Inside: How to Quilt on a Budget
It’s no secret, quilting can be expensive; but, it doesn’t have to break the bank. I have several thrifty tips that show you how to quilt on a budget.
I have this saying, “I used to sew to save money; now, I have to save money to sew.”
That saying doesn’t have to be true! I’m here to tell you that it’s possible to make beautiful quilts on a budget. All you need to know are a few thrifty tips.
How to Quilt on a Budget
If you’re going to quilt, you’ll need fabric and few supplies. Don’t let the expense of purchasing supplies stop you. Rulers, cutting mats, and rotary cutters don’t have to cost a lot and some of them can be found for Free! The key is patience and a willingness to shop until you find the best price.
Recycle, Repurpose, and Reuse:
- How many times have you sent a bag of clothes to Goodwill or The Salvation Army? If your budget is super tight, you might want to take a second look at that pile of clothing and sort out any 100% cotton fabrics. Sort by color and look for patterns that might stand out in a quilt.
- Visit a local thrift store. My Goodwill sells most garments for $3. If I buy a 2x-sized cotton dress it costs $3. If I buy an extra-large men’s shirt it costs $3. Look for 100% cotton garments in the largest size available. Don’t forget to check the linens section. Large sheets are excellent for quilt backing and (at my local Goodwill) cost $3-$5. And while you’re there, check for quilting supplies such as rulers and cutting mats.
- Leave no scrap behind. Find a way to organize your scraps. I’ve heard people say they save anything larger than a postage stamp. That type of thinking will keep you quilting for a long time.
- Check your own linen closest. Are there old sheets that need repurposing? Don’t toss them out or give them away. They are perfect for backing, binding, and piecing. Don’t forget to shop places like Walmart. You can get a twin size sheet for about $7 that will work great for a quilt back.
Additional Ways to Save:
- Tell friends that you are looking for bargain fabrics and quilting supplies. When I was cleaning out my parent’s home, I wanted to give all of my Mom’s fabrics and notions to someone starting out. In the end, everything that didn’t get a new home, I gave to Goodwill.
- Check Craigslist. I know a quilter who saw an ad for “a Sewing Room” on Craigslist. It included tables, fabric, and supplies. You never know what will pop up, but people who are handling an estate truly want someone to use their loved-one’s sewing treasures. Be patient, ask around, and jump when the opportunity arises.
- Watch for sales and use those coupons. Download the Joann’s app on your phone and sign up for their mailing list. You will be able to use flyers AND online coupons at the same time. This makes buying things like batting in bulk a real bargain. Joann’s almost always has big sales around holiday weekends. Pencil them in so you can plan to buy big ticket items like a cutting mat or rotary cutter. I waited and got mine at 60% off with a store discount plus coupons.
- Remember, it’s not always cheaper with a coupon. I occasionally find a better deal on Amazon. Before you head to the store, be sure to look online and compare prices.
Budget Quilting Classes:
Anytime you set out to learn a new craft you may need to take a class which can be expensive and time-consuming. Before signing up for a class, let people know that you want to learn to quilt. Maybe a friend can show you the basics.
Once you’ve moved beyond the basics, you’ll want to expand your skills. There are many ways to achieve this on a budget.
- Join a Quilt Guild. Guilds are inexpensive and everyone there is interested in quilting. People share fabric, patterns, and skills. For the cost of annual membership, it’s a bargain. The best part will be the new friends you make. Most guilds cost somewhere between $25-$35 per year.
- YouTube is also a good source for free instructions. That said, you do have to search around a bit and nothing is indexed. If you have more time than money, then this is a great way to learn new quilting techniques.
- National Sewing Circle classes are an excellent sources for learning to quilt with many of the basics available for free. Study the available classes and then wait for the next sale.
Save on Fabric and Batting:
The cost for things like fabric, batting, and thread can really add up. If you save up a little cash and shop wisely, you can keep your expenses low.
- Buy batting by the yard when it’s on sale at chain stores like Joann’s. But, don’t limit yourself to these sales. You can purchase an entire roll of batting cheaper on Amazon than you can when it’s 50% off. And, shipping is free if you have an Amazon Prime membership. Bottom line – check around before purchasing. Coupon prices aren’t always the best deal.
- Save those batting scraps; they can be zigzagged together to form a large piece of batting. I find it relaxing to create a large piece of batting out of a ton of bits and pieces. If you have an Edge Stitch Foot, it’s even easier.
- While I personally love pre-cuts, the by-the-yard price for pre-cut fabrics is waaayyy more expensive than cutting fabric yourself. An average jelly roll costs around $40 and has about 2.5 yards of fabric. At a cost of $10 per yard of fabric, that adds up to $25 per yard. Yikes!
- Make your own pre-cuts. While online sellers require you to purchase a minimum half yard of fabric, most local quilt shops are willing to cut smaller amounts. For instance, 1/8 yard will give you two strips that are 2.5″ wide. Let the quilt shop know that you are going to be making strips or squares. They will usually cut enough so you can get what you need.
Quilt it Yourself:
- Lots of people like to “quilt by checkbook” but that can be expensive. An inexpensive walking foot and a straight stitch can create a beautiful quilt. If you can learn three or four quilt designs really well, you’ll never have to pay someone else to do your quilting.
- You don’t need a fancy sewing machine to make beautiful quilts. There are a few budget-priced sewing machines that work fine for piecing and quilting.
Don’t Scrimp on These Things:
There are two things that I believe you shouldn’t scrimp on: Thread and Fabric. Instead, find ways in your budget to allow for purchasing these items and then use them up!
- Your quilt is only as strong as the thread holding it together. If you’re going to take the time to make a quilt, I believe you should spend a little more on thread. To offset the cost, I purchase large cones of 50 wt. Aurifil thread thread in two main colors. My favorite is a dove gray thread (#2600-Dove) that magically goes with almost everything. My second favorite is a white-ish thread in color #2021 (Natural White). I NEVER waste thread, instead I use all of my partial bobbins for piecing.
- Invest in high quality quilting fabric. Fabrics from discount stores can bleed and fade after one wash. It would be a tragedy to have these cheaper fabrics bleed color all over your quilt. Instead, be wise with your fabric amounts and use every single scrap. Remember, those scraps cost about $10 a yard. They can always be used in another quilt.
As a hobby, quilting has a lot to offer, but the costs can add up if you’re not careful. Knowing where to save and when to spend means you can keep quilting for years. Share your favorite way to quilt on a budget.