An A to Z guide of every craft you can try your hand at
Craft hobbies have never been more popular or accessible. Online blogs and tutorial videos, as well as handy craft kits, mean you can try your hand at a variety of different skills with relative ease. Whether you're a crochet aficionado, a beading enthusiast, or just want to try something new, trying out a new craft is a great way to relax and let your creative juices flow.
"In an increasingly automated world, many shoppers are turning to time-honoured crafts that celebrate both craftsmanship and individuality," says Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy trend expert.
"While creative hobbies really soared during the pandemic, the DIY boom is continuing to grow as shoppers turn to craft as a form of relaxation and creative release. And as the cost of living continues to rise, DIY projects allow shoppers to create and own something completely unique without breaking the bank.”
However, do you know your appliqué from your tatting? Our alphabetical list of crafts has it all explained, so you know exactly what hobby to try next...
What is appliqué?
The Quilt Show defines appliqué as "a needlework technique in which one or more pieces of fabric are attached to a larger background fabric to create pictures or patterns."
You can create appliqué designs by hand or use a sewing machine - the only limit is your imagination. It's a great way of using old fabric scraps and can adorn everything from quilts to jackets.
What is beading?
Beading (also known as 'bead work' or 'bead craft') is the general term for creating jewellery and decorations from beads. This includes bead stringing (for jewellery) and using beads in embroidery designs. It's easy enough to try out at home, but if you want to try more complex designs, consider booking a lesson or workshop.
What is batik?
Originating in Java, Indonesia, batik is a technique of creating patterns on cloth by using a spouted tool called a canting, or a stamp called a cap. The cloth is then coloured with wax-resist dye.
"The applied wax resists dyes and therefore allows the artisan to colour selectively by soaking the cloth in one colour, removing the wax with boiling water, and repeating if multiple colours are desired," says The Craft Atlas.
What is bobbin lace?
A traditional and complex craft, bobbin lace (also known as 'pillow lace') is: "A method of making lace by weaving threads held on bobbins and pinning them on top of a pattern pinned to a pillow".
This insightful guide has everything you need to get you going.
What is bookbinding?
Bookbinding is just what it sounds like – the process of physically assembling a book together. Heritage Crafts define it best as: "The assembling and fixing of the loose leaves of a book between a cover, either by glueing or stitching."
You'll need some equipment to get started, but there are plenty of online guides and YouTube tutorials to help you along the way. Once you've nailed the craft, you'll be able to create everything from photo albums to cookbooks and journals.
What is calligraphy?
Maybe it's the Bridgerton effect, but calligraphy is making a comeback. It's essentially the art of beautiful handwriting and decorative lettering. Calligraphy uses special pens and brushes to create beautiful writing which looks lovely on invitations, letters and signs.
Although you'll need some special equipment for advanced styles, you can start your calligraphy journey with a normal pen.
What is candle making?
Candle making, is, well, candle making! It's a fun way of experimenting with scents and means you can make your candle exactly how you like it.
There are plenty of craft kits on the market which includes everything you need, including wicks, wax and containers.
What is crochet?
Crochet is supremely popular right now - it even features in our roundup of top craft trends for 2023. Using a hook to interlock loops of yarn, you can use crochet to create everything from bags and clothes to homeware.
“Thanks to pop culture and an increased interest in crafting throughout the pandemic, crochet is seeing a huge resurgence amongst today’s shoppers, says Dyna. "Crocheting has amassed somewhat of a cult celebrity following, with rockstars, popstars, TV hosts and Hollywood actors all counting themselves as crochet aficionados. Both nostalgic and expressive, this 70s-inspired style is taking hold in everything from home decor to clothing and even jewellery."
If you're keen to get crocheting, you need very little equipment to get started – just a ball of yarn and a crochet hook will do.
What is cross stitch?
Stitch Modern say: "Cross stitch is making a comeback among modern makers and crafters." It's a popular form of embroidery and uses x-shaped stitches to create tile-like patterns. It's the easiest form of hand embroidery to learn, so it's great for craft beginners.
What is découpage?
Simple and satisfying, découpage involves glueing pictures to an object and then coating it with layers of varnish to create a decorative effect.
In their in-depth guide to the craft, Prima says: "One of the great things about découpage is that you can use any type of paper, it’s all about finding patterns and motifs you love that you’d like to feature in your craft project."
What is embroidery?
To put it simply, embroidery is the general term for the craft of adorning fabric using needle and thread. For example, cross stitch counts as embroidery.
Some embroidery incorporates elements such as beads or trimming, and there are countless stitches to try out when creating a new design.
What is felting?
"Felting is an ancient technique, in which wool fibres are matted together to create an unwoven textile," says Hobbycraft. "In order to create wet felted wool, one needs only heat, moisture and agitation."
There are three key techniques: "Wet felting uses water, soap and agitation to interlock and compact wool fibres together, needle felting uses barbed needles to stab and tangle the wool fibres together, and Nuno felting bonds wool fibres to sheer fabric, usually silk to make a lightweight felted fabric."
What is flower pressing?
Want your beautiful bouquet to last forever? Flower pressing just might be a hobby for you. You take your favourite flowers, press them until they're flat and dry, and then use them to create decorations (see the découpage section).
All you need is flowers, a newspaper and a big, heavy book. Or, if you're feeling fancy, invest in a mechanical flower press.
What is glass etching?
Glass etching involves creating patterns and artwork on the surface of glass by applying caustic or abrasive substances. It sounds complicated but it's not, here's an easy-to-follow guide that you can easily follow from your kitchen table.
What is hand engraving?
"Hand engraving involves sketching and marking designs into a piece of metal by hand using a number of precision hand-held tools, including gravers, scorpers, scrapers, and spit sticks, among others," says Joseph Jewellery.
It's a highly precise craft, but a truly satisfying one. It's also a brilliant skill to have if you enjoy making jewellery and silversmithing. You'll need special tools to hand engrave metal, and we recommend trying a class or workshop before attempting it at home.
What is intaglio?
The opposite of relief printing, intaglio is the broad term for printmaking in which an image is incised into a surface, after which ink is applied to the grooves or incisions. Examples of intaglio printing include etching, drypoint, engraving, photogravure, heliogravure, aquatint, and mezzotint.
What is jewellery making?
There are so many types and styles of jewellery making to try, meaning it's a brilliant hobby for people who like to let their creative juices flow. It can include many of the other crafts mentioned in this article, including beading, hand engraving and silversmithing.
Tools and materials are easily accessible from crafts stores, and it's accessible to a wide range of budgets.
What is knitting?
Knitting is the creation of fabric by interlinking loops of yarn, most often with the use of knitting needles (though you can also use frames or machines). Knitting is a craft that many of us are aware of, but not all have tried. However, knitting can be done by someone of any age and is highly therapeutic thanks to its repetitive nature.
Video tutorials are a great place to get familiar with terms like 'casting on' and 'purl stitch', but given the popularity of knitting, we can just about guarantee someone you know will be able to show you the basics.
What is lino printing?
A type of relief printing, lino printing involves carving a pattern or design into a linoleum, rubber or vinyl surface that is then covered with ink and used to create a print using the raised design.
Hobbycraft has put together a step-by-step guide on how to get started, plus what equipment you'll need.
What is leatherwork?
Leatherwork (or leathercraft) is the practice of using leather to craft objects, such as wallets or keyrings. It's a craft with a lot of tradition and artisanal knowledge behind it, and you'll pick up skills including skiving, leather dying, knife sharpening and stitching along the way.
Given the materials and tools needed to complete a successful leatherwork project, a workshop is your best bet if you're new to the craft.
What is macramé?
When you think of macramé, you may think of the interiors of the 1970s, but the craft is having a huge comeback. Rather than a form of wearing, macramé uses knotting to create a variety of items, both decorative and functional (such as bags). Wall hangings are a particularly popular form of macramé.
The origin of macramé can be traced back to 13th-century Arabic decorative weavers who used the knots to secure loose ends of woven textiles, like towels and shawls. Many believe the term “macramé” comes from the Arabic word migramah or “fringe.”
You don't need much for a macramé project - any kind of cord, twine or rope will do. You can buy a kit with a pattern to follow, or learn basic knots and create your own design.
What is marbling?
Marbling is a method of decorating paper or fabric to imitate marble and other stone. This is done with coloured ink that is suspended in a thickened liquid and then manipulated into various patterns. Paper or fabric is then laid upon the mixture and the pattern prints onto the surface.
The beauty of marbling lies in its unpredictable nature - you never quite know how a piece is going to turn out. There's also plenty of room to get experimental, from blowing bubbles into the ink to swirling it with a stirrer.
What is millinery?
Millinery is the process and design of making hats, a wonderful skill for any style-minded person to learn. It's also wonderfully varied, you need to only go to a day at the races to see all the eye-catching styles being worn.
It's on the more luxurious end of craft hobbies, but if it's a passion of yours, then we say it's worth every penny!
Millinery coined its name in the Middle Ages when Milan was the heart of the world's textile and fashion trade. Fashionable ladies' hats became associated with the city and the name stuck.
What is needlepoint?
Simply put, needlepoint is a form of embroidery that involves stitching thread through a stiff, open-weave canvas. Unlike cross stitch, which only uses one type of stitch, needlepoint gives you more options.
What is origami?
Originating in Japan, origami is the art of paper folding. Origami creates both two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects and can range from relatively simple to incredibly complex.
It's a relaxing craft that requires concentration, but it's also incredibly accessible - all you need is a flat surface and a piece of paper.
What is patchwork?
"Patchwork, also referred to as piecing, is the process of joining strips, squares or any shape of fabric together by hand or machine," says The Quilt Show. "As a general term, patchwork refers to a composition of a variety of pieces."
You may be most familiar with patchwork blankets, but the technique can be used to make anything from jackets to bags, too. Patchworking is often a long-term project, ideal if you're trying to adopt a slow-living lifestyle. Plus, it's a handy way to use up fabric scraps and old material.
What is pottery?
If you're a fan of The Great Pottery Throw Down, you'll be keen to try out this craft.
Pottery uses clay and other raw materials to create objects. It's a varied craft, and pottery can be made on a wheel or built by hand, either using clay that is fired in a kiln or that air drys.
If you want to try out your skills on a wheel, you'll need to visit a studio and get guidance from an expert. For those just starting out, why not try an at-home pottery kit and give hand-building a go?
What is quilling?
Paper quilling uses narrow strips of paper to create three-dimensional shapes. These strips of paper are rolled up and glued into place.
"Quilling is the art of rolled paper," says PaperPaper. "It’s a dynamic medium that allows anyone — young, old, beginner, expert — to explore different textures and techniques. Best of all, it’s surprisingly easy to learn and once you get the hang of the basics, you’ll be off on your quilling journey."
What is a rag rug?
Rags that have been torn to create strips are tied together, or to a frame, to create a densely woven rug. This is generally done by hand and is a waste-saving way of using up old textiles like t-shirts, sheets and blankets.
There are plenty of different techniques to explore, and many are no-sew.
What is screen printing?
What is screen printing?
Custom Planet explain it well: "Screen printing is the process of transferring a stencilled design onto a flat surface using a mesh screen, ink and a squeegee. Fabric and paper are the most commonly screen-printed surfaces, but with specialised inks, it's also possible to print onto wood, metal, plastic, and even glass."
What is silversmithing?
Silversmithing is the craft of creating objects (such as jewellery) from silver or other precious materials. It does require specific tools - such as special saws, hammers, files, and pliers - but starter sets can be bought relatively cheaply.
Whilst it can be self-taught, a good teacher will enable you to learn the foundation skills you need to further your craft at home.
What is tufting?
A faster version of punch needling (creating continuous loops of yarn into cloth), tufting uses a speedy mechanical tufting gun to get things done. Whilst tufted rugs are the most popular, your only limit is your imagination – this craft has been used to create everything from cushion covers to coats.
Tatting uses a series of knots and loops to create durable, decorative lace. There are two key types of tatting; needle tatting is considered the easiest, with stitches being worked firmly onto a fine needle. Shuttle tatting involves a metal, wood or plastic shuttle which holds a bobbin of thread.
What is upholstery?
Upholstery is the act of covering furniture - such as chairs - with fabric or leather covers, plus padding, webbing, and springs.
It's a highly-specialised skill and professional upholsterers often only focus on one area. For example, the upholstery of vintage cars or the restoration of antique furniture.
It can also be a fun way to upcycle old furniture in your home and give worn pieces a new lease of life.
What is willow weaving?
Willow weaving is the creation of structures using flexible willow rods which are pliable enough to be bent into different shapes. Often, willow is used to weave baskets, but it's also a wonderful, natural material to make garden sculptures with.
What is wreath making?
Whether you use real or artificial foliage, wreath making involves the design and construction of decorative wreaths. These can also be made with dried flowers, and are made by securing flowers and greenery to a hoop (usually made from metal or wood).
Not only a festive activity for the winter time, but wreath making is also becoming increasingly popular for the warmer months, with Easter and spring wreaths being a charming addition to most homes.
A wreath-making workshop is a fun activity, with or without friends, but if you're looking for a more budget-friendly option, you can pick up supplies from most craft stores and florists.
What is xylography?
Xylography (also known as 'woodcut') comes in two forms - firstly, it's the art of engraving on wood, but it's also a method of relief printing in which ink is applied to the raised surface.
It's also the oldest known relief printing technique, having originated in China before spreading to Europe.
Watch this example of xylography in action, to see a print made from start to finish.
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