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Thread: What I learned by keeping a diary making my last quilt

  1. #1
    Super Member IrishgalfromNJ's Avatar
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    What I learned by keeping a diary making my last quilt

    I learned that I spent 32 hours and 2 minutes making the quilt between March 31 and April 22. This total includes the time I took to wind bobbins, clean machines, wash, iron and cut fabric. It took me 19 hours to just make the top. The quilting only took 4.5 hours because I only cross-hatch quilted it with a walking foot. I used two different machines, one for piecing and one for quilting and binding so I used 5 bobbins for piecing and binding and 3 bobbins for quilting. The quilt turned out to be 60" x 70" and that's about as big as I can make on my DSMs. I saved my diary for future reference. I'll never again wonder how long it will take me to make a quilt.

  2. #2
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    Thank you for doing that. Now I won't feel let down when I don't live up to the "Simple quilt. You can make this in an afternoon" exaggerations I hear all the time from not only quilt pattern makers, but video instructions on You Tube.

  3. #3
    Super Member Quiltngolfer's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info. I think I will keep a diary of my next quilt. Sounds like it will be interesting to know how long I take to make one. I am pretty slow.

  4. #4
    Super Member meyert's Avatar
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    Thanks for the information.... I am working on a project now and I am tracking $$ and cuts.. you have inspired me to track the hours as well. I have missed some, but I can "guesstimate" the interfacing and cutting times. It will be interesting to see. (The $$ really add up and scare me sometimes)

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    Super Member paulswalia's Avatar
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    And that's why we can't make money selling the quilts we make. If you were willing to work for $10 per hour, that would be $320 for labor alone. Now add fabric, batting and thread and no way we can compete with "bed in a Bag" from the local home fashion stores. About once a year I make a quilt on commission and that's only for someone who knows up front what it will cost and is willing to pay knowing the quality of work/art they will get in return.
    We are here to learn how to live in heaven - I'm still learning.

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    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    this is very interesting information. thanks so much for sharing
    Nancy in western NY
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  7. #7
    Cyn
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    Wow! I would be afraid to know exactly how much time I waste each day Of course my 5 cats and beagle do not consider hours of walking, petting and brushing wasted and I agree with them But the time I sit in quiet meditation watching flowers, tree and grass grow......

  8. #8
    Super Member DOTTYMO's Avatar
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    My friend tracked her costs for an heirloom and was amazed at how it was building up. Hundreds of . She never had a final amount because she started part wAy through. Just buying beads,lace, thread etc. .
    Finished is better than a UFO

  9. #9
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IrishgalfromNJ View Post
    I learned that I spent 32 hours and 2 minutes making the quilt between March 31 and April 22. ......
    This could be incredibly valuable information to have when/if it came time to price your quilt for sale. If you didn't even charge for materials for the quilt, would you be willing to work for less than minimum wage - about $7.25 as of 2009 - making your income from the quilt $232? I personally wouldn't do it for less than $12-15 per hour for labor, or $384-$480. And that doesn't include fabric, batting, thread, and other supplies!

    You can see from this one example how too often we undervalue our work!

    Jan in VA
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    peacefully colors my world.
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  10. #10
    Super Member valleyquiltermo's Avatar
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    Well I have done a cost and time tracking on a few of mine and I don't think I'll do that again it was scary.
    I rarely do commission quilts for this reason. People don't want to pay the price. I have so many I want to make and give away, I really don't even want to do commission quilts. It's a waste of time even going over it with someone, Because they never will understand the quilting process. I wonder if a true time video would have them understanding it.
    http://www.skillpages.com/DonnaValleyquiltermo
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  11. #11
    Super Member kim_s's Avatar
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    What that is so interesting. I am surprised at the small amount of bobbins you used. I am making a quilt top right now and I've already been through 3 and I'm not even a quarter of the way done. I guess it all depends on what you're constructing. Thanks so much for sharing your info.

  12. #12
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    If you haven't kept track of the time you invest in your quilt you will be surprised. It may seem like you only work a few minutes but it is actually a couple hours. Time just flies when you're having fun!

  13. #13
    Senior Member tate_elliott's Avatar
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    I have a digital kitchen timer that counts down, as usual, and counts up, like a stopwatch. Every time I'm in the middle of a quilt, I think to myself, "Next time I'll use that timer to keep track of how long a quilt takes."

    So far, I've never remembered.

    Tate
    King of the Rocketeers!

  14. #14
    Super Member coopah's Avatar
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    I'm working on a sampler quilt for a former student of mine who is now grown and stationed in S. Korea. I've thought of making a diary of the hours invested...just so he knows it's not a Bed in a Bag sort of thing. I thought I could make the label into a pocket and slip the diary in there.
    "A woman is like a tea bag-you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." Eleanor Roosevelt

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    What a clever idea! I think I'll try that.

    Cyndy K

  16. #16
    mkc
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    I love this idea! I have been capturing the process by taking photos along the way (I've only made 3 quilts so far), but having a record of the hours I spent on each would make me even prouder of the accomplishment.

    Michelle

  17. #17
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    Interesting!! And it varies so much, at least for me, based on the quilt...OBW's take me FOREVER, I can't even guess how long. I should start logging...I'm only maybe 20% done with the top and I've already spent many hours.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    Never say never! When you are in a bad financial situation selling a quilt to make a little bit of money is something you hope for. I had a baaaad job that paid peanuts when I was a refugee, but it came with a good meal and that is what sealed the deal for me. This is not to say that we should undervalue our work, but you never know what life brings.

  19. #19
    Senior Member madamepurl's Avatar
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    That's very interesting. I think I will have to try it.
    - Rose

  20. #20
    Super Member jmoore's Avatar
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    I just started a project binder with plastic inserts where I have made notes of the pattern, fabric swatches glued to a page (Elmer's school glue of course) and completed quilt size but I did not think about tracking my time and costs...

    I like your idea and will capture more information when I do my next project. Thanks for sharing.

  21. #21
    Senior Member jeank's Avatar
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    I would like to try to do this sometime, caculate my time in a quilt.

    My friend that does sewing alterations and repairs gave a good suggestion.

    She has an electric clock, the old fashioned type, not digital. She has it pugged in to a plug bar, sets it at noon. Every time she starts on the project, hit the power. When she leaves the room, turns it off. Easy way to add up the time without grabbing a pencil and writing down the time.
    Jean in MI

  22. #22
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    Gosh, I wish I'd tracked the hours invested in my current quilt. I spent more than an entire day pressing and cutting. Each of the 30 blocks has 31 pieces. The pinning and pressing alone takes a lot of time. Thank goodness for Netflix. I watched all of Ken Burn's The National Parks series(12 hours), plus several other documentaries while pinning and pressing. ( I pause the TV while actually sewing.)

  23. #23
    Super Member catmcclure's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by winia View Post
    Thank you for doing that. Now I won't feel let down when I don't live up to the "Simple quilt. You can make this in an afternoon" exaggerations I hear all the time from not only quilt pattern makers, but video instructions on You Tube.
    Those quilt in a day references are never accurate. They really just mean "Top in a Day - maybe". I have a few patterns where I can make (cut and piece squares and assemble) a top in 8 hours, but not a lot of patterns are that easy to assemble. The only time I can make a "quilt" in a day - cut, piece, assemble, quilt, and bind - is when I do a mini quilt. And sometimes even those are too detailed to do in a day.

  24. #24
    Junior Member Jory's Avatar
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    Keeping a diary

    I'm a new quilter and have used a diary to keep track of the process: each sewing session, how many blocks I did, when the top was finished, when the quilting was done, how many yards of fabric used, etc. I also have a section called "What I've learned" where I list things I learned how to do and mistakes I made and how to avoid them.

    I leave the first page of the composition book blank and use it as a 'table of contents', because I also keep track of tips I've read here, neat websites, charts for figuring out yardage for borders and backings.

    It's a bit messy because I also have sketches of possible settings and diagrams of blocks, but it's a lot of fun to browse through it and see my progress. And keeping track of blocks as I finish them keeps me motivated because that allows me to see progress even at the beginning.

  25. #25
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    I recently did a T=shirt quilt for a school. It took me 14 1/2 hrs to do. It was only 40"x50" and nothing special. They don't understand when they want something made for donation what they are asking.

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