10 best craft kits for adults
From candle making to brewing your own beer, get creative with these nifty buys
Craft is no longer the sole preserve of small people with glitter glue and older people with knitting needles.
More and more, it seems, adults are seeking to better themselves and digitally detox by making stuff of one kind or another.
Certainly, when it comes to giving presents, the market for experiences is expanding fast and a well-chosen craft kit offers both that and a lasting artefact in one gift.
For many, there is something undeniably satisfying about creating things oneself, even in an era when you could almost certainly purchase a better version of the same thing online.
In gathering together the following list of options, we have defined craft widely, to include kits that will appeal to different audiences and help you learn a wide range of new skills, from brewing to leatherwork.
We have sought kits at a range of prices, with variations of skill and investment of time, as well as others that are suitable for the least crafty among us. Here are our favourites...
Paper Pattern Play, Lotta Jansdotter, published by Abrams: £15.17, Wordery
Lotta Jansdotter is a Swedish artist living in America whose lively graphic designs adorn ranges of bed linen, rugs, tableware and more; think Orla Kiely without the over-exposure. Paper Pattern Play is a 240-page collection of those designs, printed on uncoated paper and card, perforated and ready to be torn out and transformed into any number of crafty projects.
Some sheets are handily subdivided into gift-tag or paper chain-sized sections already; others are full pages for use as greetings cards, decorations or – if you’re feeling adventurous – jewellery, children’s games and table settings, as per the easily followed instructions at the back. A versatile trove of beautiful paper that will yield a myriad stylish yet simple projects.
Lego Architecture London skyline building set: £39.14, Amazon
Are you an AFOL? There are a lot of them about. “Adult fans of Lego” (yes, that’s a real thing) are a huge and growing global contingent, for whom constructing worlds out of tiny yellow bricks is the finest form of craft.
The architecture range, with an age rating of 12+, is based on the skylines of famous cities and designed to be displayed once constructed. This kit, which includes the London Eye, National Gallery, Tower Bridge and Houses of Parliament, requires the assembly of 468 blocks into an extremely pleasing 11in-wide diorama.
The instruction booklet walks you through the construction process step by step, as well as lobbing in some fun and nerdy facts – such as that the London Eye has one capsule for each of the city’s 32 boroughs. The resulting model, meanwhile, has pleasing details like a little boat that sails under a Tower Bridge that opens up. Don’t pretend you don’t want one.
Williams Handmade leather coin purse kit: £48, Etsy
This is a relatively pricey but beautiful kit from Williams Handmade, who also offer leather workshops in their Herefordshire studio. Inside the cardboard gift box you’ll find enough soft leather (in black, brown and coral) to make three small coin purses, each approximately 12cm wide.
The main hurdle to overcome is mastery of the saddle stitch, and there is practice leather on which you can make your mistakes, as well as all the other necessary bits and pieces like thread, needle, adhesive and neat brass fastenings.
The whole package screams that it has been a labour of love to put together, and would make a lovely gift. Alternatively the purses themselves are lovely things to pass on, if you can get that stitch right. A clamp can be purchased at additional cost to help the stitching process, and Williams also offer kits for making glasses cases, bags and more.
Brooklyn Brew Shop beer making kit: £29.99, Firebox
Surely the dream gift for the hipster in your life – home-brew real ale named after New York’s trendiest borough – these kits come with enough hops for your first batch of beer and most of the equipment you need to make and endless supply, including a pleasingly weighty glass fermenter. Do note that you will need to source a few things yourself; namely a large strainer and funnel and some big containers.
There are six different varieties of ale and porter to choose from via Firebox. Weirdly, there are no instructions in the box. Instead, one has to download instructions from the Brooklyn Brew Shop’s website, where there are also, to be fair, some quite useful videos on how to brew.
Wee Woolly Wonderfuls Ella Elephant luxury crochet kit: £22, Amazon
Crochet is about a million times easier than knitting and this luxury kit makes a lovely wool and alpaca elephant (approx 23cm tall) that would be a great gift for a newborn niece or nephew. This one is not for complete beginners; Wee Woolly Wonderfuls has simpler bunny making kits for those who are novices, and online crochet tutorials can be found via the company’s website.
Winsor & Newton brush pen set: £20, Hobbycraft
Turner would undoubtedly spin in his grave at the thought, but we love this ingenious little set that features a brush pen that you fill with water and dab straight onto the paints, eliminating the need for fiddly water pots. The whole thing is only about 13cm wide, making this a good option for shoving into a bag for use while travelling or otherwise outdoors, and the inside lid of the box is segmented, thus serving as a useful palette on which to mix the 12 colours together. Normal brushes work fine on the paints too. A good starter kit for anyone who is considering watercolour as their craft of choice.
Wilton I taught myself to decorate cupcakes kit: £11.57, Amazon
If there is one craft skill that will come in handy when you’ve got small children, it’s decorating cakes. Wilton have a range of nifty little kits under the tagline “I taught myself” to help you along the way, each including a guidebook and enough tools to get you started without taking over your kitchen.
It is fair to say that our cakes still lack a certain finesse (we’re not sure one could tell our easy ruffle from our piped flower), but the instructions were easy to follow – right down to the best angle to hold the piping bag – and initial results well received. Others kits in the range include cookie decoration and icing cakes with fondant.
Squid Ink Co weaving loom kit: £29, Etsy
Simple enough to be attempted by an older child but easily absorbing – even therapeutic – enough to satisfy an adult novice, this wooden weaving loom comes with five coordinating balls of wool on a range of themes (Frida Kahlo brights or ice cream pastels, for example) plus a crystal clear instruction booklet and a sweet jute bag to put it all in, which can be personalised for an extra £3.
The loom is quite small and the suggestion is simply to make a wall hanging, but the process of weaving is pleasingly methodical and repetitive, and this kit would be a lovely way to start.
Stitch & Story beginners pom pom hat knitting kit: £39, Not On The High Street
Stitch and Story make luxurious knitting kits featuring merino wool and bamboo knitting needles; a lovely gift if perhaps a little pricey to be buying oneself on a regular basis. This pom pom hat kit is designed for beginners and comes with step by step instructions as well as an online tutorial. It is elegantly packaged and the ideal incentive for anyone who has long been learning to knit.
House of Crafts soy candle kit: £17.11, Amazon
Candle-making kits are everywhere but pleasingly absent from this one are the garish colours and vile chemically scents that you find in so many others. This set contains all the gear to make 12 soy wax candles in six different shapes (soy wax is cleaner and slower-burning than the standard) with only a simple vanilla to scent them with. The off-white results look plainer than many homemade candles, but infinitely more like the sort of thing you’d actually want in your house.
The verdict: Paper Pattern Play
Maybe it is because we like a low barrier to entry, but Paper Pattern Play is the product that we kept returning to, and the one that got our creative juices flowing most freely. It offers raw materials for a hundred small and pleasing craft projects, many of which will get real usage (such as greetings cards and even the children’s skittles game), rather than one daunting endeavour that will never get properly finished. It would also make a lovely gift. The Lego Architecture kit is great too.
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