January 21, 2013

DIYers Guide to Buying Supplies Online

Several months ago, I lamented the fact that moving from NYC to Washington, DC would mean no longer having access to all the amazing stores in the Garment District, stocking everything imaginable in a DIY-ers paradise. Now fully situated in life within the district, I buy almost all my DIY supplies online. (If you're looking for a great list of places to shop online for supplies, Grace put together a list a while back.)  I've stocked up and am ready to craft up a storm, so get excited for some DIYs I really love over the next several weeks. I've learned a few tricks and tips to making online shopping easier for DIY supplies, and pass them on to you!

Tip #1: Know your measurements. I'm talking millimeters, not bra size. Bookmark a online converter or ruler so you know exactly what size chain or bead your buying. I used to keep a ruler hung above my desk for this exact purpose. There are so many size guides out there from experts on everything from jump rings to crimp beads. Another thought: get yourself a pair of calipers and learn how to use them.

Tip #2: Do your research. So much of what I do in writing posts for Thanks, I Made It is researching materials, and trying to find the best cut or color of a bead to get a designer's look so that I can share that information with you. It helps to have a basic understanding of different terms, and again, there are many guides to help you, like this one on beads or this awesome "encyclo-beadia." Also, crafty subscription company For the Makers makes guides called the 411 that cover basics. Update: I forgot to mention one of my favorite DIY blogs, How Did You Make That, does an amazing job running down DIY basics, like this post on the basic of seed beads!

Tip #3: Don't be lazy. If you want to find what you're looking for, you gotta start somewhere. Get out there and start Googling. If you just start with something simple, like "metal loop things for earrings" and be flexible with what terms you use, you'll eventually find French ear wires.

Tip #4: Take advantage of deals. I get Amazon prime as a student, and I get overly giddy about the free 2-day shipping. When I have multiple items on my list and I'm buying off of Etsy, I try to shop all from one vendor so that shipping is combined.

Tip #5: Sweat the details. I've made this mistake before-- I ordered cone spikes expecting them to come with screws in a matching metal, only to receive mismatched pieces. I ended up buying 100 1/4" brass machine screws off of Amazon to amend the mistake, but could have avoided it all together by being a little more diligent about making sure I knew what I was buying. (How did I know what type of screw to get? I re-read the product description with the screw size and brushed up on types of screws, bringing us back to tips 2 and 3.) Take advantage of opportunities to contact the seller with questions.

Tip #6: Shop around. It sounds simple enough, but you'd be amazed at the variation in prices from the bigger trim and embellishment stores to the straight from the factory sellers on eBay.

What about you? Any tricks you've learned from shopping online?

You can also check out more posts on DIY basics.

Original image from Design*Sponge


  1. thanks for the shout-out... and, great tips!

  2. Great tips! I too have to shop online for nearly everything so this is definitely a perfect resource for me :)

  3. This is so helpful - gotta check out all of your DIY Basics posts!

  4. Amazing guide & tips, good job!! & Milion thanks!!!

    This week I'm giveawaying a very special necklace combining one of my grandma's doilies and some leather. Feel free to come and participate whenever you want http://2ndfunniestthing.blogspot.com.es/2013/01/new-giveaway.html

    :) Big kisses from Barcelona

  5. I remember that list Grace made, it was awesome! and you complete it with the perfect tips for online supplies shopping.

    BTW Lucky girl you got an invitation! xoxo Julieta

  6. I couldn't agree more! Fantastic tips chica! Thanks for sharing:)

  7. Hi Erin,

    Great post. I really struggle with online purchases, it's such a gamble sometimes, so great to hear your tips!

    Thanks for your comments, still feel very new to the blogging world so need all the advice I can get! :)


  8. Great resources! I just pinned this so I would have it handy next time I plan a DIY!

  9. Oh to live in America where DIY supplies are so much easier to find and ship! Australia seems very far away sometimes. Thanks for the shopping tips!


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