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The Evil Lure of ”Cost-Effective” Quilting

Non quilters never seem to realize that quilting isn’t necessarily an inexpensive hobby. I’ve encountered many people who seem to think that because you can buy a comforter or quilt at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for under $100, that making one should be similarly priced. We know differently. Even if you use only scraps from your stash and quilt it yourself, a bed-size quilt is not cheap, especially if you factor in the time it takes to sew it. But as quilters, we don’t care.

Much like running into a door or wall, something I’ve done more and more lately as my pregnant belly grows, this reality hit me smack in the face recently. I’ve been shopping for diaper bags and knew exactly what I wanted: this Vera Bradley bag.




However, it cost $95. There’s no way I could justify that for a diaper bag! So instead, what did I do? I decided, three weeks before my due date with a to-do list a mile long, that I would make my own bag. I bought a pattern last week and Saturday morning headed to my local quilt shop. Thirty minutes later, I walked out, having spent $55 on fabric, a zipper, and other supplies to make my diaper bag. So much for major cost savings! My husband was horrified when I mentioned the $95 bag to him…I wonder if the $55 bag that prevented me from cooking and cleaning all weekend while I sewed it sounds better to him?!

Combined with the ten hours I spent making it, maybe I should have just splurged and spent the extra $40 to buy the one I originally had my eye on! Seriously, though, I’m really happy with the way the bag turned out. Not only did I pick the ”perfect” fabric rather than settling on something I mostly liked, I was able to customize the pattern and add some additional pockets to make it just how I wanted. I will say right now…I’ll make quilts galore rather than buy mass-assembled décor, and I’ve made several bags and purses. I have drawn the line at how far I’ll go: I won’t be sewing baby clothes!

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  • Linda says:

    Posted April 3, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    I was just discussing diapers bags with my daughter. She said her strap just broke on hers. I mentioned that it seems you need two diaper bags per child, as they wear out before the child is out of the “no diaper bag stage”. She said she thought that was true, however, the higher end bag ($65.00)had lasted longer. So I’m wondering since you make this yourself (and it will be better made) will is last long enough? It’s a beautiful bag, and I hope it will.

  • Jan says:

    Posted January 24, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Actually, baby clothes are pretty easy to do and the originality that you can add to it makes it worth the effort to me. Just as I don’t want a store-bought quilt covering my babies, I really love to see them in custom clothing I made.

    I will say though, that it helps to have several children of staggering ages so that all your hard work lasts for more than the couple of months before your toddler outgrows it! But even then there are ways to make toddler outfits that can handle a couple of size changes.

    Oh…and of course, the oohs and ahhs everywhere your toddler toddles is as nice a boost as when guests to your home ooh and ahh over your quilts and wall hangings. The nice part is that my toddlers are out and about more than my bedquilts, so the oohs come more often.

  • Dee says:

    Posted July 11, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    I was discussing fabric costs earlier today. And while not dismissing claims that fabric is expensive – you can’t put a pricetag on the emotional gift you are giving yourself, your child(ren) and your handcrafts could be the legacy you leave to your grandchildren. I didn’t get to meet my Grandmother, ever. So, items she created are precious to me. And everybody in the world could have that Vera Bradley bag or a $15 dress from walmart – there is only ONE bag like the one you created. Even if someone uses those same materials, it won’t be the same as yours. The cost of quilting and sewing IS high, but the return on your investment makes it priceless. Just my opinion.

  • Paula says:

    Posted December 28, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    For Christmas my daughter-in-law wanted “a book bag that will carry the 300-pound textbook.” Her three teen girls wanted bookbags too. I had little money but a very large fabric stash. I used Creative Thimble’s Professional Tote Bag pattern. For daughter-in-law I installed the top zipper. For the three teens I omitted the top zipper and finished the top edges in different ways. Most of my stash was “sale” fabric from past years, but the iron-on fleece (essential) was rather expensive. Even so, it was worth it to give them very personalized bags in their favorite colors. On Etsy I saw similar book/tote/diaper bags for $85.

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