Here I am back from the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza (PNQE), where I actually won a ribbon for my Spiral Galaxy Number 3. I will be blogging about that also (waiting on some pics from one of my friends). While I was there, and at other times about other quilts, I got the ever present question “How long did it take you to make?”
First of all, with the exception of the one I’m working on right now my quilts are my own design. I may, however, be inspired by, or use a piece, character, or portion from another source…like a set of NASA photographs, or a Dover flower, or a traditional quilt block for part of a wave, or a border from an eleventh century manuscript, for instance…but it still is my own design. My current project is a design drawn by my oldest son for inclusion in my ancient manuscript series, but it is a pictorial design and still requires solving how to make elements of this design. It isn’t a pattern.
So this is my usual workflow. Each quilt is different, of course:
- A design concept pops into my head.
- I may capture the concept in a simple quick drawing and notes in paper and pencil so I can remember it.
- I let it “marinate” in my head for a while, meanwhile I research various elements of the design, figuring out the approach I want to take to accomplish the quilt. The research consists of any historical design information, techniques that may be needed, and types of fabrics I should probably use.
- I draw it using a combination of Corel Painter for the picture part, Corel Draw to make it full size, smooth some of the lines and turn it into a vector line drawing for a pattern, and maybe even Electric Quilt to see whether or not it needs borders, and get the sizes between the central theme and the borders all working together.
- I print out a full sized picture using Corel Draw, which divides it into printer paper sized tiles. Then I tape that together.
- If I decide some of it needs to be digitized and embroidered in the hoop, I digitize it, test stitch, fix the digitized version.
- I do some testing and practice to see how to do some of the parts.
- I gather my fabrics and threads. I start by shopping my stash, then shop elsewhere to fill in what is missing.
- I finally construct the quilt top, including appliques, embroidery, painting before-quilting items, and piecing.
- I mark the completed top for quilting.
- I sandwich and quilt
- I paint any post-quilting paintables, and add any bead-work or other embellishments
- I bind the quilt and add the rod pocket and label
- With a flashlight and a magnifying glass I go over the quilt looking for thread ends and any problems that need to be corrected.
You’ll notice that it is not until step 9 that I actually start constructing the quilt. I think for most quilts it is between half and two-thirds of the way from concept to construction where one might say I started “making” the quilt. Also, I am not only working one quilt at a time. Usually I have two or even three in the works over the same period of time.
So when I’m trying to answer “how long did it take you?”, don’t be surprised if I look like a fish out of water gasping for an answer. I could give an answer like “I’m not quite sure, but I started the quilt about a year ago” or “I worked on the design about six months, and it took about three to construct it.” Usually, though, I will just take a stab at the whole thing and say “about xxx months”.
Sew happy everyone! How long did it take you to make your last quilt? 🙂