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Ways to Save Money When Quilting

Updated on January 1, 2013
Millionaire Tips profile image

A lover of arts and crafts, Shasta Matova enjoys making artistic, applique, pieced, traditional, miniature, modern, and crazy quilts.

You don't have to rob a bank to have enough money to make a quilt.
You don't have to rob a bank to have enough money to make a quilt. | Source

Quilting can be an expensive hobby. By the time you buy the fabric, thread, and batting, you may have already exceeded the price of a quilt you can buy that is already made. Then, you still need to have a sewing machine, ruler, seam ripper, rotary cutter and mat, and many other things you will need just to make the quilt. In fact, in a 2012 survey, quilters spent an average of $774 in the past year. In fact, some dedicated quilters have stated that they spend $2,000 to $3,000 in one year alone.

This is usually not a problem for some quilters, because the average household income for dedicated quilters was $91,602 in 2010.

The cost of quilting supplies can be quite daunting if you don't fit or aren't close to that household income, or have other hobbies and necessities that take a portion of that household income. There are many ways that you can reduce this cost and still be able to make beautiful quilts without losing the quality or enjoyment of being a quilter.

In the 2012, quilters stated that they bought the following quilting items online:

  1. Fabrics
  2. Notions
  3. Quilt Patterns
  4. Thread
  5. Batting
  6. Sewing Machines

In this article, we will discuss how to save money on each of these items.

Choosing fabric at a quilt shop is fun, but it can be expensive.
Choosing fabric at a quilt shop is fun, but it can be expensive. | Source

Buying Fabric Cheaply

Fabric is something that is required to make a quilt. It is the most common purchase for quilters. The way to save the most money is to make one quilt at a time from start to finish, and only buy the fabric you need for that quilt. Many quilters like to have a quilt stash, and while that sounds wonderful, it is work to maintain and store it. Often times, when the quilter is cleaning her stash, she finds many pieces of fabric she no longer likes because it is outdated. Sometimes she makes quick pillowcases or charity quilts to give away, and sometimes she decides to give or throw the fabric away. By only buying what you need when you need it, you will avoid this waste, and make sure you only have fabric that pleases you at the time you are making the quilt.

When you are looking for fabric for your quilt, there are several ways you can save money on fabric without sacrificing the quality.

  1. Designers regularly come up with new colors and patterns that entice the quilter. Instead of buying them when they first come on the market, you can wait until they have been around a while, and buy them when they are on sale. You may not be the first to buy it, but since quilts are made for long term use, by the time you finish the quilt, no one is going to know when the fabric was bought.
  2. Fabric is available at many different stores locally and online. You can compare prices to see where you can get the best deal.
  3. Local quilt shops sell designer fabrics that can be pricy. You can purchase beautiful fabric at box fabric stores such as Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Stores, Hancock Fabrics, and Hobby Lobby for lower price. Some people will tell you that the quality of this fabric is lower than the fabric you find at quilt shops, but that is not always the case. Simply check the quality. Sometimes the price is low only because it wasn't a highly paid famous designer who designed the fabric.
  4. Some thrift stores, estate sales, and auctions will include fabric that a quilter no longer needs. You can get quite a bargain on quality quilt fabric.
  5. To save even more money, you can recycle your clothing and bed sheets to use on your quilts.

Save Money on Quilting From Amazon

Scraps & Shirttails: Reuse, Repupose, Recycle! The Art of Quilting Green
Scraps & Shirttails: Reuse, Repupose, Recycle! The Art of Quilting Green

This book offers advice on how to save money by reusing fabric that is available in your closet, and has many beautiful quilt patterns that are beautiful as well as functional.


Cheap Quilt Notions

The best way to save money on quilt notions is to consider whether you really need them. There are lots of different rulers out there that only function to do one thing, and you may already have something that does the job. For example, your square or rectangular ruler probably has lines on it that will help you cut triangles without your having to purchase one that specifically does just that.

When purchasing notions, think about how much the item will cost in the long term. How much use will you be able to get out of that notion? For example, paper that helps you sew half square triangles have to be purchased every time you make them can get expensive. You can buy an easy angle template once and tape to your sewing machine every time you want to make half square triangles. It will be much cheaper in the long term. To save even more money, you can easily find templates online and print your own paper, or simply draw the lines on the fabric yourself to make them without any expense.

There are a lot of supplies that are associated with quilting, such as rulers, thread, batting, and seam rippers. They can be quite expensive when you buy them at the quilt store. You can shop at the fabric stores like Joann's to save money. If you wait until they are having a 40% or 50% off sale, you will be able to save even more money. Since the store coupon is only for one item, I generally go several times to get all the supplies that I need.

If an item can be used in another way, such as storage box that can also be used for tools, you may find that the hardware store will sell it to you for much less. Sometimes the word "quilt" added to the label increases the price significantly. Freezer paper that is used for appliqué is much cheaper at the grocery store than it is at the quilt store.

Saving Money on Quilt Patterns

Quilt patterns are the third most purchased sewing item. It is enjoyable to look at patterns of beautiful quilts and dream of making them. Magazines and books serve as low-calorie eye candy. However, all these purchases can get to be quite expensive.

To save money, look for alternative ways to get patterns.

1. The internet has so many patterns available, there is no way anyone can make them all. There are plenty of completely free options that are out there. Some quilt designers will offer patterns for free and give people a chance to test them out. They are usually offered in block or the month or a mystery quilt. If you wait a little while before starting to cut your fabric, someone else will have tested the step. Wait for the revised step and you will be able to make a designer quilt without losing any money.

2. Many books and magazines are available at the library. Simply borrow the book and make the quilt. You can legally make a copy of the quilt pattern you are making as long as you don't try to sell the pattern or share it. Have your friend go to the original book.

3. If you do feel the need to buy a pattern, only buy the pattern for the quilt or item you are actually going to make right now. Remember, make one quilt at a time from start to finish. In this way, you will not waste your money if you lose interest in a particular quilt pattern.

Inexpensive Thread, Batting, and Sewing Machines

The same suggestions apply to thread and batting as they do to quilt notions.

If you don't have a sewing machine, you can borrow one from a friend or relative. Many quilt shops will also sometimes let you borrow or rent their machines.

You can also join a quilt retreat or a charity sew-a-thon and be able to use a sewing machine without owning your own.

If you are purchasing a sewing machine, consider your needs, and don't buy one that has lots of bells and whistles you will not use. Also many quilters tend to buy a collection of machines. If you are trying to save money, remember you only need one. You can buy used sewing machines from thrift stores and auctions. Even sewing machine shops and quilt shops will sell used machines that have been used in their classes.

These quilters enjoyed each other's company and learned new techniques at an annual quilt camp.
These quilters enjoyed each other's company and learned new techniques at an annual quilt camp. | Source

Learning How to Quilt

There are many articles and videos on the internet that will show you how to quilt. You can also borrow books from the library or ask a friend to show you how. Quilt shops will offer free advice and teach you something quick without you having to attend a class. There are many quilters online with blogs or other websites who would be honored to answer your questions. Joining a newsgroup or following some blogs will teach you what the latest trends are, as well as techniques that can make certain aspects of quilting easier.

Attending a group charity event will help you learn how to quilt. You will get instructions to make an easy quilt and will be around experienced quilters who can answer your questions.

If you don't have a sewing machine, a class will be a great way for you to get instructions and borrow a machine at the same time. In this way, you will be sure you have enough of an interest in quilting to buy a machine, and will get a chance to try out a machine to see which features are important to you.

Rules for Saving Money On Quilting

  • Finish what you start. Unfinished quilts cannot be used, take up room, and drain your energy.
  • Don't get a stash. Buy only what you need for your quilt project.
  • Shop around for sales.
  • Be creative in thinking of ways of saving money. Use what you have.

Comments: "Ways to Save Money When Quilting"

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    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      It is true that the cost isn't the main factor in making a quilt, HO, it has more to do with the enjoyment and the beauty. It usually does cost more to make a quilt than to buy one off the shelf. But it does help to keep the costs at a reasonable level, so you can afford to keep making more of these beautiful works of art.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      6 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      The love of and passion for the art must surely transcend the cost...even so, you've done a masterful job of presenting frugal advice regarding this creative activity. Thank you for sharing. Looks like you're off to a great start in the new year. Aloha!

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      Thank you for your advice kschimmel. You're right, deteriorating thread would be a disaster. Deteriorating fabric is also not helpful.

    • kschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel 

      6 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      Just a caution: don't use very old thread. Save money on new thread by buying in bulk from a dressmaker supplier or in larger cones. Thread from grandma's attic might have lost its strength and resilience. It would be a shame for thread to break after so much work has gone into a quilt.


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