How well do you cope when you have to deliver a quilt on a deadline?
Does the process of making a quilt stay fun and enjoyable when you know you’ve only a certain amount of time, and not much time at that?
And how do you even know how long a quilt will take to make? Some of this you’ll learn by experience, and even the practice of setting a timer and seeing how much you can do will be informative, as sometimes we have no idea.
I’m going to take your through my process of estimating a quilt from start to finish, so that you can approach making your next quilt with a lot more confidence.
In my last post, I talked about making a plan, which involves choosing a pattern, asking how much time you have, and when you will fit this time into your day.
Then checking to make sure you have everything you need. This will ensure a smoother ride, and a more satisfactory journey to the finished product.
So now I’ll get down to the nitty gritty of planning a quilt. I’ll break down how to work out how long each part will take, and document when the making will actually happen.
I’ve designed a FREE Quilt Planning printable, and in the above graphic I show you how to fill it out, with an example of making a baby quilt for a fictitious baby. You can watch me do this in the video below, or keep reading for further explanation…
I’ve called the desired project, ‘Quilt for Jo’s baby’, to be completed in five weeks, and delivered in six. I’m choosing a project like a baby quilt to start the planning process, as they are usually smaller, simpler, and can be broken down into steps easier.
Now I’ve purposely left the actual pattern box blank here, as this is dependent of a couple of things. Do you have your heart set on a particular pattern, so that you’ll make time in your day to fit in whatever sewing is required (going with your heart)? Or will you be more moderate, and decide on a pattern based on how much time you think you have (letting your head decide)?
Whichever one you do, the next step is to time yourself making a block, preferably from scrap fabric. This is helpful in determining whether you understand the directions, and whether your piecing is accurate. Now this time estimate is a pretty rough, as you should be able to decrease the time needed as you progress through making the blocks, especially if you’re strip and chain piecing.
But it’s helpful as it serves as guide, and can be a buffer for any mistakes and adventures with the seam ripper. Multiply this block time by the number of blocks, and you have a rough guide for the time needed just to piece the quilt top.
Continue down the column, writing in your estimates for cutting the top, your total piecing estimate, time for basting, quilting, and binding.
Each of these factors will need consideration as to how much detail is involved. Things like pin basting vs glue basting, simple quilting vs a complicated design, and hand binding vs machine binding.
Add up your total column, and this is your estimated total time to make this quilt. I like to add in a couple more hours for contingencies, which are bound to happen. Finishing early is always a great bonus!
Now move onto the time grid, where I’ve included the days of the week down the left hand side, and fill out how many hours each day you will sew.
Some days you can’t sew at all.
But you’ll need to be really honest here, because you can’t put down that you’ll sew after work, if you’re going to the gym and won’t be home till really late. And you can’t put sewing time into your weekend, if your weekends are full start to finish with something else.
You have to make that time a priority, and stick to it. And you might be lucky and have some holidays, or a few days off!
Then go ahead an fill in your choice of pattern, based on how long you estimate it will take, and how much time you will make available.
The rest of the sheet is for you to check your inventory for fabric, notions, and templates.
I hope that the process of planning a quilt like this has been useful, and definitely helps you enjoy making your next quilt, knowing that you’re on top of your time management.
Does it ever surprise you how long a quilt actually takes to make? I know I am! There’s a lot of love wrapped up in all that time!