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Topic: Fabric?  (Read 3944 times)
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« on: March 24, 2010 12:33:23 AM »

Okay, so I am having a love affair with quilts. (Truth be told, for the past 3 years, my bed has been adorned with pretty but store bought quilted coverlets)

I'd like to try my hand at sewing a quilt and defiantly had some serious inspiration from all of you. But, how the heck do you afford the fabrics?

I'm sure there has to be a more economically friendly way to do this. (i.e. I am broke)

I've seen post about thrift store t-shirts. The problem is that the fabric is so stretchy that I never manage to sew it right (despite many efforts) Hey, we've all got that one thing we can't do, right?

And I know that from time to time you can get coupons at craft stores, but it's limited to one cut of fabric. So it would take me forever to get enough coupons to make this viable.

So, the question is? Is quilting for the rich? Where do you find fabrics? And any other tips?


« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2010 09:13:41 AM »

You don't want to use tshirts, they need stablizer and tend to be more of a pain to sew with.

What you could look for at the thrift store is 100% cotton fabrics, such as mens button up shirts. I am currently collecting my husband's old boxers as the elastic is done (we live in a dry climate, so this happens long before the fabric loses it's useful life). Over the years since we started dating, I bought him tons of fun boxers - ones with glow in the dark stars, different holiday themes and general fun fabrics. It seemed a shame for them to be thrown away when they can find a new life in a quilt or some other project.

I am not rich but I watch for sales and buy my fabric on sale. I've also hit the after Thanksgiving Joann's sale the past couple years because their quilt fabric is usually 30% off and you get an extra 20-25% off your entire purchase if you drag your butt out of bed and get there before the sun comes up. Make sure you sign up for their sale flyers, both in the store and online. They sometimes have different sales online than in the store and some of the email coupons are only good for the online store.

I would love to be able to buy the gorgeous fabrics at the quilt stores but my budget does not allow. I have found some great sales online but I like to try to support the locally owned businesses when I can (yes, I know, shopping at Joann's is contradictory to that!). You also have to be careful at Joann's, I've fallen in love with a fabric only to discover it's $9/yd and at that price I might as well go to my quilt shop and get the fabric I am drooling over that I can't afford.

Blogging about crafting to keep out of (much) trouble: http://craftyjennifer.blogspot.com/
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2010 12:18:05 PM »

Quilting isn't a quick activity either.  Smiley

So... most of us quilters have the patience to wait for coupons before buying fabric!

I agree with vwbuggirlie, check thrift stores!  You might find something there.  Oh, and Joann's is having a big sale this week or next for easter.  Check out their website for store sale info!

« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2010 01:36:21 PM »

The way I started, more economically, was to use polycotton broadcloth. It can be had around me for about $2 a yard, and that way you get to play a lot with colour theory and patchwork design before you start in with the startling array of prints. It isn't exactly purist, and I'm now to the point where the difference bothers me, but that's only really recently. If you're not sure if you'll actually like it, it's a good way to start. If you want 100% cotton, go with something like Kona or some of the cotton broadcloths at Joanns (if you're in the US), which are rarely expensive, and often go on sale for 40% off without the need for a coupon. A lot of the more modern quilting styles incorporate a lot more freeform design and plain fabric like Kona Cotton, too.

Most patchwork patterns are so old, they're free. There are several good resources in the stickied posts at the top of the page - there is no *need* to buy a particular book if you don't want to. In a lot of cases they don't really provide the yardage for the patches, though. If you want a how-to with some logic behind it, rather than just straight patterns, I really do recommend Eleanor Burns' quilt in a day books. They're comprehensive and clear about why you're doing what you're doing.

I second the comment about the tshirt fabric - It *seems* cheap but by the time you get the iron on stabilizer... forget it. That being said, it is one of the *fastest* and *easiest* ways of making a quilt, because you're using great big squarish blocks.

Another way to get started would be to look at rummage sales, especially the ones starting nowish. Granted I live in a very "quilty" area, there are sometimes either a) old-but-not-worn-out bedsheets for backing, men's shirts as another seller suggested, and sometimes if you hit one just right, you get a half-finished quilt top from an old lady's attic, including more fabric.

Finally, see if there's a Stitch & Bitch or Modern Quilt Guild in your area. A lot of times they'll give you really good tips if you go for an "introductory" meeting or open house.
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2010 11:51:27 PM »

I really appreciate all your suggestions.

I haven't worried much about patterns, as I am at the library most days than not.

I hadn't thought of mens shirts, but that's a really good idea. Sadly, my husband wears the stretchy boxer briefs (lol, is that tmi?) so no raiding his underwear drawer any time soon.

I'll check out thrift stores and see what I can find as well as rummage/garage sales (they should be starting up here pretty soon)

Thanks ladies!

« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2010 03:29:10 PM »

I know what you mean! If you have a Walmart nearby check and see if they have a fabric department. Check the quality because some of the fabrics can be thin, but most are 100% cotton and exactly the same as the higher priced stores. I don't think the ones here have anything (that you'd use for quilting) over $4.44 a yard. They also sell batting that runs less than half what it costs (for the IDENTICAL product) at the higher end stores.

I noticed others had mentioned thrift stores for men's shirts, but also check out linens like tablecloths and sheets. Old vintage materials are best because they aren't as tightly woven as the newer/nicer 500 thread count stuff. Even old pillowcases can get you a lot of fabric for a little $$$.

Good luck on the quest. Oh! And also check clearance sections and remnant areas of your local fabric store.

Happy quilting!

Come see what I've been up to at
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2010 01:10:33 PM »

When you are just starting out quilting, the lesser expensive fabrics at JoAnns, Hancocks and Walmart are great.  But you will find over time that the all cotton fabrics are easier to work with, and easier to quilt.  Don't use bedsheets for backing - as tempting as it is because they are so wide - because the thread counts and textile blends make it hard to quilt through.  Start with small projects like wall hangings, pillows, or table-toppers so you see results quickly and build confidence.  This is a really fun thing to do, so just go for it!

Visit my blog for tutorials and lots of fun stuff.  http://frommycarolinahome.wordpress.com
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2010 05:10:08 PM »

My friend suggested checking out the bedding section of thrift stores, because sheets come in nice large pieces. Sometimes with fun patterns and all that!
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« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2010 09:43:43 PM »

Go through your own closet for stuff that you like but can't wear or just isn't "you" any more.  Chopchop and see what you can put together.  Also, don't try to make something big.  A lap quilt will give you the feel for the art and give you quick results.  I like something for the lap that takes one single yard of fabric for the backing.  My first real quilt is right there on the back of the recliner looking at me right now.  I have repaired it a few times and it gets loads of loving use.  I made it from whatever scraps and old clothes I had in panels.  It looks simply fantastic. 

Oh, and denim is a great place to start.  All those old jeans that are wadded up in the corner of your closet, put them to good use. 

Here's my stuff:


Are you making a selvage quilt?  I have some to share. PM me.
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2010 09:34:29 AM »

I read on another board that you shouldn't buy Walmart fabric for quilting.  I have bought it a lot as it is a lot cheaper.  What do you all think?

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