Quilling is an expensive hobby and it can be hard to find affordable fabric for quilting that you like.
But the good news is, it is possible to get your hands on amazing, high-quality fabric at affordable prices if you know where to look!
If you follow my YouTube channel you might already know that I love a good eBay fabric haul. But that isn’t the only way I buy fabric for making quilts.
Below are 9 ways (plus two cheeky bonus ones) that I use to save money while building my quilting fabric stash.
I’d love to hear about any other ways you use as well! So do leave me a comment if I’ve missed anything!
P.S. there is also a video version of this post if you prefer!
Table of Contents:
- Ways to Buy Cheap Fabric
- Video: 9 Ways to Buy Cheap Fabric for Quilting
- Top Tips
- Frequently Asked Questions
Ways to Buy Cheap Fabric
There will be lots of local places to find cheap fabric but below are some that are not as location-specific including online options. I hope you find a new favorite place to get a fabric bargain!
EBay is one of the best online fabric stores and it is where I buy the majority of my fabric. Most of it is from private sellers – either folk destashing themselves or selling things from a house clearance.
But I have also bought from quilt shops and fabric stores on eBay who use it to sell clearance fabrics, remnants, bolt ends, and scrap bags.
I have bought everything from unfinished patchwork to multiple meters (yards if you are in the US) of cotton fabric, fabric strips, denim remnants, and smaller lucky dip scrap bags too.
I have a whole playlist on my YouTube channel of eBay hauls and some price comparisons with store-bought fabric.
Here is my eBay fabric-buying process:
- Pick a search term depending on what I am looking for that day. These are my favorites:
- Fabric Remnants
- Fabric Offcuts
- Fabric Scraps
- Quilting Scraps
- Quilting Cotton
- Bolt Ends
- Denim Offcuts
3. Apply Filters to your search. Here are mine:
- Ending soonest
- Locaton: UK (obviously filter to wherever you are)
- Condition: Used (I don’t always do this because some people will list destash fabric as ‘new fabrics’ but if I’m seeing too many commercial listings I will filter to used)
- Material: Cotton (or whatever you are looking for)
I am not usually searching for a particular project when I do this so it is more of an exercise in stash building or creating a project around the best deals on fabric.
So that is why I filer ‘ending soonest’ instead of ‘best match’. I want to see a realistic price for what I’m looking at and as most eBay sales are in the auction format the closer you get to the end of the listing the more realistic the price is going to be.
If you prefer to search for a particular color or type of fabric you might want to watch a lot of listings before you commit to bidding.
Both the Tula Pink scraps pictured above and the 3-meter teal and white striped shirting cotton were bought off eBay.
If you scroll down to the YouTube video version of this post you will also see a short video clip in there of a massive haul of grey and white fabric strips and fat quarters I bought from a woman on eBay who was clearing out her remnant bin after making several grey and white quilts – it was an amazing find!
I always recommend bidding your highest bid in the last 10 seconds of an auction to stand your best chance of winning it at a good price.
If you bid too early you can drive up the price ahead of time unnecessarily.
Obviously not all eBay auctions will end at a convenient time though, so if you can’t bid at the exact time the listing ends just bid the most you would be willing to pay and hope for the best!
Note: You don’t have to limit yourself to quilting cotton on ebay either, you can get creative and save even more money. I often buy good quality secondhand duvet covers and cut them in two to use as quilt backings – you can read more about it in my post about 9 ideas for quilt backing fabric.
Facebook Fabric Destash Groups
Another way to find great deals on all kinds of amazing fabric is through Facebook Fabric Destash Groups.
These are groups dedicated to buying and selling fabric from person to person.
You can find a group local to you by searching under groups on Facebook for ‘fabric destash’. I am in several UK groups and I am certain there will be similar groups in other countries.
Below is a photo of a few bits I bought from a destash group lately.
These groups aren’t usually purely for quilting cotton though.
You will tend to find a mix of quilters and garment sewers so there will be different weights of material on offer and you need to read the descriptions and ask questions to make sure the fabric will be right for your project.
Payment is usually via PayPal so you do have some protection if your purchase doesn’t arrive but that has never happened to me personally.
In the groups, I am in you do also see online stores posting claiming they are doing a clearance and offering discount prices or wholesale prices but it isn’t always different from their regular prices. So just make sure you feel like what you are buying is a good bargain for you.
As well as having lots of garment sewing fabric these groups tend to sell a lot of polyester fabric as well – which is fine if you know that is what you are buying but if you see something and think it looks too cheap to believe – then it might be worth double checking if it is cotton or polyester.
Once you are a member of these facebook groups of course you can also sell your own fabric online to declutter your sewing space and make room for all your new bargains. I have another post all about 3 Ways to Sell Fabric Online.
Feel Good Fibres
This next suggestion is one that unfortunately I can’t test myself as I’m in the UK and it is a USA-based site.
I heard about Feel Good Fibres on a podcast and looked it up and it had so many beautiful fabrics on it I was gutted that it was the United States only!
Basically, it is a buy-and-sell site similar to eBay or a destash group – it’s all for offloading your high-quality fabrics that you aren’t going to make use of yourself.
I saw all sorts of fab quilting fabrics on there when I was having a browse so if you are in the US it is definitely worth a try – I will be so jealous of you if you find a good deal on there too!
Quilt Shop Bargains
I know some quilters who don’t like buying their fabric online or secondhand from other quilters as they feel like that’s being disloyal to small quilt shops and local fabric stores.
I think all the fabric has to come from somewhere so the person you bought it from probably bought it from a quilt shop originally…but anyway…if you too feel like you want to support your local quilt shop there are still ways to do this and save money at the same time.
Remnants & Bolt Ends
Most quilt shops, either in the shop or on their online store will have sale items or a clearance section for remnants, offcuts, or bolt ends (sometimes called bale ends or roll ends too).
One of my recent quilt shop remnant purchases is in the photo below.
Many quilt stores will also make up their own scrap bags too.
Quilt shops tend to sell fabric in set sizes, meters or yards, fat quarters, half meters, etc.
So depending on what gets sold when and how it is cut, they may end up with pieces of extra fabric that don’t quite fit into any of their standard measurements so that is when they will package them up into fun scrap bags which are great for scrappy quilters like me.
I want to point out that it is not just prints that nobody wants, novelty prints, or special occasion fabric that ends up in scrap bags.
I have also bought scrap bags of good quality solid quilting cotton, Essex linen fabric, and big name designers like Tula Pink
As well as scrap bags I’ve also bought lucky dip parcels from quilt shops as well.
These can be either half-yard or fat quarter bundles usually made up of clearance fabric that needs to be moved on to make space for new stock or fabrics that just aren’t selling well.
It all depends on what kind of a quilter you are whether you will be attracted to a lucky dip parcel or a scrap bag.
For me even if I’m following someone’s written pattern, I would often do it a bit scrappy anyway – so that’s why I love shopping like this.
If you’re not local to any good quilt shops but you would still prefer to buy from a small business Etsy can be a good option.
Many quilt shops also sell on Etsy as well as small businesses making small-batch hand died fabric.
If you like buying scrap bags and bundles you can search for those on Etsy and find specific listings for that from a range of sellers.
I’ve had some really good buys on Etsy from low-volume lucky dip fat quarter bundles (see photo above) to beautiful fabric remnants from lampshade makers selling their scraps.
Fabric Company Scrap Bags
Some fabric companies regularly sell ‘scrap bags’.
I have bought several Moda Scrap Bags and I’ve reviewed them on my blog as well. You can check out one of my Moda Scrap Bag Reviews here.
I know Ruby Star Society also sells scrap bags – there may be others that I’m not aware of!
Generally, these bags are rolls of fabric strips similar to a jelly roll – they tend to come from one fabric line and be roughly 2.5″ wide but not always exactly that size.
They also often will have several pieces with the selvage edge visible.
These scrap bags can be great for string quilts and binding strips too.
Another online option for buying inexpensive fabric is to search for ‘deadstock fabric’.
Deadstock is a term largely from the fashion industry but it can apply to any kind of fabric.
It is the result of overproduction of a particular line of fabric or sometimes small errors in the fabric printing that makes it unusable for its intended purpose.
But it is not just garment sewing fabrics that are sold as deadstock, you can also find quilting cotton on a lot of these websites or other types of fabric that can be used in both garment sewing and quilting like linen, denim, and chambray.
Relative to other bargain shopping methods for quilters, you are more likely to find large amounts of fabric if you are shopping for deadstock fabrics (as opposed to scrap bags).
But by definition, there is a finite stock of these fabrics so you will still need to keep quantity in mind when buying. You can probably find yards of fabric at a time but you may not be able to come back the next week or month and buy more of the same.
Prices will range for deadstock fabric but they can often be comparable to the price of wholesale fabric so there are some good deals to find.
Thrift Shops & Charity Shops
This is probably the most well-known offline option for buying cheap fabric.
But just as a reminder, have a look in your local thrift store – or in the UK we call them charity shops.
The one near me does have a section for knitting supplies, fabric, and buttons. So occasionally I’ll find something there.
However most thrift shops and charity shops probably don’t have cut fabric for you to buy, it’s more about getting creative with things like sheets, duvet covers, pillowcases, tablecloths, old curtains, and things of that nature.
You can check the quality of the material by looking at any available labels or feeling the fabric in your hands and making a judgment about whether you can work with it.
If you like working with vintage fabrics or vintage prints, thrift stores can be a great way to save money.
The photo above are some duvet covers (actually bought on eBay but you could find similar ones in thrift shops) that I use for quilt backs.
Yard Sales & Garage Sales
I am originally from Canada – before moving to the UK – so I remember yard sales and garage sales with fondness. We don’t have them so much here.
If you are somewhere where these kinds of front yard sales are a common occurrence they are also a great place to look for fabric or items made of fabric that you can deconstruct and repurpose for quilting.
Occasionally you can get lucky and find someone destashing their own or a relative’s quilting stash right there on their front lawn!
Family and Friends
Obviously, the cheapest way to get fabric is free.
So if you are into repurposing and upcycling reclaimed fabric then there is no easier way to get your hands on some fabric than to ask around the people you know to see if anyone is going through a declutter and wants to offload some old clothes, bedding or towels.
I’ve used old towels for batting in several of my first quilts and I’m not opposed to doing it again – they’ve held up fine.
A big cotton bath sheet can be the perfect size as batting for a baby quilt for example.
As I mentioned above I often will use an old duvet cover for a quilt backing.
I also know people who use the old blankets as batting and for summertime quilts sometimes just a flannel sheet for batting too.
Quilt Shop Newsletters for Flash Sales
If you really just like to buy fabric in regular cuts like fat quarters & pre-cuts like charm packs, or you like buying several meters of fabric at a time, another way to grab a bargain is to sign up for the email list for your favorite quilt shops’ newsletter.
This way you will be the first to hear about exclusive offers, sitewide sales, coupon offers, and discount fabric.
I belong to a few newsletters but there is a woman in my quilt guild who seems to monitor quilt shop sales for a living or something as she is constantly sending messages to us all with news of a flash sale or quick weekend promotion in different shops.
If you don’t want to miss a sale, newsletters are a great tool.
Video: 9 Ways to Buy Cheap Fabric for Quilting
- Make sure you inspect second-hand fabric for tears or worn spots that may make the remnant less than ideal for use in a quilt (although many imperfections you can cut around of course!).
- If you are using T-shirts or a very lightweight material in a quilt you should use a stabilizer on the back, such as shear fusible interfacing. This can be ironed onto each square before constructing your quilt.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can de-construct bed sheets, curtains, tablecloths, and cloth napkins as well as old clothing like men’s shirts, denim, corduroy, and of course cotton and polyester.
If you are in the United States, you can find a limited selection of fabric at Hobby Lobby and Walmart. Joanne fabric has a much larger selection of fabric and frequently has coupons and sales.
If you don’t need large cuts of fabric for a particular quilt you can certainly use clothing. You can find dresses or shirts at thrift stores or vintage stores that have the perfect pattern or print and these can easily be re-purposed for a quilt.
Any more ideas?
I hope even if you are already a seasoned bargain hunter, that you’ve found a few new things to Google and check out from this list.
And let me know if it helped you find any fabric bargains and what you made with them. I’d love to hear about it!
Other Posts you might like:
- 9 Quilt Backing Ideas – From Super Simple to Super Scrappy!
- 7 Quilt as You Go Methods (No Hand-sewing!)
- 3 Ways to Sell Fabric Online & Declutter your Sewing Space
- 12 Stash Buster Sewing Projects for Quilters!
- Sewing Room Makeover – Again!
- How to Make a Quilt Design Wall (It worked!)
- 8 Ways to Label your Quilts – and why you should!
- Scrap Fabric Quilt Block Tutorial for Floral Scraps!