So far in my blog reading I haven’t seen anyone address the issue of supporting their quilting habit.  I realize that some people have rich husbands, or good salaries of their own, so they aren’t worried about supporting their habit.  I’m retired, and on a fixed income to boot.  My husband is semi retired.  He has a part time job that doesn’t bring in much, so I do worry a bit about the economics of this habit, especially as it grows in importance.

I am sure that some people manage to make money quilting.  This may happen as a result of monetizing a blog, publishing a book, creating patterns to sell, long arm quilting for others, or even designing fabric lines to be produced by the big manufacturing companies, like Moda.   I imagine that people may not so often make money by directly selling the quilts they make.  Quilts take so long to make even when one machine pieces and machine quilts. It must be almost impossible to get even minimum wage per hour for one’s labor doing machine work, much less so doing handwork as in English Paper Piecing.  I imagine that some people sell their work on Etsy at a low cost simply to recover the cost of materials, and get a pittance for their labor, so they can keep on quilting, especially if creating those quilts is fueling traffic to a monetized blog or leading to the publication of books.

I’m going to be ill mannered enough to talk about money now.  I’ve never really minded talking about money.  I find it interesting, and so I am going to reveal the economics of my first year back in the quilting game.

It is a bit early to do this because we are not done with the month of March yet, and I started quilting again last April.   I have decided, however, to put a moratorium on quilty spending for the month of March after I ran the numbers for April 2013 through February 2014.  Therefore, the figures I present here will represent a full calendar year of spending.

I was prompted to take a look at my quilt hobby finances after looking at my available spending money recently.  I wanted to buy a new Macbook to replace my five year old model. I figured it was about time, and I should have the money available for the purchase.  Not only didn’t have the money, I found myself uncharacteristically in the red.  I wondered why, since I often used to carry a balance of a thousand dollars in my disposable income account.  Then I remembered all of those orders for Craftsy classes, fabric, books, and miscellaneous expenses related to my quilting hobby.  I decided to examine credit card statements, determine what I had spent each month since taking up quilting again, and to categorize these expenditures to get an idea of the big picture.

I discovered that I had spent $1770.15 on quilting related expenses over the course of the year, which comes to an average of $147.51 a month assuming I manage to keep myself from buying a Craftsy class or a book this month.

I itemized expenses for each month, so I was able to go back and total up some major categories of spending.  I spent $169.91 on Craftsy classes.  I spent $137.60 on books.  I spent $728.73 on fabric.

I should have known I was going overboard with classes when Craftsy sent me a special email telling me that I am one of their best customers, and they are going to reward me for it.  In addition to purchasing the classes from Craftsy I had ordered about $300.00 of the fabric from Craftsy. ( And today I got an email from Craftsy notifying me a day ahead of time about classes going on sale tomorrow because I am so special.  Well, I’m not getting sucked in this month.)

Adding up the three categories of classes, books and fabrics comes to $1036.24, which leaves $733.91 of miscellaneous expenses such as my Modern Quilt Guild membership, tools, notions. thread, batting, sewing machine maintenance,  a magazine subscription, and a local workshop.

$147.51 a month isn’t really so bad for a hobby.  However, Quiltcon is coming up in February of 2015 in Austin, Texas.  I’ve reserved a room for about $1,000.00 and I imagine that registration, air fare, limo service to and from the airport, entertainment on site, and food will run me another $2000.00 or so  That is going to raise the average monthly spending considerably.  Even if Quiltcon occurs only in alternate years, and I average those costs over 24 months, the cost of attending Quiltcon comes to $125.00 per month over two years.  That nearly doubles my quilting expenses per month, and brings my quilting expenses to nearly 40% of my allowance, and that is assuming that I don’t participate in any other quilting events, which is unlikely.

Obviously no one, except the very rich, can spend whatever they want on a hobby.  In my case I am limited by my allowance, out of which I must purchase everything that benefits only me: clothing, books, electronics, entertainment, travel, hobby expenses, professional lessons for a board game I play, tournament expenses for the board game I play, even a meal out with a friend, and recurring expenses such as my monthly Netflix subscription. The guidelines are simple.  If I want something, and it doesn’t benefit the marriage, I pay for it myself.  If I want something, and my husband wants it too, we believe it benefits us both, and we can afford it, then we finance it using our joint account.  This makes life simple and avoids arguments.  It also makes me consider carefully how badly I want something, and what I am willing to sacrifice in order to have it.  There just might not be enough room in my allowance budget to support my board game and my quilting while leaving enough money to buy underwear now and then.

Quilting is a bit of a gray economic area when it comes to using my allowance because I do make useful things for the home.   When I first started to quilt again my husband seemed to be willing to let me buy fabric without spending my own money on it, but I don’t think he realized the implications.  I anticipated a problem because I knew I would want to create a stash, and I didn’t want to have to justify each purchase and defend a growing pile of unused fabric.  So I suggested that I purchase fabric with my allowance and get reimbursement for materials when quilts are finished.  So far I have been reimbursed $55.00 for the materials used in the creation of a couch runner I made last year.  I have completed a few other projects since then, and it is my own fault that I have not yet sought reimbursement for expenses associated with those projects.   I intend to estimate the cost of materials for them soon.  This is all well and good as long as I keep making items for the home, but I’ll soon run out of useful things to make for the house, and having any kind of stash at all will always put me behind economically.  When I’ve exhausted the items I can justify as necessary to make I’ll have to consider whether I am willing to sell the new items I make to strangers.  It’s one thing to take $55.00 from my husband for something I put 110 hours into making, and to know that I still own it.  It is quite another thing to take the same $55.00 from a stranger and have it disappear from my life forever. Although having blogged about the creation of the object may remove some of the sting associated with its loss.  The solution to my problem might be to gift items to family after seeking reimbursement for materials.  Then I would know that the items would not be out of my life entirely.

Maybe I will just have to get my husband to pay for Quiltcon, or convince him I need a bigger allowance.

Okay, enough about me and my quilting finances.  What do you spend on quilting, if you even know? How do you support your quilting habit?  Do you argue with your husband about it? Have you monetized your quilting life?