How to Be A More Earth-Friendly Quilter

With so much gorgeous fabric in the world — and new lines of delicious prints coming out every season — it’s hard not to want to buy it all. But it’s also important to think about how our fabric choices can have an impact on the world. It seems impossible to imagine that one person’s purchasing habits can really make a difference when the world is so huge. But when we add all of our purchases together, it does have an effect. The good news is that when we all come together to change our habits for the better, we can make a positive impact. One easy way to make a difference is by incorporating some earth-friendly habits into our quilting practice.

If we each consciously choose to use fabrics that we already have in our homes, that we can repurpose, or that we can purchase second-hand (even part of the time), we can limit the number of resources needed to create new fabrics. We don’t have to change everything all at once. We can take small steps with each project, and over time, our eco-friendly actions will create the change we want to see.

In celebration of Earth Day, here are some ways that we can easily start making a difference today!


Shopping second hand is the perfect way to score deals on fabrics that are in great shape but no longer wanted by the original owner. What no longer fits someone’s aesthetic can be your good fortune! Shopping second-hand can help you to find those gems of fabrics no longer in print, but are just what you needed to finish a work in progress!

The takeaway: By buying used, you are saving the earth’s precious resources that would be needed to make a new piece of fabric.


Repurposed fabrics are those that you already have in your home that you can transform into quilting and garment projects. Think about shirts that you love but aren’t in good enough shape to donate; tablecloths that have stains on them; or jeans that no longer fit. Simply cut out the worn or stained parts of the fabric and use the rest to incorporate into a quilt, make a reusable tote for the market, or some other small project. Need some inspiration? Look no farther than these gorgeous quilts by Sherri Lynn Wood.

The takeaway: By not creating products using a new cotton crop, recycled cotton helps to reduce water and energy consumption. Plus, it helps to keep cotton clothes out of landfills.

Choose Renewable

Fabrics that are made from renewable resources are made from plants that can be regrown relatively quickly and using a limited number of chemicals. When it comes to batting, for example, bamboo is a hardy, renewable grass that is grown with a relatively low amount of chemicals needed. Similarly, organic cotton is grown without toxic pesticides, which make it an environmentally better option than conventional cottons. Even so, the processes to turn these plants into fabric are not without their flaws.

The takeaway: While we should aim to choose these fabrics whenever possible, it’s still best to buy less and buy second-hand before buying new if given the choice.

Get Scrappy

We’ve all got ’em! So why not use ’em? And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good scrappy quilt!?!

The takeaway: Saving scraps to use for future projects (and actually using them!) is a great eco-friendly way to make a difference!

Mend It

Visible mending is having a moment and with good reason. Taking the time to repair a worn and loved item makes a statement. It says “I care enough to use my valuable time to keep this item in use, rather than throwing it away.” That’s pretty powerful, isn’t it?

The takeaway: Taking the time to repair a worn garment or quilt can restore it to like-new. Before getting rid of something due to a hole or tear, try to fix it rather than sending it to the landfill.


Last but not least, is the make-do method. If you’ve ever been working on a project, checked your stash for fabric, and thought “I have nothing that works” then you’ve been confronted with a make-do moment. What if you challenged yourself to make-do, rather than purchasing a new “perfect” fabric? Your project might just turn out even better than you ever could have imagined!

The takeaway: Sometimes putting limits on ourselves forces us to stretch ourselves in new ways that we never thought possible. You might just rise to the challenge and end up with your best work yet!

Which method of eco-friendly quilting are you willing to try? Tell us in the comments!

Want more eco-friendly inspiration? Check out 5 Ways to Incorporate Secondhand Into Your Lifestyle and 4 Simple Questions to Ask When Buying Secondhand Fabric.