Crafters: Where do you get your hardest-to-find supplies?
July 24, 2018 6:30 PM   Subscribe

I don't care what your craft is (but please, do tell!). I'd like to know what supplies you have had a hard time finding, and where you get said item(s) from now.

For instance, as a bag sewist, I find it difficult to find decent purse-related hardware.

Related anecdote: I go to Quilt Fest every year in Houston. There's a vendor there that wants to sell their business, which specializes in supplies for people who make really artsy fartsy dolls/figures/dragons. They only do big markets like these, there's no web site or anything like that. I'm kind of interested in taking their business online, and adding to it, which is the reason for my question.
posted by wwartorff to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 58 users marked this as a favorite
OMG I despaired of finding purse frames until I found Purse Supply Depot.

Pacific Trimming, which has a store in the NYC Garment District, has every goddamn clasp and zipper on the planet. They have a particularly good selection of leather clasps.

Jo-Ann’s never has the sewing patterns I want, so I just order them from the company itself (Simplicity, etc.).

I get all my soapmaking and candlemaking supplies (keeps getting harder to find 100% lye in hardware stores!) at Sweet Cakes, though there are a lot of other good sites out there (I think Lehman’s has soapmaking stuff these days).

When I needed rosin to make amber clear soap, I got it from some small chemical distributor, I think this one.
posted by Melismata at 7:02 PM on July 24, 2018 [8 favorites]

The Leather and Sewing Supply Depot on Spadina in Toronto stocks tailoring thread which I haven't been able to find anywhere else, online or offline.

MacFab has sleeve heads, also very difficult to find.

I used to be able to order gold plated needles from A Great Notion but they don't carry them anymore. I have a nickel allergy and it's difficult to find needles that are nickel free.
posted by Stonkle at 7:50 PM on July 24, 2018 [5 favorites]

If you are selling them and have a vendor's permit, your best bet is B2B shows. Best prices, selection, and a great way to make contacts. It is worth finding suppliers that way because it is not always obvious or easy to find it online.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 8:04 PM on July 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

I wanted some real sturdy clasps for bag making, my local sewing stores only had flimsy ones, and searching on Amazon was a wasteland of things that looked cheap with bad reviews. I finally found what I needed on
posted by foxfirefey at 11:45 PM on July 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

I had a hard time finding a good assortment of buttons for my knitting. Most local shops just have a small selection and they're rather boring in their choice. Double challenge is being in the UK and we don't have things like Michael's or JoAnn's. Enter the Textile Garden.
posted by like_neon at 3:35 AM on July 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

Many craft supplies can be found at excellent prices at Create For Less.
posted by RRgal at 7:10 AM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best selection & prices on chain mail rings (including lots of hard-to-find sizes and a wide variety of metals (and plastic and rubber) for jewelry-sized chain mail): The Ring Lord.
posted by carrioncomfort at 7:51 AM on July 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

Does home-roasting coffee count? I got my roasters (and buy all my green beans) from Burman Coffee Traders.
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 9:03 AM on July 25, 2018

Richard's Craft Wood is a great source for wood sold in thicknesses suitable for small crafts (e.g. 1/2", 1/4"). Starting with those thicknesses rather than resawing or planing down from the more common 1" thickness is a significant time, material, and money saver, especially if you don't have access to a bandsaw or power planer.

Rivierre makes machine-forged nails that are very similar to historical hand-forged nails.

Katrin Kania's is my source for real gold thread for embroidery and some other to hard-to-find threads (e.g. ultra-fine silk and linen threads, plant-dyed threads for matching the medieval color palette).
posted by jedicus at 9:32 AM on July 25, 2018

I get craft supplies online - I just used my gorgeous Indian wood block fabric stamps and it was so fun. Ink was from art supply store. The clothes I stamped on were mostly from Salv. Army; I'm a geezer now, and Tuesday is 50% off. The local SA has So Many tshirts. I have picked up a stack of white tshirts and linen shirts for a future shibori dyeing project. If I made purses, I'd look for purses I could scavenge parts from. I buy clothing to scavenge fabrics from. I have done small upholstery projects; most of the furniture is free on craigslist or freecycle, I do the occasional curbside screeching halt for a nice free piece. I go to the Goodwill Buy The Pound outlet and the sheer quantity of discarded craft stuff boggles the mind.

My point, other than proving I'm a recycling weirdo? There are a lot of supplies available and if I wanted to, I could be selling stuff. Buy or join this business? Do the research, as you are doing here, to see if it makes sense. I bought a business once, it was an excellent thing to do. The business you are considering has low value, maybe some inventory, mailing list. It would almost certainly benefit from an effective website. Will it be part-time? If you have the spare time, and can do the website, sounds like a good idea. You can sell the purse stuff, as well as any side craft supplies that interest you.
posted by theora55 at 12:19 PM on July 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


(I want to know where people find Japanese fabric stateside)
posted by bibliogrrl at 12:36 PM on July 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

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