Frugal Quilting


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9 Frugal Quilting Tips

by Nikki Willhite

square in square quilt block

1. Fabric selection.

Fabric can cost over $20 a yard, or it can be purchased for under $4.00 a yard. The trick is finding fabric that is of good quality for a lower price. Quilters love to shop for fabric. When they plan a trip, they always check out the local quilt stores. I have spent years going to all the quilt shops in my area buying fabric at half price. However, I don't buy all my fabric at quilt shops. You can find good 100% cotton at fabric and craft stores. What you are looking for is fabric with a good thread count, and a good finish on the fabric. It can be tricky, because some manufacturers put a lot of sizing and other chemicals on the fabric to make it appear more substantial. Your quilt will only be as strong , or last as long as the weakest fibers in your quilt. Some fabrics have a very high thread count. Other fabrics, while of good quality, are thinner. Generally speaking, you do not want to mix them in the same quilt if fabrics look and feel noticeably different.

2. Save every scrap of fabric.

You may not think you have a use for small leftover pieces of fabric, but things change and you will evolve as a quilter. You may want to do some appliqué down the road, make doll quilts or even use them for clothing. Another use for quilt scraps  is for making small quilt blocks, paper piecing and as part of border designs. You don't have to organize your leftovers. Just throw them in a box. Depending on how you decide to use them, you can organize them later. Just save them

3.Make scrappy quilts

A scrappy quilt is one that uses a variety of fabrics, as opposed to a very structured set of fabrics. This helps you make use of all the fabric that you have purchased, including scraps from other projects. Also, when you go shopping, you can just purchase small quantities of that which you like. Most quilters like to get like a little bit of everything they like.

4. Make larger blocks

Block size is important in frugal quilting. You waste more fabric when you make small blocks. Making large blocks makes the piecing process go very quickly. No matter how carefully you cut and sew, sometimes pieces won't match up perfectly. Fabric stretches, even on the grain. When you make larger blocks, you have more room if you have to pull a little to make the blocks fit together. When you are working with tiny blocks, there is no room for error.

5. Use beginning blocks

Beginning blocks can be just as beautiful as blocks that are more difficult to make. You will make fewer mistakes with easy to make quilt blocks. Mistakes waste time, and often fabric. Frugal quilters do not take a year to make a quilt. Frugal quilting is making a quilt in a reasonable amount of time. It is making quilts that will be used, which are sometimes referred to as utility quilts. If you want to make an heirloom quilt, it can take over a year and a lot of your time. In that case you will want to use the finest fabric you can afford.

6. Creativity over expense

Frugal quilting is using more creativity. Frugal quilt often involves using your own designs as opposed to following technically challenging and expensive patterns. Not only are patterns costly, but the design can be so structured that the slightest mistake ruins the appearance of the quilt. Learning about quilting grids, and designing your own patterns makes your quilt unique and interesting. It is more creative and saves money.

7. Avoid unnecessary tools

Be selective about the tools you use for your piecing. Many a ruler is purchased by a quilter and never used. Many a sewing aid is purchased and then lost. Don't clutter up your sewing area and empty your wallet with items that will not serve you.

8. Creativity over expense

Don't waste time. Time is a consideration for everyone. Frugal quilts should be not only easy to piece, but also easy to either tie or machine quilt.

9. Use Simple Measurements

Frugal explains simple measurements with each of the block instructions. If you make most of your blocks in standard sizes, you can put aside blocks you decide not to use on a current project and use at a later time. Or, if you are in the mood to piece a particular block, like the flying geese, you can make a bunch of them and just set them aside. They not only will give you a jump start on your next project, but they can inspire your design. Remember, some of the most beautiful and well-loved quilts are made from simple squares. Some of my favorite quilts are made with squares alternating with a pieced block.

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