If anyone else tells you that Quilting is cheap… they obviously live on a delirious pink fluffy cloud away from reality… or maybe they just don’t know any better. The truth is that quilting can get expensive real quick… even for the most money-conscious crafter. Here are my tips for quilting on a budget.
8 Tips for Quilting on a Budget
I began quilting when my babies were little bitty. I always loved sewing and somehow in my sleep deprived mommy-ness state, I decided I needed to leave a legacy of quilts for these two precious monsters. I haven’t looked back since 🙂
(At the time) I thought sewing things myself would also save our itty bitty budget. – Nope. Not always the case. I learned to mend and fix things myself, but when you want to create a big beautiful quilt… you can’t even begin to compete with Target’s prices.
Quilting is NOT a cheap hobby, but it doesn’t have to break the bank either!
These 8 Tips are things that I try to keep in mind when selecting fabrics and planning for my quilts.
1. When shopping for fabric and materials online, bring a buddy!
When you shop online, a lot of stores will have a “spend ____ to get free shipping!” coupon code. If you only need a little fabric, it can be tempting to hit that minimum order just to save a few bucks. *hint* It’s not really saving any money. You can also split minimum yardage cuts if you have similar tastes with your friend! A lot of online stores require a half yard minimum cut. Split it in two, and you can each have a fat quarter and save a little money. Win-win.
2. Speaking of Fat Quarters…
I know… I’m guilty of hoarding these cute little-folded bundles of fabric myself. They’re so cute and seem like they have endless uses according to Pinterest. What harm can one more little $3.50 fat quarter do?
For one, at $3.50 each a fat quarter, a full yard would cost $14! Ask yourself if that fabric is worth that cost? Even at $3.00/Fat Quarter, you’re looking at $12/Yard. You may very well be getting a steal on a good fabric, but just check to make sure you’re not the one paying more than its worth.
The big chain stores will often have sales on fat quarters. I’ve purchased them for as little as $1. Granted, it isn’t the highest quality of fabric, but in small pieces, it is a perfect stash builder or a scrappy quilt.
Online stores like Hawthorne Threads generally have non-organic quilting cotton priced at $10 per yard, and Etsy sellers are sometimes even cheaper.
If you’re buying a Fat Quarter bundle or fat quarter bundle, expect to pay no more than $2.70 per Fat quarter.
3. Save all your scraps!
If it’s bigger than a postage stamp, save it. You don’t have to get all obsessive about it, but you’re welcome to as a lot of people I know are! It forces you to get creative and can make for some super fun projects!
You’re also being less wasteful and not throwing away money.
I’m going to write a post very soon about ways you can use up your scraps (even when you’re sick of looking at them)
4. Make your bindings scrappy!
I love the look of an amazing scrappy binding! I like to use 2.5″ wide scraps to make my binding. You can make the pieces as big or as little as you like or have scraps for. If you make a jelly roll quilt and have some left over… coordinating binding strips with your quilt is amazingly beautiful! Even if it is only a small portion of the binding and not the full binding.
Batting scraps is another thing you should save! You can easily zig-zag them together on your sewing machine to make a larger piece. Just very slightly (like a 1/2″) overlap your pieces of batting and set your zig-zag stitch to it’s widest setting, and sew. When your quilt is done, you will never be able to tell the difference.
I also save my larger batting scraps and sew them together to make the size of a baby-crib quilt. Absolutely NO ONE notices it, and I’ve saved myself a good bit of Money just by using a bit of pieces that I happened to have laying around.
5. Ask your friends for their Trash!
No, really… quilt room only, please. Different people have different ideas of what constitutes a “scrap” of fabric. I’ve seen people throw away good fabric just because they’re sick of looking at it and don’t want it in another quilt project. Um Hello? One woman’s scrap fabric is another woman’s golden find! If you have friends like this, ask them to save their scraps for you. You can also save your scraps and do a swap when the bag gets full. My friends seem to be more than happy to give me their garbage fabric!
6. Never pay full price for quilt backs!
You can read the post I wrote on The smart way to fabric shop and get my tips for shopping for cheap fabric! I usually find fabrics for around $2/ yard and stock up! These are my backing fabric.
I also like to piece the back of my quilts. I think it adds interest and another layer of personalized design.
This goes against what my brain tells me every single time I quilt, but the back of the quilt does not HAVE to be as pretty as the front!
It depends on the use of the quilt, but I have even used something as simple as an old bed sheet! Shhh! It was really soft cotton, and no one knew it but me… well, now you do too, but it’ll be our secret, right? Just about anything can work if you’re desperate.
7. Buy basic materials in bulk!
I used to buy packaged batting already cut to manageable sizes… but it is like buying the pre-cut watermelon at the grocery store. You know you’re paying a premium price for it.
It makes much more sense to buy in bulk at a good price (if you know you’re going to use it!). I found this batting on Amazon. Hello, free Prime shipping! A friend and I split the whole roll between us and I’ve loved having it here and ready for whatever size I need it at! If you are worried about storage, this roll lives behind my bedroom closet door, not in my sewing room. It’s in no ones way.
Jo-Ann’s also has sales on batting too. You can order from their website and stacked it with a free shipping coupon.
Another note: THREAD!
I can’t tell you how many times I would run completely OUT of basic white or black thread and have to use a funky color in its place because I was sewing and didn’t want to stop to run to the store. I now buy my basic color threads in cones from Amazon and wind my own bobbins from it as well. It’s a busy quilter lifesaver!
8. Be a pattern tester!
Seriously. Just exchange your thoughts and honest review! Do you know anyone who designs quilt patterns? *ahem* Offer to be a pattern tester. *ahem!* It’s a win-win. You get a free pattern, and you can help your friend make sure it’s perfect.
*Did you catch my subtle hints?* I can totally be your hook up for this one! I’m always open to new reviewers as I grow my own collection of patterns. Sign up to be one of my BetaStar Tester Group. It’s FREE, and I promise lots of goodies for you too 🙂
The hardest but most important tip for Quilting on a budget is this:
KEEP IT SIMPLE.
It is so easy to get distracted by the new shiny fun gadgets on the market right now. There are whole store aisles dedicated to sewing and quilting notions. All these things promise you a quilting life of ease, but really… you can do just fine without them!
I have some fancy notions and fun tools… some I hardly ever even touch. I mostly stick to my good quality basic tools, and those have lasted me years through quilting.
If you need to upgrade or you’re looking some better quality tools… invest in a product that will last.
If you’re really determined to stick to that budget, avoid buying the latest and greatest of everything!
These are the basic tools that I can’t live without:
- Sewing Machine — I have a Janome 360QDC. I love my machine. People are loyal to their machine brands like they are car brands. Find one you like at a price you can afford and be happy with yourself.
- 24″ x 36″ self-healing cutting mat (or an 18″ x 24″ to save space!)
- 6″ x 24″ cutting ruler
- Rotary Cutter
- Fabric scissors (I tend to buy good but inexpensive ones).
- Iron, You can ready about my iron and why you need it in this post
- Wonder clips (seriously, can’t live without!)
I could go on and on and on about ways to save money in the sewing room… In fact…
I even wrote a post on cheap sewing room storage (one of my most popular posts) if you need storage ideas. And also Cheap Scrap Fabric Storage ideas! Both of these posts are full of ideas!
Quilting on a budget is totally feasible. Generations before us couldn’t even rub two pennies together and somehow managed to make it work… you totally can too.
Feel free to add anything to the comments that I missed. I’d love to hear your suggestions!