Essential Craft Tools
Tissue paper is great for wrapping presents or as filler inside a gift bag. To punch confetti from tissue paper, stack three sheets with a sheet of plain paper, which acts as a stiffener, and punch through all four layers. It's also good for making paper flowers and pom-poms.
Tissue paper by Martha Stewart Crafts is available at Michaels stores.
Very translucent, this paper is often sold as envelopes and bags, then glued into scrapbooks to hold small mementos. Also used in card making or for unique favor packaging. Another idea: Use sheets as overlays in gift wrapping.
Make These Crafts Using Glassine:
Glassine Book Covers
Confetti Gift Tags
Paper Cherry-Blossom Display
Translucent Wrapping Paper
Endlessly useful for scrapbooking and other projects -- and holding supplies. Made in a variety of materials, including cellophane, glassine, paper, and vellum. When embellished, they make great gift and favor bags.
Make These Crafts Using Paper Bags:
Hanging Paper Bag Flowers
Paper Bag Centerpieces
Sturdy and stretchy but lightweight, crepe paper can be sewn or ironed with a dry iron. Sold in solid-color sheets (called folds), it's great for making flowers, paper costumes, and party accessories. Double-sided (different colors on either side) is also available, but less common.
Crepe paper by Martha Stewart Crafts is available at Michaels stores.
Available in countless patterns, colors, and subtle textures, origami paper is square, thin, and easy to fold. It works well in collages, and comes in a variety of sizes.
Origami paper is available at marthastewartcrafts.com.
Designate one pair for paper and another for fabric and ribbon. Don't use your paper scissors, which will eventually become dull, to cut fabric; they can create pulls.
All-purpose scissors by Martha Stewart Crafts are available in our shop.
Besides their primary function in sewing and needlecraft, these are excellent for cutting fine details. Keep them sharp, and they're perfect for making a clean cut in a tight space.
Pinking and Scalloping Shears
Prevent cut fabric from fraying by giving it a zigzag or scalloped edge. Also great for paper (they have a longer reach than decorative-edge scissors), but use separate pairs for fabric and paper.
Decorative Paper Punches
Popular among scrapbooking enthusiasts, this tool punches a variety of shapes (animals, leaves, letters) in a wide array of sizes. Corner punches shape corners and add decorative patterns, and sometimes embossing, to stationery and more; border punches do the same for the edges of paper.
Decorative paper punches are available at marthastewart.com/shop and marthastewartcrafts.com.
Also known as a Japanese punch or a bookbinding punch, this tool can punch holes anywhere (regular hole punches only work near edges), and comes with several attachments for making holes in different sizes. Hold it perpendicular to paper and press down to punch over a cutting mat.
Learn How to Use a Screw Punch
Make These Crafts Using the Screw Punch:
Mechanical Dog Cards
Screw punches are available at marthastewart.com/shop.
Cuts a long straight or decorative edge in fabric or paper. Align with a ruler to make a straight cut. A perforating blade will, as the name implies, perforate paper. Often one tool will be sold with multiple rotary blades.
Rotary cutters by Martha Stewart Crafts are available at Michaels stores.
Also known as a utility knife, this is an essential tool that cuts clean, precise edges. Excellent for cutting heavier papers, cardboard, and foam core. Not recommended for tissue paper or flimsy fabric, which will tear. Always make sure you're using a sharp blade, and work very carefully.
Craft knives are available at marthastewart.com/shop.
The best way, besides a craft punch, to cut a clean circle; much easier than scissors or a craft knife. One tool will cut circles in many sizes -- the one shown here cuts circles from 1 inch to 5 7/8 inches in diameter.
Make These Crafts Using the Circle Cutter:
Shimmering Party Streamers
Holiday Gift Tags
Circle cutters by Martha Stewart Crafts can be purchased online at marthastewart.com/shop or at Michaels stores.
This bookbinding instrument -- which is sometimes made of actual bone -- is the best tool for scoring paper before you fold it. It's also good for smoothing edges.
Bone folders are available at marthastewart.com/shop.
An easy way to protect your work surface from cuts and scratches. One made from a "self-healing" material will resist wear and tear when you're scoring paper.
Cutting mats by Martha Stewart Crafts are available in our shop.
Clear Quilting Rulers
These rulers were initially designed for cutting quilt squares. Paired with a cutting mat, it's the best way to cut paper, since the grid allows you to double check your paper's alignment. Look for one that's coated on the back to keep paper from slipping.
Clear quilting rulers by Martha Stewart Crafts are available in our shop.
White Craft Glue
Compatible with most craft materials, including paper, cardboard, fabric, felt, burlap, and even glitter, when evenly spread. Diluted glue stops fabric edges from fraying. The drying time is about 10 minutes.
White craft glue is available at marthastewart.com/shop.
Best for thin materials, since it won't wrinkle, and large surfaces, both porous (paper, fabric) and nonporous (foil, acetate). Cleans up with acetone or Goo Gone, and dries in about one minute.
Highly thick consistency makes this craft glue good for heavier items, like buttons and beads. Can also be used as a cool, safe alternative to a hot glue gun in many projects.
Decoupage Glue and Sealant
This odorless glue sets in only 24 hours and remains flexible. Joined materials can be washed, but not dry-cleaned.
Hot Glue Gun
Joins porous and nonporous materials and dries in about one minute. Fresh glue and a hot applicator tip can burn, so be sure to keep a bowl of cool water on hand while working with one. Comes in high-, low-, and dual-temperature (the higher the temperature, the stronger the bond).
Applicator Bottle and Tip
Great for precise glue application, an applicator bottle and tip will give you a thin line of glue in a narrow space. Also useful for glittering: Make dots or write in script, then sprinkle glitter on top.
Positionable Mounting Adhesive (PMA)
A paper-backed dry adhesive, this is a great alternative to spray adhesive. Turn pieces of paper, photos, or fabric into "stickers": Unroll PMA, which is dry smooth, and position wrong side of item to be glued on top of it; attach the two by burnishing the layers with a roller or squeegee, then peel off the backing to expose the adhesive.
These pincers have round outer edges and flat inner edges. Use for forming right angles or tight bends. They're great for grasping small items and for jewelry making.
See Our Jewelry-Making Ideas
Rounded pincers, which taper toward their tips, make it easy to bend or refine curves, or start coils. Often used in jewelry making.
See Our Jewelry-Making Ideas
Spring loaded, these cutters are stronger than scissors. Look for a pair with rubber-coated handles.
Use spray paint to cover items with hard-to-reach nooks. It leaves a smooth, clear coat and comes in flat or glossy finish. Be sure to use in a well-ventilated area.
Thinner than spray paint, this is used for live and dried flowers and leaves, and is good for getting into hard-to-reach areas.
A soft white nylon-bristle brush is perfect for most crafts. Brushes with a round base and a pointed tip paint a finer line. To paint a broad line quickly or to color large areas, use a flat brush.
Paint Applicator Bottle and Tip
Use this to apply paint precisely when you're making dots or very thin lines.
Look for specialty paints for use on ceramic, fabric, and glass. (You may also encounter Japanese paint, a less common variety
Opaque ink works well on glossy paper and nonporous surfaces, such as shells and plastic. If you use a paint pen on paper, be sure to cover your work surface, as the ink bleeds through pages.
Paint pens by Martha Stewart Crafts are available from Michaels stores.
A classic crafts essential, markers are available in every imaginable color and in a variety of widths, as well as several types of ink, including washable.
Markers are available at marthastewartcrafts.com.
Gel pens are good for writing in fine print on dark paper. Look for inks in light colors and white, with opaque, milky-looking ink.
Gel pens by Martha Stewart Crafts are available at Michaels stores.
Cloth-Wrapped Floral Wire
This is similar to plain floral wire, but wrapped in thread. Excellent for faux flower stems, white cloth-wrapped floral wire can be colored with a permanent marker.
A must-have for flower-making projects. Stretch and pull it to activate the adhesive wax, which will enable the tape to stick to itself.
Available in an endless range of colors, and with different types of ink, including fabric ink. Use with rubber stamps, and reink pads as they dry.
Ink pads are available at marthastewartcrafts.com.
Rubber Stamps and Stamp Mounts
Old-fashioned mounts allowed you to snap numbers and letters onto bars to write custom messages. Newer acrylic stamp mounts are clear and printed with a grid, so you can align letters and see how your message will look before you stamp. Magnetic or peel-and-stick clear mount letters can be reused again and again.
Rubber stamps by Martha Stewart Crafts are available at Michaels stores.
Transfer paper is excellent for precisely transferring designs. Place paper, coated-side down, on the surface you want to transfer the design to. Secure the design on top of the surface, and trace with a stylus. Remove the transfer paper, and a carbon copy of the design will be left behind.
Eyelet Setter and Eyelets
Ribbons and Cords
From top to bottom: Satin ribbon has a lovely sheen and ties into bows nicely.
Grosgrain is sturdy due to its ribbed weave, and is nice for sewn-on trim and other embellishments.
Wired ribbon has a thin wire running along its long edges, and can be tied into bows or formed into ripples that hold their shape nicely.
The zigzags on rickrack are fun for decorating wrapped gifts, and can be glued under paper or sewn halfway under a hem so only the rippled edge peeks out.
Seam binding is very thin and meant for binding the edges of fabric, but works well as ribbon.
Richly-textured, velvet is a more formal ribbon, and a favorite for the winter holidays.
Easily tied into voluminous bows, organdy ribbon is very sheer and is a favorite for wedding decorations.
Metallic ribbons often have synthetic metallic threads, but vintage ones have actual metal fibers that tarnish beautifully.
Silk embroidery ribbon comes in a wide variety of gorgeous colors. It's available in very thin widths, so it's perfect for tiny bows on invitations or favors.
Twill tape is textured cotton tape with a V-shaped weave, and is nice for a more casual bow on a wrapped gift.
Silk cord has a lovely sheen and is nice for fancy presents, strung garlands, or beaded jewelry.
Wax twine is food-safe and great for wrapping gifts and baked goods. It's also inexpensive and great for making cards.
An assortment of ribbons and twine are available at marthastewartcrafts.com.
Smaller and easier to handle than a traditional drill, rotary tools come with many different bits for drilling holes, precision sanding, grinding, slicing, and polishing.
Rotary tools by Martha Stewart Crafts are available at Michaels stores.
Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts
Martha's best-selling crafts book is an A-to-Z guide filled with 200 projects, basic techniques, and endless inspiration.
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