[Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I have recommended products and companies that I personally use and trust.]
The #1 rule of thumb for paper crafts (especially if used in scrapbooking) is to always make sure that everything you use is acid free. If it's not it will discolor your papers and photos over time.
If you're doing any sort of scrapbooking or paper cutting outside of a snip (or if you can't cut a straight line to save your life like me) you need a paper trimmer. I've had several over the years and the Fiskars brand has always been my favorite. The link above will take you to the one I have now and it is SO NICE! The replacement blades are pretty inexpensive for how infrequently you have to change them out and super easy to use. I use this for all scrapbooking and paper/photo crafts.
- Tape Runner.
I'll be honest, I've been using a variety of tape runners over the years and haven't paid much attention to it. I've even been calling them glue runners which is an entirely different thing! While compiling this list for you however, I wanted to give you the best product out there. In my researching I have found that the Scotch ATG is the highest recommended product available. Glue Runners have a history of working well until around the 5 year mark when the glue disintegrates and you have to reattach all your photos, papers and embellishments (grrr!) The ATG is a little pricey upfront and takes a little "getting used to" but I think it would probably be the same learning curve for any new tool that I try. (psst- this would be a good item to use a coupon on!)
*I will update this section as I try this product out myself. I wanted to include this however because products like this are THE TOOL to use for applying photos and heavier items to your scrapbook pages. Glue just will not do the trick and I only use tape runners when applying my photos (plus they are so much less messy!)
- Elmer's Glue Sticks
For lighter weight paper crafts (such as the paper pieces on a scrapbook page) I use Elmer's Glue Sticks. It's the same thing you used in Elementary school. It's acid free and easy to use and you can purchase them for practically nothing so it's a cheaper option than using the tape runner on everything. I bought 12 packages of them from the store the other day when they were on super sale for "back to school". Stock up on them because they do go fast!
I am addicted to paper packs! It's a great way to get a lot of coordinating papers at once without having to buy those pre-designed pages and they seem to have much cuter papers than individual ones in the store. They usually run about $15-$20 depending on how many papers are in them but I always purchase them at 50% off with a coupon or on sale. Some of my favorite brands are DCWV , Recollections (fyi they have the best cardstock paper packs for use with the Silhouette. It cuts beautifully!) and Amy Tangerine .
-Ball Point Glue Pen
I actually was introduced to this product about a week ago (thanks mom!) and I recommend it for one reason- scrapbooking. I like to cut out individual letters for my titles out of paper (which of course isn't sticky) and used to apply each letter via glue stick. This works fine except my fingers were covered in glue by the end of it. This ball point glue pen allows me to apply glue in only the spots I need it and nothing extra. If you don't use tiny pieces of paper in your crafts, it's probably unnecessary but if you're like me this is an awesome little tool!
Silhouette CAMEO 2 (Starter Bundle)
The Silhouette is a wonderful little machine that cuts all sorts of materials (paper, fabric, vinyl, etc) in the exact shape that you want. And I don't just mean circles and squares people. It cuts any font you have, detailed designs, logos, anything! (Check out this Silhouette blog to get an idea of what all it does!) I originally started using mine to cut paper crafts and some t-shirts for family and friends but now I use it for our business to make custom apparel and decor. I promise you, it is worth every single penny. The link above is the exact starter bundle I have (except this is the newer version of the machine). I like this option better than just the machine because it includes vinyl, tools, credit towards their store (which you can use to buy inexpensive pre-made designs) and tutorials. It's perfect for a beginner. Note: I heavily recommend the Silhouette over the Cricut machine because it is much more versatile in terms of creating your own unique designs (and if you do choose pre-made designs they are much cheaper!) Plus, once you start using it, you'll find it so easy to use!
Edit: The Cricut "Explore" does not require cartridges and has the versatility in designing your own shapes like the Silhouette does. My personal recommendation however is still for the silhouette Cameo.
-24x36 Fiskars Self Healing Cutting Mat
Yes, it's a huge cutting mat. I have around half a dozen cutting mats in different sizes and brands but again Fiskars is my favorite. Even when doing smaller projects (like baby bibs) I still prefer to use my 24x36 mat every time. Smaller sizes are great for portability but if you are only going to invest in one item- this is it. I would much rather have this one large one than five other sizes! It gives you plenty of room to work and measure. What I especially like about this one is that it is not only made from a "self healing" material (i.e. not as many cut marks = lasts longer!) but its double sided so it's like you are buying two cutting mats. The price is hefty for sure but if you pick it up at a local store (like Joann Fabrics) and use a 50% off coupon it's not that bad (and definitely worth it!)
-Rotary Cutters (to be used with a cutting mat)
- 45 mm
The 45 mm blade is my favorite to use as my "all purpose" cutter. It's small enough to fit around curves in the pattern but large enough that it doesn't take forever to cut! I have an OLFA brand one that I use most of the time but I also love my Fiskars that is contoured! Both are great choices depending on which hand position you prefer. (Both OFLA and Fiskars some in straight and contoured options)
If you work on projects with tight curves or turns in them, I also recommend picking up a 28 mm cutter. There is also an 18 mm but I personally find that to be too small to feel like you are getting anywhere with your cutting! I have the one linked above (Fiskars brand) and it cuts beautifully.
Note: It's always a good idea to pick up replacement blades to have on hand. They are super easy to change out and they do seem to last a long time between changes.
- Lip Edge Ruler
This is the brand that I've always had and it's lasted forever and is very sturdy. The thing that sets this apart from the many other rulers/straight edges that I have is that it has a "lip" across the 5 inch side. Why is that so great? Because, when I am cutting something on my self healing mat I can just push the lip up to the edge of the mat and know that my ruler is creating a perfectly straight line for my blade to run across. Trust me... if you are doing any serious amount of cutting (or hate wasting time) there is no need to try and get your ruler straight (and keep it straight while cutting!) if you can just use this ruler instead. This is truly one of my favorite crafting items of all time.
-Spring loaded scissors
Spring loaded (or "easy action") scissors are the best invention ever to be made to the scissor world. Okay, that might be dramatic but really, I try to only purchase spring loaded for 'regular blade' fabric scissors. After you push down to make a cut, a small spring opens the scissors back up for you ready to make your next cut. It doesn't sound like much but after a long day of cutting and sewing your hands will be thanking you. They also make them in titanium (some people swear by that, I just use stainless steel and love them) and in a Micro Tip which I also have and recommend. It is perfect for trimming tight spots and I prefer to use it to snip my thread ends and to take with me if I'm doing any little "hand sewn" projects on the run.
-Coats & Clark Thread
The link above is for a large pack of multiple colors but you can buy them individually as well. It seems silly to recommend a thread to you but I have purchased "cheapie" threads before only to regret it. If you want your project to last, C&C Dual Duty thread has been trusted for years by seamstresses everywhere- including myself! Save yourself the frustration and use this thread for regular (non-specialty thread) projects.
My mom bought one of these for me and I love it! The cushioned spots hold your bobbins in snugly and the clear front makes it easy to take a quick glance to see if you have the color you need. It has a small hook on the top for hanging (I hang mine from a hook on pegboard just above my sewing machine) The price on amazon is pretty good, especially for two of them.
They also have this Thread Rack for storing your spools of thread. I think all brands are basically the same but this is the kind I have and again, I hang it from pegboard (but it does stand upright as well)
You know, like for gift wrapping. Pick up a few packs at the dollar store to have on hand or get this pack of 100 on amazon. I use these all the time when I create my own patterns. It's a similar material to an actual sewing pattern so it works great for pinning to fabrics, folding up for storage and for marking on (I make notes on mine like where to pin snaps, velcro, etc. or what direction the fabric should be with a sharpie marker) Best of all, it costs almost nothing so if you start to wear it down from frequent use, just draw up and cut out another one!
-Cordless Glue Gun
I never had a preference on glue guns until my dad bought me this one for Christmas a few years back. I love that it's cordless because
Don't forget to buy extra glue sticks to have on hand. Glue sticks go fast so I always try to have a bag or two extra lying around.
If working on small projects that need paint, these bottles of acrylic paint are perfect for almost any material you could imagine (wood, fabric, styrofoam, terra cotta, plaster, tin, etc). I don't have a favorite brand but here are a few that I trust:Apple Barrel, FolkArt and DecoArt. If painting something bigger (like a large sign or a chair) these little bottles are not the most economical choice and you are better off getting a sample of paint from the hardware store. They are great however for small projects and for having a variety of color options without having to buy or store huge containers!
Don't forget to pick up several packs of foam brushes for your painted projects. They are extremely cheap and I prefer them over paintbrushes for *most* projects. They can be cleaned a reused a few times but honestly I usually forget and throw them away.
Please see above (paper crafts) as to why I love this machine. Please note that the link is for the CAMEO 2 which is the newest version. I have the older version but am sure the upgrade is just a great!
I like to get my photos printed at Shutterfly because they frequently have a deal where you can get 101 free prints (just pay shipping). Hint: If you only get 99 prints you pay less in shipping. It's easy to upload ahead of time and they ship the photos right to your house. In a pinch however, I also like to use the CVS photo lab. You can get your photos printed instantly or in an hour and they are nice quality (I prefer matte finish for scrapbooks) and although a fair price, not as good as the Shutterfly deal if you have the time to wait.
First and foremost- if you are going to be a crafter make sure you are calling it Mod Podge and not Modge Podge. Nothing drives us more crazy than that. Join the club... say it correctly. Seriously though, this is a great product for sealing up paper projects so that they last longer (and look nicer). It comes in a variety of options including a matte finish , gloss finish , outdoor , hard coat and more.
...and it never hurts to have a hot cup of coffee and a cold glass of tea (that's for my fellow Johnny Cash fans)
If you have any questions, just ask! I hope you found this list helpful for your crafty journey!