Tuesday, April 13, 2021

A to Z Quilt Challenge: K = Kits

 For the month of April, I have taken up Frédérique's Quilting Patchwork and Applique challenge to blog daily (except Sundays) on a quilt topic related to a letter of the alphabet.  

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As a quilter, one of the big topics in this craft is always fabric.  Last week, I got to talk about Fat Quarters and this week, let's talk about Quilt Kits!  

I usually accumulate my fabric stash by choosing a project first and then buying fabric.  So for me, a kit represents a quick and easy way to gather fabrics for a desired project.  This way someone else can do the work of expertly coordinating the prints and colors!

However, quilt kits are not the invention of our contemporary quilting generation, they have been around since the 1920's.  In a May 2004 Quilters Newsletter article on the subject, author Arlene Burgess explained how even back in the early twentieth century, magazines featured ads and patterns for quilt kits.  There were even pre-cut kits back then!  The kits that were offered were usually for applique designs and sometimes block kits were offered in exchange for a subscription.  I guess that is the original "Block of the Month"! 

Many early kits were designed and sold by women who operated "cottage industries" out of their homes.  Eventually the larger craft and needlework companies began offering them too.  In the same article, quilt historian Merikay Waldvogel said that according to a 2003 industry survey at least 30% of quilters had purchased a quilt kit.    

I have made a few quilts from kits....

Dino Sports, All Spruced Up and Valor

In the case of all the kits I've purchased, they were sold to highlight a specific (and usually newly released) fabric line.  Needless to say, I also still have more than a few kits to make up....

It has also been said that a kit will often be cheaper than sourcing the fabrics for a specific design yourself.  Purchase minimums can make buying the fabrics "off the bolt" for a project more expensive than getting a kit.  I will say that most kits are usually generous in the amount of fabric you get in them.  Often there is enough leftovers to either start a second project or make a table runner or mini quilt with them and a little additional fabric.  

The downside of kits are a lot like those with Block of the Months --- the assumption that having everything on hand means you will make it up faster.  In my experience, that may not necessarily happen so buyer aspirations beware!  I will also say that kits can be expensive.  I try to seek out kit sales which make them an even better deal.  Craftsy (at least under the old management) and Connecting Threads often have good deals on sale kits.   

Wondering if a quilt kit is for you?  Well, take the advice of QNM Editor Bonnie Lehman from a 1975 "The Needle's Eye" column:

"Here are some questions to ask yourself before buying (a kit):  How much would it cost me to make this same quilt design if I shopped for the materials and cut them myself?  What else will I need to finish this quilt besides the materials in this kit?  Are these other materials, if any, available? Is the time I will save using this kit worth the difference in its cost and the cost of the raw materials in it?"

She offers other good cautionary advice once you have your kit:

"It is not unusual to buy a kit...and find that you may be short (or long) a piece or two of fabric...However, this need not be a problem for you, as a consumer, if you open the kit as soon as you get it and check the contents.  If you are missing any ingredients, the time to find out is before you start putting the kit together.  Return it to the store, or write the company from which you bought it.  They will either replace the entire kit or supply you with the missing pieces...It is very hard to match fabrics in old kits.  So it is wise to make sure you have all you need to finish the project as soon as you buy the kit."

Ahh, the more things change, the more they stay the same!  Have you ever purchased a quilt kit?   

Linking up with Frédérique and the other Challengers at Quilting Patchwork and Applique.  Bonne journée!


Frédérique said...

Great K post, well done! I love the researches you made about kits history! I have never purchased a quilt kit, I guess if I do it one day it would be for material I don't have in my stash. Like wood and felt for an appliquéd project. Maybe ;)

Verveine&Lin said...

J'ai acheté un kit une seule fois et il manquait beaucoup de tissus. Et en France les kits sont très chers. Hélas, Connecting Thread n'expédie pas vers la France...

Jane said...

Just finished a kit I bought from Connecting Threads around 2013. The fabric is such good quality, and plenty of it!

Vireya said...

The only kit I've ever bought was for a Craftsy class, and I bought it when it was marked down 60%. Of course then I had to pay international postage, but it was a good deal. I made the quilt and had lots left over.