Every year around income-tax season, I start to panic: this is when I have to face reality and see exactly how much money I spent on fabric (and patterns, and trims) during the previous year. I’m blessed to have a brilliant husband who does all of the pre-accountant paperwork for our income taxes (which includes the income from my little Etsy shop), however there’s a downside: he sees each penny I spend. Ouch.
Every evening before April 15th that my sweetie spends “working on our taxes” makes me cringe a bit. I know rationally that I would feel better if I spent less on materials….you know the poster that says “Nothing tastes as good as being slim feels”? Well I need one that says “No fabric purchase brings as much pleasure as staying on budget feels”.
The trouble is, I don’t have a fabric budget. I’ve moved into a phase of life where I sort of know what I’m comfortable spending…the key words here being “sort of”. Like treating yourself with a fancy coffee, or getting take-out pizza as a relief from a week of cooking, it’s so easy to say “It’s just a couple of yards, not a big deal”.
Plus, I sew to sell! So fabric is an investment, right? I’m not spending money, I’m making money! Well at least that’s what I tell myself, until tax time comes around and it’s pretty clear that the relationship between what I “invest” in and what I sell is a bit off-kilter.
In a perfect world, there would be no surprises at tax time: I’d be completely up-to-date at all times with a detailed budget, and business plan, and profit-and-loss statement for each month. But in reality, my Etsy shop is (like for many craftspeople) more of a “hobby that pays for itself”. (Of course, the government says it’s a business, and I have no problem sending them the taxes on the income.)
Well what about a fabric-buying fast? I think t least a fabric diet is in order. I think it would make me feel better. So today I will write down the reasons why it would be helpful to go on a fabric-purchase hiatus. The ladies at Jo-Ann Fabrics will wonder why I’m MIA but it has to happen. Here goes. NOT buying fabric will allow me to:
- Make sewing project decisions faster. Too many choices can be paralyzing.
- Find the fabric I need faster. Even though my Rubbermid tubs are labelled, it still takes time to locate that special piece.
- Save time spent at the fabric shops….yes, they are my happy-place, I get a rush of adrenaline there, but I can find a substitute. Less time shopping = more time sewing.
Hmmmm I see a trend here: having too much fabric is wasting my time. I could get more projects done if I spent less time fabric shopping, labeling, storing, searching, choosing. In fact, maybe in addition to a fabric-shopping diet, I need to jump-start with fabric-reduction…the equivalent of adding exercising to a food diet! I should clear out the excess fabric that gets in the way of streamlined sewing.
I already donate end-pieces to a quilting group. I sold all the licensed-character design yardage (leftover from my daughter’s childhood) on eBay, since you can’t sell apparel made from them. But I can go further….I can:
- Be ruthless in what I no longer sew with (kids dress-ups? swim fabric?) , and donate fabric to the thrift shop.
- Cut up end-of-bolts to make outfits for Dress-A-Girl or Little Dresses for Africa (or one of hundreds of charities)
- Donate to our Boys and Girls Club : they have sewing classes and those kids are amazingly creative but low on supplies
- Give some away to you all! After all, “One man’s trash is another’s treasure“. I’ll be posting all of the photographed fabrics randomly on my Instagram page ….I will only charge for shipping (you’ll need a Paypal account for invoicing) .
I welcome any tips and advice. Who has gone on a fabric fast? How long did it last and was it successful? Or did it just lead to binge-shopping?