38 AM on July 4, 2018

You could make small, hand-stitched books - it's easy to learn and you can move up to more complex bindings as you gain experience. Everything you need can fit in a shoebox, and you can buy, upcycle or create pretty papers for your covers. I like Sea Lemon's tutorials on the different binding techniques.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 11:40 AM on July 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Cross-stitching is great for this. Easy to pick up and put down. And you can do relatively simple projects that don't take forever. If you have a snarky side and want an all-in-one kit to get started, I recommend a Deluxe Kit from Subversive Cross Stitch. There are good tutorials on the site too.
posted by radioamy at 11:54 AM on July 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Latch-hook rugs take up little space for the supplies or the finished project or the doing. You can put it down and pick it up anytime.
posted by maurreen at 1:00 PM on July 4, 2018

Candles. Super easy to start with an unlimited amount of possibilities. A bit of science. A bit of art. Easy to complete but harder to master.
posted by jasondigitized at 4:59 PM on July 4, 2018

I like basic hand-embroidery. It can be simple (self link) or intricate (random person I found on instagram). It's portable and easily customizable.

Macrame also looks promising for a "something to do while binge-watching" kind of hobby.
posted by dogmom at 5:29 PM on July 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've always thought quilling would be kind of fun. Wouldn't take up much space, doesn't need much specialty equipment, and it's super cool looking when it's done.
posted by helloimjennsco at 6:45 AM on July 5, 2018

I just this last weekend started a braided rag rug from t-shirts, based on this tutorial. I have spent no money and the only drama thus far was getting my husband to agree to which tshirts I could use for the rug.
It's fairly fast and not a lot of work. It's great for sitting on the couch and burning through episodes of Wynona Earp and the like and so far, it all fits in a shopping bag. I could put it away tomorrow and pick it back up 6 months from now and it would be no big deal.

I've quilted and done tons of embroidary and it seems like this is way less intensive and more casual.
posted by teleri025 at 11:26 AM on July 5, 2018

There are a lot of posts for textile hobbies, which I enjoy, too! But if you’re looking for something a little different, I have recently really gotten into making collages. You could make traditional collages the traditional way, but I make mine digitally on my iPad. I use an app that lets me layers images, a stylus, and I pull the images I combine from a range of sources - especially digitized archives/old books. It isn’t exactly “functional,” but I like doing it, and the works do grow over time, bit by bit... and I’ve occasionally sent my digital ones off to be printed on canvas or on paper. I have one hanging up in my house, and I have given others away as gifts to friends. Turns out people really love talking about and getting custom perhaps useful after all for decorating/gift giving.
posted by pinkacademic at 11:59 AM on July 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

You can make your own magnets like these. I don't buy those preformed modpodge pieces of glass, though. I buy the clear glass rocks in the floral section that are flat on the back. I reject about 5 percent of them for being too cloudy, but that still works out cheaper. I get the paper for the patterns from magazines and usually glue some black paper on the back before applying the magnet.
posted by soelo at 2:21 PM on July 5, 2018

You could take up whittling. A spoon perfectly sized to your hand and pot is a sweet thing.
posted by clew at 7:33 PM on July 5, 2018

Making yarn with a drop spindle
posted by luckynerd at 11:08 AM on July 6, 2018

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