Bake Shop Basics: Budget Quilting


Today Oda May is covering an important topic – how do you enjoy your hobby when you’re on a budget? Click through for her tips.

Quilting can be an expensive hobby. Sewing machines and notions and fabric add up very quickly. Sometimes buying the supplies for just one project can be overwhelming. So how do we enjoy our hobby and still stick to the all-important budget?


Shop the Sales

This is an obvious way to save money in any kind of shopping you do. Stalk your favorite shops for sales. Sign up on their email lists so you know when the sale is happening. Join the frequent buyer club at your local quilt shop and ask them when they run their yearly sales. Put those dates on your calendar. And when you go, go with cash so you stay on budget.

Plan Ahead

It’s like making a list before going grocery shopping – you’re definitely going to spend less money that way. Many quilters make gift quilts throughout the year, which is an incredibly generous gift of both time and materials. Try spreading those handmade gifts around to avoid a big budget overrun in the months leading up to the holidays. And get creative! Maybe it’s time to indoctrinate one of those gift quilt recipients into the craft of quilting. Buy them a class instead this year and before you know it, they will be making quilts for you!

Sew Your Stash

Take an honest assessment of your current stash and use what you have. Sprinkle in a new half yard or two and it will make everything look fresh and different.  You can also get creative with dyeing or bleaching your fabric to turn it into something new if you just can’t make it work for your project.

One at a Time

Working on one project at a time is an easy way to save money. Put your focus and resources into that one project.

Charity Quilts

Join a local quilt guild or sewing group and get involved with making charity quilts. This is a great way to enhance your skills and get some sewing time in without the financial investment. And the best part – the quilts go to a good cause.


So you just bought one charm pack and the quilt calls for an entire layer cake? Get creative with the cutting Cut some more charms from your stash to make up the difference and bring some solids into play. They’re priced a little lower per yard than prints and they can certainly bring the zing to a scrappy quilt.

Don’t Forget the Leftovers

This is particularly true for precut quilts! There’s almost always a bit leftover. Stash it and save it for a scrappy quilt. Jelly rolls make for wonderful scrappy binding and you can never go wrong with a colorful mix of orphan charms and layer cakes. Use a strong unifying color like red or black and you can make just about anything go together.

Readers, how do you save money and still enjoy your favorite hobby?










24 comments on “Bake Shop Basics: Budget Quilting

  1. Kristen says:

    I look for free patterns on line and only purchase patterns when they are on sale. Purchasing a pattern for a quilt is getting very expensive also, especially when it is in a book.

  2. Barb L says:

    Go small! Mini quilts and lap quilts let you try a pattern that intrigues you and they use much less fabric. Place mats, table runners and tote bags are great projects if it’s a special block that you just have to try.
    Go slow! Try hand piecing and quilting. Hexies anyone? I try to have at least one handiwork project close by. Because they are usually very portable, if you tuck them into your bag you’ll be surprised how much you can do through the week.
    Don’t overlook the thrift shops. I love backing a lap quilt with a vintage tablecloth or sheet- usually cotton or linen. I’m collecting men’s cotton shirts to try out a pattern that calls for seven shirts. Great for the boys on your list. If you have a good eye for fabric quality, you can even sometimes find good quilt fabrics at yard sales or estate sales.

  3. Margaret L says:

    Get your guild or a group of quilters to do a small sewing room sale/swap. We all have pieces in our stash that we don’t like or can’t use that maybe someone else can, or leftovers that you will never use. If everyone brings say 3 yds worth and can go home with 3 yds of different pieces everyone wins, minimum size at least 1/4 yd. Check yard sale and estate sales quite often if a quilter is downsizing there will be bargins on both patterns and fabric.

  4. Judith Blinkenberg says:

    I will start taking your advice. I have been buying fabric for a long time and must stop. My money is almost gone. Sad but true. My credit card is about $4,000!

  5. Jo says:

    Before I head out to go on a retreat where I know shopping will be abundant, I open the doors WIDE to my stash. Seeing all the fabric I already own helps keep me in check. That, and a list of what I actually need.

  6. Lorraine M says:

    We have 15 hens and I stash the money from selling eggs. I use this to buy my quilting needs. Hexies are a great way to use up scraps.

  7. Liz says:

    Thanks for the advise! I need to use my stash more, that’s why I’m making 2 meadow mystery quilts!

  8. Diana says:

    Great ideas! I love to sew my stash and try to limit new purchases to just a little something I need to finish. My only downfall is when a new line comes out that just calls my name! Ya’ll make beautiful collections and some are just irresistible!

  9. Pam L. says:

    Good advice! Like Diana I fall in love with a line and buy. I sat down tonight and made a list of the fabrics I already have, matching them with the multitude of patterns & books I have purchased so I can sew all winter long without buying anything except backing fabrics.

    • Kit says:

      Great idea Pam – matching your stash to patterns in advance! Sort of like putting together your own quilt kits . . .

  10. Sue Jennings says:

    I try to use all of my fabric scraps. I have a Sizzix and cut my leftover scraps into strips, squares, and hexagons and store each shape neatly in a large plastic zipped wallet until I have enough for a project OR I sometimes dip into the wallets for small pieces for applique. I often sew my scrap strips together to make ‘new’ fabric. I use wool batting almost exclusively and end up with lots of scraps. I sew them together using a large, wide zig zag stitch on my sewing machine to make pieces large enough for a project. I have found that if ‘ugly’ pieces of fabric are cut small enough, they can still be very useful, especially for applique. When I was younger, money was short and even though things are much easier now, I still hate to waste anything.

  11. Lace Faerie says:

    I put my county’s library to work for me! I request several new quilt books a year. If they aren’t available locally, the inter library loan extends my reach. My library also gives free access to 150 magazines subscriptions through Zinio. Ten of which are needle craft, two exclusively quilting.

    Several times I have been the first to read brand new, newly published book! By letting my library know of my quilting interest, they are able to budget for it and our quilting arts selections continue to grow. Borrowing lets me decide whether or not a book is a good fit for my personal bookcase, saving me from spending tight funds on a book I wouldn’t find continually useful.

    I also belong to a long standing quilt guild that maintains a large lending library. We also have a sharing table that allows us to bring and take yardage, scraps, magazines and tools.

  12. Ellen Thompson says:

    Do you mean to say there are quilters who don’t do these things? !

  13. lisa says:

    Get a car cover–seriously! I have to wrestle that thing off if I want to drive to the fabric store and it’s such a pain that I go “shop” in my fabric stash instead.

  14. Hi Oda May-

    I agree-sewing your “stash” is the best advice-I (finally) used some fabrics I bought over 5 years ago just because I liked them-no intended purpose. They were perfect for a class at my LQS.

    Shopping at Church Bazaars and thrift stores for fabric and notions can save lots of $$$ and expand your creativity 🙂

  15. Rosemaryflower says:

    All of the above ideas are great! I have way too much fabric, some of it is older and maybe I do not even like it anymore. I try to donate some of the fabrics and scraps to quilt guilds or groups in my area. I know they will be used for charity quilts, and made with love.
    At present, I give myself a budget, and there is a limit. I also cut expenses in other areas.
    We need to use our economic skills we learned, and apply.

  16. Sheila says:

    I have made it a challenge, one year I made quilts only from my stash, I made 6 quilts, 3 baby and 3 queen quilts without ever having to go to a fabric store to find that “one extra piece”!

  17. Carol says:

    I recently went on a holiday/vacation trip. I knew I would be going to quilt shops along the way. So I opened my fabric cupboard and took photos of my stash with my tablet. You could take photos on your cell phone if you have one. That way you can take your stash with you, in a photo. But I forgot to take photos of my thread stash.

  18. Cynthia Scharf says:

    Buy quilting books used. I can almost always find a book I want (except for the just-released ones) by searching used books on the internet–always a fraction of the price new!

  19. Jackson Watkins says:

    I am a disabled quilter on a fixed income, so when I first started quilting several years ago, I had to be very creative and thrifty on how I shopped and collected fabrics, notions, etc. There are so many resources online to help those that need to be thrifty. My quilt guild often has members bring in loads of fabrics, books, etc. for the taking, and maybe once per year we will have a yard sale among members. Members are often exchanging patterms with one another. Thrift stores are an excellent source to find great deals if you have the time to sort through stuff. Someone already mentioned men’s 100% cotton shirts, Bonnie Hunter has a YouTube video on how to take apart a man’s shirt, and she recommends buying XL or larger, at the thrift stores, to get the best deal and the most fabric. You can also go through anything else at the thrift store, i.e. table cloths, quilt tops, blankets, kid’s clothes, and so on. I also recently discovered that people that have storing units often open their units and have yard sales out of there. The lady I was with, who was shopping for baby cloths, found deals that I found to be remarkable. Just some thoughts to ponder…

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