The recent Love To Sew podcast on the finances of sewing got me thinking about how I choose to spend my fabric budget. Basically, I sew so prolifically that most fabric I sew is $7/m or less. but sometimes I do spend more, and I thought it might be interesting to look back at my posts from this year and try to figure out what makes me plonk down more cash!
But first of all, a bit of background on where I shop. I do 80% of my fabric shopping at Fabricland chain stores in neighbouring cities when they have a big sale on, plus a lot of what I buy is from the ends table where they have deadstock fabric. If I don’t have time to drive an hour to a Fabricland, I head to the only fabric store in my city, which is a discount warehouse chain called Len’s Mill. They sell clothes, housewares, food and have a fabric section at the back. Everything is covered in dust, but sometimes there are some gems! I get fabric sent to me every quarter by Cali Fabrics in return for blogging, and other than that, I put the occasional online order in from Club Tissus in Quebec. I used to order from the USA, but the exchange rate, shipping and customs fees make that pretty prohibitive now! For Canada, I’d say $10/m is the low end of average price for fabric – $5/m is cheap, $15/m is reasonable for good quality, and $20+ is common for nice fabrics or indie stores.
I fell in love with this beefy rayon blend jersey from my local Len’s Mill, and bought it in blue, this wine colour, and lots of grey to make underwear for my husband! I think it was about $13/m, and it’s worth it.
Technically I sewed these in 2017 – does it still count? I bought this activewear fabric for leggings in three colours from Len’s Mills, and used it to compare the Avery, Espresso, and Belmont leggings! It was also around $13/m, and worth it because it’s opaque, smoothing, and wears well.
This Fantastic Four hoodie was a birthday gift for my husband, and it came to about $100 in fabrics from Canadian online store L’Oiseau. The blue dye from the fabric did bleed a bit onto the embroidered patch when he first wore it, even though it had all been prewashed… and now I think he is nervous to wear it. We made a deal that we’ll buy another patch as backup incase he wears it and it gets ruined! He takes his fandom seriously!
Shall we talk about sweater knits? There is nothing better than a rayon sweaterknit, in my mind, and this oxblood sweater knit from my localish indie store, Spool and Spindle, is GORGEOUS. I actually got this colourway as a gift, but loved it so much I went and spent $20/m on the teal. I do weaar cardigans like this a lot in winter, so I hope the cost per wear isn’t high.
It wasn’t really my project, but supplies for my Dad’s hammock under quilt definitely cost more the $10/m! But it was half the cost of buying a custom one, and not freezing while on long hikes seems a good investment!
More Len’s Mill goodness! This pink wool knit seemed too expensive at $12/m the first time I saw it… but weeks later I was still thinking of it, so I bought enough for this Berlin coat! Worthwhile, I think, even though I made it just as the last of the chilly weather was ending this spring!
Deep stash alert! I bought this rayon knit from Blackbird Fabric years ago, and it was definitely more than $10/m. I’m happy to have finally sewn it up though, and it’s been so long since I spent the money that it seems free!
Finally, I think this stretch denim from Len’s Mill (aka. the only place I can shop in a rush when pattern testing) was about $12/m. Worth it, because I’ve worn the dress a bunch of times and always felt great in it!
So there you have it – apparently I spend more than $10/m about once a month, usually when a project requires a specific fabric or I find something high quality locally. I notice that most of the time my “pricey” fabric is still only about $13/m, and very rarely more. Happily, I don’t regret any of my more expensive projects this year, so I guess I spent well!
The thing is, I still spend a LOT on fabric. I definitely spent at least $150 per month, and I’m pretty sure that I spend closer to $200 often enough. (I’m working on bringing that down though.) By contrast, I spend $10 or less on patterns each month, and try to get most of my new patterns by pattern testing. I sew about 10-25m of fabric a month, so my stash grows very slowly. At least a quarter of what I sew is for other people, and I give it to them as a gift of love.
I think there is no “right” way to spend your sewing budget, no matter how large or small it is. Some people like to buy less and of high quality, some people can’t afford much of anything, and some people like me are lucky enough to like sewing and wearing fabrics that are affordable, like ITY knits! I know I’m privileged to have fabric stores that I can visit within an hour, so I don’t have to rely on online shopping.
It feels kinda funny putting my fabric budget in numbers on the blog, and focusing on the price of my creations… but let’s be honest, consumerism and spending is part of every sewing project! Anyone reading my blog can see that a lot of fabric is passing through my hands, and frankly, I think I’m spending less than an observer might guess!
I’m curious: How often do you spend more than $10CAD/$7.50USD/$6.65Euro? Sometimes, rarely, often? Is that price a bargain or expensive in context of the price of fabric in your country? I’d love to hear your thoughts!