How Long Will It Take?


Meeting Deadlines and Estimating Quilting Time on Projects

Whether it is creating a design for a customer, conference, class, show, or for personal reasons, trying to estimate just how long a project will take can be a painful.  If you are like me and are focus challenged, it is more than a little painful, it is a true struggle.  To predict how long a quilt, or sample will take to complete can be impossible.  I have quickly learned that when I am provided with a deadline I need to begin WELL IN ADVANCE! And I mean WELL, WELL in advance.

So for this quilter my mind-set is generally to:


However, there are moments when life does not allow me to “Just Do It”.  Which  then brought this question to mind: “How do I compute the amount of time it takes for me to complete a project in such a way that I can share this information with my followers?”  images-83

Now that called for some serious thinking!  After pondering this idea for quite some time I began to feel like Russell Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind”.  Mathematical equations were being frantically written, erased, and rewritten as I tried desperately to come up with the proper data that would allow me to reveal and illustrate how much time it takes me to complete a design.  After many sleepless nights, and tedious moments working with various hypotheses and conclusions I was very pleased to FINALLY put my analysis together in a chart, as shown below.

lisamathchartI am truly hoping that other quilters will find the above chart easy to understand.  I believe I have clearly translated my projected time for quilting in such a way that others will find it fairly simple to interpret.  Let me know if you have any questions.  I realize these types of charts can be a bit confusing; especially when they are composed of such words like “estimated”, and “realistic” .

How do you determine the length of time it will take you to complete a project? Are you a fly by the seat kind of quilter, or are you like me and have a precise method in configuring your quilting time?

18 thoughts on “How Long Will It Take?

  1. I generally think in how many weekends or months that I have to complete a bee block or finish a quilt. I tend to start work early and get mostly done then rush through at the last minute because I can’t help procrastinating. For example, I have to turn in a completed quilt for a quilt show tomorrow. I had the top pieced by last November, but I didn’t baste and quilt it until mid-January and only finished binding it last weekend. I still have to de-dog hair it and put a muslin flap over the label, but hey, I have tonight for that!

  2. I like your chart, it is pretty close to accurate EXCEPT for people like me who get distracted easily, or need a nap without warning. I am in the last throes of finishing three baby quilts that I had every intention of finishing for Christmas. Two are finally done and I’m happy with them, the last SHOULD get finished today (ha ha) – I only have to cut around the scallops and bind it. It’s looking stunning, so I do really want to finish it. Then I can finally post them – luckily they are all cot quilts or I would have been WAY too late.

  3. When I was in graduate school years ago I knew a paper would take me three times longer to write than I originally thought it would. I was meticulous then and remain so with my quilting. Your times are remincent of those days.

  4. Your chart sounds like what a house contractor uses. Only you forgot the part where the estimated price doubles. I have learned to not have hard deadlines. I only promise quilts for shows if they are done or really close to completed. That said I have a wall hanging I haven’t started yet that I want done by June for my guild challenge.

  5. The only thing that works for me is a deadline, whether self-imposed or otherwise. I have a project I’d like to have finished in July, but am stuck on a design issue. Instead of further frustrating myself and accomplishing nothing at all, I began a new, easy charity quilt. And the deadline for that top is this Sunday. It is well on its way and I have a feeling of doing something worthwhile.

  6. If it is my own quilt, I find that if it is bound within 5 years of its start date, it is doing good! I have about 50 quilt tops that I did in 2011 while house/pet sitting for my deployed daughter…no longarm, just lots of fabric and my sewing machine, so tons of tops! They aren’t even on the list to be quilted right now!! And I am making more tops as I care for my dad 760 miles from my longarm!! Customer quilts…I want at least a month to do a custom job…I can stand and quilt only so long before something else demands my attention! I prefer no time limits because some times quilts don’t want to talk to me!! I like your timeline, but the 3s need to be 5s!!!

  7. Hi Lisa
    Great chart! I don’t feel so bad now as I have 2 quilts started 3 years ago and not yet quilted and 3 quilts from an auction to finish. I guess I should get busy!

  8. This is good! I tend to work on one quilt at a time or I lose interest. Doing one at a time gives you an incentive to finish it as soon as possible so you can move on to the next one without guilt (in my case).

    When my kids were little, I was seriously considering changing their names to Come on and Hurry up. One day my son (Hurry up) wasn’t getting ready for school on time. While voicing my concerns, he said, “I hate clocks, they make you late!”

    Well, he had a point.

  9. definitely a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl- I only have a few quilts a year that have definite deadlines (charity auction, baby birth) so I try to start those things waaaaaaay in advance as they always take so much longer than you can possibly imagine.

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