Quilting can be an expensive hobby – no doubt about it. There are some essentials that you can’t live without. For me, that’s my sewing machine, sewing table, mat, rotary blade, my general sewing supplies, a fabric stash, batting, threads and the list goes on and on… And we all know just how addictive quilting is! But never fear, there are many ways you can quilt, save money and not miss out on all that wonderful sewing! Here are my 12 tips for how to save money quilting and keep on sewing.
What is your favourite tip for how to save money quilting and keep on sewing?
It’s not all about getting the most amount of quilts finished in a life time. If you want to keep sewing, but can’t stretch the funds far enough, slow down! Start a hand pieced (English Paper Piecing or the old running stitch) project or finsh your quilt with hand quilting. You are still sewing, it will just take you longer to finish each project. And for extra points, hand seeing is easily or table, perfect for taking to your guild meeting, sewing retreats or on the couch in front of the TV.
Borrow books from the library
Become a member at your local public library and borrow craft books. Our local library is an incredible resource and has many craft books to browse or borrow. At my local library, there is an inordinate amount of Kaffe Fassett titles for some reason…? If the library doesn’t have the title you want, ask them to order it in for you as they will often order it in specially and give you first dibs at borrowing. Libraries are certainly a precious resource and I love looking in the craft aisle for books I haven’t heard of yet. Just remember to return your books on time so you don’t have to fork out for late fees!
Stick to your budget
Easier said than done, I mean, what even is a budget? Know how much you can spend on your sewing supplies and stick to it. If you are heading to the local fabric shop or a craft fair, leave your credit card at home and only take cash, That way, you will be forced to limit your spending to the cash you have in your pocket. Sage advice for anyone watching their money.
Destash and restash
Instagram and Facebook often host ‘destash’ hashtags and groups. You can sell your second hand fabric that you will no longer love and make a little extra money to put back into your wallet. If you are looking to buy some fabric on a budget, try buying from theses groups. Like anything, buyer beware. Some people have been known never to actually send the packages, so make sure you pay by Paypal or credit card to protect yourself.
Join a stash club
Sounds counter intuitive, but joining a stash club can be a relatively cheap option to build your stash. You will get your fabric stash hit, while spreading the cash out each month. I have recently joined the Polka Dot Tea Cotton Couture solids club and I can’t wait to get my delicious bundle in the mail next month… What? I promise it’s in my budget!
Shop your stash
Dive deep into your stash, I just know there are some forgotten treasures hiding below. Rearrange it into colour order if you must and take a mental stocktake of what you have. You’ve spent many hours and lots of money carefully curating it, so why not use it? She who dies with the biggest stash definitely doesn’t win. Use it or lose it sister!
Consider the wonders that is scrappy
Who said that your blocks must all be made with the same green print for each block. Why use one fabric when you can use many? Use a whole field of green, why not? Make do with what you have and use your stash to create new and exciting colour palettes. Heaven know I have a thousand variations of teal prints…
Make friends with solids
If you ask me, solids are the foundations of a good fabric stash. They come in every shade you will ever need, will never date and as an added bonus, are cheaper than their printed counterparts. Find ways to incorporate more solids into your quilting to save a little bit more cash for sipping champagne.
Check out your local thrift store
There has been a revival of sorts for using second hand clothes in quilting and with good reason. Up-cycling old clothing is a perfect way to save money and reduce waste. And hey, if it’s good enough for the quilter’s of Gees Bend, it’s good enough for me. I would recommend using 100% cotton materials, which is still in good condition and not threadbare. Although in saying that, many a great quilt have been made with polyester double knit!
It’s not a monster, just a frugal quilter at work! If you can afford to buy batting in bulk and have the space to store it, go ahead! Make use of those smaller piecing by stitching them together with a zig zag stitch. Make sure you don’t mix brands and materials. There are special adhesive tapes out there in the market, but as this is a ‘saving money’ post, I’m not going to mention them.
Go for quality not quantity
Good quality sewing notions will work better and last longer. There is no point buying a $10 pair of scissors that stay sharp for two weeks. If you are buying the essentials, invest in the best you can afford. And I have a similar mantra for fabric. Quality is key. Nobody wants to go to all the effort of lovingly making a quilt only for the fabric to deteriorate or worse within a year.
Think twice before you buy
My last tip is simple. Think twice before you reach into your pocket. Do you need all those gadgets that usually go with a passing fad? Is the chenille rotary cutter really worth it? Really? If you have a lovely friend with that must have gadget, ask to borrow it first to make sure you really want one. And are you really going to use that $2 a meter clearance fabric or will you hang onto it for 6 years and sell it in a destash. Be honest with your self and buy accordingly.
9 thoughts on “How to save money quilting and keep on sewing”
Frankenbatting! I love it. Quick tip: Harriet Hargrave recommends using a herringbone stitch (common on machines with decorative stitches) to join batting pieces. I have tried it and it definitely leaves less of a ridge than a zig zag. Also, don’t use pieced batting if you have a quilt top with large expanses of light coloured solids that you plan on quilting heavily. The ridge can shadow behind your quilting.
When you join batting pieces, place one edge atop the other piece overlapping by about 3 inches. Take your rotary cutter and cut up this overlap using a gentle serpentine cut. Carefully remove the pieces and butt the cut edges together. I like to hand baste the edges and medium sized herringbone stitches and then zig zag the edges together on the sewing machine. There’s no ridge if you butt the edges and not overlap.
Learn to barter your talents…i.e., I like to bind…..so I can bind a quilt for a friend…she might pay me or let me “shop her stash” for say 3 yards.
The same for cutting fabrics for a friend.
On batting, sometimes you can use old tee shirts by cutting the mid section apart….makes great soft batting…
Use old telephone pages, (old ones so the print is kinda cured and won’t rub off) for strip piecing or paper piecing old scraps…lots of mindless fun sewing
Make pin cushions or pot holders from your old UFO blocks, give them as gifts…..money saved can buy a spool of thread.
Make a small list of things you truly need and give copies to friends and family members before your birthday, Christmas and Mothers Day.
Borrow and be willing to lend the newest template or special tools you own with other quilters.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask a friend if they have a suitable fabric before heading to the local fabric store. You’d be surprised what they have and are willing to part with. I’ve had a friend who has helped me out with some coveted scraps & I’ve been able to help another friend out with some scraps/strips for a project she was working on. I was able to give more than she needed of fabrics I had excess of to slowly build her stash & my husband was happy to see it go
I need to slow down! My “stash” is like a never ending to do list. I think of it as evidence of my overbuying, so I feel this endless need to sew it all up fast!!
I’m back on a fabric diet, so that should help.
And frakenbatting- love it! Use it all the time. I hate throwing away useful stuff!
Great article! As a single mom (albeit with a good job) who lives in a country where fabrics either cost around $18 per yard or have to be imported from the US at great cost, I’m all about saving money. Here are a couple of tips:
Save on notions. A lot of them aren’t really necessary just nice to have. I love getting stuff at the hardware store which work just as well. For example I bought a large sheet of acrylic plastic there. They cut it into squares of various sizes which I use all the time as rulers for squaring up block or HSTs. I mark the cutting lines with a sharpie and when I’m done, I remove them with nail polish remover. Besides saving money, having only one line makes it easier not got use the wrong one.
Piece left-over battings. Frankenbatting had me chuckling all the while I read the rest of the post.
Use duvet covers for the quilt backings. I prefer good-quality, second-hand ones from eBay. That way I know they won’t shrink or bleed on me plus they are cheaper. King-sized one don’t even have to be pieced.
Carefully plan how you’re cutting the fabric in order to minimize waste. I use Adobe Illustrator for designing my quilts and it lets me figure out the maximum yield before I cut. The downside of this is that my scraps bin is really small.
Using Illustrator also has the advantage that I can try out patterns and fabric combinations before I buy. I only buy fabrics I know I will use in a particular quilt and sometimes I realize that a pattern isn’t to my taste so I won’t waste fabric and money on something I don’t love.
[…] is the second year that Polka Dot Tea have run their Cotton Couture Club and you guys know I love a fabric club. I fell in love with Michael Millers Cotton Couture solids the moment I first used them completing […]
I’m making a baby quilt at the moment out of my fabric stash and recycled too small jeans. The pattern is from Siobhan Rogers book