A subject near and dear to my heart today: how to start a quilt collection!

When I was a kid growing up in rural Ontario, it was extremely common to see quilts up for raffle: every Church picnic, bazaar, turkey dinner, and local fundraiser seemed to have one. And all I can say now is, my gosh, what a missed opportunity! It did not really register for me as a child how special it was to live among so many quilters … but if I saw a quilt raffle right now, I tell you, I would buy up all the tickets I could.

Luckily, if you love handmade quilts and have been wondering how to get your hands on your very own, there are ways. Slowly but surely I’ve been building my own collection over the last few years, and I’ve got some tips for you. (Hint: each and every one that I’ve acquired is thanks to following quilters and being part of the online quilting community.)

starting a quilt collectionPictured above, clockwise from left: Mini Quilt in Leah Duncan fabric by Cecilia, Quilted Wall Hanging No. 3 by Laura Ward of Craft Takeover, Patchwork Quilt by Rosebud & Penny, Taffy Pull Quilt by Lindsey of Pen & Paper Patterns, Ribbon Letters Quilt by me.

So how can you start your very own quilt collection?

Charity auctions

Quilters are a generous group, quick to jump into action wherever needed by donating quilts, whether it’s for victims of a crisis or natural disaster, or a particular family or fellow quilter in need. I picked up my Taffy Pull Quilt by Lindsey of Pen & Paper Patterns by successfully bidding on her quilt in a charity auction. Keep your eyes peeled (on Instagram especially) and you’ll eventually come across an opportunity to buy a handmade quilt while supporting a good cause.

Swaps

If you’re a quilter yourself this is a great way to expand your collection to include the work of other quilters. It’s also a good way to meet other quilters and push your creative boundaries, because in exchange you’ll be sewing something up to fit someone else’s wish list. The brief is usually to make a mini quilt or other small handmade items. A few years ago I ran a Leah Duncan swap, meaning every participant made a mini quilt using exclusively fabrics by this designer. The quilt by Cecilia that I received, with its complementary colours and graphic dots that were so skillfully constructed, completely blew me away and has a treasured spot on my wall.

Etsy

As you’ve probably noticed, there is some really incredible work to be found on Etsy. One of my favourite pieces ever is Quilted Wall Hanging No. 3 by Laura Ward of Craft Takeover. Such a huge part of the fun of collecting work by independent artists is being able to follow along as they create new work  – Laura has a really distinct style and I love seeing the new pieces she creates.

Instagram sales

Instagram sales are another great place to find quilts. Quilters are a dedicated bunch, often very prolific, and will sometimes clear out their quilts just to make room for more! I bought the Patchwork Quilt by Rosebud & Penny pictured above in one such sale. Again, the best way to find out about these is to follow the quilters you love on Instagram – if they have blogs or newsletters, be sure to subscribe to those as well.

Fabric company samples

Now these sales I haven’t come across in a while, but once upon a time fabric company sample sales seemed pretty common. They all run booths at the big quilt trade shows, booths that must be filled with finished quilts that show off the new collections. Scope out the companies that produce your favourite designer’s lines and see what might pop on their websites. (For example, Cloud 9 has a “marketplace” section on theirs and have sold samples there in the past.)

Make your own!

Finally, what better way to get started on a collection than to make your own? You know that gorgeous Taffy Pull Quilt I scored in the auction? You can actually make your own using the pattern from Pen & Paper Patterns. Maybe you want to make something that’s personalized? The pink number in the photo was made using the Ribbon Letters Pattern available in my shop. If you’re more the type to wing it, try an improv quilt from scraps, or keep it simple, and make a classic patchwork quilt using squares of the same size.

Resources

Like I said, the best way to find handmade quilts for sale is to follow quilters and their work online. (That goes for patterns too, if you’re going the DIY route) Once you start poking around, and one good find will lead to another and before you know it you’ll have a group of makers whose work you admire, and can start collecting.

(And quilters, if you have a shop where you sell finished quilts, please leave a link in the comments!)

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