DIY Inspiration

10 Basic Crafting Skills

If you’re a reader of DIY and craft blogs, there’s a good chance you’ve made some things.

But there’s also a good chance you haven’t. Like my friend Caitlyn, who follows my blog, but who (wrongly) thinks she’s not creative and has told me repeatedly, “I could never do that!”

Here’s the thing for you doubters of your own abilities—I never made a damned thing until I suddenly got the DIY itch a couple years ago. (We won’t count the obligatory, painful high school attempts at “art”).

Which means, if I can do it, you can do it.

And if you really really don’t know where to start, these 10 Basic Crafting Skills are where.

10 Basic Crafting Skills via Idle Hands Awake

Get ready for a whole new world of DIY.

Infomercial over, time for the skills!

1.  Cut a straight line.

I know, a bold start. Me and straight lines…let’s just say I wasn’t meant to be a surgeon. Stephanie at Make and Tell breaks this down super simple, fancy paper cutter not required.


image by Make and Tell

Learn it, use it:

+ contact paper key rings by Fall For DIY

+ magazine paper bows by Whole Living

+ bound paper notebooks by Damask Love

2.  Make a tassel.

You can never—EVER—have too many tassels. Except for maybe crazy blue dress tassels. But you can definitely never have too many chic, modern tassels like Amy’s on Homey Oh My!.

Homey Oh My! Tassel Wall Hangingimage by Homey Oh My!

Learn it, use it:

+ giant tassel fringe rug by Earnest Home Co.

+ suede tassel bracelet by Made in a Day

+ t-shirt tassels by My Poppet Makes

3.  Apply contact paper (without all the bubbles).

Contact paper is the new black. Or marble, or wood grain, or granite, or all sorts of other pattern options. And there is no one better to show you how to put it on the right way than Fran of Fall For DIY. But be warned, you will want to CONTACT PAPER ALL THE THINGS.

Contact Paper Ladder Shelf by Fall For DIY

image by Fall For DIY

Learn it, use it:

+ faux marble plant pot by A Bubbly Life

+ colorful medicine cabinet makeover by Design Improvised

+ triangle accent wall by Upcycled Treasures

4.  Make a pom-pom.

There are many many ways to make a this most basic of basic crafts, including using a store-bought pom-pom maker. But my favorite has got to be this bulk method over on Flax & Twine. Crafts are fun but saving time at crafts is funner.

Bulk Pom Poms by Flax and Twineimage by Flax and Twine

Learn it, use it:

+ pom-pom wall hanging by We are Scout

+ pom-pom wreath by Mom Advice

+ pom-pom picnic blanket by This Little Street

5. Paint a straight line.

Mandi of Vintage Revivals has this skill down. Don’t be intimidated by this advanced geometric shape; the takeaway here is how to use paint and painter’s tape effectively. And yes, it’s applicable to non-wall painting too. Click through to become a Master Line Painter. That’s not a real thing but let’s pretend.

Painting Straight Lines by Vintage Revivalsimage by Vintage Revivals

Learn it, use it:

+ colorful side table by Hello Lidy

+ geometric pinboard by A Bubbly Life

+ two-toned cabinet by Brepurposed

6.  Make and ink a stamp.

Custom patterns don’t have to be super complicated to be super fancy. Case in point, Molly over on Almost Makes Perfect makes gorgeous patterns out of simple shapes that even newbies can do. Stamp away.

stamping-almostmakesperfectimage by Almost Makes Perfect

Learn it, use it:

+ macaron stamp by Sarah Hearts

+ nature prints by The Jungalow

+ eye print cushion cover by Make and Tell

7.  Use oven-bake clay.

Do you remember being thrilled by and proud of innumerable, totally unrecognizable Play Doh figurines as a child? Is that just me? Well, oven-bake clay is like the (slightly) more-adult version. And if you are like, Marlene, I can’t sculpt, if I could I wouldn’t be reading a post on basic crafting skills…cookie-cutters, my friends. Cookie-cutters.

DIY pineapple ring dish using cookie cutters // Idle Hands Awake

image by me (what? I can’t self-promote a little bit?)

Learn it, use it:

+ marbled clay coasters by Something Peach

+ house keys shadow box keepsake by Shrimp Salad Circus

+ clay gift tags by The Paper Mama

8.  Marble all the things.

Confession: I’ve never marbled anything. What can I say, I suffer from that very human affliction of being better at giving advice than following it. Don’t be like me, learn to marble things. Like pretty pretty mugs by The Merrythought for Poppytalk.

marble-poppytalkimage by The Merrythought for Poppytalk

Learn it, use it:

+ marbled vase by Hello Lidy

+ marbled notebooks by Tell Love and Party

+ marbled fabric by The Homesteady

9.  Mod Podge all the things.

Have you ever wondered what the heck “decoupage” is? It basically means paper (or whatever) plus Mod Podge equals so many possibilities. Yes, that ubiquitous glue/sealer/finisher from the ‘60s is still around and going strong. Of course, you don’t need to stick with the brand name. But do give it or an equivalent a try, because covering things in other things is fun. Rachel of The Crafted Life will show you how.

modpodge-thecraftedlifeimage by The Crafted Life

Learn it, use it:

+ decoupage flower pumpkins by Alice and Lois

+ mod podge chair by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body

+ glitter phone case by Design*Sponge

10.  Apply gold leaf.

When given the choice between gold and not-gold, always choose gold. Which is where delicate, magical, oh-so-gold gold leaf comes in. It’s like turning straw into gold without having to sit at a spinning wheel in a dungeon all night. It also comes in copper and silver, because METALLICS. Start with Cyd at The Sweetest Occasion’s picture frame tutorial, then don’t stop till you’ve gold leafed all the things.

goldleaf-sweetestoccasionimage by The Sweetest Occasion

Yes, ok, I want to “all the things” ALL THE THINGS. It’s not a problem if I’ve admitted it.

Learn it, use it:

+ gold leaf brush stroke clutch by Delineate Your Dwelling

+ suede and gold colorblock mousepad by Lovely Indeed

+ gold leaf bowls by This Heart of Mine


Are you ready to go forth and craft? Where are you on your journey to be a maker of things?

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  • Lidy

    Marlene, thank you so much for including me in this awesome post! Such a genius idea – gathering all these skills in a post like that :) Well done my friend!


    • Marlene @ Idle Hands Awake

      How could I not include you, Lidy! You are one of the greats, girl! xoxo

  • sara albers

    Love this round up – so informative!

    • Marlene @ Idle Hands Awake

      Thank you Sara, glad you liked it! xoxo

  • Amy

    What a great roundup!

    • Marlene @ Idle Hands Awake

      <3 <3 <3

  • PJ at A Girl Named PJ

    What an encouraging post for people like me who don’t think they are crafty!

    • Marlene @ Idle Hands Awake

      YAY! That was my intent exactly. I love all your posts for people like me who aren’t stylish. :) xoxo

  • Cyd

    Great post and I love all the projects you choose! This is really great. Thanks for including my frame! ;-)

    • Marlene @ Idle Hands Awake

      Well you were right about being the Queen of Gold Leaf! Your frame tutorial is SO good! xoxo

  • Breanna

    Love this post and how you shared examples of how to use them! Thanks for the shout out! Xo

    • Marlene @ Idle Hands Awake

      Of course, darlin’! Thank you for stopping by! xoxo

  • Marla Meridith

    This post is so helpful & inspirational!!!

    • Marlene @ Idle Hands Awake

      Oh yay, I’m so glad you liked it, thank you! xoxo

  • Chelsea

    So cute and creative! I wish I was more crafty.

    • Marlene @ Idle Hands Awake

      Well then, this is the post for you! Pick a skill and try it out!

  • Autumn

    I LOVE this! I really like making crafts, but sometimes they don’t go as planned so this refresher post is exactly what I need. Especially applying the gold leaf. I’ve been wanting to try that for a while. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Marlene @ Idle Hands Awake

      …I haven’t gold-leafed yet either! It’s on my to-do list for the holidays. Meaning, it’ll likely never happen. ;) Thanks for visiting!

  • Alexandra @ My Urban Family

    Loving posts that gather up links like this! I know most of those skills but there are a few I could refresh myself on. Thanks!

    • Marlene @ Idle Hands Awake

      I’m a sucker for a good roundup! Thanks for the love!

  • Becky @ Disney in your Day

    I love making things, but I will admit I’m terrible at straight lines! I’ve never marbled anything either, but those look gorgeous so I have to give it a try!

    • Marlene @ Idle Hands Awake

      We all have our strengths, right? Thanks for visiting!

  • Jes @MommyEnvy

    Well you got me on number 1. :)

    • Marlene @ Idle Hands Awake


  • Lisa Sharp

    Great list, straight lines are hard though ha.

    • Marlene @ Idle Hands Awake

      I think they are the hardest skill on this list! Thank you for visiting!

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  • Alexis

    Such a good post!!

    • Marlene @ Idle Hands Awake

      Thank you! It was a fun one to write!