Monday, September 22, 2014


It seems that every time I show a finished quilt to someone, they always ask the same question:  "How long did it take you to make that quilt?"  My answer is always the same:

"I have no idea.  Twenty hours?  Forty hours?  I don't know."

Well, I decided to find out how long it takes to make a quilt.  I was contacted through Facebook a couple of weeks ago by a girl (woman!) that I went to grade school with around mumble-mumble years ago.  She has a friend who is turning fifty soon and wanted me to design and make a lap size quilt (57" x 73") from start to finish for this friend.  After looking though lots of pics on Pinterest, she decided on the colors and design, and I made a mock up of it on my QuiltPro software.  Here is the concept:


And here it is completed:

But I'm getting ahead of myself!  I diligently timed every minute that I spent making this quilt, and here are my results, along with a few photos to keep it interesting:

To start with, I figured about one hour to design the quilt with my software.  I took a lot longer than that, but I was also just fooling around with colors and stuff, so I am only saying one hour.  When the fabric from Keepsake Quilting arrived, I dropped everything and started piecing half square triangle blocks.


...turned into this:

And when all the blocks were done, I was left with this on the design wall:

Each different color took twenty minutes to finish.  And since there were twenty-four colors, this part of the process took eight hours.  Then I took them off the design wall to arrange them.

The little picture tacked to the design wall is a mock up that I used to arrange the blocks correctly.  This part of the process took ninety minutes, but would have taken a lot longer if my wonderful husband, Bill, had not been helping me!

In the photo above, the vertical seams have been sewn.  Each seam, including removing from the design wall, arranging, sewing, pressing and putting back on the design wall, took twenty minutes.  For eleven seams - three hours and forty-five minutes.

Sewing the horizontal seams took sixteen minutes for each seam, so that came to four hours of work.  Now it was time to audition border, binding and backing fabric, so I was off to Robert's Sewing Center.

Shopping for batting, backing, border and binding took two hours, including travel time.  Cutting the fabric for the eight border sections, pinning them to the quilt top, sewing them on and pressing them took three and a half hours.  Piecing the backing fabric took thirty minutes.  The quilt top was now ready to be loaded onto the frame of my long arm quilting machine.  Here are a few photos of the quilting process:

Laying out the top, back and batting on the floor to check for size and to place a few safety pins as registration points took fifteen minutes.  Loading the quilt components onto the frame and doing the actual quilting took five hours.  Trimming the quilt and squaring it up took another fifteen minutes.  Cutting, seaming and attaching the French fold binding took two hours.  Designing, making and attaching the label took another one hour.  And the quilt is finished!  Here are the final photos:

Packing the quilt for shipping and traveling to and from the post office to send it on its way took one hour.  So, how long did it take me to make that quilt?

Just under 34 hours!

Now we know!  And this was for a lap size quilt, so if you take 34 hours and divide it by the labor I am charging, I am making just under $6 an hour.   Some people may not understand why a hand made quilt is so expensive when they can go to Walmart and get a hand made quilt from China for $59.99.

Most people don't realize that the materials alone for a hand made quilt will cost somewhere between $100 and $200, and maybe even more, and that does not include the labor to make the quilt.  When I tell people that, they usually decide to go to Walmart!  I can't fault them for that, because I know that hand made quilts are expensive, and some people may not be able to afford one right now.  Maybe someday they will, and I will be happy to design and craft one for them!

 Here is a sneak peek of the mock up of my current work in progress.  I am making a 95" x 95" quilt for my own queen size bed.  The quilt in this post used 192 blocks and the quilt I am making for my bed uses 400 blocks, so you can see that it will probably take around one and a half times the labor hours, maybe around 45 or so.  I never thought I would make a quilt that uses that many blocks, but I'm doing it now!  Hopefully, there will be a blog post soon chronicling the making of it.

Thanks for visiting today!


  1. This is beautiful!! I think your timing is pretty similar to mine, although I'm probably a smidge slower. I've always thought that I'm a slow seamstress, but maybe it's that some quilters are either SUPER FAST, or they don't actually time themselves, and they're bad guessers ;-)
    I'm working on a commissioned quilt right now and I seriously underestimated how long it would take! ah well. Live and learn....

    1. Thanks, Tracy! I would love to see yours when it's done.