Time and Money 2

Good news, guys! Happy new year! We’ve achieved the season that has a fatal fascination for me – the one where I add up the time and money I spent on sewing and then make the numbers into colorful data pie. One thing you won’t see anywhere is mask sewing, for the following reasons. It cost about $12 total (I used a lot of scraps); I consider it maintenance (of health, but it counts), more akin to mending; and I decided not to track anything about it because it’s a B U M M E R. So mask sewing is Sir-Not-Appearing-in-This-Spreadsheet.

Okay, biggest number first? Yes please! My total out-of-pocket spending this year was $891.57. That’s basically one winter coat less than last year ($1,077.29). My gift card/credit spending totaled $238.83. The overall expense, then, was $1,130.40. My birthday was the last ‘event’ before lockdown (I didn’t know it at the time) and thanks to the unnecessary but lovely generosity of my friends and family, I had a fistful of Gather Here gift cards to play with. I avoided using them in the mid-year when I preferred to put cash into the community but now I’m alternating purchases between cash and credit. Shop by appointment, by the way, is AMAZING – I didn’t realize how hungry my eyes were until I got to go look at everything. Fabric shopping in person is so satisfying.

Per ush, fabric is the biggest slice. Of course, there’s notions and patterns too. Specifically:

A lot of my numbers are similar to last year since I have a natural stopping point when it comes to spending money (basically a sense of ‘okay, that’s enough’). My new category is for machine maintenance, a word which took me 3 tries to spell, and of which I do not regret a dime. Anthony Ferranti fixed my Singer 4432 and he did an amazing job. He also intimated that with the wear and tear I put on my machine I might need to upgrade, possibly to an industrial model. I haven’t started researching that yet but I assume it will cost a GIGANTIC slice of pie.

My monthly expenditure, out-of-pocket, comes to $74.30; without gift cards that number would be $94.40. That feels reasonably reasonable. I bought boots again this year mainly because I love boots so much, plus some socks and underwear. I anticipate buying more boots in the future. I love them, SO MUCH. Otherwise that’s my sewing + clothing spend.   

I tried 12 new patterns. Two were free, and I spent that $116.07 on the rest, for an average of $11.60/paid pattern. I sewed all the patterns I bought this year, but I haven’t sewn all the patterns I bought last year or the year before that (I know I know, heap coals of fire on me). I don’t set myself goals really, but this year I’d like to use or rehome all the patterns I’ve already got. They’re not all pants, but yeah, it’s a lot of pants. It’s often pants, and otherwise shirts, as this chart shows –

It was the year of No Dresses! Professor Boyfriend was also a bit neglected, with only 5 items total. Poor lambchop. The ‘shirts’ slice includes knits and button-ups but it was mainly knits this year, which is a departure for me. A lot of those accessories are baseball caps!

This represents 50 total makes, or about one a week; 10 of those are giveaways. A full 20%. Not great. In fact, worse than last year. A lot of my failures come from the season when I was sewing somewhat recklessly as a stress response (and making big batches of pierogi and paczki, I guess stress makes me Polish). It definitely helped me cope – it’s a great way to eat up hours when what you really want is for time to move forward – but it wasn’t great work. I’ve started adding notes to my spreadsheet when I give something away, and here’s the various categories:

fit (too small)

fit (too loose)

quality of work

pattern/fabric mismatch

fabric bums me out


fit (just no)

I don’t really resent the style failures, since you don’t know until you try. Also, the pattern/fabric mismatches were often a result of using my scraps, so they’re hopefully not as wasteful as they seem. I’ve got to up my fit though! A one-fifth failure rate is not a number I love!

My average cost-per-make without gift cards/credit was $17.83, and including gift cards/credit was $22.60.

Fabric type ahoy:

This is some biased and arbitrary fabric typing, but it’s how I think of the categories. If I keep sewing with knits at this same rate (10/50, or 20% – a recurring number!) I might have to sub-type those, gulp! The rayon and tencel were already in my possession; I bought the viscose this year and regretted it. It was the fancy Atelier Brunette stuff and I don’t care. I hate it. I wouldn’t sew it again with a ten-foot pole. It received the unique designation of being the fabric that bummed me out. In general, I love fabrics I can iron with abandon – great big clouds of steam please!

My final category is *when* I made these projects, successfully or otherwise. No surprises here.

A spike at the end of the school year when it became clear the pandemic would be long-term and there was nothing to distract me from that fact? HMM MYSTERIOUS. As usual I slow down at the end of the year, which is often my busiest freelance quarter. My hours spent include tracing/cutting patterns, cutting fabric, and sewing, but not shopping, washing fabric, research, or mending. They total 271.25. That’s about 5.25 hours per week. That’s down quite a bit from last year’s 335 hours but it’s only about an hour less per week. Again, a lot of that can be attributed to last year’s winter coat, but I was actually expecting a bump in hours. I mean, what else did I have going on? Mask sewing? Oh right. Well, I didn’t put it in the spreadsheet, so I gave myself the gift of not knowing. And I’m ready to say goodbye to these 2020 Pantone coordinates – that last batch is yuck!

It’s hard to picture optimism without a healthy dose of caution, but I’m ready to get this 2021 party started. I’ve got a fresh Excel file and lots of last year’s pants to tell you about already – hope to see you there. My full 2020 spreadsheet can be accessed here, for the curious/masochistic. And as always, if you’ve got data to share, I’d love to see it. 😊

10 thoughts on “Time and Money 2

  1. It’s the scientist in me (biologist, teacher, nature guide) I guess because I totally love that you quantify everything! I have never done it for my sewing. Maybe it’s because I: 1. have a stack of unused fabric, 2. a stack of unused patterns,or 3. don’t want to know how much I spend (frivolously….) on my habit. I am inspired by your post. As for mask making, I think I am over 115 so far and, ugh, I can’t do it anymore. Thanks for your regular posts.


    1. Thanks so much! Oof, 115, that’s impressive! I’m sure I didn’t reach those numbers. Well done, you definitely earned a break! (Also: ‘nature guide’ sounds like a totally lovely occupation. I hope you get to spend some peaceful and restorative time in nature soon, especially after the Wednesday this turned out to be!)


  2. This spreadsheet is amazing. I take a lot of notes on my sewing but have not quantified any of it. I’ve tried in the past with both money and time but I failed on both accounts. For money, I haven’t figured out a good way to itemize notions (shipping! taxes! also just lazy!) and for time, well, I just kinda lose track of time. I do tend to track the total amount of $ I spend on craft-related things, just in my regular budget. However, your plots are amazing to look at and inspiring me to try harder at quantifying my crafting!


    1. I should be doing a better job integrating this into my regular budget – but I prefer not to know until the end, so it’s actually a highly irresponsible and enabling spreadsheet, haha! I add shipping in with its fabric cost, and anything I really can’t find a place for I just shove down at the bottom. And thank you! I feel like for some people sharing a spreadsheet is the epitome of boring but for some of us it’s (luckily) fun! 😀


  3. Hi there! I love your annual reports. Especially your pie charts, so pretty. I don’t know how to do those. I’m late responding to your post, because I had to go off and complete my own annual “taking stock” efforts. This is what I discovered for myself.

    I made 54 different items: 40 for me, 14 for others. (I put all my mask making as 1 item, but that collective “one” applied only to masks because, like you, I’d rather forget about that sewing.) This total is a bit lower for me than usual, but according to my Goodreads records my reading was way up so that’s that. The sewing highlights included a winter coat and a bathing suit for me, a squirrel costume and a deer costume for my 2 young granddaughters, and a Louis Vuitton knockoff sling bag for my 19 year old grandson (a huge success as far as he is concerned). My most used pattern was the closet core Cielo. I also used 4 different Seamwork patterns, all of which turned out.

    I purchased 61 metres of fabric, and used 77 metres. Each year I’m getting better at thinning my stash. I used 40 different patterns: 12 big 4 + Burda paper, 20 independent, 8 self-drafted. I purchased 13 patterns online, but did not keep track of paper pattern purchases, which would have been thrifted.

    This year, unlike the past couple years, I did not calculate the amount spent on my sewing. This year, I just don’t care. I did take note of the gift cards you’d received, and decided to comment to my husband that a gift card from Blackbird Fabrics would always be welcome if he was ever uncertain about what to give me for special events. He quickly responded with a $200 card for my January birthday!! Nice 😉

    Anyway, thank you for the encouragement to do this work. Happy 2021!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Susan, do you share your sewing anywhere? I’m enchanted at the idea of these squirrel and deer costumes (and I want a look at your winter coat as well! 😀). I also really like the idea of sorting patterns by company as well as type, not to mention tracking specific yardage…it would be fun to be able to say ‘my sewn yardage could go from here to there’. How many years to sew a mile?, and so (sew!) on.
      Your husband is wise in the ways of gift-giving! Happy new year, and happy birthday!! 🥳


      1. I take a photo of everything I make, but I never share them anywhere, except in messages with my daughter. I like having a visual record, but I am deeply introverted, or maybe just private. And I don’t know how to include a photo link in a blog reply, though I suppose there must be a way.
        I use the excel Fabric Stash Shrinker to encourage me to use all my fabric, not just the most recently purchased. https://www.sewjourners.net/2018/01/02/stash-shrinker/
        Also, looking ahead, I don’t want to be one of those women who leaves behind a huge stash for her children to deal with!
        Is this my coat?:


      2. I’m glad you keep a record of your creativity! I like blogging because otherwise I wouldn’t take pictures, but I prefer sharing in ‘my’ space, not IG or anything, so it makes sense to me that your pictures are just for you! That said – your coat is beautiful. So cozy and a cheerful color! I especially like the way the collar goes up high in the back. It looks just right for this gloomy winter!


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