Scrappy Challenge To Myself

The other day someone commented to me, that they thought my idea of using up my scraps before I purchased any more fabric, was an entertaining though for them. Now this is not a judgement towards this person, on the contrary, I found much truth in her insight that “scraps” tend to spawn more scraps. Isn’t it funny how that works?

However with the said, I am normally, one of the most frugal quilters you will ever meet. I was raised to cut up old clothing (regardless of the fiber content) for quilt pieces. Old falling apart blankets can and should be re-sandwiched into another quilt instead of purchasing new batting.

Baby Quilt

This is a baby quilt that my grandmother made for me when I was born. Please notice the blanket that was used for batting.

Old sheets make great backings or new sheets purchased at the local 5 & Dime work brilliantly at a fraction of the fabric store prices. We only purchased what we needed for each project and any left over scraps would get put away fro the next project. The women in my family lived by the creed: Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without! The women in my family were masters of recycling. The truth of the matter is I never purchased fabric from a fabric store for the purpose of quilting until 5 years ago when I made my underground railroad quilt.

Underground Railroad

My first quilt store fabric quilt. Made approximately 30 years after I started quilting.

The whole time I was picking out fabrics, I was thinking that it was down right ridiculous that I, or anyone, would spend so much money to make a quilt. So the comment that was made to me the other day, which was very well meaning, caused me to think of how frugal can a person be when quilting in todays world?

So I am going to set a challenge for myself for the rest of the year and there will be only 3 exceptions. Here is my challenge to myself:

  1. To only quilt with the fabric that I have on hand.
  2. If I feel that I have to purchase anything pertaining to the quilt, such as batting or backing, I will do so a frugally as possible. This means that I will have to either purchase “new” fabric that is on sale for 50% off or more or I will have to visit my local thrift store for 100% cotton sheets.

My exceptions are these:
I already have plans in place to make 3 quilts by December and they will be from store fabrics. These quilts are for my new grandson, who is due to be born in January, and one each for my grandson Marcus and my soon to be grandson, Reid. I would like for both 6 year old boys to have quilts of their own so they do not feel left out when their new brother arrives.
However, I will purchase only the fabric that I need for each project, no extra yardage cut, and I will purchase all the fabric that I need at discounted prices. I will not pay full price for anything.

I will also keep a running total on everything that I purchase and it will be visible on my “Quilting Challenge” page. As I purchase anything for quilting, I will add the date, what the item is, and how much I paid for it. I will do this for the next 6 months with the start date being immediately and the end date being February 4, 2018.

With that said, I will be purchasing fabrics for sewing clothing for my husband and myself during the next 6 months. Again I will be purchasing exactly the yardage that I need for each project and I will be saving all scraps to re-fill my shoe boxes for next years stash of fabrics.

So there is my challenge to myself, lets hope I can achieve my goal for very little money and very little left over fabric.

Happy creating!

10 thoughts on “Scrappy Challenge To Myself

  1. That’s a good goal. I would never be able to buy “exact yardage,” though, as I don’t use patterns. So I don’t know what the needed yardage will be. Still, I tend to be more frugal than many quilters I know. My stash size is pretty stable through time, and I always go to it first, not the store. Shopping is not a big pleasure for me as it is for some people, and I get a little anxious when my stash exceeds the size I think it should be. Those are strong enough constraints for me.

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  2. good luck! as a hand quilter I never like using bed sheets for backings – I did try them a time or two years ago but found them hard to quilt through – if you just do machine quilting maybe that doesn’t happen. I find bed sheets to have gone up in price so much though and wouldn’t want to buy one used as who knows how old they are – I have had bed sheets rip after awhile as I tend to use them for years before I toss.

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    • The trick to hand quilting when using using bed sheets as a backing Karen, is to use a 100% cotton, low thread count. It can be tricky to find them in this day of microfiber, but some places still do have them. I have never had a bed sheet rip on me yet (fingers crossed). We use to use Martha Stewart sheets way back when and they worked GREAT! I haven’t purchased any of her bedding since the 1980’s though, so I don’t know if they are still good for backings, but I will look into it and report any new and pertinent information that I discover.


    • yes on line – I get from various places – Connecting Threads , Craftsy has a little bit but not many, Backside Fabrics specializes in them, Hancocks of Paducah has a lot. I think the Fat Quarter Shop and Missouri Star Quilt Company has them too. I look all over on line and then get the best prices for me. Sometimes instead if wide backs I can find a really good fabric on sale I just go ahead and get 9 yards and sew three long strips together – I find a lot of my backings that way on sale for $3-5 a yard and use them for backs – a pain in the butt to sew them together but it works and doesn’t cost a lot. I do all my fabric shopping on line as I have no quilt shop near me – in all directions they are at least 85 to 100 miles from me.

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  3. Thank you for shop names Karen. Many of them I know of already, but I will make it a point to look at all the other ones you mentioned. I recently purchased sale fabric from Connecting Threads for just under $4.00 a yard. Once I sew it together, I will have a twin size quilt backing for under $20.00. This is a fantastic price compared to the $36.00 I spent a quilt store for the backing to the Dutch Windmill baby quilt I made.


  4. I have been working through scraps since I finished the two wedding quilts last fall. I nearly always go scrappy with my quilting, just because it makes sense. I might buy a yard here and there (usually it’s for binding!) but most of my new fabrics come in the form of gifts. 😄 However, I do get a little out of hand when sewing major items….😳

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