Staff Picks

Crafting on the Cheap

I love making things.

Paper Flower bouquets

I made many of these paper flowers using Lia Griffith’s tutorials.

Much of my free time is devoted to crafting: embroidering my mon (Japanese family crest) onto a tea towel, knitting my daughter's Halloween costume, cutting a garden out of paper.

And until the library opens its own Makerspace, I'm making do by turning my family room into my own defacto Makerspace (much to my husband's chagrin).

Every surface of that room is covered with lengths of yarn, scraps of paper, and sticky things of unknown provenance. 

The problem is that crafting can be expensive.


I made these sweaters using patterns from books I found on Hoopla.

People are surprised that it often costs more money to make something than to buy it in the store.

Raw materials can be really pricey—not to mention the labor costs. Knitting a sweater, for example, can take upwards of 50 hours! 

My main rule of thumb while crafting is: never pay full price

I join online forums and deal groups for crafts.

I wait for the Michael's 50% percent off coupon.

I woke at 4am last November so I could fill my digital shopping cart with $15 yarn on sale for $3.

In the past, I've even bought 100% wool sweaters from the thrift store for a couple bucks, and unraveled it to use for new projects.

This is a time-consuming and tangly process, though, so I usually buy my recycled yarn from eBay—paying slightly more for other people to do the same thing. 

The library is my #1 partner in my goal of never paying full price.

Cross Stitch

These women stitched an outline of Illinois in honor of our bicentennial!

Because the library provides a ton of resources that cost a fortune elsewhere, and I pay exactly zero dollars.


Creativebug is one of my favorite crafting resources.

It is a website filled with step-by-step video tutorials on arts and crafts of all types, from knitting to embroidery to collage to illustration.  

Each video series includes downloadable PDFs that include templates, materials lists, and more.

Glass Etching

Our DP Social (20s and 30s) group etched glasses with designs from Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and more.

With a Des Plaines library card, you get access to all of this for free.

And because the site is constantly updated, the crafts are always on-trend, allowing you to create the latest Pinterest or Instagram trend pronto.

I especially love Creativebug’s paper flower tutorials by Lia Griffith. I’ve been a fan of hers forever, but in the past, you've always had to pay for her instruction videos. On Creativebug, her resources are available for free.


Besides Creativebug, I also use our Hoopla digital platform religiously.

Hoopla has an extraordinary amount of crafty eBooks available. With your library card, you can check out up to 10 digital materials per month.

I’m pretty sure I’ve checked out each of the knitting books at least once.

Paper Flower Class

At our Crafter-Hours event, patrons learned how to make roses out of German doublette crepe paper.


Overdrive also has a good number of craft books available.

To browse, go to Subjects->Nonfiction->Crafts.

You can check out up to five at a time.

If you’re a thrifty human at heart, you can also come to In for a Penny, our coupon club. It meets every first Saturday of the month at 11am in Meeting Room B. 

The library also hosts craft events from time to time.

Here are some of our past craft programs, and suggestions for books on that topic. 

If you want to learn to cross stitch, I suggest Mr. X Guide to Cross Stitch or Cross Stitch to Calm

Crepe Paper Flowers by Lia Griffith

We also have a physical copy of Lia Griffith’s book available at the library, which comes with a link for free downloadable templates.

If you want to try glass etching (it's easier than it sounds--I promise!) try the books Etching Glass : 20 Simple, Elegant Projects to Etch with Easy-to-Use Creams and Liquids or Etching Glass

If you want to try making paper flowers, I strongly suggest the aforementioned Lia Griffith's book Crepe Paper Flowers.

It comes with a link for free downloadable PDF templates (and if you have a Cricut Maker, you can import the .svg files directly).

 Other great contemporary books include Paper to Petal : 75 Whimsical Paper Flowers to Craft By Hand (I made much of the greenery in the top photo from this book), The Fine Art of Paper Flowers : A Guide to Making Beautiful and Lifelike Botanicals, and The Exquisite Book of Paper Flower Transformations: Playing with Size, Shape, and Color to Create Spectacular Paper Arrangements.

Happy crafting!

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