Time and Money 3

You like numbers? Baby, we got numbers.

If you ever close-read someone’s blog searching for clues about how much they spend on their hobby (“HOW much Liberty lawn went into the bottom tier? IN TER EST ING”) , search no more. I’ve been recording my expenses in detail since 2017; this is my third January with a blog, so my third entry in the series here (here’s 2019, and here’s 2020). My sense was that I had a spendy year but that wasn’t actually so. I bought some pricier fabrics, but also some cheaper ones, which balanced out. I also sewed fewer items overall.

Plus, I’m living the phrase ‘an embarrassment of riches’ – I hadn’t realized quite how generous my friends and family had been until I saw my gift and gift-card total tallied, so now I am blushing but also feeling very loved (and they know what I like!).  

Other people spent around $30 total more on my hobby than me! Eek! I could have thrown my knitted sweater into that pie chart, but I kept that expense separate, as I do the expense of blogging, leading to this discomfiting but not disagreeable outcome.

I spent less than $40 a month out-of-pocket. !!! So little for the amount of fun I had! It’s more like $75 per month when including other people’s money, which was more in line with my sense of my spending, though it’s still a not-too-expensive way to enjoy myself for lots and lot of hours. More on time later.

As always, this represents the lion’s share of my clothing spending. I bought a pair of Docs this year and have been wearing them nonstop since (high recommend!). I also spent around $20 on clothes from Goodwill for my Halloween costume, since they weren’t garments I wanted to sew or keep long-term. I was Messy Neighbor from Untitled Goose Game; Professor Boyfriend was obviously Tidy Neighbor. My real-life neighbors and actual human children spent the evening alternately pretending to be terrorist geese themselves and screaming at our trick-or-treaters to say “HONK” instead of “Happy Halloween”. It was a wonderful evening, well worth the Jackson!

This year’s spending is also lower because I made fewer garments, though at least one took a lot longer than average (my quilted jacket). That jacket represents 49 of my 224 total sewing hours, or 21%.

Over the year I sewed, on average, around 4 1/3 hours per week, or about 1 network drama per day. I sewed the kind of stuff I usually sew!

The oh-so-helpful category ‘other’ includes 1 skirt, 1 jumpsuit, 1 pair of overalls, and 1 set of pajamas. ‘Pants’ is mostly trousers, but also a pair of shorts. This was a high-knits year, partly because I sewed 3 True Bias Marlo sweaters, probably my most successful new pattern of 2021. For the second year running I sewed 0 dresses. That aligns well with how I dress – I’m pretty sure I also wore 0 dresses, Halloween costume excepted. I’m currently inside my new skirt, though. I used to wear skirts all the time and they might be on their way back into my life. We’ll seeee!

I recorded 4 giveaways/refashions this year. First, the bib of my Kwik Sew overalls somehow became mangled in the wash, so I took it off and altered the legs into cuffed shorts, but the center-back lapped zipper sans overall straps/bib made it look like the wearer’s butt was on backwards, so those are adios. My Seamwork Natalie top and McCalls jumpsuit are perfectly functional garments, now hopefully getting more use in other homes. Finally, I am so ready to chop up these breeches. Not in a spirit of vengeance. Vengeance is a pleasant extra. Failure rate: 4/33 projects, or 12%.

12% isn’t terrific, but it is improving. I’d love to get that number under 10%. Heck, I’d love to get it to 0%, but sometimes new stuff isn’t going to work out and I’m not manufacturing spaceship parts here. I can live with 12%.

Time for fabric talk!!

I used cotton for 26/33 projects. Almost 80%. It really IS the fabric of my life! I just divide it into substrates here so the chart is less boring. That denim/corduroy slice? Cotton denim, and cotton corduroy. That oilskin? Treated cotton. Linen/linen blends? Blended with cotton. The wool? Okay, that one’s not cotton. I also used way more polyester than normal (4/33, 12%), all from Sewfisticated, all for low-stakes projects. I wear the heck out of one of those tees and one sweater, but I’m not wild about the other two, and I really don’t like sewing poly (so many skipped stitches!), so I don’t expect to see that number grow. 27% of my projects had stretch; 73% did not (imagine how much more interesting that would be if those numbers didn’t add up. Now THAT would be news).

The average cost per make was around $30, but my actual out-of-pocket per make was around $13.

8/33 projects (24%) used leftover fabric. I approve. I don’t stash, but I do save scraps, and using them up feels good. I’ve instituted one new category for my spreadsheet for 2022: leftover yardage. I’m very interested to see how often I overbuy, and by how much. And then stop doing it!!

33 projects averages out to 2.75 per month, but as always I had seasons with more and less time to sew.

I actually sewed a lot in February, but I didn’t finish the project until March – quilted jacket again! I didn’t sew much in August because we (and everyone else) were trying to make up lost time socially. However, I suspect that I will have some free time this winter. Blergh.

As always, feel free to peruse the whole spreadsheet at your own pleasure, for an EXTREMELY limited definition of pleasure. And if you’ve got data, drop me a link! I love knowing this stuff.

I’m wishing everyone a safe and happy (AND BOOSTED, YOU ABLE PRO-SOCIAL COMMUNITY MEMBERS, YAHOO) new year! And safe and happy new clothes, as desired!

Time and money

Hello, everyone! I thought I would start 2020 with one of my favorite new year rituals, a review of the past year. For the purpose of this blog, that means sharing my sewing spreadsheet! Since January 2017 I’ve kept detailed annual spreadsheets, pretty much just for fun. Because what’s more fun than DATA??!

You can peruse the 2019 spreadsheet in detail here (and much joy to you if you do), but I’ve pulled the most interesting info below. And for ~*synergy*~, I’ve used the 2019 color of the year, Living Coral, and its coordinates, to pretty up my charts! (Find 2020’s color here. It’s blue. Yeah. It’s blue all right.) Let’s start with the most interesting data point: DOLLAR DOLLAR BILLS Y’ALL.  

My total out-of-pocket spending was $1,077.29. The total cost (this figure includes gift cards spent, credits, and any fabric Professor Boyfriend purchased) was $1,537.20. I record literally every cent I spend on sewing – including a noteworthy 17¢ on elastic! Here’s how that breaks down:

Total spending.jpg

Yeah, that fabric wedge is the big ‘un. As it should be! I’m surprised, however, at exactly how much credit I had in various stores (my personal favorite fun money: Gather Here gives you $25 for every 8 stamps, or roughly $200 spent in store). It’s not all gift cards and champagne, though; the Professor also pays for the fabric that becomes his clothes. But I get the loyalty stamps. Mwahaha.

Of course, $200 (about $270 with credit) of the fabric spending was my new winter coat – about 25% of my total expenditure for the year! Yowzah!

In other categories, I’ve dropped 3 digits on buttons and zippers and interfacing. :O Who knew! And the $149.44 figure was spent on 16 new patterns, for an average of $9 per pattern. I sewed 18 new patterns in total but two of those were free (the Peppermint Magazine wide leg pants, and the Megan Nielsen Jarrah – coming next to the blog! – which I won in a raffle). The 33 remaining garments I sewed from 12 different patterns, all repeats from prior years. 

These costs are reasonable when spread across 12 months, an average of $89.77 out of pocket per month. And that number buys fun and clothes. I also bought 3 RTW layering tanks, socks, underwear, and a pair of boots this year, so that figure is almost but not quite my entire spend on clothing.  

Not all hits, unfortunately! Of the 51 garments I’ve sewn in 2019, 8 were for Professor Boyfriend, and the remaining 43 were mine. Of those 43, I’ve given away 8. That’s almost 20%. I could do better! Projects for Prof. BF have a 100% success rate though, because they’re just Thread Theory Fairfields and Jeds over and over. I like sewing button-up shirts! That’s definitely reflected in my garment type chart.

Garment type.jpg

 My ‘shirts’ slice also includes tanks and tees, I’m not a complete maniac! My eight giveaways: 3 shirts (14% of their category), 3 pairs of pants (23% of their category), 1 jumpsuit (33% of its category) and, with 1, 100% of skirts. And I know these samples are insufficient and lack statistical power, so don’t @ me, statisticians! That being said I have the outerwear bug in a major way. I mean 100% of those were winners SO.

Average out-of-pocket cost per make was $21.12!

But what was I sewing with?

Fabric type.jpg

92% wovens, 8% knits. It looks like linen is edging out cotton (almost 1/3 of my projects used linen) but that’s because I split cotton into several categories. Technically the twill/cord and denim categories are cotton, too, but I found it more fun and useful (useful how?! Oh shush) to separate the bottomweights. In real money, though, woven cotton of multiple weights is half of my sewing!

I was surprised to find no rayon or tencel/cupro on that list. Several of the linens, one of the knits, and some of the wool were viscose blends, but this might be the first year I didn’t sew even one thing out of 100% rayon! Not a single cami! I knew I didn’t like tencel (sshh, it is my sewing secret) but I thought I liked rayon? But I guess maybe not?!

I didn’t use silk or leather, either, but then again I never have!


But what about that most precious resource – DINO DNA TIME? You can pretty much call this chart “what I did on my summer vacation, also what I did on April vacation”, as it shows how many projects I finished each month. Obviously the new school year threw me for a loop, as I only completed one garment in September! 51 projects sound like a lot (it is a lot. Is it a lot? I have no idea) but partly because I sew so many repeats, I think I might be kind of quick. I thought of myself as a slow sewist, but even though I don’t have a dedicated sewing space, I do tend to dedicate time; I cut a project in an evening, usually, and sew on a weekend day. By finishing a garment in one sitting I don’t have to spend time starting and stopping, setting up/breaking down my sewing area, or finding my place in the directions after a long absence. I’m lucky to have the luxury of these big chunks of time (they’re also necessary, as I’m a homebody who hates brunch. What else am I going to do all Saturday morning?).

That being said I slightly dread finding out how much time I spent on sewing. As a freelancer, if I’m not careful, I could directly correlate that number to lost income. But 1. It isn’t and 2. NO.

Anyway, 335 hours.


No! That’s fine! That’s an average of 6.5 hours per week! I spend half that much time on DnD, and all I have to show for that* is an imaginary accursed mace and part ownership in an imp bar (*and friendship, etc.)! It’s like a scanty hour a day! Some people work out for an hour a day (oof, can you imagine?)! I AM HAPPY WITH THIS NUMBER! (Also because of the whole 51 garments thing, I also averaged about 6.5 hours per garment, or 1 garment a week. Thanks, calendar!)  

Now I will sing LALALA and not multiply that number by my hourly rate.

You know what I don’t record on my spreadsheet? Blogging! It’s a fun freebie! I don’t record time spent eating ice cream, either. 🙂 I hope you’ve enjoyed these facts and figures – I’ll be back with a finished outfit post next time!

And if you’ve got any sewing data of your own kicking around, I’d love to get a peek!