Repurposed Garments: A Return to Quilt Origins

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Memory quilts from shirts and t-shirts hearken back to early American use of garments, bedding, and remnants as a quilt base, unlike today's popular source being all new fabric.

According to the Craft Industry Alliance the quilting industry has decreased 10% from the 33 million quilters during the pandemic. However, the projection of $5 billion spending by 2026-2027 is indictive of the popularity. "According to the survey summary, there are currently over 85 million “active creatives” in the US and Canada representing more than $35 billion in sales (an “active creative” is defined as an individual who has made a creative project in the past 12 months)." The Size of the Quilting Market: Quilting Trends Survey Results 2022 - Craft Industry Alliance

Conversely, the popularity of memory quilts from garments is gaining interest; whether it's t-shirts, baseball caps, or familiar shirts.  A growing interest by millennials, Generation Y or Z of flea markets, estate sales, and thrift shops for their garments has not yet translated to the same volume in the craft community nor are statistics easily obtained or even calculated by industry sources focused on new products sold by retailers.

However, the cost of fabric for a quilt starts at $4.99/yd on sale to $19.95 for quality prints.  Whereas a man's shirt, equivalent to a yard and a half of fabric, can easily be purchased at a thrift store or estate sale for $2-$17 and often new or barely worn! Many are sold colors, others with vivid prints that easily translate to a colorful design. Even garments that are no longer a current style offer an excellent resource for linen, silk, and quality cotton at a fraction of new-on-bolt costs.

And as an example, our friend has a current sale with men's shirts and an upcoming sale March-8th-10th with over a hundred garments....some new with tags (NWT)!

Resources:

How to Reuse and Repurpose as a Quilter: Tips for Sustainable Sewing - Diary of a Quilter

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