I so often hear people say “It takes sooooo long to quilt their quilt and
that they just want to get it finished”.
I wonder... just how long is........ “sooooo long”?
Now this I can appreciate, as you’ve spent a considerable or in my case
often, a very long time on your quilt and you’re so excited to see it finished
and alive. Quite often you have also tired of working on the one piece for
I don’t really know why, but so many people seem to feel that they should
be able to have the quilting finished within a very short space of time.
Definitely nothing against people who use long arm quilting machines, or equivalent to, but I can’t help to feel that through these machines, people seem to now have an unrealistic idea that they can quilt with their domestic machines just as quick as on a long arm style of quilting machine.
This is NOT the case.
Your time for quilting will depend on the type of quilt that you’ve made,
the amount and type of quilting that you choose to do, and of course just
how much personal time that you have to do your quilting in the one sitting each time you come to your machine. Maybe today you’ll have 4 to 6 hours
of uninterrupted time but tomorrow you get only 30 mins of time.
We all have so many things happening within our busy lives, that we so often just “grab” a moment or two here and there.
As I personally do very large quilts normally, and I use lot’s of appliqué
and trapunto within these quilts, plus I also ditch stitch around “every piece” of appliqué, trapunto etc, that it tends to make them very slow to quilt.
I also use safety pins for securing my layers together, so this makes quilting slower as well.
Some times when I’ve been quilting, particularly my
“A caterpillars dream” quilt, there were many days that I would spend
6 or 8 hours at the machine and only go through a bobbin of thread a day.
Yes, you did just read that correctly....................
This was mainly because I had so many parts of this particular quilt that
were extremely thick, particularly the little rosebuds that I’d created.
So thick in fact, that often I’d have to turn the wheel on the machine by
hand, as it just wouldn’t go through the many layers any other way, needless
to say, I did keep the steel companies in business I’m sure, with the amount
of needles that I broke throughout the quilting process of this particular quilt.
As well as that of course it was very big to fit under my domestic machine.
Now of course if your particular quilt is not as thick, heavy and as large as mine, then it’ll be a much simpler and quicker quilting process for you.
In general, there is no true rule to how long it needs to take you to quilt
your beautiful master piece, but generally speaking it’ll take you approx a third
to half as long to quilt your quilt, as it did to make the top.
So if it took you 12 months to make the top, then I would say to allow approximately 4 to 6 months to do the quilting.
Once again this’ll be dependent on the type of quilt, if you ditch stitch areas
of your quilt, the design of your quilting and how intense you decide to
Everyone also seems to be in this almighty hurry, but it doesn’t hurt to
slow down the quilting and you’ll find that you’ll enjoy it so much more and be happier with the whole finished quilt.
We all seem to have the idea that, “we just have the quilting to do ...
and then it's finished”, but of course this is not the case.
Before you start to actually quilt the quilt, you’ll obviously need to secure
all the quilt layers together, and this can be a timely thing as well.
Once again because some of my quilts are so big, this can take me 10 to 14
days and approx 4 to 5,000 safety pins.
Some of you will pay to have someone baste your quilt layers together, which is quite a time saver. Once the quilting is finished there is still the hanging sleeve if you’re attaching one, as well as the binding.
Then lastly, there is the label to make and attach to your masterpiece.
I actually always enjoy doing my labels, as my machine is also an embroidery machine, so after the long haul that it’s taken me to finish one of my quilts,
it’s fun and freeing to just be able to play around with the label.
All of these above steps, adds to the time it takes to have your quilt
finished from the time that you finished sewing the actual top. Some quilts will have a lot less sewing within the actual making of the quilt top, then within the actual quilting.
Many people can’t be bothered with the quilting process, and send their
quilts out, this is fine, as there’s nothing wrong with that.
I will always say......it’s always your own personal choice.
Always remember, people will often say, “that’s not correct” or “that’s not
the right way”, well I always say, there are certain rules and guidelines that do need to be adhered to, but if it works for you and everything turns out as it should be, well then, that’s fine. Don’t let other people dominate your thoughts and make you feel bad or less of yourself because they choose to
do it differently then you choose to.
Don’t get too over stressed by it all.
Also if you’re making an exhibition quilt or a quilt for, hmmm....., let’s say the dog’s bed, and over time yes I’ve seen many a quilt that’s been created for a beloved pet, then you’ll possibly change the rules here.
You may become much more precise or much more relaxed. If you’re making an exhibition quilt, then you may wish to check out this posting here on what
judges look for within an exhibition quilt.
Quilting to me, is often very relaxing and something to totally lose yourself into. I wouldn’t suggest that you quilt when you are really rushed for time or maybe a little stressed as it’ll take you longer to undo your mistakes then what that possible 15 mins of time gave you, if you weren’t so rushed or stressed.
I always like to have really good light, but on saying this, at certain times
of the year, early in the morning the sun will come straight into where I’m sewing, and it’s actually a hindrance, so I do need to shut my blinds for an
hour or so till the sun is higher.
When making my “A Caterpillars Dream” quilt, it took me 19 months to
make the top as it’s very intense within the appliqué work that looks like needleturn but has all been created on the sewing machine. This is a technique that I started doing way back in 1983 when I first started doing patchwork, and 90% of my quilts are created using this same appliqué technique.
I then started designing the quilting in Aug 2008 and had completed the
quilt by June 2009.
This process of designing the quilting, doing the “Trapunto”, stretching the backing, layering and pinning, quilting, hanging sleeve and then the binding,
took 10 months in all. Three months of this ten months, was actually spent just doing the intense Trapunto that is within that particular quilt.
This quilt is approx 265 cms square and weighs 7 kgs when dry.
When I quilt, I also “Ditch stitch”, every part of my appliqué as well,
between every petal, flower, leaf, wings, tails or whatever it may be.
So how long does it take to quilt a quilt?
That’ll always be an unanswerable question, based on the many facts above.
So when you next have a quilt ready for quilting, don’t have the mindset
that this’ll be really quick to finish, as it’ll make the process seem tedious and long. Instead, slow down, take your time and you may be amazed at just how much you really enjoy seeing your quilt come to life, but most of all I really
hope that you learn to love the quilting process.
It’s the quilting that brings your quilts to life; it’s what will bring dimensions, movement and life to your own personal works of art. Imagine a cake in a
window that’s decorated to the exact same cake beside it that has been lightly iced, to the cake beside that one, that’s been magnificently decorated.
Which one will jump out to you I ask?
Which one was created in a rush?
Which one was created with the mindset of that’s all the time I’m going
to give to it?
Which one was created where the decorator felt and could see his cake
really coming alive with the more time, love & care he put into it?
With all of the above I’ll leave you here today to still ponder on
How long does it take to quilt a quilt?
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Have a beautiful & creative day