Thrifty Quilting | Madam Sew

Thrifty Quilting

This past year has really tested our ability to make do with what we have, and find creative ways to make projects. Quilting in this time of lockdowns and limited resources means using what we already own in creative ways. “Using up the stash” seems to be the mantra of this time. With that in mind, here are some ideas to spark your creativity for using up what is around the house. This doesn’t mean not buying anything at all, in fact, this is a great time to purchase new tools, presser feet and rulers to try new techniques, replace worn rotary cutter blades and needles, and try new marking tools.

thrifty quilt set

So, with that in mind, let’s look at some ideas to use up that stash and create something new for yourself, your family, gifts or charity. First, find those less desirable fabrics and piece backings with 1/2-inch seams. Press the seams open to reduce bulk. These deeper seams on the backing will add stability, and give a little extra fabric in case the seam comes open during longarm quilting or heavy use. Be sure you remove selvedge edges on seams.

Make Frankenbatting for small projects and even larger ones. That’s a fun term for a pieced batting with multiple pieces. As long as the batting pieces are all the same fiber content (all cotton, or all 80/20, etc), this works well and cannot be detected in the finished project if done right. Begin by cutting straight lines on the edges of the battings you wish to join. Using an edge joining foot (#27 in Madam Sew’s Ultimate Presser Foot set), sew the batting edges together with a wide zigzag stitch.


Look for alternative batting ideas in your linen closet - old blankets, mattress pads, worn out quilts, and flannel sheets all will do nicely for thrifty quilts.


Piece bindings using leftover strips from your project. Extra jelly roll strips are already the right size for binding, and using several pieced together makes an interesting binding.


Recycle clothing trims in Crazy Quilt projects. Pretty buttons, lace and trims from outgrown or worn out clothes can be given new life in wall hangings and small projects.

This is also a great time to finally dive into all those decorative stitches on your machine you have not yet used. Even if you don’t have specific decorative stitches, using your utility stitches with rayon thread will do nicely.

Use leftover fabric from finished quilt tops to make matching throw pillows or pillowcases for your bed size quilts. For this quilt, there was enough leftover fall print to make two shams for the pillows. Smaller amounts of leftovers can be put to extra blocks for small throw pillows for your den or living area sofas and chairs.

Scavenge your old clothes for fabrics. Look in other rooms for unused fabric items like curtains, tablecloths, bits of embroidery on handkerchiefs. Use fussy cut templates to center pretty designs for block centers.

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Organize your scraps into the sizes you use most, cutting up odd shapes into usable squares, strips or triangles. Sew pieces of the same width into long strips for scrappy borders. Put all your ‘what was I thinking’ ugly fabrics together for a riotous scrappy quilt for charity.


Use more scraps to try a new pattern you’ve been saving. Go through your magazine stash for new ideas and fun blocks to test for your next quilt. You may be surprised to find pattern you forgot you had and haven’t attempted yet.

While you are piecing with scraps, use up your partial bobbins with all the colors you have. I start with the bobbin with the least amount of thread remaining and work toward the ones with more on the spool. Using them on both the top and bobbin will empty those spools quickly, giving you more free bobbins to rewind with the color you need next time.

Try new block designs that you’ve been meaning to do, trying out a new technique or using a new ruler. Using scraps or cut up clothing, make single blocks into throw pillows for your home, or to give to charity.

Another nice thing to do is to make small heart wall hangings for the medical professionals in your life. This might be the dental hygienist who wears two masks to clean your teeth, or the nurse giving covid vaccines. Expressing our appreciation to those hard working professionals right now is a nice thing to do.

So, there are a few ways to spark your creativity. Click on the Madam Sew store links above to see what may be new to you to try. Please leave a comment with your thoughts on how to quilt thrifty, we’d love to see your ideas!


Have fun quilting, and stop by my blog for more easy projects. If you are new to the Madam Sew blog, be sure to check out my complete Beginning Quilting series -

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Carole always has the most fun, interesting, and helpful ideas. Check out her website, too. Thank you, Madam Sew! This is really a good article; enjoyed it so much.


To Diane, no I am not Madam Sew, I just write for them from time to time.

Carole @ FromMyCarolinaHome

Great ideas, especially to use scraps for test blocks and using up the bobbins! I’ve been using scrap fabrics and batting to make hot pads and mug rugs to give away. Thanks!

Eyv Plum

Sew….Is Carol from My Carolina Home and Madam Sew….the one and very same????
I am in Charlotte.

Diane Muldoon

Love the idea for using up bobbin thread! How nice it will be to have EMPTY bobbins and then start fresh!! Thank you for all these ideas! Very nice….AND practical!🤗

Wendy Petesch

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