The Joy of Frugal Quilting
What is Frugal Quilting?
When I was a little girl, I slept under a quilt my grandmother made out of my
old dresses. That was a very frugal quilt. There are
other ways to make quilting frugal. Quilting can be an expensive hobby, or it can be done in a
You don't have to invest in a multitude of quilting tools or patterns.
It takes only a handful to tools to start quilting. Specials rulers and
other quilting papers and gadgets come in handy, but are not necessary.
If you go a long time without using special quilting rulers, you forget how
to use them. Then you have to spend your time learning how to use them
again. At best it is a quick review. At worst, you've lost the
instructions and can't remember how to use the rulers and gadgets.
You don't need patterns to quilt. Once you learn the basics of
quilting, you will have more fun making your own blocks and putting them
together in your own unique way. (If you do want to use a pattern, look
for free patterns on the Internet or in old magazines).
This website will teach you what I call simple measurements. Once you
learn this concept, it will be very easy to make blocks that all fit together.
The key is to learn about grids.
This website is dedicated to teaching how to save money quilting and
how to be a
Building a Stash
If you are a beginning quilter go slow when
building your fabric collection (stash). As your skill level improves you may
want to quilt with fabric that is more expensive and has a higher thread count.
Your fabric should be similar on the same quilt. You do not want to blend the
Choose backing for your
quilting projects that has a pattern you can quilt from the back. Some designs have
repetitive lines that you can easily follow if you quilt your project on the
backing side. These are "choice fabrics" and are an excellent addition to a stash!
Here is an example of a fabric with a good quilting pattern. Note
both the flower and swirly lines that you can choose to follow with your sewing
machine. Large prints often work well.
Empty Soft Pick Cases
Use SOFT PICKS to floss your teeth? Those little plastic containers come
in very handy. After saving a few for storage, use the plastic cases to
safely dispose of sewing machine needles.
Empty Fabric Bolts
cardboard fabric bolts make useable portable ironing boards. Wrap a towel around
the bolt and secure it with a safety pin. Carry it with you for sewing away from
home. Large empty drapery bolts are useful for seasonal storage of
Become the "not so proud" owner of some fabric you do not like? If you
don't want to give it away, tear it into strips and stuff something. If
there is a lot of it, or more to add to it, crochet a rag rug. Put it in
the garage, if need be.
Make a small seasonal table runner for an area near the entry of
your home. Add a few seasonal decorations. Change with each season.
Display Tables and Seasonal Decorating article on Frugal Happy Families.
Pre-cut Quilt Squares
beginning quilters like to buy quilt pre-cut quilt squares. While it
is convenient, be aware you will need a lot of them. Here is approx how many
4-inch squares you need for the following size quilts without borders.
Ocean Theme Photo Quilt
Star Wars Photo Quilt
How to Make
Quilting a Frugal Hobby
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.
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.
Unfortunately, I shop faster than I quilt.
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
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, I would not put them in the same quilt.2. Save every scrap of fabric that you have. 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 clothing, make some tiny
blocks for various reasons, do some paper piecing or use them to make
2 You don't have to organize your leftovers. Just throw them in a box 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. Piece beginning quilt 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 sometimes 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 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
with your own designs than 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 using frugal
and easy blocks to make your own unique and interesting quilt is
more creative and saves money.
7. Avoid unnecessary paper aids. You can use quick piecing methods, but they are the easy ones, and they don't
require special rulers, or extra papers that cost money that must be
removed when you are done sewing.
8. 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. Last, but not least, frugal quilting is using what I call
measurements. This will be explained 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.
These are just a few rules to follow. On the pages of this
website I will be showing how to make the basic building blocks of quilting, as
well as other frugal favorite quilt blocks. You will learn how you can
these blocks and alter them to make your own design. The pages will
include links to previous or relative information. The
piecing of the quilting blocks will be explained step-by-step as clearly as
possible. Be sure you understand the beginning blocks before
moving forward. 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.