Keeping Track of Fabric Finances

The Art of Bookkeeping

I, like most quilters, purchase fabric for my current project then save whatever is remaining for a future creation. Occasionally, I will want to re-purchase more of the fabric for a second quilt or craft. I use to depend on my memory when it came to recalling where the fabric was purchased and who the manufacture was, but that was sketchy at best. So I turned to something that I love doing and I am quite good at: Bookkeeping.

I love bookkeeping, always have, I really should have been a secretary. My love for accurate records became clearly apparent to me, when I was a young adult working for a department store in New Jersey. I held several positions with this company, including my favorite, a cosmetic sales person.  It was in my career field, as I had recently graduated from beauty school, and I loved every part of the job especially the bookwork. I was responsible for keeping an accurate inventory of 3-4 large cosmetic lines plus some odd company products here and there. Every month I took inventory, filled out the appropriate forms and was paid a nice commission from the merchandise that I sold. I was in heaven, even when there were discrepancies. That job taught me many lessons that I employ in my life still, 30+ years later.


A while ago I started creating spreadsheets to help me keep track of what I was spending on fabrics. This was just part of my monthly budgeting to help me see what I was spending each month on non-necessity items. Over the years it has evolved into the quilting budget that I use today. Here is a snapshot of it:

Quilt Business Budget Sample

I also keep track of what supplies I use and how much they cost when I am making something specific… like a quilt.

Quilt Business Budget Sample 2

Occasionally I make a blunder and use the remaining fabric for something other than what it was intended for. You can see in the photo above the title says “Dutch Windmill Quilts: 2  Baby Quilt’s”. Well, I never made two baby quilts with this fabric. Two quilts was my intention, but it never happened and some of the fabric went to other uses. My books would have been completely messed up if I did not have a back up plan for keeping track of remaining fabric.

What is my back up plan you might be wondering? It’s ridiculously simple…labels.

A Ridiculously Simplistic Idea

Blank Fabric Lables

Feel free to use these labels if you would like to.

These are the labels that I print out and attach to all new pieces of fabrics after I launder them. That way, if I run out of fabric, I know where to go to get more and if the store is sold out, then I have all the information that I need to purchase it online from another source.

Fabric Lables

I even have a place at the bottom of the tag to keep track of my current amount. That way if I use a piece of the fabric,  I can adjust my financial records as needed and I can know how much I have on hand at a glance.

Fabric Lables 2

Keeping track of what I am spending is really important to me. I am not one of those crafters who would rather not know, nor am I  one of those who does know, is ashamed of it and giggles or makes jokes at the uncomfortable truth. I love to quilt, but I will not do so at the expense of not being able to meet my mortgage payment on time or cheating my retirement account contributions. I love my financial security much more than that. I believe most other quilter do too.

My bookkeeping may seem a bit strict to some people but to me its fun. Besides, I like to know what I am spending at any given time on any given project. Also, seeing the actual numbers helps to keep me in check every time I feel the need for an impulse buy.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Beware of little expenses: A small leak will sink a great ship.” I concur.

Happy Creating!!

8 thoughts on “Keeping Track of Fabric Finances

  1. This post did make me giggle a little – I’m a qualified accountant so bookkeeping is kind of my job 😊 I don’t quilt so I don’t buy fabric quite in the same way, although I do have a LOT of threads and other notions. Usually not purchased with anything specific in mind. But I confess I don’t keep track of my spending or stash like you do. Though they do say accountants are terrible at looking after their own finances!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thread! ❤ Good quality thread can be very expensive. I never realized how much so, until I started keeping track of my creating finances. It's fabulous though; good quality thread makes your projects so much easier and nicer. It's a luxury that is worth spending the extra money on, as I am sure you know all too well. So as an accountant, do you have anything to add that might be helpful to crafters and creators? Thanks Catherine

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think in terms of keeping track of your spending and ‘stash’ you really need to know why you want to do it.
        Is it to simply track how much you spend and on what? If so, a spreadsheet with a column per type of expense (fabric, thread, scissors etc), would be sufficient.
        Or is it to track your stash? In which case you would need to do a ‘stocktake’ of what you have, and then add to it as you purchase new supplies, and subtract once you use them. Keeping on top of this isn’t easy! And you would need a simple way of keeping on top of things like ‘thread’, unless you want to go to the full extent of stock taking colours by number and brand.
        And then you have a good method, whereby you allocate supplies to a particular project. Again a more time consuming method, but it does help you to keep on top of things, and probably helps to keep you on track of what you want to make.
        Regardless, your main point would be work out why you are doing this, and make sure you stay on top of it! Small and often is better than rarely and large. And just remember to look at it before you head out to purchase things or go to a craft show so you don’t purchase things you already have!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You have made several great points Catherine. Usually I add my thread cost into the first large project I use it in. Subsequent projects get to use the rest of it for “free”. I find it so very interesting to hear about the many different ways that people have to accomplish their goals.Thank you for your time and expertise on this subject Catherine, I really appreciate it and I think others will too.


  3. Well, if I had kept track of my “fabric stash” which is over flowing to a 3rd room now I would be able to purchase a new long arm with all the $ I have spent over the last 18 years! LOL. When I started purchasing the top of the line fabric, thread, rulers, etc and all the other knitting thread, embroidery thread, I just started closing my eyes! But it is a hobby that has kept me active and mentally alert and filled up days in making quilts!

    I like your idea, but would probably not do it. Documentation of all of our quilts should be done and that is where I am lax. Maybe someday I will do that before my memory goes away! LOL

    Another great post Bella!!!! Food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Documentation takes some extra work and I would never start with a stash of fabric. If I felt the need to start with rooms full of fabric, I would begin by tagging anything new coming in and leave it at that. However, if you are not interested in selling or if you do not need to abide by a fixed budgeted amount for supplies, then there really is no need to track what you purchase. Thanks for commenting Nanette!


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