The Power of a Deadline

You never know what you can do until you’re given a deadline in which to do it.

I started making quilts a few years ago, simply because my grandmother refused to make me a second one.  With eleven grandkids and even more great-grandkids, she’d do nothing but sew quilts if she gave each of us as many as we wanted.  So, I bought some fabric, cut it up and began sewing pieces together myself . . . by hand.

One row of hand-stitched squares was all it took to convince me that I needed to buy a sewing machine.  My fingers cramped up so quickly that I knew I would never finish my quilt if I continued to do it that way.  With my newly-purchased Brother sewing machine, I was able to zip through a row of squares much faster, and without pain to my hands.

I give huge props to people who continue to stitch quilts by hand, and even more when they use intricate designs.  That is truly art, and I marvel at how they are able to take that amount of time.  I even marvel at my grandmother, who now uses a serger to make her items.  They probably shouldn’t, but sergers intimidate me a little.

Anyway, back to my first quilt.  As with most things I undertake, I jumped right in and didn’t take any classes, or read any books on quilting.  My impatience to have another blanket was too great.  So there was much seam ripping and re-doing since I hadn’t planned it out properly.  Finger-pricking, swearing and an aching back also ensued — especially as I attempted to attach the front and back with a layer of batting in between — but I was able to finish that first quilt by the time winter hit Chicago that year; several months after I’d begun it.  It was a good thing, too, because that was a brutal winter, and my first quilt was made of flannel, fleece and had heavy batting in the middle.

I’ve made quite a few quilts over the years since — and I’m sure I’ve cut down on the time it takes me to make one — but I’ve never really paid attention to how long it takes from start to finish.  So it was with blind faith that I recently accepted a request to make a lap quilt within a month’s time.  This quilt was to be a gift for my client’s mother, and would include pictures of her family.  I was also given many items of clothing that had belonged to the mother’s husband (my client’s father), who had passed away some years ago.  It sounded like a lovely sentiment, and I was happy to take it on.  That was before I knew just what would be involved.

I had used an item of my clothing once in a quilt I’d made for myself, but that was one piece, and I had no deadline to keep track of.  This time, I was given several items of clothing, and I wanted to use as much of them as possible, to keep the sentiment.  I had to seam-rip all the pieces first, the cut them into the measured pieces.  I also had to print out the photos onto special photo fabric, which also included steps to make it color safe.  Once all that was done, it was time to assemble the cut pieces into the pattern, and sew each line together.

Now, in a quiet month, this might all have been quite doable, and with very little stress.  But August has not been a quiet month for me.  In addition to all of the quilting chores, I had a full-time day job, events or get-togethers on some nights and weekends, a yard sale to prepare for, and other general goings on that make up a life.  I’ve discovered, once again, that I am great at planning things, except for factoring in some time for daily life, or relaxation.

Ultimately, I got the quilt done.  I wound up sacrificing several nights of sleep in the last week, but it looks rather nice, I must say.  It’s funny how things squeeze out of the way (much like buildings avoiding the Knight Bus) when you need to find time to meet a deadline.  I know for certain now that I can do another one in a month’s time, if need be.

However, I think next time I will make sure I’ve got two months to give myself a little more breathing room.




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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Celeste
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 09:43:58

    Alyx, I love your quilt. I spent quite a bit of time repairing an old quilt my grandmother made. While I worked on it I learned a lot about her, and it seemed like she came back and gave me advice, a lot of advice. It was wonderful to have her visit me through the quilt. I will have to blog about her quilt.

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Aug 29, 2011 @ 18:50:27

      Yes you should blog about that quilt, Celeste. It sounds lovely. And how nice that our grandmother came by to help you fix it up. 🙂

      Thanks for visiting today.

      Reply

  2. Dana Fredsti
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 09:17:02

    Wow. That is beautiful, Alyx. Absolutely lovely!

    Reply

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