Interview modern sustainable quilter: Prickly Pear Quilts
Prickly Pear Quilts: Modern quilts with reclaimed fabrics
21 oktober 2021 
9 min. read

Prickly Pear Quilts: Modern quilts with reclaimed fabrics

Introduction: Modern quilts with reclaimed fabrics

Prickly Pear Quilts makes quilts from reclaimed fabrics. What I love about her work is that it has a clean, modern look. This shows perfectly that style is not limited at all when quilting sustainably! Find her on Instagram @pricklypearquilting.

Let's get to know Prickly Pear Quilts through  an interview.

Interview: who is Prickly Pear Quilting?


Business card Prickly Pear Quilts

What kind of work do you make with textiles?

I create quilts, home goods, and personal care items made primarily with reclaimed materials. 


There are generally no leftovers from my projects. As pieces of material steadily become smaller and smaller, they are used for different kind of projects

two shades of denim quilted pillow with a striped design by prickly pear quilts. Made from reclaimed fabrics

How did you end up working with reclaimed materials?

Working with reclaimed materials began as a necessity. As a low-income person, I searched them out as they were a low-cost option for my then-hobby. Over the years, I have become more cognizant of the environmental impact textile waste has, and have actively sought to use reclaimed materials.


Where do you get your materials?

Materials are sourced from thrift shops, textile recyclers, and community members. 

Triangles and flowers quilt green and blue  by prickly pear quilts with reclaimed fabrics

What do you do with leftovers from creating your products?

There are generally no leftovers from my projects. As pieces of material steadily become smaller and smaller, they are used for projects such as trivets/pot holders, washable makeup remover pads, and washable menstrual products. The absolute scraps, including cut threads, are used as stuffing for pet toys. This process ensures that nothing is wasted, nor goes to landfill.


Do your best to be mindful of how much waste you produce, and how improvements could be made. It may be overwhelming at first, but taking small steps to reduce waste will help ease you into good habits


What is important for you to decide which materials to use and where to get it? 

Choosing reclaimed textiles responsibly can come with its own challenges. As fast-fashion has proliferated the market, it’s important to take note of the quality of textiles before reusing them. High-quality materials will be evident in the weave and weight of the textile. Low-quality textiles may be better suited to use as stuffing for projects such as poufs, pillows, and pet toys. 


Which role does sustainability / the environment play in your decisions to get materials?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States alone generated 17 million pounds of textile waste (clothing, footwear, drapery, bedding, towels, etc) in 2018. Of that amount, only 15% was diverted from the landfill by being donated to charity, repurposed, or recycled. Post-consumer textile waste accounted for approximately 8% of overall waste generation. 

Reclaimed fabrics pillow case with white, grey and black by Prickly Pear Quilts


I wholeheartedly believe that any crafting project instils a sense of accomplishment and pride in the maker.


Why is fabric art / craft important to you?

I wholeheartedly believe that any crafting project instils a sense of accomplishment and pride in the maker. It can also foster social bonds within communities, such as those found in quilting guilds. 


Do you think the world would be a better place if more people made stuff with their own hands, and if yes / no why?

Absolutely. Not only will a person learn a new skill which may prove useful practically (think of mending and hemming clothing and household textiles), but will also appreciate the amount of time and work that goes into the handicraft of others. 

Red and green quilt by prickly pear quilting made with reclaimed fabrics

How does creativity work for you/what ignites your idea machine? 

Most of the patterns/blocks I use are of traditional design, or self-drafted. I will generally start with a colour palette (I’m a huge fan of complementary and monochromatic schemes). 

Using primarily reclaimed textiles requires a tremendous amount of balance, creativity, and flexibility. As an example, there may not be as much of a particular pattern/colour available as hoped for, or a piece of batting may not be the desired size to fit a quilt top.


Which tips can you give beginning artists?

You won’t be great at first, and that’s normal. Practice makes it better. Over time, you will gain the confidence to undertake more challenging projects.

Realize the importance of establishing good habits from the beginning, such as squaring up your material, pressing your seams, and measuring twice before cutting!

Denim quilt with light and dark demin in a square in square quilt pattern by prickly pear quilting

What tips can you give crafters to work more sustainably?

Do your best to be mindful of how much waste you produce, and how improvements could be made. It may be overwhelming at first, but taking small steps to reduce waste will help ease you into good habits. 

Examples of such include, but are not limited to: re-sharpening tools instead of buying new, finding creative ways of using scraps, and seeking out materials and tools that other crafters may not use. If you have scraps of your own that are no longer wanted, put them up for grabs online - no doubt you will have a taker!


Using primarily reclaimed textiles requires a tremendous amount of balance, creativity, and flexibility.


Conclusion: Create clean-looking quilts with reclaimed fabrics!

Any kind of quilting style is possible while quilting sustainably. It's all a matter of creativity. 


What do you think: is quilting sustainably possible in every style?

About the author
Quilting has made me a stronger, more developed, and joyful person, and I've seen the same in many other people. Creativity is key to finding joy in life. There are many ways of being creative, I am your teacher in the quilting fabrication department.
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Do you want to upcycle clothes into quilts too?

The 'Quilting Out of Your Home'  e-book teaches you how to create beautiful quilts with stuff you already own!


For example, turn the old shirts of your husband into a quilted laptop sleeve. Or turn the outgrown clothes of your children into a quilt for their bed.

If you enrol for the newsletter, you get the e-book as a gift. And I promise you I won't send spam, only the occasional tips and inspiration to recycle old fabrics into new items.

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