Ten Ways to Save Money as a Quilter

We are Talking About Saving Money Today!

Quilting is just like any other consumer related activity in that we are bombarded with beautiful images that make us want to buy more. These images come not only from the manufacturers of the goods and the shops selling them but also from other quilters. Sometimes quilters are posting to show what they bought (think “Sunday Stash”) and sometimes they are posting on behalf of manufacturers and shops as a sponsored post or as an affiliate marketer.
 It is easy to get caught up in this, click over to buy and then feel self righteous about purchases made (and possible over spending) because it’s for our craft. It’s for something we are passionate about and it will be made into something beautiful for ourselves or someone we gift it to in the end.
Now I love shopping just as much as the next person and if I had unlimited resources I would probably happily buy without giving it much thought. Or would I? I think all of us are thinking about the greater impact of our purchases. And if we aren’t – we should be. We should ask ourselves; how is this impacting the environment? My family? My own happiness? Rampant consumerism is not healthy for our planet, our society or our relationships. I am not the first quilt blogger to think about this. Diane at From Blank Pages wrote a heartfelt post in which she laid it all on the table about her fabric addiction and the impact it had on her and her family.
Most of us do not have unlimited resources and we need to buy responsibly and find ways to stretch our dollars. Not to mention that quilting is also a very expensive hobby.
With these points in mind I have put together a list of ways quilters can save money.

1. Shop Your Stash

This point is obvious of course. Many of us buy fabric with no particular plan for it. Try to set up your stash as if it were in a shop, such as like colours together and/or fabrics from the same line together. This way it’s easy to find things, it’s fun to look at and you can see what you have. I have bought some inexpensive white book shelves (about $50 CDN each) where the openings are like square cubbies from Walmart (even less expensive than IKEA). I sort my fabrics by colour in the cubbies of one (there are six cubbies) and I sort by fabric designer in the other.

2. Have a Pattern in Mind

When you do shop from a quilt shop have a pattern in mind that you are buying for rather than always picking up random fabrics that strike your fancy. There was one blogger I used to follow (she has since stopped blogging) who would only buy what was needed for a project. When the project was finished she would give away or sell her scraps. She never kept a stash. I am not that disciplined but if you are it’s an idea to consider.

3. Watch for Sales

I was going to suggest unsubscribing from online shop newsletters in this list so that you are not even tempted to shop. I decided instead to say to watch for sales. If you unsubscribe from the newsletters you may not know when the shops have sales. In the past I have unsubscribed from all shop newsletters though and if you are really trying to cut back that is a way to prevent some of the marketing bombardment.

4. Keep Equipment in Good Repair

Keep your sewing machine clean, follow manufacturer’s directions for your iron, get sewing scissors sharpened and generally keep your supplies well cared for. They will last longer and this will increase safety in the sewing room as well. I was noticing my rotary blades seemed to be going dull quickly. I replaced my cutting mat and they are lasting a lot longer plus cutting is easier.

A Word About Coupons:
Cutting mats are pricey. The one I bought is 24 x 36 inches and was priced at $90 (Canadian) at Micheal’s. I had a 50% off coupon so I got the mat for $45.00. When you are going to big stores like Micheal’s always check their site for coupons before you go and/or sign up for their emails so you get the weekly coupons. I know the emails are annoying but they can save you money. If you wander into the store on a whim you can usually get their coupons through an app on your phone too and the cashier can help you find it if you are having trouble. (I no longer have a cell phone – another way to save money – and I used my iPod Touch (a gift from my brother and sister) on Michael’s free wi-fi. The cashier helped me find the coupon on my iPod.)

5. Chain Piece

Chain piecing is where you feed one piece after another through your sewing machine without cutting the threads. This saves both time and thread. Before I adopted this sewing habit I would take each piece off the machine and trim the thread tails. Each new piece would have two inch thread tails on it too. I would always be throwing palm sized piles of thread scraps in the garbage.

6. Piece Your Quilt Back

I get it. When you are finished your quilt top you just want to be done with the piecing. The last two quilts I’ve made though I have pieced my backings with leftover fabrics from the fronts and/or other large pieces of fabric from my stash. This saved me about $80 per quilt. You will have beautiful quilts that you want a backing of all the same fabric for but even if you piece only some of your backings from fabric you have on hand you can save quite a lot of money.

7. Buy in Bulk

If there are supplies that you constantly use it makes sense to buy those in bulk. I buy Kona White and Kona Snow by the bolt because I am always using those for backgrounds. This saves me 20% on the fabric plus I get free shipping as the bolts are over the online shop’s free shipping threshold. The same goes for batting. I bought a roll of batting last November for under $400 (CDN) and I saved 40% on the cost of batting if I were buying separate pieces for each quilt.

8. Quilt Your Own Quilts

I’m sorry to all the long-armers out there but this is a way to save a tremendous amount of money. Spend time learning to free motion quilt and you will save thousands of dollars over the years. I have never sent a quilt out to be quilted, as tempting as it has been, because I simply cannot afford it. Custom quilting can double the cost of a quilt or more.

9. Look Away

When all the posts about what other quilters have bought is getting you down or making you feel like you have to have that too. Look away. Get off social media and go out for a walk. Wanting what others have will only make you feel bad. I never click in to “Sunday Stash” posts and I try to spend Sundays with family and stay off the computer as much as I can. Instead of being online, be in your sewing room making something fabulous that makes you happy.

10. Go to Your Public Library

I have not had room in the budget for new quilting books lately so I have been ordering them into our local public library. The library does not have quilting books that I am interested in but I can have the ones I want brought in through the inter-library loan system. Besides being able to have the book that I want in my hands for at least three weeks this is also a great way to preview books and eliminate some from your wish list. I have actually crossed quite a few off my “want to buy” list after signing them out from the library and realizing they weren’t that great after all.
I hope this post has been a help to you and I hope you will join in cutting back on over spending and consumerism. Yes, we should treat ourselves now and then but when it starts taking over your life it’s time to take a step back and implement some of these strategies.


  1. Great list, I do most them, I'd also add another item – shop around. It may sound obvious, but just because one shop has a sale on, doesn't mean their price is less than another's. Also shops can vary greatly on postage charges so by the time you add that (and any customs charges) to the fabric it can make more expensive fabric cheaper in the end. Also, I sometimes save up what I need to buy to make the postage more economical or free.
    jen dot barnard at btinternet dot com

  2. Thank you Jen! Another great point! I do that too and that's one of the great things about shopping online is it's easy to check prices. I always check through all my favorite shops and see who's got the best deal before I buy.

  3. Good tips. I love the library, and have gotten some great quilting books for $9.99 on the Kindle app (although these little clicks can be toooo easy). I also am really trying to shop my stash, piece backing to use up fabric I don't love, and stay away from online shopping. I have a good machine quilter though, who is so reasonably priced for simple digital designs that I feel no guilt at all in sending my larger tops to her. It's not even worth my time & effort to wrestle them myself for the price she charges!

  4. Hi Anne! Yes, when they do the digital edge to edge designs those are much more affordable. I hope to have my own longarm someday and I would be using that feature quite frequently. 🙂 I have had to curb the shopping and swapping this year because my husband and even the kids were getting fed up. I just finished quilting a quilt where I pieced the back and it feels good to have those fabrics put put use and not just sitting on my shelf.

  5. Another great post, Anita! I find living overseas puts an immediate stopper on online shopping: the postage is outrageous!
    I do quilt my own quilts, but find that anything bed-size is difficult to maneuver. I have yet to find a long armer here in Japan, so my only choice is to do it myself.

  6. Liked your post. On quilting your own quilts, I have always tried to do my own and the currant method I am using is what I call straight line quilting or you can also do quilting on the diagonal or cross hatching. I don't do too much free motion as I don't like a lot of quilting in my quilts…….I want the quilt to shine not the quilting.

  7. Liked your post. On quilting your own quilts, I have always tried to do my own and the currant method I am using is what I call straight line quilting or you can also do quilting on the diagonal or cross hatching. I don't do too much free motion as I don't like a lot of quilting in my quilts…….I want the quilt to shine not the quilting.

  8. Way to go! You are saving tonnes of moolah! 🙂 I have had to stop buying from the States for the time being as the exchange and shipping make it more expensive than Canadian prices.

  9. Hi Mary Ann. Thank you :). As far as quilting… of course, do what makes you happy. (you are no-reply so I hope you see this message.)

  10. Great post! I do most of these, except for utilizing my library. I'm going to make a better effort to start doing that. The thing that has helped me the most is "looking away". I got so wrapped up in what everyone else had, that I forgot to be happy about what I have. I went through my social media and unfollowed a lot of shops and designers. It's the best social media decision I ever made. They're still there if I want to go to their pages, but I'm not being bombarded by all the pretty things I don't need!

  11. Lots of great ideas here, Anita, and realistic, too. With the Cdn dollar being relatively weak, I just delete those weekly emails from US suppliers without opening them. It saves me from having fabric lust. I stay subscribed so that if I actually need something I can check out the sales.

  12. Thanks Suzanna! 🙂 Yes, I haven't bought anything from the States in I don't know how long. If there's a fabric I absolutely must have and can't find in Canada then I will order from the US but with our dollar so low that would be very rare.

  13. Great list. Unfortunately we don't get coupons over here in the UK so sales are quite rare. One thing I would add though is that you don't need every new ruler/tool no matter what designers tell you. You can make mose shapes using a 6/12/24×6 ruler if you learn how xxx

  14. HI Sarah,
    Thank you! I completely agree. Social media can really be fun but it can also really stress people out. I am happy for you that you made this good decision for yourself. We all need to work at being happy with, and thankful for, what we have (and not just in our quilting studios) and then we will be much happier people. 🙂

  15. An excellent post–having had a family of four sons, who have since grown, being frugal is second nature to me. I am going to Vancouver in late June and can't wait to see what fabric I can find there. Best wishes to you and your family.

  16. Thank you so much Gail! Enjoy your trip! I used to live in Vancouver and would love to go back some day. I'm sure you will find many treasures. 🙂

  17. Great tips, Anita! I renew my exclusive member card from Fabricland every year, even though I am generally opposed to paid membership cards. But it more than makes up for the cost because they regularly have half price off everything for exclusive members. I always stock up on things like thread, batting and yardage for pillow backs, etc.

  18. Good idea. Sadly, there is no Fabricland where I live but I did buy a membership last time I was in the city because I needed a lot of upholstery foam and it was on sale 50% off for members.

  19. Thank you for verbalizing the things that I've been wrestling with. Unfortunately (I think) my stash is really absurd so I've been on a non-fabric buying diet for a while. I sometimes look at those sales, put things in my cart and then exit out without actually completing the sale. Amazingly enough, Nobody gets mad at me. Sometimes I get a reminder that I have something in my cart and sometimes they even offer me a discount to buy it now (still holding strong, though).

    The public library is one of the places I visit most every week. It is such a great resource and somehow underutilized, especially by a generation that has grown up with "apps" on the phones that do everything!!

  20. I am sorry to read that you have been struggling with wanting to buy when it is not needed but happy for you that you have remained strong. Good for you! And don't worry about leaving things in your cart. I usually empty my cart before I leave but I sometimes still get an email that the item I had in my cart is waiting for me and this is just a feature of Shopify that shop owners can turn on. It's called "abandoned cart" or something like that and it's automatic. So just ignore those emails. What about if you were at a physical store and had to abandon your cart? They wouldn't be calling after you or emailing you saying "you're stuff is still here!" they would just put it back on the shelves. So no worries. Did you see on the news about a lady who had such a huge fabric stash her family actually opened a store front to sell it off when she passed away? Crazy! I agree that the public library is a great resource that is underutilized. I hope people will start using them more so we don't lose them! Have a great day and make something with your stash! 🙂

  21. These are all great tips. Besides the money, there is also the problem of storage and space, and the environment, especially about what will happen to all this fabric when we die. People at Joann's are trained to ask what you are buying the fabric for, and after a while I got embarrassed to say I am buying fabric for the stash. Why am I buying fabric just to store it? So now, I only buy for projects, with a very rare splurge of a fat quarter or two. Our library is terrific and there are so many free patterns on the internet that I don't need to buy books – I do buy a rare book now and then, but no need to expand my already huge library.

  22. That's excellent Shasta that you only buy for projects that you are working on. Good for you! I am happy to hear you enjoy your library too. 🙂

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