I give myself what I consider to be a generous but pretty rigid budget to work with for all my sewing and knitting endeavours. At this point in December, I am done buying for this year. After running a little under budget all year, I finished up December with a bit of a buying splurge, mainly on fabric, and exactly hit my budget for the year (I was £0.10 short of the exact figure :D). I say "knitting and sewing" but actually it's almost all sewing -- I spent just about 5% of my total budget on yarn, knitting needles and a couple of knitting patterns. I have nothing really to say about my knitting spending. It's proportionate to my level of interest in knitting and I'm generally happy with the things I acquired and used in 2014.
The remainder of my budget, though, went on sewing in the following order: fabric (35%), patterns (19%) sewing magazines (18%), notions and hardware (13%), books (4%) and other stuff (6%).
I also made one major purchase this year which I didn't include in the budget because I bought it for myself with money given to me as a Christmas gift in 2013: my coverstitch machine.
|The Janome CoverPro 1000DX|
I bought the Janome CoverPro 1000DX (a.k.a. the cheapest coverstitch on the UK market at the time when I was buying it) in January this year. I can't say I found it at all easy to use initially, despite reading my way through hundreds of pages of tips and hints before I started. The first few things I hemmed with it ended up with badly tunneled hems and a couple of them the stitching completely unravelled after a couple of washes (this particularly affected a turquoise knit top I made early in the year, which I hemmed about four different times in the end).
After making a LOT of knit garments this year and using the coverstitch on quite a few woven garments as well, I now feel really competent with the machine and generally get a good result using it first time, every time. (I do always do a test and adjust my settings before I hem, though!) I found the machine very easy to thread and very easy to use once I got the idea of how it works and what I need to do, and I love the finish it gives me on knit garments. However, there's no doubt that it really was a luxury buy and I could have lived without it. I can't imagine that I'll want or need to replace it for a very long time, barring catastrophic failure, so I suppose it will pay its way eventually, but it's never going to be a high utilization machine. Also the needles are stupidly expensive when you have to replace them. Luxury or not, though, if I were making the buy/don't buy choice again based on what I know now, I would definitely still buy it.
In the other categories:
FABRIC: I was semi-seriously "fasting" all year on fabric purchases, which is an amusing thing to say when you consider that I bought just over 70m and spent 35% of my budget on fabric. That's still a great deal less in metres and money terms than the previous two years. Also, on the plus side, I've used almost all the fabric I bought early in the year, and I know nearly everything I bought recently in my November/December budget splurge will be used in the next few months because it was bought with purpose. I feel like I bought more useful fabric with better understanding of what I was buying this year, which is mainly just a result of having more sewing experience, I think. I do have to be careful not to fall into the trap of buying fabric just because it's beautiful -- my mantra is still there will always be more fabric.
One big negative for my fabric spending is that in January I placed a big order with one particular fabric shop, Croft Mill. I have use CM before, even though it tends, in my opinion, to have slightly higher prices than other internet only vendors. This time I was not all that impressed with the service. They charged me an arm and a leg for postage as I was living in Dublin, which is fair enough, but then took nearly a month to deliver. More damningly though, when I was doing my review of all the garments I made in 2014, I suddenly realized that three of the garments that ultimately failed in large part because of fabric issues came from that order, and I was at best indifferent to the fabric quality/outcomes from other purchases from there. I probably won't use them again.
|One of many envelope patterns for a dress that I have bought this year ... and not made|
SEWING MAGAZINES: In 2014, I had four active subscriptions and I bought two others occasionally as well. My active subscriptions were: Burda Style, Ottobre Woman, Patrones and Patrones Extra. I bought MyImage and Burda Style Special as individual issues. I also bought quite a few back issues of Burda when I saw them for sale at a reasonable price, though not as many as in previous years (mainly because I have many of the issues I want at this point).
|Ottobre Woman 05-2014|
I'm more ambivalent about MyImage and Burda Style Special, my two occasional buys. This year I bought both issues of MyImage and didn't use them or add any to my sewing queue, and I bought the two Burda Style Special: Easy issues and the Vintage (1950s) issue and also haven't picked any patterns from them. That said I decided just the other day to put a pattern from a 2013 issue of Burda Easy in my sewing queue and I have made a couple of successful MyImage garments in the last 18 months, so I guess there's always the chance I'll come back to it.
|Patrones: not my best buy|
NOTIONS AND HARDWARE: Above all, I'm glad to be back in the UK because even simple notions like buttons and invisible zips were stupidly expensive in Ireland. My spending on notions dropped off a cliff when I moved back here this summer.
One buy I have been disproportionately pleased with is my large (60cm long, 15cm wide) metric marking quilting ruler. It took me ages to find a metric version and then I hemmed and hawed for like, 6 months over whether to fork out quite so much money for a ruler, but I've found it INCREDIBLY useful. I am sure I am the very last garment sewer in the world to realize that quilting rulers are good for more than just quilters, but just in case I'm not, I do highly recommend owning one. If you work in imperial measures you have lots of choice but you can get metric if you look for them. I'd like to buy some additional rulers next year. Also in my weird fandom of rulers, I think I bought it in 2013 but I only started using my seam allowance ruler this year for real and it's one of my most favourite things ever (I have the now defunct metric version though).
Other lessons learned this year: good pins are worth it (learned by buying horrible, cheap, non-pointy pins and then having to throw them all away and start again with good ones). On the other hand, the pound shops (Poundland (Dealz in Ireland) in particular) have loads of useful little things for sale that aren't sewing tools precisely, but that I use for pattern work. I like their cheap packs of glue sticks for PDF patterns, masking tape for taping and adjusting patterns and plastic table covers for transferring patterns I want to keep in a more durable form onto.
BOOKS: My best book buy this year was definitely Shirtmaking by David Coffin. I don't think I made any terrible book purchases this year, although I did buy several books on tailoring and jackets that I haven't really thoroughly used yet as I didn't get to any of those planned projects this year. My worst purchase about was probably this one random basics book I picked up on impulse in a discount bookseller called The Sewing Book. It just duplicates other books I have, but luckily, as my purchase location suggests, I didn't really pay much for it. I tend not to think money spent on books is ever wasted, though, and most of my purchases this year were investment buys of technique books that should come into their own in the future.
OTHER: Other covers a lot of ground and 6% of my budget. It includes stuff like postage for things I've sent to people, my PR membership and Etsy fees for my little bag shop (In the latter case, I sold all of two bags this year so whatever, not exactly a thriving concern. In fact, I'd forgotten it was live and was entirely taken aback to get an email to say I had made a sale this month.)
|Craftsy: I am not a fan|
Overall, I'm not displeased with my spending. My biggest areas to work on are continuing to make better fabric choices and I think also cutting down on buying patterns, though I admit I feel kind of whiny about that because I LIKE buying patterns. I think it will make me grumpy to cut back, but I should probably still make the attempt!