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Sew much fabric, sew little time

By on September 19, 2008

fat quarters
photo by cottagetocastlechic

I have to stay out of craft, fabric and quilt stores. I can walk in needing one item and be tempted by dozens of others. I have considerable restraint and can talk myself down, but not everyone can. Have you ever overspent on quilting material? You get home, maybe still on a fabric high, but you can’t believe you spent so much. Building up your fabric stash can be an addiction. I used to love simply touching the fat quarters and charm packs, and into my cart they’d go. Imagine the damage to my budget if I was buying by the yard or bolt.

To buy, or not to buy? That is the question. Fortunately, the solution isn’t to deprive yourself entirely unless you’re challenging yourself to use up your stash. And you do know you should use up your stash, right?

The following are some frugal quilting tips.

SWAP: Have a fabric or notions swap with friends. If you have fabric that hasn’t found its way to a project or has lost its appeal, this is an opportunity to get fabric you might absolutely love. You can do various types of theme swaps from noodle/worm (long, narrow strips of fabric — usually 2-1/2 inches wide) and charms (5-inch fabric square) to fat quarters and quilt block swaps.

SECONDHAND AND SECOND USE:
Check garage sales, flea markets, estate sales, upholstery shops and thrift stores. You can find scraps as well as yardage of fabric. You can often discover inexpensive clothing, tablecloths, sheets and supplies, such as pattern books and notions, too.

Countless people start quilting and sewing as hobbies and invest in a lot of expensive supplies only to discover that they don’t enjoy it or don’t have the time. Their loss can be your gain.

If you have baby clothes your child has outgrown or older jeans, take them apart and reconstruct these items into quilts, too. Be creative. Look around your home, and use up what you have. I’ve seen quilts made from sweatshirts, dress shirts, ties and even medical scrubs.

DISCOUNTED: Sign up for mailing lists at retail craft and fabric stores. You’ll receive coupons for future purchases and be alerted to sales. Retail stores often offer store cards (punch cards) that will give you discounts on future purchases. If you come across a great sale, consider buying by the bolt to get a greater discount.

ORGANIZATIONS AND GUILDS:
If the dues aren’t incredibly high, you can get group discounts at stores by being a member of a quilting guild or national organization such as the American Quilter’s Association. You can also get perks such as magazines, books and entry to quilt shows.

EBAY, FREECYCLE, CRAIGSLIST: If you have computer access, you can find many deals on fabric, supplies and patterns. You can post to Freecycle.com or CraigsList.com with a request, bid and sell on auctions, or join quilting communities online.

PUT OUT THE WORD: Don’t underestimate the power of simply telling others that you’re looking for fabric and supplies. Family and friends might have items to give you or will remember your request at holiday time. They might know of someone else who has free or inexpensive supplies, too.

MORE MONEY-SAVING TIPS: Use a plastic tub or file cabinet, or check the hardware section for low-cost plastic toolboxes to hold supplies, notions and patterns.

You can reuse plastic zippered bags that house comforters to store your works in progress.

If you don’t have money for quilting templates, make your own from the cardboard from cereal boxes. You can buy acrylic sheets and cut your own.

Don’t be concerned with the fabric snobs. Enjoy your frugal quilting!

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About Sara Noel

Sara Noel owns Castalia Coffee Roasting Company, Follow me on Twitter

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