Over the course of 2020 and early 2021, there has been a lot of people looking to take up quilting, and from a seasoned quilters perspective it’s a wonder thing to see. However along with this I’ve noticed a few newer quilters comment that quilting has become an expensive hobby. They aren’t wrong. In the quilting world it seems everyone has something to sell you and it all comes at a cost.
But given that quilting was born from a need to reuse, recycle and save money, one might argue that in some ways quilters have lost sight of what is really important. I personally believe that everyone who wants to should be able to create a beautiful quilt - whether it be the first of many, or the first and only that they will ever make. That includes people who have no idea who Tula Pink is, and those who are on a limited budget.
So over the next few weeks I’m going to be writing a series of blog posts that will help you to save money on your quilting, whether you are a newbie with no gear, through to the more experienced quilters among us who might just want to re-prioritise their budget.
The first thing I want to talk about is ways to save on your fabric budget. Lets face it. Without fabric, there is no quilt. Therefore its probably the most crucial place to save coin, and the first thing I want you to do is:
Tidy your stash
The first step of tidying your stash is crucial. It allows you to take stock of what you have. If you are like me (and I know many quilters are), then you probably have fabric that has been in your stash for years. Some of which you had completely forgotten was there. You might find that you have the exact right fabric to use for that project you are working on now, without buying more. Or possibly there's something that could be used as a backing fabric. Also by having a tidy up and organising your fabrics so they are more easily found, you might find that your sewing goes a bit faster, as you aren't constantly digging through a mountain of fabric to find something that you are sure is in there somewhere and has been misplaced.
Sell or Swap
While you are tidying your stash take a good look at some of those older fabrics that you have never used, and be a bit honest, will you ever use them? It's ok if the answer is no. When you purchased it you probably liked it and maybe even had a plan for it. But tastes change and so to plans. So, if the answer is no, it might be time to release them to someone who will.
Why not try selling those fabrics, or swapping them for fabric you do like. There are groups on social media that you might be able to use to sell your unwanted fabrics (try looking at #fabricdestash on Instagram). Or swap them with a friend. Plus this is also a great way to buy fabric a bit cheaper if thats your end game.
Buying Fabric on Sale
But what if you are just starting out and dont have a stash to work with?
Here's where I'm going to really upset some people: Sometimes, it's OK to buy fabric from the big box retailers such as Spotlight, JoAnns or Walmart. Now before you get upset with me just remember I said "sometimes". I do want you to support your local quilt shop where you can. But the big box stores often have massive discount sales.
While it’s lovely to be able to buy fabrics from your favourite designers and support your local quilt store (yes we should all do this when we can) it’s also completely ok to use fabric from Wallmart/Lincraft etc, when you are on a budget. The reality is that while a quilter may look at a quilt and say oh how lovely you used all Tula Pink fabrics, most non quilters will simply look at the quilt in it’s entirety or the patters on the fabric and not realise the fabric wasn’t purchased from a quilt store. If it comes down to a choice of being able to create a quilt or not because you can only afford the fabrics from these big box craft stores, then I say its OK. Also,
Dont forget about thrift stores
Some thrift stores can be treasure troves of fabrics that have been donated from quilters who have decluttered, or who have sadly passed away. These fabrics can be old, but some are still beautiful, and moreover they can be cheap. Often just a couple of dollars can get you some fantastic remnants.
Ask for scraps
Most quilters are quite generous people. If you are really struggling to afford fabric, but really want to take up quilting for the first time, I can never hurt to ask if anyone has some scraps or unwanted fabric that you could have to help you get started. You might just find that a couple of people offer to help you get started.
Ultimately I believe that quilting should be an equal opportunity hobby, and with this series of blog posts I'm hoping to assist in removing some of the financial barriers that can present themselves to first time quilters.
Do you have any further suggestions for saving money on fabric? Let me know in the comments below!