Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tightwad tuesday: two-fer

As in, two-fer-the-price-of-one. It's been such a long time since I've posted any tightwad tips, I'm throwing in an extra one free of charge.

Some of my favorite tightwad tips are the original ones that are hundreds of years old and sprang from the necessities of every day life. The two I'm trotting out today:

  • Re-purpose old clothing into something new
  • If you don't know a skill/have what you need, barter with someone who does

The inspiration behind these two tips is a project I've been sewing, off and on, for a couple months now: a birthday quilt for Jimmy. It's made from old pairs of jeans in shades of red, white and blue denim. I usually have a few pairs of ratty, worn-out jeans around just to cut up and make into patches for mending small holes and tears, since kids are so hard on their clothes--but for a couple years now I've been stockpiling old jeans with the plan of turning them into a nice, heavy quilt for Jimmy. It's great to have an abundant supply of sturdy fabric without having to go out and spend any extra cash for it. Though just to add some variety and texture, I bought a couple pairs of striped denim shorts at the local Goodwill and cut those up to mix in with the solid denim.

I got the idea for the pattern from a lovely vintage cotton summer quilt my step-mom Lo gave me, but I decided to double the scale (six-inch squares instead of three-inch squares), as well as making it in a heavier fabric. Instead of hand-quilting it, I'm going to tie it with red cotton yarn. The backing will be a wonderful piece of soft, blue-striped fabric that has a fleecy feel very similar to flannel, which I picked up at Goodwill for a couple dollars.

It's a relatively simple nine-patch design that alternates a solid block with a nine-patch block throughout the quilt. If you're a beginning quilter or (like me) just want something that will go together fast and simple, this is the perfect pattern. If you have a rotary cutter and board, it's very quick to cut out the fabric in strips, and then into squares. Even if you don't know how to sew, this would be a great place to start, as you only have to sew in a straight line: easy-peasy.

Which brings me to tip #2: if you don't know how to sew, barter with someone who does by offering to do something of value to them, such as cooking, baby-sitting or housework. Sewing is one of those homey skills long out of vogue, but now being re-embraced as people realize how liberating it is to be able to custom-make what you want or need, when you want it.

I started this back in mid-March, but was still experiencing a lot of pregnancy-related fatigue and wound up putting the project on the back burner just so I could conserve the small amount of energy I did have to get us through the end of the school year. Now we're done with school, Jimmy is at Cub Scout day camp this week, and I figured it was the perfect time to cross this quilt off my to-do list. I finished cutting out the last of the squares yesterday, so for the next couple days, I'll be busy sewing, tying and binding.

Yes, I'm nesting; can you tell?

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