Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Cost of Charity Quilts: Day 8

I believe most quilters are free of heart and hand, and love the quilting experience along with the actual quilt. When we are hungry, we are reminded of those who have no food. When we are cold, of those who cannot get warm. We want other people to have at least the basic things we ourselves appreciate, but all families struggle themselves at one time or another. Let's talk about ways to keep the cost of giving quilts at a reasonable level.

1. Spread the word! Tell people what you are doing, and that you are accepting donations of materials. You need fabric, batting, thread, etc. You would be surprised what shows up on your porch! 

*Very old thread is not good thread. This is one area I will warn you to test the strength of the thread before putting it in a quilt of any kind. Also, certain sewing machines work better with one or another thread. Spending your time hassling with junk thread wastes precious sewing time.

2. Shop the discount stores. Zinck's Fabric Outlet is a wonderful resource nearby me in Berlin, Ohio. It's my go-go-store for many quality items sold at deep discounts. Other locations are Ligonier, Indiana and Lancaster, PA.  It may take some hunting on your part, but the search for a good deal is worth it. Clearance racks in your local quilt stores are great, and it's fun to break out of your usual fabric style and color. You found a large, hideous floral at $2 a yard? Cutting it into 2.5" strips means none of that will show, and will add a great texture to your blocks. Be adventurous!

3. Break down your costs, and keep track of what you spend. The cost of materials is normally tax deductible. Your time is not. It is a good idea to snap a picture, and write a description of the quilt size, estimation of yardage, batting, backing, thread, etc. Date your paper, and if possible get a receipt from the charitable organization you have given it to. Efile has some basic information for you on deducting donations.

4. Adjust your expectations. So, you are the quilter who only uses cotton--nice cotton at that. (, too.) Quilts that go directly into use in adverse conditions need to hold up. They need to dry quickly when they get wet. Polyester is a work horse of a fabric! Don't be afraid to use it.

If you've ever washed a beautiful cotton quilt made with your favorite cotton batting, you know how heavy it can be if it's not spun out of the washer properly. It can take days to dry after you've fussed and laid it flat. Pull out a quilt made with poly, and give it a good shake. Lop it over a drying rack or throw it into a dryer on low, and it dry in no time and back in use. Ta-dah!

Even if you don't want any pilling on your heirloom quilts doesn't mean you shouldn't pick the right fabric for the job. Give in to common sense, and use what will be the easiest for someone with limited resources to care for. Cotton, polyester/cotton blends, and polyester all work. As a bonus, polyester never fades. That quilt will be bold and beautiful forever!

4. Be open to changing horses in the middle of the stream.

Yesterday I went to Zinck's looking for the rolls of 60" x 10 yards of batting that I could buy for $10. I've bought them for years, but they weren't where they should be. When I asked about them, I was told they were all sold out. Forever. My whole budget for the project was tanking. I was depending on those to do all these quilts. 

I resolved it by buying a packaged poly batting with good loft for under $10. Still that was a lot. I went to the manager to tell him what I was doing, and ask his advice. He told me I could also buy it by the roll, and how much more money I could save. I brought the two home to try, and decided to go back for the roll if I'm happy.

And after trying it out with my new backing...

I am very, very happy. 

It's time to get to work.
Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.


Gretchen Weaver said...

I visited the Zincks in Ligonier, Ind for the first last November. I was rather overwhelmed by all the fabrics and other stuff there! I didn't buy much, didn't need anything at the time. I don't remember seeing the batts but will definitely remember this. I do put poly batts in charity quilts. Like you said, they dry faster. And I have a fantastic supply of fabrics from my mother's stash to use for backings. Most of these fabrics are from the 80's and it seems like all the solids are cotton/poly. They should hold up well. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one concerned about the cost of charity quilts. Thanks.

Stitchin At Home said...

Some charity quilts I've made have requested 100% cotton that includes batting. I have used a poly/cotton blend that works well for other charities. Victoria Quilts for Cancer is one of the places that will only take 100% cotton.

Sharon - IN said...

I'll have to stop in at Zincks in Ligonier on my next trip to Shipshewanna. Thanks for the heads up!

Susan said...

Great suggestions Julie! I've done many quilts with Soft and Bright poly batting, but sometimes want something with a better drape, especially for quilts I keep. Now experimenting with a 60 cotton/40 poly blend that is still a reasonable price, that will hopefully give me the drape I'm looking for. Will keep you posted.

Kimberly Smith said...

You are quite right about aged thread. Having inherited a bunch and bought another bunch at an auction, I've found the polyester threads are still fine (40 years on), but the cotton threads break very easily. That's just my experience. Love the geese!

Angie in SoCal said...

We are very blessed. Our church parishioners donate very generously. One lady bought us a whole roll of Warm and Natural - it lasted a year as our quilts are only 36" square. Good suggestions, Julie.

Anja @ Anja Quilts said...

Great post. Thinking outside of the box. The cost of quilting has been weighing on my mind the last several weeks. We're reaching $20/metre for most new fabric coming in in our LQS. I'm torn with using up my stash of fabric and stockpiling fabric while I can afford it. ha ha ha

Kate said...

It's amazing how quickly it all adds up. Glad you found something that would work for your charity quilts.