Do you keep track of your quilting expenses? Fabric, batting, thread, tools, machine maintenance, guild dues, books, patterns, show entry fees, travel expenses — these are just some of the things we spend money on! If you quilt as a business, you might track all these costs and more. (Check my post on direct and indirect costs for more on this.)
Last year for the first time I tracked some of my expenses. My intention at the beginning of 2015 was to keep receipts on everything. Oh, I have receipts. I’m not that great at organizing paperwork. Can do it, but not very inclined… Fortunately, my credit card company saves a lot of that data for me. They don’t capture my cash expenses, of course. And not everything is plopped in convenient categories for me. But I can pull out all my purchases at quilt shops, fabric stores, and for my on-line thread buys. If I make reasonable assumptions for a couple of other things, for 2015 spending, I estimate between $1500 and
This is fabric, thread, batting, machine service, a new ruler, an iron, supplies, and shipping a quilt to friends.
Four things I know about this:
1. It’s cheaper than therapy.
2. My stash is a little smaller than it was a year ago, meaning I used somewhat more fabric than I bought. (Thinking through the 20 projects I made last year and their average fabric use backs this up.)
3. It doesn’t account for my earnings from teaching, presenting, and publishing.
4. The dollar value puts me in the category of a “dedicated quilter.”
I’ve written about the dedicated quilter before. Every four years, the quilting industry conducts a survey to assess the demographics of quilters, as well as how much they spend. My earlier post says this:
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.
My first thought when I read that was I couldn’t possibly spend more than $500 a year on quilting. On reflection, I realized it would be easy to do so. And on looking at proof on the credit card summary, uh, yeah.
But the phrase “dedicated quilter” still bothers me. (Labels!!) The amount of money spent isn’t a good indicator of dedication. Perhaps time spent is a better measure. How much time one quilt takes is not very important to this issue. Getting from one end of a project to the other is, I suppose. Or maybe not… Can you be a dedicated quilter if you don’t finish projects? What defines dedication?
But if you call yourself a quilter (do you?), is it because you have made a couple of quilts? Because you make a dozen quilts a year? Because you spend many hours a week on projects? Because you spend money on fabrics or notions or classes? Because you think like a quilter relative to the interaction of fabric and design?
Do you think of yourself as a quilter? Are you a dedicated quilter? What does that mean to you? I’d love to hear about it in comments.