There are a lot of things to think about, here are some great questions to ask yourself before you decide if you should DIY or buy your next craft project!
It’s happened to all of us, you’ve decided you’re going to make something. And after you get all the supplies and spend all of the time making your craft project or knit item or whatever, you realize, you definitely could have purchased the item in a store for less.
But today we’re talking about whether you should DIY or buy a craft project because there are, believe it or not, other things to consider when deciding whether or not to DIY besides JUST the monetary costs.
And, to make it even a little more confusing, the answer to this question will be different depending on the person and the craft project. Clear as mud? Well, hopefully I can help!
I’ve come up with a few steps to figure out if you should DIY or buy. But the first, most important step, is really a personal one. You may have to spend a little time thinking about this and it will really help if you write it down after you decide.
Should I DIY or Buy? Figure out your priorities!
Your priorities for making, crafting or creating something could be different depending on the circumstances but you really need to think about it before you start. I’m going to talk about 5 different priorities and how they play into these decisions. You may fit into any or all of these categories and that’s ok as long as you know yourself and figure out what balance works for you!
4 Crafting/Making Priorities
This is probably the FIRST thing people consider when they are trying to decide if they should DIY or buy something. It certainly is important. So, of course, figure out your budget. Figure out the cost of DIY vs. purchasing. And if money is your #1 crafting priority, then this will be an easy decision!
However, when you put some though into this you may also find that you have a set budget or threshold that will help you figure out where you fit in this category. For example, maybe you feel it’s reasonable to spend under $20 on a craft project and all the supplies but anything over that isn’t worth it to you. Or maybe you’re willing to spend $100 on hand-dyed wool yarn, but more than that is too much for you. Spend a little time thinking about this for yourself!
One other budgetary consideration to think about is that there are some craft projects and DIY projects that just cost a lot for basic supplies and tools. Think about stained glass or pottery, for example, the basic supplies and tools you need to make anything in those two craft categories is high. You need to be clear on your monetary priorities and budget before you decide to DIY or buy those kinds of projects. (An option for this kind of situation is to see if there’s another way to try the craft before you invest. Is there a friend who has the supplies already or a neighborhood art studio where you can give it a go?)
Time often goes hand in hand with money. For example, a craft project DIY may be a lot cheaper in terms of supplies, but if it’s going to take 30 hours worth of work to make the thing and you don’t HAVE 30 hours available, then perhaps in that case, DIY is not the right choice. If you’re not sure how long a DIY will take, go ahead and google, there are millions of tutorials on the web for pretty much anything you can imagine making and they can give you an idea of time and steps required to complete a craft project or DIY.
Time is a fixed supply and you only have as much as you have, so if there’s a deadline for a project or you have a very full calendar, those are things to acknowledge ahead of time.
I’m pretty sure most people stop after the top two priorities: time & money. But let’s not forget about enjoyment. Artistic endeavors, crafting, making, etc. all share one thing, that a big reason people do these things is because they enjoy them. That enjoyment and satisfaction can come both from the act of making AND from the satisfaction of looking at something and knowing you made it. For example, I value about a 50/50 balance of those two types, I truly enjoy making things but I also really get a kick out of seeing a finished project and knowing I made it.
If having fun and enjoying yourself is a high or top priority for you, that’s totally fine! In that case, maybe money and time are not such high priorities and you may decide to DIY something that may take a long time or cost more than a store bought version simply because you enjoy doing it. (This is very common in knitting).
I want to reiterate that this is OK. You are allowed to make enjoying yourself a priority. Hobbies and activities that you love make life better and richer and you don’t have to be 100% practical every second. Like all things, balance is important.
In the same vein, just because you enjoy one kind of DIY/craft, does not mean you will, or have to enjoy another. So consider this priority on a project-by-project basis!
For some DIY/crafters, a huge priority for craft projects and DIYs is learning new things (hello, that’s me!). If that’s you, you probably also don’t like projects that require you to do the same thing over and over (also me). And again, that’s OK! You get to decide what your own priorities are. Learning new things may take priority over time and money for some people and some projects.
On the other hand, other people prioritize mastery/honing of skills when it comes to craft projects and prefer to stick to one kind of thing and get better at it. This is also ok! The key here is know yourself well. If you are the first type you will probably not enjoy making 20 of the same Christmas stocking for every relative in your family, but if you are second type, that might be right up your alley!
In a lot of cases (but not all) there is a quality difference between DIY handmade items and store bought. It can go either way, sometimes the handmade version is better/stronger/will last longer and sometimes the store bought is.
The key to thinking about all of these craft/DIY priorities is knowing and understanding yourself. Take some time and introspection, this can be difficult, but once you have your priorities figured out (and it may help to write them down) the DIY or buy decisions will be easier going forward!
Other DIY or Buy Considerations
There are two other things I think people should consider when deciding whether to make or buy something. But if you can think of more, please let me know!
- Your Strengths
Like all areas of life, it can be difficult to see and acknowledge our own strengths and weaknesses. But if you are someone who is just not great at tiny detail work and you decide to DIY a entire set of tiny polymer clay foods for a dollhouse, that may not be the best choice. Just know that no one is good at everything. But again, if you know your priorities and learning and enjoyment are tops for you, maybe you still want to go ahead! If not, maybe choose a different project. Acknowledging your strengths will save you a lot of heartache down the line.
I mean, it’s kind of like, duh, of course you should consider safety. But then again, I saw a craft video the other day of a woman lighting a craft project on fire as a “quick” want to trim something, so maybe this is a good reminder. Safety should always come first and if you don’t have the right safety tools/equipment/spaces, don’t do it!
What not to consider when deciding whether to DIY or buy!
And hey, while we’re at it, let’s talk about what you should not consider when thinking about whether you should make something.
- other people’s opinions
- the internet’s opinion (except mine, obviously, ha!)
- the way you feel about a project half way through (this happens to everyone, halfway through you want to quit and think it’s terrible, finish it out, it almost always gets better!)
If you liked this, you may also like some of my other posts…