Quilting is expensive. I am currently working on a queen sized quilt for my moms bed, cutting every expense I can and I still estimate it's going to be over 200$.
When I worked at a quilt store I watched the same women come in regularly and spend hundreds of dollars on projects that they openly admitted to never having the time to finish. I found it all a little weird and wasteful but I did learn a thing or two how NOT to over spend on quilting.
That being said, I have my fair share of unfinished projects! I have 4 large storage bins filled with collected fabric, pieced but not finished quilt tops, and lots and lots of patterns. Quilting, and shopping for quilting supplies, is therapy for a lot of women. But when tackling a large quilting project it's smart to know how to get the most for your money. You can take these tips and just apply one or two on your next project, or if you're on a tight budget try them all. As a stay at home mom of 3 I know I need all the money saving tips I can get!
Tip 1: Don't use precuts.
I know they are really cute! I buy them... I do! But not when I'm tackling a big quilting project. They are marked way up in price. What I DO love about precuts is getting a piece of every fabric in the line. What I don't love about them is paying more for those pieces. In the average jellyroll you get forty 2.5 inch strips. That comes to 100 inches of fabric, or 2.7 yards. At 10$ a yard that should come to 27$ worth of fabric. The last jellyroll I purchased was 40$. Not a good deal. Instead buy 1/8 of a yard of each fabric. Most fabric stores give you a little wiggle room and I can usually get two 2.5 strips out of an eighth. If you can't, I wouldn't go back to that fabric store :( I also buy 1/6 of a yard if I want 5 inch squares (charm packs), or 1/4 to 1/3 of a yard if I want 10 inch squares (layer cakes). Honestly I don't usually love every piece of fabric in the line so I'm happy with just picking my favorites and saving quite a bit of money in the long run.
Tip 2: Buy batting at chain stores with a 40% off coupon.
I hope you're lucky enough to live close to one. I'm down the street from a JoAnns and I always buy my batting with a coupon. You can usually use these coupons online too.
Tip 3: Use a sheet on the back
No it's not as nice as using a piece from the line but remember we are on a budget here. Just an FYI, Walmart has twin sized sheets for 5$-7$ in all sorts of colors. The last sheet I used on the back of my quilt washed up even softer than the front. If your trying to save money, this is huge.
Tip 4: Quilt it yourself.
My last tip is my favorite tip. I LOVE to quilt my own quilts. With a little practice it's not that hard and I feel a huge since accomplishment when it's done. Have you ever gotten your quilt back from the quilter and hit the floor when she told you the price? I have.
Check out my tutorial on how to quilt your own quilts HERE.
Just a couple other things... I made my first few quilts on a 100$ sewing machine I bought when I was first married. They turned out beautifully, were displayed in my local quilt shop and I still love them today. You don't need to spend 2,000$ on a machine to get started. I did eventually want to upgrade my machine though.
As far as thread goes, I use the cheap stuff to piece and the nice stuff to quilt. It does make a slight difference to use the nice stuff throughout. Your seems lay flatter and it doesn't tangle as much, but it's not enough for me to justify the extra cost and I've ever had anyone complain that my quilts were "bulky". After they are washed they all feel the same to me.
The one thing I WON'T skimp on is quality fabric. I use the nice 10$ a yard stuff. Mostly because I love the prints, designs and colors, but cheaper fabric can rip, fade, and shrink. My favorite brands of course are MODA, Michael Miller, Robert Kaufman... even Riley Blake feels a little cheap sometimes but I think they are getting better. Choosing quality fabric is the most enjoyable part of quilting for me, another reason I have to try and save money everywhere else!