Sooo… my sister, award-winning author and occasional blog commenter, expressed an interest at one point in seeing (and perhaps mocking?) my sewing spreadsheet.
I’m pretty sure there is a significant subset of the sewing community that appreciates tracking their projects, whether the cost or the usefulness or some other metric that satisfies the itch to quantify and classify. It’s oddly satisfying, like a way to commemorate or somehow make official a completed garment. (FYI, spellcheck assures me that “officialize” is not a word.)
I am part of that subset of sewers. I love data, and cling to the belief that if you have the right data and a meaningful way to analyze it, you can answer any question. While that often holds true at my job, this is more self-indulgent. I just can’t not classify and measure my hobby.
My spreadsheet, just a super basic Google doc, tracks a few different data points. Most helpful to me are the total cost of each garment, the total number of wears, and the resulting Cost Per Wear. (Stacy London Alert!) Every time I finish a garment, I add it to the list, and I update it every couple of days to note items I’ve worn. It does require upkeep, but let’s be real, that’s the fun part. Getting to re-sort the sheet is the best!
Note: if you’re looking at my Cost Per Wear, the math doesn’t work out. I subtract $8 from the materials cost of any garment as the cost of my entertainment in making the item. I figure it’s the cost of a movie ticket, or a used book, or a coffee and pastry. That’s why sewing is awesome: your entertainment costs and wardrobe costs get rolled up together! If the item cost less than $8, the formula starts at $0 and subtracts $1 for each wear.
I also track the date of completion, and color-code each item by the year and quarter in which it was completed. (A different color for each year, with a different gradient for each quarter.) It’s an easy, visual way to see how many garments I’ve stitched in any period, and is a good reference for what items have had the most or least time in the closet.
Other fields include mostly keywords (type of fabric, seasonality, etc). I haven’t yet found a way to use these, but I add them to the sheet in case I find it meaningful later. Like, maybe I’ll find out that I get a lot more wear out of winter items with a high per-project cost, or that sleeveless items don’t get much wear at all.
Also, for curiousity’s sake, I track which garments were made from stash fabric, and which I purchased new fabric for.
I have a separate tab for sewing expenses. Anytime I buy something, from fabric to thread, it goes on the sheet. This is what I use to calculate my total garment costs. I also figure it will serve as viable proof, if ever I require it, that my hobby spending is totally *not* out of control. Turns out I average less than $10 per week on sewing expenses. #Receipts, people.
I have about 2 years’ worth of data at this point, so trends are just now beginning to emerge. (My data scientist spouse might have a laugh at the idea of my spreadsheet being viable data at any point…) Turns out, outerwear is pretty the much best investment I can make, and party dresses have a terrible long-term return. (Still worth it.) In all honesty, even if I determined that one type of fabric/garment/etc netted the absolute best value, I would probably still sew whatever the hell I felt like in the moment. It’s still on par with and usually less than RTW costs.
The whole pretty much an exercise in frivolity, but I get a weird sort of pleasure out of my spreadsheeting. Plus, tracking my garments really encourages me to wear them more. It’s a bit of a gamification of sewing, in which wearing an item feels like points gained. (Yes, I’m trying to gamify my own hobby. You mean that’s not cool?)
Sooooo… now that I’ve publicly discussed my secret spreadsheet, anyone else on the tracking train? How do you track your sewing projects? What metrics do you find interesting? Any data discoveries you’ve made?