Tips for Thrifty Quilting from Darlene Zimmerman
Swap with Friends
Arrange a fabric swap with friends or guild members. Keep the rules simple: Bring fat quarters or larger pieces of quilt shop quality fabric. Swap for as many fat quarters as you have brought. This is a great way to collect enough fabrics for a particular color palate (blue and yellow for example) or theme (Christmas for example) for your next quilt.
A pieced binding can be added to a scrappy quilt by sewing longer strips together on the long edges, creating a strip set at least 12-18" deep. Cut bias binding from this strip set and piece together on the diagonal to create the length needed for binding.
Recycle and Reuse
Recycle clothing to use in quilting -- wool fabric for felted wool projects and save buttons for craft or quilting projects. Bits of trim, embellishments and fancy fabrics can be incorporated in crazy quilting. Worn cotton fabric can be cut up for cleaning rags.
Learn to cut the exact shapes you need in piecing flying geese and similar units instead of sewing squares on the corners and trimming (and discarding) large amounts of fabric.
Reusable Gift Bag
Sew gift bags for family and friends and encourage them to re-use them. Sew pillowcases as gift bags for large gifts-the wrapping becomes an extra gift!
Needles Instead of Nails
Use dull sewing machine needles to hang pictures.
Piece your backings with less favorite fabrics. Be creative with the backings!
Use Up Scraps
Use leftover blocks or fabrics to create a pillow or small quilt to give away. It will stretch your creativity and benefit someone else.
Use fabric and rickrack to wrap gifts for quilting friends. The wrapping and trim are re-useable!
Re-discover the joys of hand piecing, hand quilting and embroidery. Keep one of those projects handy to work on while watching television, traveling, or waiting for someone. It's amazing how much you can accomplish if you have a project ready to work on – and you aren't using any electricity to hand-sew!
Worn-out quilting gloves make great gardening gloves or for dirty chores.
Keep worn-out cutting mats to use for craft projects or scrapbooking. The surface works well for exacto-knife cutting, or can protect your tabletop from glues and stains.
Save Mistake Fabric
While sorting through your stash to find just what you need for your current project, put aside those "mistakes"-fabrics you wonder WHY you ever purchased-for a quilter's garage sale, to donate for charity quilts, or to share with your friends.
Buy the Basics
Try to purchase all-purpose tools and rulers (instead of notions that you might rarely use).
Secure with Selvage
The selvages you cut off can be used to tie up plants, tie bundles of fabric or fat quarters together, or used to tie up packages.