If you’re working on a craft project, don’t have one of the supplies you need, and can’t run out and get it, here are some awesome handy craft supply substitutions so you can finish your project!
I saw a meme the other day joking that soon as we’re allowed to go places again, the first stop will be the craft store. I think we can all relate to that feeling.
On the one hand, for me at least, this is a great opportunity to work with what I have and use up some of my craft stash! On the other hand, when inspiration (or Pinterest) strikes and you’re a crafter, you usually want to start that new craft project NOW. And it’s really a bummer if you don’t have the supplies you need right then.
So what do you do if you want to do a craft project but you ran out of or don’t have one of the craft supplies or crafting tools that you need? You check out my list of handy craft supply substitutions!
Are all of these exact duplicate substitutions that will be just as good as the original? No. Will they do in a pinch? Absolutely! Crafting is all about creative thinking anyway, right?
I tried to come up with as many possible creative craft supply substitutions as possible so that hopefully, if you aren’t able to run out and get what you need, you can still work with what you have! If you have more ideas for this list, let me know!
Let’s get to it!
Craft Supply Substitions
Scrapbook Paper Substitute – There are tons of substitutions for scrapbook paper. The best is wrapping paper. If you have some artsy or pretty wrapping paper lying around, just cut it to size! You can also substitute scrapbook paper with pretty much any attractive paper. Sources include envelope liners, paper gift bags, magazine pages, construction paper plus stamps, origami paper, or even pages from an old calendar or coffee table book!
Colored Paper or Construction Paper Substitute – Go ahead and print a sheet of all one color plain colored paper on your home printer, if it’s urgent! You can use any design software like Paint, Canva, Photoshop etc. to make a one page print that’s just a page sized rectangle of all one color.
Sticker Substitute – If you’re a sticker fan but don’t have the ones you need, consider printing your own with your own printer! If you have sticker paper, that’s great, print directly on that. If you don’t, print on regular paper, cut out, and then attach with a glue stick!
Foam Board Substitute – Corrugated cardboard is about the same thickness as foam board. If you want it to be white or black like foam board, you can easily paint it! If the corrugated edges bother you, you can cover them with this strips of paper or thin cardboard.
Tissue Paper Substitute – If you don’t have tissue paper, you can use crepe paper (either crafting crepe paper or crepe paper party streamers). Depending on what you’re using it for, you can also color or paint on top of white parchment paper from the kitchen.
Googly Eyes Substitute – Use a hole punch to punch holes from white paper (or a white paper plate) and then draw on the pupils with a pen or marker. They won’t technically be googly, but they will still look really cute!
Glitter Substitute – While there’s no true substitute for real glitter, consider if you can use glitter glue (your kids might have some stashed away). I also found a suggestion to use Epsom Salts and food coloring which looks neat, though I haven’t tried it.
Wood Shapes Substitute – I use laser cut wood shapes for crafting all the time. They make so many cute ones these days, from animals, to letters, to cute little signs. If you can’t get premade wood shapes, the next best thing is to make your own out of cardboard. You can cut simple shapes with a craft knife (or scissors) from thin cardboard like chipboard or a cereal box. Then go ahead and paint or decorate as usual! For more complicated shapes, you can definitely use a cutting machine like a Silhouette or Cricut if you have one. (Tip: if you want thicker, more substantial “wood shapes” and you’re using a cutting machine, you can cut more than one of the same shape and then layer them to get a greater thickness) If you’re looking for large scale wood shapes to hang on the wall for word art or a monogram or silhouette shape, the best idea is to make your own from foam board!
Air Dry Clay Substitute – If you don’t have any of MY favorite air dry clay, you can find lots of recipes to make your own air dry clay, many use ingredients you probably have in your kitchen. But you can also just use regular old white Play-Doh, if you have some at home! We all know Play-Doh dries out if you leave it out, right?
Ribbon Substitute – If you want to add a bow or other embellishment but don’t have ribbon, you can use torn or cut strips of fabric or burlap instead! Unfinished edges are very in right now for a farmhouse look, but if you hate it, you can fold over the long edges of your fabric strips and use iron on hem tape for a more finished look instead. If you want to turn your DIY ribbon into wired ribbon, stick a it of wire or a pipe cleaner INSIDE the folded over edge before you secure iron it closed!
Wreath Form Substitute – To be honest, I completely gave up on purchasing wreath forms because I’m a cheapskate. I often make my own wreaths on a base that’s just a cardboard circle. You can also bend some wire (an old hanger works great) or use a pool noodle, cut to length and then bent into a circle and taped together!
Dye and Paint Substitutions
Chalk Paint Substitute – The best thing about chalk paint is that it sticks to almost any surface, the good news is that acrylic craft paint does that almost as well. Be sure to sand first though. There are also lots of recipes to make your own chalk paint from regular house paint, I’ve heard the recipes using calcium carbonate work the best.
Acrylic Craft Paint Substitute – To get a finish similar to acrylic craft paint, consider using tempera paint (raid your kids’ stash) and cover it with mod podge for durability and a satin finish. It won’t be quite as good as craft paint but it should work in a pinch especially on a surface like unpainted wood (probably not the best solution for furniture or an item that will get wet or get heavily used though).
Paint Pen Substitute – If you don’t have a paint pen, use acrylic craft paint and a teeny tiny paintbrush. If you don’t have a tiny paintbrush, you can dip a toothpick in the paint and draw thin lines with that. Other options include cleaning off and reusing the paintbrush from a nail polish bottle or even painting with the nail polish itself.
Stamp Pad Substitute – If you don’t have stamp pad but you do have stamp ink, you can cut a kitchen sponge to fit inside a small plastic food storage container and pour the ink over that. Put the lid on to save the stamp pad for the next day. If you’re missing ink as well, then use a marker to color directly onto the surface of the stamp and then press it very quickly onto the paper before the marker dries. This works best with a wet water soluble marker like Crayola (not like a Sharpie or something).
Dye Substitute – If you’re looking to dye fabric (or Easter Eggs) there are all kinds of natural substitutes you can use for dye. If you’re dying yarn, lots of people use unsweetened Kool-Aid to hand dye yarn with spectacular results!
Mod Podge Substitute – The best Mod Podge substitute (though it is not quite exactly the same) is regular old school glue (like Elmer’s) with a little bit of water added to make it slightly thinner. It will dry clear with a shiny finish similar to Mod Podge. Make sure to TEST IT first on an inconspicuous area. Just beware, this mixture is much more likely to warp paper surfaces than Mod Podge would so it is best used on wood or other solid surfaces. Also, school glue is water soluble and won’t hold up as well as Mod Podge to any moisture after it is dried. So be aware of that as well.
Glue Stick Substitute – Glue sticks are mostly used for paper crafting projects and they are great because they don’t cause the paper to get wavy (they have a low water content). Good substitutes for a glue stick would be double stick tape, glue dots or rubber cement. You can also print designs and motifs directly on sticker paper and stick them on to your project!
Double Stick Tape Substitute – Alternatively, if you don’t have double stick tape, a glue stick is a good substitute. (Just never buy glue sticks from the dollar store, trust me). I also found this fun idea to make your own double sided tape with regular tape and a glue stick.
Hot Glue Substitute – If you need hot glue for a project, then you probably need something that is going to dry/cure super fast. There are definitely some hot glue substitutions out there but I’m going to go out on a limb and say there is not true substitute for hot glue. Don’t try putting crayons or other weird things in your hot glue gun. You’ll ruin it. The best option I’ve found is a tacky craft glue that is a “quick-dry” formula, meaning it dries pretty quickly. It won’t be as fast as hot glue but it will be better than regular school glue!
Craft Tool Substitutions
Craft Knife Substitute – There’s nothing quite like the small detailed blade of a craft knife. If you need one and don’t have one though, a utility knife can work in a pinch. The kind that holds razor blades does have a small pointed tip for cutting. The type with a snap-off blade are also nice because they have a thinner blade edge. Always be careful when cutting with any knife. If you’re working on a small project, you can also consider sharp pointed scissors!
Hole Punch Substitute – If you don’t have a hole punch (or can’t find yours) you might get really frustrated. This can also be a problem if you want to punch a hole in the center of some paper and your hole punch won’t reach. If you want to go high-tech, you could use a cutting machine to cut whatever holes you need. But if you don’t want to go that route, the best option is to find something sharp about the diameter of the hole you need. Options include a nail, a knitting needle or a barbecue skewer. Set your piece of paper on a solid flat surface that you aren’t worried about ruining and use something heavy to push the pointy item through. I definitely recommend testing this method on some scraps of your paper first!
Paper Trimmer Substitute – Paper cutters are super handy if you do a lot of paper crafts, but the good ones are big and hard to store. If you don’t have one, go old school and cut your paper with a super sharp craft knife and metal ruler. Be sure to start with a BRAND NEW blade (for safety and accuracy). And use a metal ruler (not plastic or wood) to protect the integrity of your straight edge. Also, this is a perfect place for the life rule: “Measure twice, cut once”.
Bone Folder Substitute – Bone folders are fun and work great but if you don’t have one to help crease paper, an old credit card will work fine!
Paintbrush Substitute – Need a craft paintbrush and don’t have one? Q-tips (cotton swabs) work great! You’ll need to swap your cotton swab out for a fresh one when the ends starts to get fuzzy. If you need to paint tiny details, you can dip a toothpick in paint and use that.
Foam Brush Substitute – If you prefer foam brushes but don’t have one, you can use a small square of kitchen sponge to paint with! Either tape it to a popsicle stick for a handle, or just used your hands and get a little messier.
Rubber Stamp Substitute – There are a zillion ways to make your own stamps, you can cut shapes into all kinds of materials including wine corks, craft foam, styrofoam, even potatoes. Then dip in ink or paint and stamp away!
Floral Wire Substitute – Looking to make a wire wreath form or attach something together with wire? Grab an old wire hanger! Pick one of the thin cheap ones that you get from the dry cleaner and bend with pliers for best results. You may also want to wear gloves when working with wire so you don’t hurt your hands.
Sandpaper Substitute – If you’re working with wood or even craft wood shapes and want to sand them, or if you want to sand something before you paint it, but you don’t have any sandpaper, check your house painting supplies for a sanding block first. If you don’t have a sanding block either (and your project is relatively small) a nail file is a wonderful sandpaper substitute!
Tweezers Substitute – If you need to hold on to something tiny but can’t find your tweezers, grab a pair of needle nosed pliers from your toolbox. If you’re worried about them denting whatever you’re holding, you can wrap the ends of each side of the pliers with a little piece of painters tape or masking tape.
Cutting Mat Substitute – There’s no perfect alternative for a nice cutting mat because in addition to protecting your tabletop, it also won’t damage your blades. They also have those handy meaurement lines on them. But you can use other things for small cutting projects if you are super duper careful. A kitchen cutting board is a nice choice especially if it has rubber edges to keep it from sliding.
Clamp Substitute – Crafting or woodworking clamps are handy for craft projects, especially if you need to hold something in place for glue to dry. If you don’t have a set, you can use rubber bands or you can tie the item in place with ribbon or string. I’ve also used gift wrapping tape to tape something awkwardly shaped ( a ukelele) together while glue dried. Other options include binder clips, chip clips and pliers with rubber bands around the handles.
Sewing Pin Substitute – If you’re a quilter or sewer and don’t have pins on hand, good substitutes are binder clips and these small hair barrettes. Both options will hold fabric in place and won’t damage your surface either which is great if you’re working with laminated fabric, for example.
Thread Snips Substitute – If you usually carry small scissors to snip thread for embroidery or sewing or yarn ends for knitting a crochet, a great alternative is a pair of nail clippers! I’ve also heard they’re great to pack if you’re taking your project on the road and are worried that scissors could get confiscated at the airport.
If you liked this, you may also like some of my other posts…
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- Top 5 Craft Tips for Successful Craft Projects - September 22, 2022