Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Quilt Class 101: My Tips for Fabric (on a Budget!)

I'm so excited about Rebecca's Quilt Class 101! Over 12 weeks, she will be explaining all different aspects of quilting, which should be useful for beginners and more advanced quilters. There's always more to learn!

Chasing Cottons

You can see her first post here, about fabric (there's also a fabulous fabric giveaway that you would be a fool to miss):

One of the things I love about this class already is that readers can post their own tutorials on the same topic. That way, other readers can see different perspectives! As a confident beginner/intermediate quilter, I'm still learning - a LOT. However, through the process, I learned that I am obsessed with having a lot of different colors and patterns of fabric in my stash, ready to be used!

I wanted to offer my own opinion on fabric this week, with a twist.

The Top Eight Things you can do for choosing/buying fabric on a budget:

1. Use your stash. I know how hard it is to resist that new Strawberry Fields/Sherbet Pips/whatever your current fabric lust is (surprisingly, so far, I was able to resist those two, but not Central Park... the purples won me over). So my point is, look through your stash (and other people's stashes) first before even buying fabric!

2. On that same subject - learn how to match up fabrics - both colors and patterns. Some of us come with an innate sense of what matches and what doesn't. I know I sometimes have problems with matching up patterns, but buying lines of fabric can help with that. Or, just lay everything out on the table and get a second opinion! =P And practice. I got a lot better - below were my original picks for the Mug Rug Swap Adventure that is ending soon (more pictures of the final mug rug on the way!) Some of them are the "It's a Hoot!" line, but not all.

3. I also know how much of a difference there is between quilting cottons and cotton fabric that you can usually buy at Walmart, Hobby Lobby, and Joanns, but I honestly use whatever I need. I can't always afford quilting cottons, so, especially for backings, I buy the other fabric. It's really up to you, though - the "other" kind (oh boy, I sound like a snob, but I'm really not) *might* not last as long, and isn't as soft as quilting cottons... but I would say just buy whatever you can afford, according to what you need. This includes only buying two charm packs, not a layer cake too because you *might need them* in the future! This can get tricky when certain fabric lines become scarce (like Bliss right now), but if your budget is important to you, you have to grit your teeth.

My fat quarters several months ago... this has grown, but I use them for many different projects.

4. Save your scraps. Once you buy your fabric (and Rebecca does a great job of elaborating on how much fabric you should buy for a project, and what kind), you will most likely have some scraps. When I first started quilting a year ago, I would generally throw out the smaller pieces. I really regret that. Now, if I know it can be sewed or appliqued somehow, I save it. The packrat in me came out, but hey, you'll save money, AND I just love using the same fabric for different projects! Plus, I love all the pictures around blogland of people organizing their scraps into glass jars - I'm going to be able to fill jars by color very soon!

5. Spend your money on the things you need most: a good rotary cutter (and blades or a sharpener), as large of a cutting mat as you can afford, a sewing machine that will do what you need it to (I use a Brother [I'm embarrassed that I don't have the exact model number right now, and I can't find it on Google] that works fine for piecing, regular quilting, and free motion quilting), and A GOOD STASH OF SOLIDS. I really regret starting without that last one. It's worth the money - go buy some Kona or Bella solids, in fat quarters or yard cuts. You will need those basic solid colors at some point. One way I'm still building up my stash of solids is by joining the Pink Chalk Fabrics Monthly Solids Club - go check it out! It's a great price.

6. Save your selvages! Use them for mug rugs, even for quilts (like this amazing spiderweb quilt tutorial from Tallgrass Prairie Studio).

7. Enter giveaways! You never know when you are going to win! In many giveaways, though, you must make sure you are not a no-reply blogger, or the blogger cannot contact you if you win, in which case, they often pick another name. See my right sidebar for the red "Are you a no-reply blogger?" button for more information to change that. Anyway, I've won a whole bunch of giveaways in the last year - below was my biggest win, a FQ bundle from Fresh Squeezed Fabrics and Red Pepper Quilts! This was the BEST addition to my stash so far!

8. And the no-brainer - look for the sales! Of course, signing up for quilt shop newsletters can be detrimental to your budget, too, but you have to be vigilant!

That's all I have for right now, but feel free to add to my list if you think I missed something!


  1. Great tips!! You can also use sheets for backing your quilts.

  2. Ahhh thank you for the great tips Jess!! AND thank you for linking up and getting in on the fun!!! I had forgotten about pink chalks club... Sounds great!! I'm going to go check it out now... Xx

  3. Great tips Jess. Thanks for contributing. I am keen to get as many tips and hints as possible :)

  4. Thanks Jess for your tips. I love fabric and have a collection but I'm now interested in quilting and having a hard time matching colours and patterns for quilts. I'm glad that it'll get a bit easier with practice

  5. Great tips. I have seen so many ladies buying sheets for backing. Just today I picked up 5 great sheets at a second hand store for $20.00. I am washing them in warm and then drying them in hig heat in the dryer. They are a cotton/poly blend but I have already preshrunk them so they should work great.

  6. Thanks, Jess; that was a great read.

    My stash at the moment consists of leftovers from the first quilting projects (we made four items from the same fabrics - two floor quilts and two change-table mats). I didn't know what I was doing and bought a yard of each of seven fabrics plus a fat quarter of five more to make a baby's floor quilt! I'm a bit tired of those fabrics now! We are using the leftovers to make drawstring bags to give away! The fabric all came from an Australian chain store; not good quality but we didn't know any better (then).

    I also have precut squares and border fabric for an "I Spy" quilt which I bought at an exhibition for charity last weekend.

    I think I'm a ripe candidate for Rebecca's Quilt Class 101!

  7. oh this is so helpful. I'm so new to quilting and there are things here I had no idea about. Thanks!


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