Monday, October 14, 2013

Budget quilting- a few strategies

I love quilting! I also know that is can be an expensive hobby if I am not careful. Fabric often sells for $12.50 or more per metre in Australia, and it could take at least  11 metres to make a bed sized quilt 218cm x 244cm. including backing.  That would be 12.50 x11 or $134.50. Then there is the wadding at $50 or more. If it is a bigger quilt that I can't quilt  on my Domestic Sewing Machine, add $200 roughly for the Long Arm Quilter to do their quilty magic.  So, a quilt could cost me between $200-400 without any cotton thread, rotary cutting blades or any other consumables.

If you are on a limited budget as we are, our hobbies must fall in line with our family priorities and responsibilities. I don't think that means that we can't make quilts -lovely quilts-if we are on a limited budget, it just means being thoughtful and careful with our hobby.

Here are some tips that I have picked up over the years:

1. Check supplies before buying anything.
Most quilters have a supply of fabrics which we lovingly call our 'stash". I have a stash -and this is only after quilting for four years! It takes a bit more imagination to make a quilt with what you have, rather than rushing out to buy fabrics which match the picture you saw in a magazine or on a you tube video, but the resulting quilt will be original! Recently I needed a border for the music quilt I was working on -by going to my stash and trying to use what I had, I was forced to become more inventive and creative. I think it is working! It is important to know what I have already in my stash so that I don't re-purchase fabric I have already got -which would be a waste.

2. Buy boring stuff
Don't laugh at this one! There are fabrics which make you go "WOW" because they are so beautiful, but what one often needs in a stash are fabrics which are less exciting on a roll, but more useful in a quilt. Some people call these 'blenders' and they are often quite subtle. All I know is fine stripes, small spots including self-coloured spots, solid colours in homespun, and other humble fabrics are often less expensive or marked down, but will be very useful in the quilt.
This way you can keep your fabulous fabric as the feature in a quilt without needing lots of it.

3. Buy on special-not full price where possible. This means thinking ahead -the times I have rushed out for something I needed to finish a quilt have been the times I paid too much.

4. Be accountable. I am part of an online quilting group called "Stashbusters"- we encourage each other to use what we have and keep away from the shops. I also make sure any purchases I make are recorded in our family budget -this keeps me grounded in reality.

6. Look in unusual places for fabric: I like to go to op shops where I have found fabric remnants like the gorgeous 1.5 metres of new batik fabric I got today for a measly $3. I have used cotton sheets as backing for my quilts -nice and wide and soft. I have started looking seriously at the 'novelty print' sheets from the 80s -would make a nice nostalgic quilt for a hipster or two -with motifs like Star Wars or some such. The quilt above was made entirely from fabric I found in Fremantle op shops when I worked there -and I gave it to a colleague when we finished our project.

I have also taken part in scrap swaps with people either close to me or across the world -a great way to get some 'new to me' fabrics and to make friends too.

I have a lovely friend who was given a lot of fabric from a shop which was closing down -I was allowed to pick some bolt ends -and they have been great. The only stipulation was that we had to USE them. Happy to do so!

5. Make scrappy quilts -and have lots of patterns for them.
Bonnie Hunter has some lovely free patterns on her blog -and lots of techniques for storing them to turn a messy pile into a useful resource.

Do you have strategies for keeping the cost of quilting down? What are they?