Are You a Dedicated Quilter? | Survey Results

The Quilting Party, Artist Unknown, c. 1840-1850.

Last week key findings of the 2014 quilters’ survey were released. The survey is conducted every four years. Results were presented by F+W, A Content + eCommerce Company, and Quilts, Inc., producers of International Quilt Market and International Quilt Festival.

The survey is conducted in two phases. First, households are questioned about their quilting activities to get a sense of the scope of the quilting industry in the U.S. Next, “Dedicated Quilters” are surveyed to understand their buying habits, and how they use and contribute to the industry. According to the summary linked above,

Each Dedicated Quilter is defined as one who spends more than $500 a year on quilting-related purchases, which include sewing machines, fabric, notions, tools, patterns, books, computer programs, batting, and thread. In fact, the Dedicated Quilter actually spent an average of $3,296 per year on quilting.

Demographics of the Dedicated Quilter indicate she is female; about 64; is well-educated (79% attended college); has a household income in excess of $100,000; and has been quilting an average of 20.3 years. Among Dedicated Quilters, 81% are traditionalists, while 38% embrace art quilting, and 35% enjoy modern quilting styles. Some enjoy multiple types of quilting.

The Dedicated Quilter owns, on average, almost $13,000 worth of tools and supplies and has a stash of fabric worth nearly $6,000, which the majority (88%) store in a studio or room dedicated solely to sewing and quilting activities.

Altogether, we Dedicated Quilters in the U.S. spend about $2.27 billion a year on quilting, out of an industry total of about $3.76 billion.

My first instinct when reading numbers like this are that I don’t spend that much. Surely I’m not a “Dedicated Quilter,” using the definition of $500 in purchases a year. I’ve never added up my fabric purchases in either yards or dollars, but I don’t spend that much. However, I buy at least one roll of batting per year. Even on sale, that’s at least $120. My new iron was another $25. Thread, books, and needles add up. We could add in shipping, when I send quilts to loved ones far from here. It doesn’t take much fabric to put me over the top.

Do you fit the definition of a Dedicated Quilter, spending more than $500 a year on your quilting habit? Do you own almost $13,000 of tools and supplies, and another $6,000 in stash? In today’s pricing, $6,000 is 500 to 600 yards. And while that might sound (to a non-quilter) like an obscene amount, even my smallish stash probably comes close to that.

Take a look at the survey summary. It’s an interesting view of quilters in America.

19 thoughts on “Are You a Dedicated Quilter? | Survey Results

  1. Becky in KCMO

    Oh,yes, I’m a dedicated quilter. One year I decided to keep track of purchases. After I hit $2,000 in the first quarter of the year I didn’t stop spending, I just stopped keeping track. My longarm is probably worth $13000, not including the other 3 machines I use all the time for piecing. I can afford this and enjoy it a great deal (it’s my obsession) so I doubt I change. I just support the industry well.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      It’s easy for most of us, I expect, to accumulate $13k of equipment and supplies, not even including the stash! I know I have that much and more. But as mentioned, I never have tracked more “ordinary” expenses. One of them should be SHIPPING! How much do I spend mailing my quilts to people? Even that adds up quickly. 🙂

  2. KerryCan

    You dedicated quilters are keeping the economy afloat! I’d fit into a broader category of dedicated crafter–I spend that kind of money across the range of things I do but not on quilting, specifically. Melanie, could you please do a post (or direct me to one) that explains, clearly and without bias, the differences between traditional, art, and modern quilts and quilters?

  3. Nann Hilyard

    I’m definitely in the dedicated category — and, reading the complete characteristics of the dedicated, I match everything! (Except that I’m 62 and their average is 64.)

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      It’s pretty easy to understand why that demographic fits. My older sisters and I grew up with sewing in our home. Many younger women did not. We are now “of an age” with some available time to pursue a hobby with dedication, as well as the financial resources and space in our homes. Younger women aren’t there yet, mostly. As to the education level, I can’t guess why that fits. I’ll think about that one…

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I am not average, I guess! I’m female and “well-educated,” but other characteristics don’t match. And yet, we all are just patches in the big quilt, yes? 😉

  4. bermudagirl

    Hi Melanie, this was really an interesting post to read, will certainly save the survey info for later (the link) to read. Definitely spent more than that on fabric alone, and the year is not over yet. But everything is more expensive here in Switzerland! Guess I am a dedicated quilter. I doubt I have spent 13,000 on tools, but I’ve only been quilting for like less than two years or something. Give me time and I am sure I could amount to that! Hee hee!

  5. farmquilter

    I am a dedicated quilter…but longarm quilting is my business too! Because of that I definitely have more invested in tools then $13,000, I’m younger than the average and I’ve only been quilting 7 years. My stash is way bigger (I should open a quilt shop!). Most of what I spend on quilting now is for my longarm and I am working on using up my stash before I can no longer quilt!! Interesting statistics, but we all know there are lies, damn lies and statistics! I would prefer to see the raw data!

  6. snarkyquilter

    Thanks for pointing out this survey. The last figure I saw (about 2009) for spending on quilting was about $2.2 billion, so that amount has certainly increased. I’d love to see some breakdowns by age of quilter. Are there different spending patterns for different cohorts? Oops, I’m showing my research background here, but I do know that summaries can mask interesting trends. If the average age of quilters in 2014 is 64, is there a baby boom of modern quilters in their 30s that will change the picture in 5 years? My guess is that some quilters will age out of the “dedicated” group as other issues in their lives become more important.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I wondered about the demographics, too. In some ways I feel like the order of nuns I once worked with, who were so excited one year when they had THREE novitiates join them. They were YOUNG women, in their late 30s, I think. 🙂 My guild’s quilters probably have an average age about 64, too. (Just guessing.) But we are so glad to have some young women in their late 20s and 30s who have joined us the last few years.

      But I’m with ya. I’d like to see the detail, too. You can if you pay for it, apparently.

  7. socialstitcher

    Hi Melanie
    Love the image! I’m “dedicated” in that I would spend that in supplies each year, mostly fabric, in Australian $. As a relatively new quilter I certainly don’t have a stash that big! I’m working on it. 🙂

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Your fabrics are a fair amount more expensive than ours, I believe. But as a new quilter, you’re still stocking up. It takes a while to build a stash. If I can give you only one piece of advice, though, it would be to build stash in order to USE stash. Don’t be afraid to use it. LOVE it through using it and passing it on. 🙂


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