8 October 2013

the student makes- how to make quilting cheap

If you follow my blog you know that I like quilting. You will also know that I am a student.
Those two things don't tend to go well together. Material is pretty expensive and a quilt uses a lot of it. 

But there are ways to make it cheap or at least cheaper...

1. Be sure of what you are buying
Fat quarters look lovely, come in beautiful designs and are pre cut. Win, win? Maybe, but the fact that they are pre-cut into that nice square size means that they are often more expensive. 

Have a careful look before you commit to making a quilt out of fat quarters. Over here fat quarters retail at around £4.00. That would make a metre of fabric £16.00. Have a look around and do your maths, is there a metre of fabric straight off the bolt that could be less? Buying straight off the bolt and asking for a quarter of a metre, or half will often prove cheaper than buying a pre cut. 

When making quilts I will often choose several bolts of fabric and then as a treat throw in a few fat quarters. 

(This isn't a hard and fast rule that fat quarters are more expensive but if you do your maths they tend to be quite pricey. I suggest going into a dedicated fabric shop and looking at what they have on the bolts first.)

2. Pick up fabric as and when you find it
In other words make a stash! 
I went to France this summer and whilst looking around one of the lovely markets came across a fabric stall. The fabric was a lot cheaper than the UK so I picked up a few pretty looking pieces. 

I didn't have a project in mind but went with fabrics that I know always appeal to me, neutrals, spots and stripes. 

3. Do the maths! 
More maths I know but if you are keen to save money, working out what size blocks you want to cut out of your fabric is really important. Try and use as much of the fabric you have bought as possible. That often means having to measure each piece and working out how many squares/triangles of a certain size you can get out of it. 

It may seem frugal but you will waste far less if you take time to do the measuring first. It also pays (pun!) to be accurate with your cutting. I am useless at this and it is something I am still learning!

4. Quilt as you go
A quilt is made up of a sandwich of layers. The patchwork quilt top, a layer of batting/wadding and then the backing fabric. 
There are many ways to secure these three layers together. I personally choose the quilt as you go option. 
This means I make my patchwork top in sections. Each bit is about 12 x 12". I then cut a piece of batting slightly bigger than this and sew the two layers together. 
The quilt therefore develops as a series of quilted squares which are then put in order and stitched together. 
A really good tutorial can be found here. 

This saves you money simply because you can use scraps. There is no need to buy a large piece of batting/wadding and cut it to size. You can use what you have as you are only working with a small bit at a time.

5. Think outside the box
For my most recent quilt I had a collection of patterned material that I was keen to use. I knew though that simply using this would not create a big enough quilt.

I therefore decided to pair each coloured square with a neutral one. This required a large amount of plain fabric and to keep costs down I visited a large branch of a supermarket. There I found cheap bed sheets for around £10 in a huge variety of colours. For this quilt I used a double sheet made of beautifully soft brushed cotton.
Sheets provide a huge amount of material for very little cost. I
n this instance I cut up the sheet and used it as squares for the quilt top but in the past have used sheets for the backing fabric too.

Don't think that just because you are making a quilt you have to buy quilting fabric! I have used old curtains before as a backing fabric and cut up old shirts to use as patchwork squares.

Quilting really doesn't have to cost the earth. Build a stash, collect fabric as you go, find cheaper sources of fabric and do the maths!
At the end of the day making something beautiful is worth far more than the supplies it cost to get there.

What do you do to keep crafting cheap? 


Deb @ PaperTurtle said...

A great list of tips for creating a quilt, keeping the cost low, and building a fabric stash. You really are wise beyond your years, Abi. I use math all the time when figuring out a design and how much fabric to purchase. I love the idea of quilting as you go, and I plan to use that on a quilt in the future.

I just love the quilt you are modeling! :o)

Miss Smith said...

Great tips - even though I'm not a student any more, making thrifty choices means my crafting money goes further which is always nice.

That quilt really is beautiful :D

scrappyjacky said...

Some great tips there,Abi.

Amy said...

Your post as come at the perfect time Abi!

I will admit, I have purchased fat quarters for the friendship quilt - purely because I am a novice and am quite sure I will be overwhelmed with all the fabric. I did notice that they were dearer than the bolts and if I were making my own quilt I would definitely purchase from a bolt of fabric.

You know, I had never thought to use sheets as fabric - that is an excellent idea!

Julie said...

This is a really useful post. I've book marked it! Quilt as you go is definitely something I will try. I once tried to machine quilt a whole quilt top. Disaster!! I also now really wish I had kept my girls dresses from when they where little. Quilting and memory keeping combined, how perfect. :)

Sandra said...

Great tips thank you, and actually a big thank you too for the link to quilting as you go .... Uuummm may just try that with my hexi's :)

Karen said...

Your quilt is lovely, and I enjoyed reading the post, though I know quilting is unlikely to be in my future.

Sian said...

We have a quilting shop here, but no real ordinary haberdashers to buy dressmaking fabrics. I still miss the one I used to go to with my Mum to buy fabrics for my school sewing projects. I'm off to see what I can find for the friendship quilt tomorrow and I'll be thinking about you as I pick

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

Our quilt shop is so pricy but the fabrics are so nice! It's such a dilemma. But I have so much fabric already, much of from online fat quarter swaps that I try very hard to use it all but there is always something I need to make it all 'go together'.
I'll have to give that quilt as you a try.

Beverly said...

I so love the idea of quilting and have loved every one you have shared but I am verrrry nervous about this Friendship Quilt project. I feel bad because with you being first you will probably get the very worse one I make :/. I bought fat quarters for the project just because of the huge variety of colors people chose. I hate math (truly) and am thinking that may be my downfall.

debs14 said...

What a simple but clever idea! Never crossed my mind to use a sheet for backing - thanks for sharing.
I've also never tried quilting as you go, but a great way to use scraps of wadding. I guess that will be a good thing to do with the friendship squares.
We have a distinct lack of fabric shops where I live - thank goodness for internet shopping!

Alison said...

Great tips abi..but the maths will be the bit that gets me too,
Alison xx

Lou said...

you make quilting look and sound very attractive. It's something that i've always wanted to try and who knows maybe one day i'll get around to it x

alexa said...

Lots of great tips here, Abi - my DD is making a quilt from shirts bought in jumble sales. I have bought sheets in charity shops on which to experiment with dyes. Such a lovely series in the making here!

Anonymous said...

Great tips Abi. I'd never thought of the fat quarters as being more expensive but it sure makes sense.

Jazzie said...

Thanks for sharing your own thoughts, I prefer using different colors of Fabrics too, well it can turn out really great specially when the colors blend well together, just like what you've done they all do stands out.