May 25, 2011

Tightwad Gazette II - Day 22 - May 25th

Today we are covering pages 188 through 194 in the Tightwad Gazette Book II. Today’s discussion is about making a quilt from used items. I really love this idea for making something out of otherwise useless or less than great items. Also Amy covers in these pages frugal Christmas gift giving.

It is the end of May, but honestly thinking about Christmas gift giving now is a very good idea. Start making things now such as handmade sewn gifts or you may come up with a great item at a yard sale for gift giving.

I am making a list of possible gifts for Christmas and I will be searching for these items over the summer at yard sales.


In this article Amy explores making quilts from used fabrics for personal use. Some states have restrictions on selling quilts made from used fabrics and batting but they are perfectly good for your own personal use.

Years and years ago quilts were made to use up scraps of fabric in order to turn them into a useful item. Amy says that by using second hand materials you can easily make a quilt for under $5.00.

Making quilts from scraps can be a challenge when you are trying to coordinate colors. Sometimes the results aren’t always perfect, but you kind of like that. “Accepting the less than perfect result is actually liberating.”

Settle on a basic pattern and color scheme and go from there. Amy made her first quilt using scraps and used materials for 95 cents.

Amy took a pillowcase (one of her kids had cut a hole in it) and a matching bottom sheet (ruined by someone who dumped makeup on it) and she cut these up for quilt squares. The other sheet that went with the set she used for the quilt backing. These were a bright pink color and hence her color scheme began. These ruined sheets and pillowcase along with a twin sized comforter became the beginning of a girls’ new quilt.

Amy designed a square using 50 percent of the pink sheet fabric and the rest would come from other fabrics. Basically she made 1 square out of 2 triangle pieces of fabric sewn together. These were complimented by squares of fabric. She looked at yard sales for pink flowery print clothes and was able to find some for a total of 85 cents. She also had a couple of stained flowery blouses and a dress that she sacrificed for the quilt.

Amy sewed the pieces together on her sewing machine and pieced them together again using her sewing machine. She bought a ball of embroidery cotton for 10 cents at a yard sale to tie the quilt.

The old comforter was used as “batting.” The good sheet was used for the backing. After she had pieced the quilt, sewn it together and tied it, she ended up with a beautiful quilt for her daughter’s bed.

This is what Amy learned, that she could make a unique piece of bedding for her family. Also the great advantage to making a quilt from scraps is that you can use clothing that is torn, stained and otherwise unusable as long as the fabric isn’t too worn. You can also create a memory quilt using pieces of fabric from favorite out grown outfits.

Amy loved this and felt it was a great hobby for people with limited time as they could sew a few quilt squares at a time.


When money is tight, you can still give Christmas gifts but you may have to have a plan.

The Upfront Plan

1. Talk about it. When you have family members together such as at a graduation celebration or a summer reunion, talk about Christmas gift giving for the family. Specifically talk about cutting back and giving frugal gifts. These frugal gifts could be handmade, from a thrift store and so on. You could draw names, shift to household gifts, suggest swapping of services such as free babysitting, and yard mowing, bread making over the coming year. Set a spending limit for everyone to spend on each person.

2. The Covert Plan.

“If it’s too late to discuss the problem with your family this year or if you are sure the discussion would be fruitless, try showing them.” Amy goes on to say that with some creativity you can show others that you can give them nice gifts. Here are some guidelines:

A. To successfully convert people, your gift giving must be excellent. Gifts that are inappropriate or poorly made will fail.

B. Start slowly. It might take a few years to get everyone to give up extravagant, expensive gifts.

C. Provide information. If someone thinks your gift is store bought, tell them you made it.

D. Be confident. Never apologize for the humbleness of your gift.

“In attempting either the upfront plan or the covert plan, it helps to explain why you want to save money. If you choose the upfront plan, this reason should be a part of your discussion. If you choose the covert plan, frequently mention your financial goals to those around you. If you let everyone know you are saving for a down payment on a house, what reasonable person could fault you? But if others still see your frugal gift giving as poor, cheap and/or thoughtless use the Buzz off plan.”

“It’s unreasonable for others to expect you to spend in accordance with their values.

For tomorrow we will cover pages 196 through 204. This reading will cover Christmas gift giving.

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