Monday, September 27, 2010

how long does it take to make a quilt?

Monday, September 27, 2010
The number one question I get asked when people learn I'm a quilter, is "how long does it take to make a quilt?" Of course there isn't one answer to this question. I often guess and throw out a number, but I realized that I didn't really know how long it took.

Many factors will influence how long it takes to make a quilt. Size, materials, difficultly level, as well as the experience of the quilt maker are just a few factors.

Prior to this project I had little information on how long I spend on a project. One time I pieced a quilt for another designer as a “stunt quilting” job and I had to keep track of how much time I spent on the project. I logged all my time spent over the course of three days. In total I spend 8 hrs and 10 minutes cutting and piecing the entire quilt top and then I sent it off to the quilter. It was the first time I had tracked all of the time spent on one specific project. {from my interview here}

I told myself that one day I'd track the time spent on a quilt from start to finish. The circumstances around this project provided me with the opportunity to do so.

Below is a timeline for you with timestamped photos, tweets, and notes I jotted along the way. I cut, pieced, quilted & bound this one quilt in 17.25 hours during a 23.5 hour time period. I know it seems crazy, but below I explain the how and the why.
details
fabric is Robert Kaufman
pattern - City Green from City Quilts
designed by Cherri House
quilted by me
started on 9/23/2010
finished on 9/24/2010
quilt measures - 50" x 55"


HOW

I started cutting the fabric for this quilt at 3PM on 9/23/10. Initially I had not planned on tracking the time for this quilt or posting a timeline. As a result the first photo I took wasn't until 3:57 PM from my phone. I posted the photo to twitter.

Just keep sewing... sewing... sewing... http://twitpic.com/2r9fy8

The first photo from my camera was at 5:02 PM. I had just finished sewing all the strips together.

By 5:35 PM all the strip sets were all pressed.

Then came the process of sub-cutting the strips.

I started the design wall with a 10 x 10 layout.

It quickly grew and by 6:45 PM it was 15 x 15. I decided it was a perfect time to take a dinner break and went out to the diner.

By 8:30 PM I was back home with a fresh set of eyes and working on the layout again. The design wall is an asset during this step. Eventually at 8:58 PM I decided on a layout of 18 x 20.

The next hour + was spent sewing the units into rows.

Still sewing... rows done... adding sashing... i'm thinking i'll pull an all nighter and have the quilt done by morning.

Despite my twitter announcement an hour prior, by 2:30 I had hit a wall. Part of me wanted to keep going but another part of me was afraid a sewing injury would occur. The rational part of me won and I snapped the last photo at 2:26 with about half of the top together.

In addition I also snapped a photo of myself in the mirror.  I look wide awake right?...

I decided to go to bed and set my alarm for 5 AM. I hit the snooze button a few times and got up shortly after. By 5:30 AM I was back to work.

Most of the early morning was spent sewing & pressing. When a seam would flip like in the photo above, I'd take a few stitches out and fix it. Also I initially was pressing towards the long sashing strips because of the bulk of the seams. In the end I decided to press away from the sashing strips and while it was hard with the bulk, it looked much better from the front.

The top was in four pieces by 7:17 AM and was starting to look like a quilt.

At 8:01 AM most of the top was together.

I did a little happy dance when I added the borders and finished the quilt top.

The next step was to cut the batting to size and piece the backing. I piece my label into my backing for two reasons. First I like the look of a pieced backing. Second is because the quilting will go through the label and make it almost impossible to be removed.

Here is a photo of the finished quilt showing the quilting through the label.

I posted another tweet since a few people were keeping track of my progress.

@mascanlon slept from 230 till 530 and then back to work. Top done... layered... and starting quilting now

The basting step came together pretty quickly.

I like to use bent safety pins when basting.  They are available at most local quilt shops.

This quilt begged me to do straight line quilting.  I used white thread through the middle of each sashing and also used white thread in my bobbin.

As you can see from this finished photo the white bobbin thread creates a grid on the back of the quilt.

I could see the finish line by this point and got the quilting done in just over an hour.

It also seemed like a good time to again update my twitter followers on my progress.

Quilting finished... all that is left is binding & i'll be done!http://twitpic.com/2rhjri


Shortly after I tweeted the above photo Cherri House sent this tweet to me & gave me a good laugh.


cherryhouse @jaybirdquilts what??? I need more, I need to see the whole thing!!!!!!!!!!


After the quilting was complete I trimmed off the excess batting and backing.

Then I cut strips for binding and attached them to the quilt.

I attached a few binding clips to bring the binding over to the back for hand stitching. I snapped a photo at 10:45AM and then was forced to take a break and take care of some "work." A quick trip to the post office & some errands followed.

About an hour later I was back home and back to work.

 I stitched away for almost 23 minutes before I had to take another "work" break.

By 1:05PM I was again working on the binding.

Over an hour later I finished my last stitch and snapped this photo before I even cut my thread!

Items not included in the 17.25 hours.
-Initial Planning
-Shopping
-Photographing
-Washing
-Blogging

After all was said and done I washed the quilt.  I love the look and feel of washed quilts.


WHY


I'm sure many people are wondering why I put this quilt together so fast and skipped out on so much sleep to do so. Some people have guessed that it was because I had a post on the Swatch & Stitch on Friday the 24th. While I did decide it was going to be the content of my S&S post, that was not the number one reason for making the quilt.

This quilt was made for a very special woman. A woman who is unfortunately losing her battle with leukemia. All week I wanted to make her a quilt but couldn't come up with a plan. On Thursday morning I had a sudden light bulb moment and it all came to me. I worked hard to finish my work early for the day so that I could get started on the quilt. A quick trip to the fabric store to add 6 yards of purple fabric and I had everything I needed. From the moment I started the quilt I thought of her all along the way. Each time I got tired or wanted to take a break I thought of her. The few hours of sleep I got rejuvenated me and gave me all the momentum I needed to finish it.

There was a few moments where I thought I was too late. The quilt didn't make it to her on Friday and I kept it with me all day. Saturday Tricia came over to spend the day sewing with me and trying to distract me from thinking about everything. We had a change of plans shortly after she arrived, and as any good friend would she drove me to the hospital to deliver the quilt.

Times like this put life into perspective.  I've made a pledge to myself to try and spend more time quilting for fun instead of just for work.  Life is too short and I want to spend it doing and making things for the people I love.

Update - 9/28/10 4:30PM
Thank you to all of you for the comments & support on this post. My friend's mother passed away peacefully last night.




How long does it take to make a quilt?
17 hours, 15 minutes & a whole lot of love.

90 comments:

Mary on Lake Pulaski said...

Awesome post and amazing quilt story Julie! Thank you for sharing all of this. The quilt is even more lovely now.

mascanlon said...

Won't be a dry eye in the house today reading the story of this quilt Julie. And I couldn't agree more on your pledge, I love making things for the people I care about, I know I get more out of the giving then they could ever know. Hugs!

Amelia said...

Wow Julie!!! Initially I thought wow what an amazing quilter Julie is and by the end I thought what an amazing person and friend!!!

badlandsquilts said...

What a great story...

Mary said...

I love this post! Thanks for sharing not only your process but the heart behind the quilt. I pulled an all-nighter making twin baby quilts for preemies back in May. Sewing with love is the BEST!

Best wishes to your friend and recipient of the quilt. I'm sure she felt so much love getting this from you!

Robin (rsislandcrafts) said...

Wonderful post! I love when a quilt has a story.

I also love your idea of adding the label right into the backing. I have been thinking about doing that also. I like the idea that the label can't be easily removed.

The Tulip Patch said...

That's so sweet...I am sure she loved it.

daisy janie said...

Thank you for sharing this story, Julie. The quilt is beautiful on its own, but, when you add the how & why, the impact changes dramatically. Sharing your talent in a purely heartfelt way is always a worthy endeavor; I'm glad you were able to see it through. I'm very sorry for your friend.

Cyndi loves to stitch said...

AWESOME QUILT, great journaling, beautiful story to go with, you are a wonderful person to bring joy to a friend so quickly!!

angela said...

Awesome story - so sorry you're losing your friend.

Making a quilt for people you love really does feel wonderful.

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

I love this quilt and the amazing story. Thanks for sharing the whole process.

Terriaw said...

this was really fun reading about your process for making this gorgeous quilt in less than 24 hours. I bet it was an exhilarating challenge to experience. The whole time, I was wondering about the why. Then I got to the why and heart stopped for a second. Prayers to your friend who is struggling with leukemia!

Jessa said...

What a beautiful quilt... made even more beautiful from the love you put into it. My prayers are with your friend.

CaraQuilts said...

WOW. All I can come up with right now. Both on the project and time but more to the story.

a.niza said...

Thanks for sharing your lovely journey of making an awesome quilt. It's your big heart that drives you & sparks energy in making the quilt.

Katie B. said...

You're awesome, Julie! I know this quilt quilt will bring much comfort to your friend and her family.

Thanks for sharing your process! I love seeing your time stamps.

Vicki @ DottyJane said...

Thank you for sharing this story. You really are an inspiration:)

cornbreadandbeansquilting said...

Great story! I am glad your gift-quilt made it to your friend in time.

cw said...

I was sitting at the computer with my morning coffee thinking what a blah monday it was going to be. After reading your wonderful story I feel inspired to "get the lead out" and do some quilting! Thank you for the inspiration.

twinkid said...

Wow, what a great quilt story! I love making quilts, but I love to give them, too!

Kaye Prince said...

Wonderful post Julie! I'm sure that the lady this quilt went to is very happy with all the love and hard work you put into it.

I loved seeing your process too - very cool!

Katie Jean said...

Julie- Thank you for sharing this. It is so touching. What a beautiful quilt.

KarrieLyne said...

Oh Julie...this is why I love you. You are one special woman. Don't you ever forget that!

I need to get a tissue now.....

zarina said...

I once kept track of the time taken but it felt more like work (even though I hoped my craft can pay for itself).

There was once last year, I made a 'rush' quilt for a friend diagnosed for breast cancer. It was not at the critical stage but I was like doing it something like you.

Melodee said...

What a heart felt blog, this is why I am so addicted to quilt blogs. I love Quilters as much as I do quilts. My greatest joy in quilting is that I mostly make them as gifts for someone else. I get a great deal of satisfaction from that.

Mykidsarecooler said...

My Juls, it is a gift to all that your caring & compassion comes to life in your creativity & determination. You are so special and have the ability to make others feel special too! If this beautiful quilt could talk, it would tell such a beautiful story of how it was created as a true labor of love!

azuree55 said...

*sob* how wonderful of you as a friend. I know how comforting a quilt surrounding you is when you are ill. I have never thought about tracking my time spent. My grandmother was a seamstress at her home and she worked from 8:30 until about 4:00 everyday. She cooked lunch and supper every day while sewing. She could make a dress in a day and it was perfect. When I retired I try to do the same thing with my chores. I wish my grandmother were still around so I could share quilting with her. We loved to sew projects together....now enough of my sobbing. Great blog. I am new to this process but have added you to my favs. It's so wonderful to see young busy people taking the time to do a wonderful skill as sewing and quilting. Keep up the great work...

IHaveANotion ~ Kelly Jackson said...

It is always those times when we see our humanity that we realize....we write our own stories and are in charge of our time, our deeds and our thoughts. I'm with you....more time spent doing what I love and less with the unimportant details of life.

Prayers for you, your friend, and all of those whom love the two of you.

Hugs,
Kelly

Deb said...

Julie ~ I LOVED the quilt story. And your quilt is beautiful; I know your friend will love it.

Have you ever posted on your labels? Did you design them and have them printed? How could someone else go about getting their own done? Thanks for this post!

Brad Herman said...

Amazing Job Sis.

natalie. beyond the reef said...

Quilting for Love. Definitely a requirement.
Definitely the right perspective on quilting.

Carla said...

Julie, this is a wonderful post. I hope that many quilters catch the fever of wanting to love others through their quits. It seems like so many hesitate to give away their projects after putting so much work into them. What better way to show love!! Good for you!!

Laurel H. said...

I LOVE this post, Julie. I can relate; I have at times felt absolutely driven to complete a quilt IMMEDIATELY for a terminally ill friend. Now, I don't do a quilt with involved piecing like you do :) but I do something quickly and get it to my friend. I have never ever been sorry that I have rushed to get it done; in almost all instances, the friend has passed on soon after I gave the quilt.

Thanks SO much for sharing. :) Blessings to your friend, and to you, for doing this.

Jennifer said...

What a lovely story, and beautiful quilt. I am sure your friend appreciated it so much.

Vicky said...

A quilt full of love ...

You hit the nail on the head while sewing on a quilt for someone. When I made a quilt as a gift, the whole time I'm thinking of that person, remembering fun times, etc. I think that's where the love comes in.

You are remarkable, sweetie. The quilt is beautiful! xox

Stormy Days said...

Thank you for that, it's a beautiful quilt with a loving story.

Ryan said...

Now that's what I call a quilting marathon! Beautiful quilt Julie with an even more beautiful story to go along with it.

Thanks for sharing.

Amy - Amy's Creative Side said...

The love that goes is in each quilt is what makes each of them so special! Blessings to you and your friend/her family as you each walk through a difficult time.
xoxo

Sandy said...

What a great story, Julie. I enjoyed reading about the process and then was overwhelmed when you let us in on the reason! Bless your friend and bless you also.

Stephanie said...

That was an awesome post.
I don't normally read post you know I just look at the pictures but I really enjoyed the story of your quilt. It is wonderful to be able to share a piece of yourself during times of great trial. I'm sure it brought your friend great comfort.

traceyjay said...

your story made me cry!

I'm so sorry.

I agree though -- quilting for fun is a must. This is one special, beautiful, and wonderful quilt.

So much love in each little stitch.

Natalia from Piece N Quilt said...

Cool post Julie! I think it would be a lot of fun to actually track the time in making a quilt! I'm sure it will be loved!!! :)

holly k said...

where's the LOVE button when we need it!!!! :)

Kate said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story of that quilt. What a wonderful friend you are!

Pat Sloan said...

wow Julie... sharing your story is such a beautiful gift to your friends. It makes me think about what I'm making...

big hugs to your friend and to you...

Becky said...

Wow, what a beautiful story. Best to your friend. I'm sure she loved to get such a heartfelt gift.

Jacque. said...

WOW, Julie! You must take full advantage of the 1600 stitches per minute or however fast your machine is...{grin}

2 weeks ago, I made a quilt for a coworker's sister who has pancreatic cancer. Just because. Nothing feels better than to do something like that. For sure.

lisa said...

thank you for sharing. The reason I quilt is to give myself (through the art) and my loved/dear ones joy and comfort. Thank you for reminding me. Now I must say, even with that motivation it would take me at least three days to do that all! I am a little slower and more hesatant in my quilting still.

annmarie said...

Wonderful story - (I hope your friend is doing OK)- and wonderful quilt! and thanks for proving it's OK to stay up all night quilting if you want to!

Sylvie said...

Congratulations for this great quit!
The story behind it is beautiful!
Love,

Sylvie

Alfa said...

Congratulations for these post and the purpose of the quilt.

creativedawn said...

Julie! YOU are one amazing person! Awesome quilt! Thanks for sharing your reason for making the quilt and your major motivation. I feel humbled...truly.

Pam

SueB said...

well that is a really cute quilt.

Tricia said...

You're awesome! This quilt is beyond gorgeous in person...and I'm sure she/he loved it. If you need anything at all I'm here!

Dresden Quilter said...

Thank you for the story and the reminder of the important things in life. You are a remarkable person and a very good friend. I have a question about the labeling. Does having stitching on it make it harder to write on once it is done?

Deb said...

Thank you for the story, and how thoughtful. I also have a close neighbor who is fighting breast cancer and hopefully will win the fight. I've made her a quilt and it's been sent off to the quilters, hopefully for a christmas gift. We're all praying for a speedy recovery.

Lovie said...

Love your 24-hour quilt, and the story behind it. I'm sure that she loved it and was comforted by, and her family will be later.

LizzyHouse said...

I love you Julie!

bargello said...

Love your quilt story...I could never have done that in 17 hours!!!!!! You are amazing.
Kathy

Stray Stitches said...

I love the quilt! I know it would take me much longer to complete it.

John'aLee said...

Thanks for sharing the process. I'm sorry for your loss. Isn't it amazing how 'quilting' can keep us centered...even in time of crisis!

Cheryl Arkison said...

Kudos to you. Quilts like that are much more enjoyable to work on as well.

eileensideways said...

a beautiful story, thank u for sharing. ~a quilt is a blanket of love~

Erin @ two more seconds said...

I was watching your tweets in amazement over the course of the 2 days, too, wondering what the hurry was. Thank you SO much for sharing your story -- it puts so much into perspective. :] It's a beautiful quilt!

Sonja said...

Much love and *hugs* for you and your friend's family. My deepest condolences. I'm sure this quilt is already a much treasured family heirloom. Well done :)

Patty C. said...

Beautiful quilt - Wonderful gift - I am sure it was treasured

crystal said...

Life is so short. Thanks for the reminder. What a wonderful gift of love. Thanks for sharing!

Karen said...

I really thought you were nuts when I started reading your blog! But after reading through it, I realized how awesome you were! Great quilt, great friend, great post!!!!

Joan said...

Such a sweet story. My prayers are with you and your friend.

rebecca said...

The queen of blogs you are. Soooo much info!!

Deborah said...

Such a touching story. You really put your heart and soul into that quilt, and I'm sure it was well-appreciated. You're my hero. dmj53(at)hotmail(dot)com

Kathy H said...

What a wonderful present for your friend and her mother.

Hotquilts said...

Touched my heart this morning. Beautiful and generous to give of yourself to others.

Regena@QuiltnQuiltthings said...

Fun project. I have stayed up late many many times to get project done as well. :o}
Thanks
Regena

Kathy said...

You did an amazing job!

Robin C said...

very ambitious. you have way more energy than I do!

Sharon said...

Here's my comment. What a loving quilt to make for your friend's mo. I hope she is able to keep this to remember you and her mom.
You are amazing with your marathon quilting making.

Angie said...

Wonderful post!

vanos said...

It's a beautiful quilt and a very moving post. thanks

emily and logan said...

that quilt is to die for. totally inspiring.

Quilting with Pugs said...

Wow, you are more dedicated than I am.

Debbie said...

That is a wonderful story about a wonderful quilt. Great moral to the story

Susan said...

All I can say is "WOW". What a day. Love the quilt:)

schmidt1016 said...

I admire your heart and dedication. That was a very touching story.I'm sure your friend and her mother cherish you and your tangible evidence of your caring. Thank you for letting us all share it with you.
Leslie S. in MN
esclante[at]comcast[dot]net

Barb said...

Now that is a some marathon quilting...great job, the quilt is awesome and I sure hope your friend loves it and my thoughts and prayers are with you and her.

It just depends on what type of quilt we are talking about as to how long it takes....that was an easy out!

Diane said...

What a beautiful story. I did the same thing while we were waiting for word on a grandson's adoption.
I swear 15 min. after finishing the binding on his quilt they got the call that he was ours!

Diane

Angie said...

So sorry about your friends mom, its amazing what we can accomplish when doing it for someone else. What a big heart you have

HomespunHeidi said...

Julie,

Thank you for your tender heart and for sharing your gifts, skills and life with me. Before my father died of cancer a good friend of mine knit him a prayer blanket. He was often comforted by that blanket. My mother and I are still comforted by her love for us; that she would share her talent with us and the fruit of her time in such a way as to bring hope and peace. I am sure that your friend feels the same about your precious gift. All in all, it was a day well spent.

Andee said...

Thanks for both the quilting and life inspiration. Sorry your friend's mother passed...I am sure the quilt and your love and support was comforting in the end.

Brittany Jean said...

This is an incredible story. Thank you for sharing.