Thursday, 17 April 2014

Handquilting Math

This post is about keeping track of a long-term hand-quilting project.  But before getting into the math, how about a little eye candy?

Last week, I travelled to Ontario again and on my way out of the Toronto airport, I made a little detour to stop at Sew Sisters.  I had already decided I would break my Fabric Fast rules, but I stuck with the bargain bin.  $1.75 a fat quarter.  Aren't they lovely? 

Hard to pick a favourite.  I especially like the three on top.

Yes, I am at it again.  The hand-quilting project.  The beast.  The 78" x 92" quilt made up of two inch squares.  1794 squares, each quilted diagonally, in both directions, except for the yellow borders and white areas with appliqués, which I simply outlined.


Here is an idea of what the quilting looks like from the back.

Although I find hand-quilting very relaxing, I like setting goals, and tracking progress.   I vaguely knew this was going to be a long-term project, but did not realize I would count the hours in the three digits, let alone add a "s" to the word "hundred".  The first time I started loosing the motivation for the project, I knew I had to come up with a method to track my progress.

A simple Excel document did the trick (it could have been Word, or even a plain old piece of paper).  I just drew my quilt - 39 x 46 2" squares, and I get to fill in each square with a colour once it is done quilting (yellow for the borders, pink for the appliqué areas, and blue for the patterned squares.  So the white areas represent what I have left to do.  Not too high tech, but it works.

My chart tells me I have 362 more 2" squares to quilt, at an average of 5 minutes each.  That is 30 more hours 10 minutes.  It takes me close to 1 1/2 to 2 minutes to go trough one square in one direction, and of course each square is quilted in two directions. The remaining time is for threading needles, repositioning my hoop, and dealing with the occasional knot.
Now I like to play games with myself:  It will likely take me less than 30 hours to finish the quilting: my chart only shows completed squares, but lots of squares are already quilted in one direction.  This means that after an hour of hand quilting, I can usually lower my "time remaining" by a bit more than that.  Unless of course I spent an evening quilting in one direction only, in which case I have nothing to show for my efforts.
See some areas that are completely quilted:
And others that remain to be done, in one or both directions.
I remember when I was telling myself: 100 more hours.  Then 80, then 60 more.  Even 50 hours seemed quite insurmountable.  But now, 30 hours?  That is something I can wrap my head around.  That is only 15 evenings of 2 hours...

The good news is that with the NHL playoffs having started, I will be spending more time in front of the TV, wanting something to keep my hands busy.  If my beloved Montreal Canadiens make it to the Stanley Cup finals, we are in business!  Even if I just quilt during winning games, that is all I need.  Only 15 more wins needed until the Stanley Cup!

Do you play games with yourself to complete a long-term goals?


  1. I totally play games with myself for those kind of long term goals. Can I finish the audio book? How many shows or movies can I watch while doing something? It's looking fabulous, Dom! Chuck's pretty psyched about the playoffs too. I'll be getting more quilting time, I think. ;)

  2. You found some great fabrics in the sale bin. Too funny, we bought the same flower print. Does yours have a selvedge? Mine doesn't. I would love to know what it is.
    I love how you keep track of your handquilting. I need to do something like that too. What I am doing is not working...I usually just pick a month and say that is my handquilting month and then never stick to it. I have handquilted over 30 bedsized quilts but I have been stalled the past two years and seem to be doing just machine quilting. I need to get back at it!

  3. hand quilting that much scares the be-jesus out of me. But just imagine the accomplishment when it is done! Loving your excel tracking spreadsheet, the perfect visual to keep you going :)

  4. You are fun Dominique! You have invested a lot of time in this quilt! But, hand quilting it totally worth every minute :o)

  5. Oh man, I've been thinking I might like to do one hand quilted quilt but this post may have scared me off...

  6. Keep going...the end is in sight.


Yay! Comments! I love reading all the comments and do my best to respond, (though sometimes, life gets in the way).