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
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. 😊