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Seven craft projects that will save you money

Love do-it-yourself projects? Use your DIY skills as a way to help you save money. For example, why spend $5 on a card when you can make your own?

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    Floral designer Desarae Terrazas places a rose into a Mother’s Day arrangement on May 8, 2015, in Las Cruces, N.M. Using simple floral tricks is a fun way to save money while decorating your home or giving a gift.
    Robin Zielinski/The Las Cruces Sun-News/AP
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It seems obvious that making and doing things yourself will save you money. But some projects require so many supplies that they aren't realistic to take on, and sometimes manufacturers are simply able to make things cheaper.

The seven DIY crafts below, however, are not only rewarding and fun, but can also save you cash.

1. Sewing

I'm sure you've heard this before, but sewing is the mother of all money-saving crafts. Even with basic hand sewing skills, you can salvage damaged clothes and sew on missing buttons, adding many miles to your wardrobe. With a sewing machine and a little knowledge, you can alter clothing for fit and hem long curtains, skipping a trip to the tailor and saving real money. Acquire even more knowledge and skill, and you can make your own curtains, bags, placemats, napkins, pillows, clothes, and more. Not only can you make home decor and clothing items specifically to your taste and specifications, you bypass the costs that come with brand names and have control over the quality.

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2. Candle Making

You might be surprised at how easy and affordable it is to make your very own candles. If you're a candle fanatic or enjoy giving them as gifts, then add a very personal touch while saving big bucks by making your own. Start by using upcycled containers, like jelly jars for medium-sized container candles and shot glasses for votives. Soy wax is often the easiest wax to start with, and look for wax that is made for container candles. Buy pre-tabbed wicks that match the size of your container and type of wax. Otherwise, you'll just need an old metal pot or kettle, another pot for double boiling, a candy or craft thermometer, glue tabs or a glue gun, clothespins, and fragrance or dye if desired. You only have to make a few candles to offset the cost of the supplies, and you've got unique and fun candles for your home and to give to friends.

3. Homemade Cards

I am always surprised by the high prices of cards at the store. It's common to find cards for upwards of $5 now, and you're paying for what amounts to a mass-produced piece of paper. Rather than spend time reading way too many cards trying to find just the right one, make your own cards at home. You can tailor each card to the recipient and please your own aesthetic, all while saving money. Buy a pack of blank cards and envelopes — often similar to the price of one fancy greeting card — and decorate them with stamps, drawings, ribbon, photographs, and more. Get creative and have fun with it! Your friends and family will appreciate the personal touch.

4. Floral Arranging

Floral arranging is more than just a craft, it's an art. Using simple floral tricks is a fun way to save money while decorating your home or giving a gift. Turn grocery store flowers into lovely floral arrangements with the help of a vase, some know-how, and some optional embellishments. Try using foraged greenery to fill out arrangements, rather than spending money on fern fronds and eucalyptus at the store.

Step your decorating game up a notch and make your own wreath to hang proudly on your door. During the holidays, I pick up the free cuttings at the Christmas tree stand down the street, and use the branches, a pair of gardening shears, and some wire or florist foam to make my own wreath that lasts for weeks. In the spring, use foraged twigs and dried flowers. You can also make wreaths out of lots of non-plant items, such as burlap, ribbon, ornaments, and more!

5. Quilting

A great quilt is a piece of art, and often represents hours and hours of labor. If you're in need of a new bed cover or want to give a quilt as a gift, don't worry! You don't have to spend tons of time, energy, and fabric money in order to make a great quilt. Save big by using recycled fabric from shirts, sheets, and scraps. Fill out the rest of your quilt with on-sale fabric, and choose a simple pattern. A baby blanket makes a thoughtful gift for an expecting mother, a bed cover is a nice newlywed present, and a homemade blanket is good gift for pretty much everyone.

6. Framing

A custom frame can often out-price the art inside, and that just seems wrong. You can pick up cheap poster frames at the store, but they are typically poor quality, can be unprofessional looking, and don't come in every possible size. If you enjoy hanging art and photos around your house, or want to give framed items as gifts, consider learning framing. You'll need a few supplies, but many of them are already part of well-stocked tool box. Framing your own photos makes the size, materials, style, and color totally customizable. You can mat your work with all sorts of fun materials, or just create a simple box frame. It's the best way to get your art looking just right without emptying your wallet.

7. Painting

It's amazing what a fresh coat of paint will do for a whole lot of household things. A paint job can breath new life into furniture, rugs, table cloths, frames, vases, and more. It also requires a relatively small amount of supplies, know-how, and work. Does your coffee table need a little love? Instead of kicking it to the curb, give it a good sanding, cleaning, and then spray or paint it a fresh new color. Add some pizzazz to a rug or tableclothwith a pop of color and design. Rather than spending money on a set of matching picture frames, pick up an assortment of wood frames at the thrift store and spray paint them to match. Or get inspired, and paint some new art work for your walls. Even blocks of color can make a fun statement.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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