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Tips from the Thrifty Quilter Archive

Want to know how to save money, save time, and help the environment? Just ask a quilter. Quilters are clever, innovative and environmentally conscious. They’re the ultimate recyclers. For centuries, they’ve been turning little throwaway fabric scraps into bed coverings that are both beautiful and practical. They’ve created showstopping applique designs with cereal-box templates and made spirit-lifting quilts out of grain sacks.

Today, we’re still looking for ways to spend our money-and our resources-wisely. So if you have tips you’d like to share, send them to the Thrifty Quilter at
thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

Previous Tips ~

Scrappy treats! Having a quilter in the house at Halloween time is a definite plus. Mummy wrappings, gypsy kerchiefs and the makings of umpteen one-of-a-kind costumes can be found in fabric stashes of resident quilters. Scrap bags are a great resource for making trick-or-treat bags. There’s no cheaper trick-or-treat bag than a brown paper sack with glued-on spooky shapes cut from scraps. Let the kids join in the fun by having them help decorate their own bags. It’s an activity that even the youngest family members can do, and there will be no mistaking whose bag of treats is whose when the kids have their own personalized bags. Of course, you can make a sturdier bag by folding a fat quarter in half, stitching two sides and adding a couple of straps. Use Halloween colors of black, orange, yellow or purple, or make the bag coordinate with the costume.

So, this year, convince the kids that there‘s no need to spend good money buying Halloween costumes and bags when Mom or Grandma can do a little hocus-pocus and make Halloween magic with her fabric stash.

Thanks to all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

 

It's a family affair! Some people don’t even begin thinking about the holidays until the calendar turns to December. After all, you can get all your family’s gifts and decorations bought in just a weekend if you put your mind to it. But if you’re a quilter, preparation for the holidays starts weeks or months before December 1st. It’s a practical matter, because making gifts and decorations can cost far less than buying them, yet it’s more than practicality that motivates quilters to start their holiday projects in advance. We quilters all understand the satisfaction that comes from creating something with our own hands for someone that we love and the joy of seeing the pleasure that a handmade gift can bring. We’re giving gifts from the heart that will be cherished, and making decorations that will be passed down through the generations.

If you’re sewing pillows, for holiday gifts or for decorating your home, try this tip sent to us by Kyle:

"When making pillows, I like to buy used shirts—garage sales or second-hand shops are great resources—or use my own old shirt fronts. The buttons and buttonholes are already made and there for me! All I do is cut my square or rectangle with the buttonhole placket placed where I want it to land on the back of the pillow, allowing for the seam." Kyle

Thanks to Kyle and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.


Warm and Cozy! It’s that comfy, cozy, time of year, and when it comes to cozy fabrics, you can’t beat flannel. Soft and cozy utility quilts can be made from the guys’ recycled flannel shirts and the kids’ p.j.’s. Elaine tells us of her money-saving way of making flannel baby quilts:

"Every Christmas, I use quilter’s flannel to make pajamas for my grandchildren. I cut the leftover scraps into 5-1/2" squares, and save them in a tub. When I need a baby quilt, I arrange these squares into 7 x 9 rectangles; add a border; put cotton on the back, batting between; and quilt." Elaine

When working with flannel, there are a few tips to keep in mind. Since flannels are a looser weave and lower thread count than regular quilt-weight cotton, there will be more shrinkage. So you may want to wash before sewing, especially if you’re combining the flannel with regular cotton. Because of the looser weave, flannel will also stretch more, so press gently, and add a few more pins when piecing, especially when sewing on the bias.

Flannel lends itself to simple pieced designs and large-scale patches, such as squares, rectangles and triangles. Since stitches will sink into the nap of the flannel, simple quilting is also recommended. Tying is a great choice for flannel quilts. And you don’t necessarily need batting when top and backing are made from thick, cozy flannel. For a quick and easy project that’s sure to bring comfort and warmth to someone special, give flannel a try.

Thanks to Elaine and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

Color blending. When it comes to choosing colors for a quilt, Jinny Beyer is a master. Jinny teaches that you can use any colors together in a quilt if you blend from one color to the other, focusing on color shading and value. If you wanted to blend from yellow to blue, you could choose yellow/greens, greens and blue/greens in a range of lights and darks. By using just the scraps you have on hand, you can make a harmonious quilt by color blending. If you need to replenish your"stash, check out our Bali Blenders, with fabrics blended from pale to deep dark within a variety of color ranges.

Making a quilt using this color-blending system is so much easier when you have all your fabrics, including scraps, carefully sorted. Allison and Lorettatell us about sorting their fabrics:

"I recently purchased a drawer system from a friend. Her woodworking husband built her new units out of nice wood for her sewing room… Her castoffs were my upgrade from overflowing baskets! I’m a happy camper and have used scraps each day since they were sorted and organized. I've been able to finish several table runners and found fabric that helped complete projects waiting for the perfect little snip of something to be finished." Allison

"I save the dry cat food containers that I purchase at Sam’s or Costco. They are clear plastic with a snap-on lid and are perfect for storing fabric and stacking on the shelf." Loretta

Thanks to Allison, Loretta and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money- or time-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter
at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

Easy does it! Nowadays, when people are watching every penny they spend, home decorating can rank low on the priority list. But that doesn’t have to be the case. If you can sew, you can update your decor at very little expense. You don’t need to paper the walls, reupholster the furniture or buy a new rug to freshen the look of a room. Sew up a few throw pillows in today’s contemporary fabric combinations, and you’ll be amazed at the difference it can make.

Lots of the contemporary quilts we’ve been seeing are super-simple to do, made from large rectangles and squares or big, easy-to-applique shapes. If you’ve got a stash, you can pull fabrics from your collection and combine them in today’s popular color combinations, mixing with a few new prints if you like. Check out catalogs, magazines and department stores for the lastest in home decor, then head to your sewing machine to interpret that modern look in your own thrifty way.

Thanks to all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

For quilters, Labor Day seems to mark the start of the holiday season. After all, you have to start sewing now, so you won’t be burning the midnight oil when Santa is sliding down the chimney. By making your own gifts, you’ll be saving lots of money. If you’d like to save even more money during the holidays, check the following tips from our customers.

"I use the microwaveable, individual vegetable containers to make ‘cupcake’ pincushions. I will give them as gifts in our quilt group’s gift-bag exchange. Very cute, and the little bowls are shaped just like a muffin tin. This is better than tossing them in the landfill, don’t you think?" Charlotte

"Greeting cards and note cards your friends will love can be made with your leftover scraps. I save fabric scraps from my projects, then with adhesive, such as Steam-A-Seam®, I use them as appliques for blank note cards. Sometimes I just adhere various scraps on, overlapping them. Sometimes I make designs such as hearts. If you have a leftover small quilt block, this works. Except for the blank purchased note cards and envelopes and adhesive, my note cards don’t cost a penny." Alice

"Whenever I square-up pieces of fabric, I save the leftover strips and use them for wrapping packages or tying whatever needs to be tied, such as making your own fat-quarter pack for a gift. You’d be surprised how they accumulate and add color to your gift packages." Susie

"When giving a quilt as a gift, I use those boxes that copy paper comes in (the kind with the lid that fits over the top). I use spray adhesive to cover it with fabric leftover from the quilt… When I don’t have enough fabric left over to cover the box and the lid, I cover the box with muslin and the lid with fabric. When using the muslin or light-colored fabric, I also need batting scraps, so the design of the box does not show through." Dottie

Thanks to Charlotte, Alice, Suzie, Dottie and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

New Hampshire poet and author Donald Hall once wrote a book about New England farm life entitled String Too Short to Be Saved. Quilters have asked themselves (especially during lean economic times, how small a piece of fabric can be before it’s considered a "scrap too small to be saved." Scraps of fabric that onequilter might toss in the wastebasket are precious commodities to those who make landscapes and miniatures.

The next time you contemplate tossing away a scrap, consider the following tips from our customers.

"I keep an empty Kleenex® box next to my cutting mat to drop scraps into. I leave the scraps in and stack the boxes in the closet (neat and tidy and out of the way). When I’m ready to start a new applique project, it’s fun to open a box or two and imagine all the possibilities." Val

"I love to applique, and when I make a pieced quilt, I take all those corners cut from Flying Geese or Snowballs and sew them together at the end of my quilting day. (Or you can put them in a small box.) I immediately have half-square triangles to put into a scrap or miniature quilt. As for the applique, these can also be used for those small pieces that you just don’t have fabric of a certain color. Also when I have those narrow cut-away excess strips from cutting borders, background blocks, etc., I save those for colorful stems in my applique projects. Sometimes you only need a very small amount, and why not save the cost of several fat quarters when you only need a smidgen." Sharon

"Scatter those collected snippets of thread, yarn and fabric trimming you saved outside along a fence or in a bush. Birds come along and take them for nest building." Bevie

Thanks to Val, Sharon and Bevie and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

One block at a time—is not only affordable, but do-able. When quilting time is limited, sometimes the thought of making a bed-size quilt, or one with lots of detailed applique or piecing, can seem overwhelming. With our block-of-the-month quilts, you only need to think about one block at a time. When you have a whole month to make just one block, the task is no longer daunting. Not only is the time manageable, the expense is manageable, too, since you pay for just a small portion of the quilt each month.

Annie tells us of another great way of only thinking about one block at a time:

“Do a group sampler quilt with friends. Decide on a block size, fabric and layout, and each person makes a block they have not made before. Try that really hard block you’ve always wanted to make. With only one block to make, it isn’t a huge commitment, and you learn new skills. The finished quilts can be friendship quilts or donated to a charitable cause.” Annie

Sharron explains her block-by-block approach to a wonderful scrappy quilt:

“When I finish making a quilt, I use leftover scraps from that quilt. I string-piece the fabrics on a dryer sheet using the sew-and-flip method. When I have enough blocks done, I make a lap quilt for myself. When I am all snuggled up in that quilt, I can look at each block and remember the quilts I have made for someone in my family. Truly a quilt treasure to me.
“For lap quilts, I don’t usually put in batting. I have found that I like fleece as a backing—so nice and soft to snuggle in—and the fleece doesn’t try to slide off as muslin or fabric backs can.” Sharron

Thanks to Annie, Sharron and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.


Last Week's Tip:

From Stash to Stunning! Find inspiration for your autumn quilting in the great outdoors. Here in New England, there’s plenty of inspiration to be had, from the fields filled with plump orange pumpkins, orchards dotted with shiny red apples, gardens decked out in big golden sunflowers, and hillsides ablaze in a riot of color. The deep greens of the fir trees and the clear blue sky of a crisp autumn day provide a cool contrast to the earthy and fiery colors of the season.

If an autumn-inspired quilt is in your plans, there’s so need to go out and buy all new fabrics. You can just use what you’ve got on hand as long as your fabric stash and your scraps are well organized. Just pull out your warm reds, oranges and golds; add greens and sky blues; then earthy browns and rusts. If it’s a Halloween quilt you’re planning, then purple and black can be tossed into the mix. You’d be surprised at the terrific results you can get by just using your stash. You’ll feel mighty proud that you put the colors together yourself (with Mother Nature’s help), and you didn’t spend a penny on fabric.

Bettye and Kat offer their tips on saving every little scrap:

“I store orphan strip scraps on a large, heavy hanger. I organize them by color and attach them to the hanger with large safety pins. These hangers hang in my sewing room. When I need a certain color or size strip, they are easy to locate.” Bettye

“I save every scrap of fabric. Who knows when I might need a small piece for an applique project. I stuff the scraps into mason jars or clear glass vases, which I use as centerpieces or any place you would put a vase of flowers. They brighten up a room, and you don’t have to remember to water them. For the smallest scraps, like the dog-ear triangle trimmings, I save these for rainy days for my girls to make collages, greeting cards, Christmas ornaments, etc. Just draw a picture on construction paper, and glue the fabric scraps instead of coloring the pictures.” Kat

Thanks to Bettye, Kat and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

Crazy for strips!!  Precut strips- whether you buy a themed collection, or you’ve already cut them yourself are just so convenient and so versatile. Listen to some of the ways our Thrifty Quilter readers use strips.

“Just to make the foundation string-pieced quilts just one little bit easier when cutting and ending up with scraps, cut them into 1-1/2" or 2" strips, and store in a shoe box. It keeps them neat. And when you’re ready to use them, they’re ready to sew!” Penny

“I save used fabric-softener sheets and press them. When I have a good supply of the sheets, I sew the strips from my scrap bag to the sheets. I square the blocks and sew them together. There are unlimited possibilities by varying colors, widths of fabrics, sashing or no sashing, and the direction the blocks are sewn together.” Dordi

“I rarely wear skirts in the wintertime, so I cut the waists off my wool dirndl skirts, took out the zippers to save, and made 2-1/2" strips of the wool for braiding a rug. I also cut up cotton things the same way to make woven place mats on a loom.” Cheryl

“I use the wooden spring-type clothespins when I quilt… I write anything on them I need to know (like the width of the strip) and then clip strips of material together with the clothespins. Or I clip them to hangers, so they can hang down and not get wrinkled.” Anonymous

Thanks to all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.


What beautiful, unique fabrics the island of Bali  provides to quilters all over the world, but to quilters living on a small island, every scrap of fabric is considered a treasure. Jill explains:

“I live in Vanuatu, a small island chain in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so I don’t have any access to any quilting supplies or fabrics unless I go overseas to buy them, so I hang on to EVERY scrap! After stuffing an entire dresser with scraps, I purchased clear plastic stacking boxes about 12 inches square and 4 inches high, which fit nicely in the bottom of the closet in my quilting room. And every leftover scrap from a quilt gets sorted by color and put in those boxes after pressing them so they lay flat. I don’t precut into squares or strips, as I don’t make many scrap quilts (or, at least not to date). I make most of my quilts with applique, so I find my scrap boxes a treasure-trove of every pattern and color and spend many blissful hours combing through them to pick out just the right color/pattern for my applique pieces. If I don’t precut them, I don’t waste anything.”

Thanks to Jill and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

Stress-free quilting! Cooking a new recipe for a special occasion can get pricey when you only need 1/4 teaspoon each of a variety of spices, none of which are in your cupboard. Unfortunately, you can’t go to the grocery store and buy just 1/4 teaspoon of all the spices you need. You have to pay the price of buying whole jars of spices, knowing that they’ll probably sit at the back of your cupboard for years.

    Salt Water Taffy Quick Kit #5392

When you’re “cooking up” a quilt, you don’t have to worry about buying more “ingredients” than you’ll ever use when you choose a Keepsake Quilting kit. If you only need a 4" square of turmeric yellow, that’s all you’ll get, and that’s all you’ll pay for. You don’t have to buy a half yard. It doesn’t matter if the quilt design calls for 20 special ingredients. You only pay for what you need. If you want to save money?as well as time?on a project, our kits are definitely the way to go.

Kits are big space-savers, too. Judy tells us how she creates her own precut kits when traveling:

“Last year, on a trip to the U.S. for the winter, I decided to take my sewing machine and quilting supplies. Since the space left in the vehicle was at a minimum, I had to pack thriftily. I precut as many projects that I could possibly sew up while away. I put each project in a zip-lock bag, including the pattern, backing and binding material, planning to purchase batting when necessary. This way, I didn’t have to worry about making a wrong cut and not having my extra fabric with me. And I wasn’t lugging home what would be leftover fabric after cutting, or batting that I may never get around to using. I packed my sewing machine in its original box and packed all my thread and tools in the space around it. Even the cutting mat fit in the box and was protected from damage. On the return trip, I packed all my quilted projects in space-saver storage bags and vacuumed out the air.”

 Thanks to Judy and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

The biggest bargain in the Keepsake Quilting catalog is Item #9501 for $42.99. That’s what you pay for a yearly membership in our Keepsake Quilting Gold Club. Joining our club is a can’t-go-wrong proposition. The Super Satchel™ Box that you receive with membership sells for $16.99. The fifteen 10" squares that you also receive are worth $15.00. If you buy just two $25 books (for which you’ll get 20% off) and use only one of the coupons, you’ve gotten back your entire membership fee of $42.99. Every other club benefit after that including over 50 more coupons, no standard shipping charge on orders over $75 and many more benefits will be absolutely free! On top of all that, you could win a $100 shopping spree.

There’s no two ways about it, the Keepsake Quilting Gold Club is a money-saver beyond compare. You pay just once and reap the benefits all year long.

If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter
at thrifty @keepsakequilting.com.

Books - your passport to quilting adventure!  And if you haven’t already figured it out, the best bargain in town-at anytime, but especially during tough economic times-is the public library. At absolutely no cost, you can borrow movies, CD’s, DVD’s, magazines and any type of book you can imagine. And that includes quilt books! If you don’t have a computer at home, you can still enjoy the quilting goodies that the Internet has to offer. It’s all available at the library-and for free! Your library may not have the latest project book from your favorite quilt designer, but it’s bound to have some of the quilting classics.

When it’s time to add to your own home library, quilting books are a fantastic bargain. For instance, Judy Hopkins’s 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks book sells for $29.95. That’s less than $.06 per block. How’s that for cheap! Jenny Carr Kinney’s Quilting Designs from the Past  has over 300 quilting designs, at just $.10 each. You’ll turn to reference books like these time and again when choosing pieced blocks and quilting designs.

Technique books are also a tremendous value. One of our Keepsake Quilting challenge entrants, Janet Davis, had never made three-dimensional flowers. She purchased Sharon Baker’s More Fabulous Flowers book and learned the technique. Her gorgeous floral quilt earned her third-place honors in our latest challenge. Just think of the beautiful fabric flowers in her future.

So when you’re deciding on the best buy for your quilting buck, think books. And, please, don’t forget the invaluable resources we have in our own communities?our public libraries.

Thanks to all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

Quilting takes a vacation!  Vacations can revitalize your body and your spirit. Changing your scenery and putting aside your day-to-day schedule can do wonders for your outlook on life - and for your quilting. Whether you travel to Italy, spend a week at a cottage by the lake or reconnect with friends at a quilting retreat, you’re sure to find all sorts of inspiration for your quilting. Take along a journal and a camera, so you’ll have pictures, notes and sketches to jog your memory when you’re back home in your sewing room.

When you’re packing for your getaway, why not bring the Pressing Blanket, so you can iron your fabric and your clothes.

Marlynne, Becky and Sharon have some great cost-saving tips for quilters-on-the-go.

“A few years ago, shortly after I became interested in quilting, as a gift my daughter gave me a fishing tackle box to hold most of my everyday quilting supplies. It works great for threads, scissors, pincushion, needles, rotary cutter, etc… It really works out wonderfully for toting to classes; everything’s handy right there!”  Marlynne

“Gardening totes make great storage for fabrics and tools. You can see what you have, because they are open at the top, and the side pouches are great for tools. The bright colors make you forget about the weather and the economy. They cost less than traditional project storage, and you can carry them from room to room or on a trip.”  Becky

“I use an artist’s brush turntable caddy, also sold as a kitchen-counter tool holder. It’s about 12" diameter and has three…divided compartments. All my sewing tools sit in it. It turns to reach something on the opposite side, and best of all, when I go to a class, I pick up the whole unit and put it in my large tote bag. Voila! All my tools in one place. And they are organized when I get there.”  Sharon

Thanks to Marlynne, Becky, Sharon and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

When money is tight, sometimes the best option is to just “do it yourself.” That applies to everything from making your own pizza, instead of ordering takeout delivery, to painting your bedroom walls, instead of hiring a professional painter.

“Do it yourself” also applies to quilting. Sending a quilt top out to a professional longarm quilter is much faster, easier and more convenient than doing the machine quilting yourself, but if the budget is tight, you’re much better off doing your own quilting rather than storing away one more unfinished top.

If you lack confidence in your machine quilting, start with a baby quilt. The size is manageable, and expert workmanship shouldn’t be necessary for a quilt to be washed, dragged about and loved to pieces. Remember, it just takes practice to become proficient at machine quilting, and now-when money is tight-is the perfect time to practice.

Linda has a cost-saving tip for machine quilters.

“I use the kids‘ paint brushes from the dollar store to keep the lint out of my machine as I machine quilt. They come three to a package and are just the right texture to scoot those little fuzzies out from under your throat plate!”  Linda

Thanks to Linda and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

Quilters are such a caring group, willing to share their time and talent to brighter the lives of others. Here are just a few examples:

“My group makes lots of charity quilts on a very small budget, so we use up everything! We piece together leftover batting by trimming the edges straight, butting two pieces together and using the widest, longest zigzag stitch to join the two pieces. The trick is to not overlap the batting and avoid stretching. Once the quilts are layered up and quilted, no one will ever know that there is a seam inside.”  Barbara
“I use scraps of leftover batting to fill heart-shaped pillows that I donate to a local hospital. These heart-shaped pillows are given to a family member to hug while their loved one is going through heart surgery. When the patient goes home, he or she can also enjoy the pillow.”  Evelyn

“Within our small quilt group, we take turns choosing a new block and color theme. At the next meeting, everyone brings fabric from her stash. We all cut and sew blocks. The person who chose the quilt block assembles the quilt and sends it off to be quilted. The quilt then goes to one of our chosen causes. This year we chose to donate to the injured vets and our local foster-children program. We enjoy each other’s company, have fun at each meeting, and feel good about helping someone in need.”  Karen

“After years of being a crafter, and about three years ago started quilting, I had large brown paper bags full of scraps. I also recently started doing donation quilts. So I gathered lots of free patterns I’ve downloaded, and my paper bags full of scraps, and started cutting. I now have 60+ quilt kits (each one a different pattern) and can whip one up in no time. They’re basically free. I will even zigzag batting scraps together to use. Some backs are even pieced. Gets rid of lots of scraps, makes room for more ‘stuff,’ and 60+ kids and wheelchair-bound people will have something to enjoy. And all it’s taking is just a bit of my time-which is gladly given.”  Vicki

“I’ve been a foster parent for the past many years, hosting over 27 children since 2001. In the course of that time, I’ve learned how needy many children are, especially those just recently placed in foster care. Clothing donations are so very welcome at any local office for Child Protection. Many local quilters also donate small quilts, so that every child who is placed in foster care receives his or her own quilt. Something like this may seem small to those of us with some stability in our lives, but for children who may move many times, even within one school year, a consistent blanket can become a true source of security and healing for the children. I have also used those quilts as inspiration to the children to teach them to sew.”  Shannon

Thanks to all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.


Think about making your holiday gifts now, when you don’t have the pressure of a time deadline. If it’s three days before Christmas, and you still haven’t gotten a present for Aunt Agnes, you rush to the store and buy something that she may, or may not, like or need, and you’ve probably spent more money than you had budgeted.

In the months before the holidays, when you have the time, why not sew up a one-of-a-kind apron or set of appliqued tea towels for Aunt Agnes. You can use scraps and fat quarters you have in your stash. Your aunt will appreciate a gift hand made especially for her, and you’ll spend a fraction of the money. Thoughtful -and thrifty!

You can also look to your scrap bags for other thoughtful gifts, from ornaments to potholders to place mats. For potholders galore, we carry 101 Fun-to-Quilt Pot Holders book. And for a terrific buy, order our Frosted Memories Kit. With the kit, you can make 48 ornaments! That’s less than 40¢ per ornament. How’s that for economical?

Char has thought of an easy, and thrifty, way to make a Christmas quilt -the ultimate gift for someone special (or for yourself!).

#8220;When I preview a new block, I make one with Christmas fabrics. There is enough contrast in fabrics. I find out if there are problems with the directions or [whether] I want to put it together in a different manner. And I never feel that this is a waste of time, because when I get enough together, I have a scrappy Christmas quilt.”  Char

Thanks to Char and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

Salvage your selvages!  Just think of the selvage edges that you have thrown away through your years of quilting and sewing! Listen to the clever ways that Helen, Mary, Bev and Jill use those selvage edges.

“I save the selvages cut off of light-color fabrics, and I use them to write the size of strip (especially the length of border pieces) for borders and sashings as I cut them for a project, and tie or pin the selvage piece around the strips for easy recognition when piecing the quilt.”  Jill

“I save the selvage strips that I trim off, especially the long ones that I get when cutting borders or backing. Just stuff them into a baggie, and pull out what you need later! Pretty colored ones make great gift ribbons, especially for quilty gifts (sometimes I even cut them a little wider, if I know I want to use them that way). Instead of special bobbin holders, I put a strip of selvedge through the spool hole and bobbin hole, then tie a quick bow. They stay together, and I don’t have to try to figure out which bobbin matches the thread I want to use. The more boring strips work as a twine substitute for tying up plants, boxes, etc., even trash bags.”  Bev

“I keep a tin above my cutting table for selvage edges. Throughout the year, I go to that tin and use the colorful selvage edges for everything. It is much stronger than string, more colorful for tomato plants, and not bothered by the weather. It makes tying up packages fun, and it is using something that would have gone in the trash.”  Mary

“Cut off the selvedge of your fabric, along with at least 1/4" of fabric, before using. Use to make totes and quilts. Do an Internet search for selvedge quilts, and you will moan at all the selvedges that you have thrown away. I know that I did.”  Helen

Karen Griska has written a book on making selvage quilts - Quilts from the Selvage Edge.

Thanks to Jill, Bev, Mary and Helen and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

Kids’ projects are such fun to do. They’re bright, cheery and can be quick and easy. We’ve been offering more and more kids’ projects in the catalog, including our very own designs, many using our popular die-cut Keepsake Shapes™, which can save loads of cutting time. Our new Petals and Butterfly Wings quilt (Item #6409) would be sweet in a little girl’s room. And speaking of little girls, they’ll adore dressing the dolls in our Paper Dolls Play Book (Item #6408).

For the little boys, we have the colorful On the Move quilt (Item #5816) and the super-easy Choo-Choo quilt (Item #3972).

Joyce and Cindy have some time- and money-saving tips for making children’s quilts:

“I often make the same baby quilts over and over for gifts, so I keep an eye out for those perfect fabrics. I went to the dollar store and bought large white gift boxes (for 50 cents each). I write the name of the quilt on the end of the box, such as ‘farmer quilt’ or ‘bunny quilt.’ Any fabric I buy for that quilt goes in the box. When I’m ready to make a quilt, I can just grab the box, and all my fabric is there. Often I will store the pattern in the box, too.”  Joyce

“I have taken all of my granddaughter’s too-small T-shirts and made a quilt from them. Dresses that are too small and worn I use for the borders, and an old sheet for the backing. She really loves it. She is 11 years old.”  Cindy

Thanks to Joyce and Cindy and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter
at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

“Free” is as thrifty as you can get, and we’ve received some great tips that don’t cost a dime.

“When I buy a set of sheets or any bed linen in a clear plastic zippered bag, I save that bag to put my quilting kits in. There’s usually a cardboard insert in an inner pocket identifying the item. I turn that around and write on the blank side what my kit is, and any notes for myself. I can stack these bags on my sewing-room shelf and can easily see what’s in the bag when I have time to start a new project!”  Pat

“Every time my dog goes to the groomer, she comes home with a bandana around her neck. Recently, I sewed them all together to make a doggie quilt.”  Chris

“I use the boxes that wash detergent comes in-the ones with the handle that is attached and will fold down. I cover them with contact paper and leave the top attached, so it can be closed. I give them to the little ones in my family to carry their little toys in when they come to visit. I use them to store things in my sewing room. They are great for carrying small projects with me while traveling, as well.”  Jean

“Use the [laundry-detergent] boxes for a quick grab-and-go. Put basic sewing supplies in the box, and when you have a class or last minute run, everything is all in one place. No hunting down the ruler and rotary cutter, or arriving without pins.”  Carol

Thanks to Pat, Chris, Jean, Carol and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter
at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

 

 

Time is money! And, boy, can Keepsake Quilting save you both time and money when you choose our die-cut Keepsake Shapes™. Imagine how long it would take you to cut out 70 butterflies, 70 Scottie dogs, or 137 flowers and leaves. Just think how many fabrics you’d have to collect to get such a wide range of designs. We‘ve done all of that fabric selection for you and precisely cut each shape.

There are myriad wonderful uses for precut shapes, from patching and covering stains and holes in the kids’ clothing to dressing up plain kitchen towels and pillowcases to turning brown paper sacks into holiday gift bags or trick-or-treat bags. An everyday T-shirt gets a designer makeover when embellished with flower appliques. And then there are gift tags and Christmas ornaments, too. The list just goes on and on.

We’re very excited about all the new shapes that we’ve designed especially for today’s busy and thrifty quilter!

If you have a money-saving quilting or sewing tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

What is a fat quarter? It’s an 18" x 22" piece of fabric - a quarter yard that’s twice as long, but half as wide, as a regular 9" x 44" quarter yard of fabric. But a fat quarter is far more than that. For quilters, a fat quarter is magic! It’s just such an easy-to-work-with size, and we think you’ll be surprised just how many pieces you can cut from a fat quarter.

We created two charts, so you can see the number of squares and half-square-triangle blocks you can get from an 18" x 21" (with selvages removed) piece of fabric. For example, you can get 20 half-square-triangle 3" blocks from one fat quarter. Use a six-piece fat-quarter Medley™, and you’ll get 120 blocks. That’s enough for a 30" x 36" quilt. A wall quilt for about $15.99, how about that!

If you make a quilt from 3" squares, instead of half-square triangles, a six-piece Medley will give you 180 blocks, enough for a 30" x 54" lap or baby quilt?again for just $15.99. Now, that’s pretty thrifty!

We’d love to hear of the magic that you’ve created using those fabulous fat quarters.

If you have a money-saving quilting or sewing tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

Remember Mama's sewing lessons!  Those of us who were lucky enough to have had mothers, grandmothers or aunts who taught us to sew, had the good fortune of learning some wonderful thrifty habits at a young age. If a sock or a sweater had a hole, we learned to darn it. If a seam ripped, we were taught how to fix it. If we wanted new curtains for our bedroom, we could make them ourselves. Not only were we saving money, we were keeping perfectly useful items from going into landfills.

Do your children and grandchildren know how to mend? Or do they throw away a shirt if they lose a button? Sewing is no longer a requirement in schools, so if the kids aren’t learning these skills in school, where are they learning them? From you, we hope. So, if someone taught you basic sewing skills, we urge you to pass on these tools for a thrifty lifestyle to your children, grandchildren or neighborhood kids. Your mother’s gift to you may be your gift to the next generation.

If you have a money-saving quilting or sewing tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

It‘s spring-cleaning time!  Time to go through your clothes closet and get rid of the things that you never wear. If a piece of clothing no longer fits your size or your style, give it to a friend who might enjoy it, or donate it to the local thrift shop.

Once you finish with your closet, head to your quilting room or corner. Sort through and organize your fabrics. When you find fabrics that no longer appeal to you, fabrics that you’ll likely never use, pass them on to a friend, a school, a senior center, or to a guild for donation quilts. Not only will you be helping someone else out, you’ll also be making room for new fabrics.

After the fabrics are sorted, start organizing your tools and notions. You’ll feel so much better when you have ”a place for everything, and everything in its place.” For great organizers, we like the Handy Caddy and the Super Satchel™ Box.

Elaine has an interesting way of organizing her tools and notions.

“I love antiques and have many vintage planters in my sewing room for such things as storing my pens, pencils, scissors and small rulers. I use one for storing current thread and bobbins for the project I’m working on. I use one for thread snippets to keep them neat, and another for odds and ends that need to be put away later. I also have a larger one that stores my items that need to make it to the recycle bin when I’m finished for the day.”  Elaine

Thanks to Elaine and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

Wednesday, April 22nd, is Earth Day. There is so much that we can do to make this planet of ours a healthy place to live for ourselves and for generations to follow. Every little thing we do to conserve our natural resources can make a big difference. Just think if everyone used reusable grocery bags how much plastic we could eliminate.

Save Our Planet Tote BagShopping bags are super easy to make from scraps. By using fabric bags, you’ll not only be helping the environment, you’ll be making a fashion statement when you walk out of the grocery store with your “designer” bags. For a sturdy canvas bag, we offer the roomy
Save Our Planet Tote.

Sharon has come up with clever ways to recycle containers once she’s home from the grocery store.

“I prefer to reuse the clear plastic cartons that certain brands of lettuce/greens come in. Those with a lid are wonderful for storing large spools of thread and small projects. I like to keep a smaller one without a lid by my sewing machine to store the threads, specialty needles, buttons, etc.- anything I am using on the current project. That way, items are not lost all over my sewing table, ironing board or elsewhere. When I am done, I put the items collected back where they belong.

>“I also use the heavy boxes that cat litter comes in to store magazines, books, patterns, etc. I cut off the top of the box; mark up 3" from the bottom front of the box, drawing a diagonal line from the 3" mark to the top back of the box on both sides. Cut on those lines, and, presto, you have a storage box as good as any you buy at the store. And it is free. If you want, you can cover with contact paper, fabric, leftover wallpaper, etc., to make them more attractive.”  Sharon B.

Thanks to Sharon and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

During tough economic times, we need to remind ourselves that the bSmile!est things in life are free, such as smiles, caring words and friendship. And there’s no better gift for a friend, or someone needing a thoughtful gesture, than a gift from the heart. With just scraps of fabric, needle and thread, you can stitch up a potholder, a pincushion, a pillow or a little lap throw. Every time the recipient uses your gift, he or she will feel cared for and loved.

You probably have a stash of patterns and quilt books on hand for inspiration, and even if you don’t, you can just head to the library for project ideas at absolutely no charge.

If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

Because of a computer problem, we lost the wonderful tips that we received prior to April 7th. So, we’d love to have you resend them, because there were lots of good ones to share.

Denim is the all-American fabric, worn by cowboys, farmers, millionaires, movie  stars and school kids. Denim jeans are sturdy, practical and affordable and found in just about every household. Old jeans can be cut up and made into bags, jackets and utility quilts. Bonnie Snider teaches how to recycle your jeans into quilts in her Lazy Denim Bed Quilt Pattern.

Sandra and Deb tell us how they recycle old jeans.

“Old jeans work well for backings to place mats or table runners. Jeans are also good for pet beds and totes for camping equipment.” - Sandra

“Family members give me their worn-out overalls and blue jeans, which I turn into quilts. If the quilt is all denim, I tie it. If I have used the denim with a lighter fabric in a quilt pattern such as a Nine Patch, I’ll quilt the lighter fabric. These quilts are heavy and warm, great for camping trips, picnics, impromptu sleepovers. It’s also fun to keep a pocket or two on the denim patches. With the various colors of denim, including black and green, and the different stitching on brand-name pockets, the quilts can be quite attractive.” - Deb

Thanks to Sandra and Deb and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

Muslin is the milk and butter of a quilter’s fabric stash. It may be the plainest and humblest of fabrics, but where would we be without it? We use it for backgrounds, backings, piecing foundations, sleeves and linings. The smallest of scraps can be used for labels. Homemade muslin pillowcases are perfect for storing your precious quilts and heirloom textiles. Leftover muslin strips can be sewn along the edges of your quilt while it’s being hand quilted. The muslin protects the batting, and the extra fabric around the quilt edge makes it easier to use your hoop when quilting the borders. Isn’t it wonderful that this versatile fabric is also inexpensive.

Joan uses muslin squares for string-pieced projects.

“I save all my scraps that are at least 1" by 3 to 4" and toss them in a basket. (I have a separate container for Christmas scraps.) When the basket gets full, it's time to cut 7" muslin squares and sew the strips on in diagonal fashion, flip and sew method. When you have enough squares sewn, put them together into a quilt top, and you only have to match corners of the squares! I have a friend who calls this a FREE quilt! Great for babies or little boys who are hard on quilts.”  Joan
Thanks to Joan and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.

Strip Favorites Book

Sewing with 2-1/2" strips is hot, hot, hot! Using 2-1/2" strips is nothing new to quilters, but all of a sudden the strips have taken off, with books such as Strip-Frenzy and Strip-Favorites written specially for the use of 2-1/2" strips. Since quilters are all about saving time, as well as money, precut strip collections are all the rage. Moda named their strips Jelly Rolls™, Hoffman called theirs Hoffman© Bali Pops, and we simply named ours 2-1/2 Strip Collections.

For a scrappy look, you can create your own collection of 2-1/2" strips like Pat and Margie do.

“To organize my leftover scraps when I am finished with a project, I cut them into strips and squares right then. This avoids their getting thrown into a box or bag and forgotten. With so many patterns for 2-1/2" strips out there, the first cuts are of these strips. The remainder is cut into squares, starting with the largest cut I can get out of that piece.”  Pat

“My ‘scrap bag’ consists of several small plastic bins. The scraps from quilts (if they are less than a quarter yard) are cut into 2", 2-1/2", 3" and 3-1/2" strips of varying lengths. These are separated by width into the plastic bins for use in scrappy strip quilts.”  Margie

Thanks to Pat and Margie and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com. Next time we’ll talk about some of the many uses for that most affordable of fabrics-muslin.

Scrappy bindings are a great choice for multi-fabric quilts. They provide an interesting and a thrifty finishing touch to your quilts.

“My quilt saving tip is that every time I sew on a strip of binding onto my quilt I always have a piece of strip left over. I take the leftover binding piece and put it into my strip bag. When I do a scrappy quilt, I pull out my strip bag and sew the strips together to make a scrappy binding for the scrappy quilt. Already cut, ready to go and no need to buy material for the scrappy quilt.”  Jacqui C.

“When I make scrap quilts, I cut three to four strips of each fabric 2-1/2" wide and 12 to 15" long. I then use these strips to make my binding with bias seams.”  Connie

To help make bindings quick and easy, we offer our 18" x 2-1/2" Omnigrip™ Ruler, our 2-1/2" x 30" Binding Buddy ruler, and our Binding Thingy© tool.

Thanks to Jacqui and Connie and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com. Next time we’ll have more ideas for using those 2-1/2" strips.

Where would we be without our scrap bags! If we need just a snippet of a certain color or texture or if Barbie® needs a new outfit, into our scrap bags we go. If you work in miniature, you can make a whole quilt from a pile of teeny scraps. This week, we heard how some thrifty quilters make the most of even the smallest pieces of fabric.

“When I finish a quilting project, I take the scraps that are small and cut them into 2" squares. I then stack them up and run a piece of thread through them so that they stay organized. I now have an assortment of 2" squares to use for a scrap quilt. I have already used some of them for a baby blanket for my granddaughter, and it turned out beautiful.”  Cindy H.

“I cut scraps into 2" squares or, if the scrap is small, I cut into 1-1/2" squares and accumulate them in plastic bags. When I have enough, I make a really important quilt like Sidewalks of New York or Trip Around the World.”  Doris C.

“I save all my really small scraps and use them as stuffing for bedding I make for the local animal shelter.”  Gerri M.
Bali of the Month Square Club

Quilters are always searching for tricks and techniques for saving time, and nowadays, everyone including quilters is interested in saving money. So, we’re pleased that you took the time to send along your thrifty-quilting tip. Be watching for the weekly tip, because we just might be using yours one of these days!

Thanks to Cindy, Doris and Gerri and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.
Next time we’ll have more tips on making the most of your scrap bags.
 

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” was a way of life for the women of the 1930’s. The quilters of the 30’s would certainly have approved of how the quilters of today are putting that old adage into action by using batting made from recycled plastic bottles (Quilters Dream Green™ Batting) and turning their old denim jeans into quilts and totes.

Quilters are the ultimate recyclers. Every time you dip into your scrap bag, you are recycling a piece of fabric. If you make a quilt top from just your scraps, you’re really making that quilt top for free! Of course fabric scraps can be used for lots more than quilts.  Pam T. sent us the following tip for using scraps.

“Fabric strips can also be hooked, crocheted, or braided into rugs. My Grandmother had the crocheted rugs all over her house, and always had one to work on while she was watching TV.“

Thanks to Pam and all of you who have sent along tips to share. If you have a money-saving quilting tip, send it to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com. Next time we’ll have more tips on making the most of your scrap bags.  


It pays to be organized. If you’re eager to start a project and don’t know where you might have stashed a particular fabric or thread color, sometimes it just seems easier to run to the store than to search through boxes, drawers and closets. But if you know where everything is, and everything is easily accessible, you can save your money to spend on supplies that you really need.

To organize her threads, Bonnie, our copywriter, stores hers in recycled decorative cookie tins that look pretty stacked in her sewing corner. The Super Satchel™ Thread Box is also a great option, since you can see all the colors at a glance, and it has 108 spindles-that’s a lot of thread.

Another handy product in our catalog, one that we’ve carried for years, is the set of 24 Book Keepers. They’re only $8.99 a set and will keep your quilting magazines neat and organized. You can slip them into recycled three ring binders. Gloria, in customer service, also uses recycled binders (which she covers with wallpaper or contact-paper scraps) to hold her patterns. You can purchase plastic sleeves for the patterns at an office-supply store, or just punch holes right in the patterns, like Gloria does. 

Next time we’ll have more tips on recycling, reusing and repurposing.

Send your money-saving quilting tips to the Thrifty Quilter at
thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.
 


Save both money and time by buying precut fabric collections, such as our Keepsake Charm Packs™, which are all color-coordinated, cut and ready to sew. With precut squares, there’s no wasted fabric, and you only pay for the fabric you receive. Imagine getting 50 different fabrics for your project for just $13.99 ($14.99 for Balis), enough to make a 31" x 31" one-patch quilt. To stretch your budget even further, we’ve designed a quick-to-stitch -- and free!  --  35" x 35" Windowpane quilt to go with your charm packs!

Send your money-saving quilting tips to the Thrifty Quilter at thrifty@keepsakequilting.com.