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How Long Did It Take?

How Long Did It Take?

By Janelle Cahoon, Quiltcentric

This is a question many crafters dread.  I know I do, but it seems I’m asked it almost every time I give someone a quilt.

“How long did it take?”

If you want to answer it seriously, do you include the years spent perfecting your skills, or the weeks or months you may have spent considering the pattern and gathering just the right materials?  Do you add in the months or even years it may have spent as a UFO while you worked on other projects instead?  Do you estimate the number of weeks or months you were actively working on it?

None of these seems a good or accurate answer.  If they did, I’d be saying I have a Lone Star Quilt that has taken over 20 years – and it still isn’t finished!  (Now I’m feeling guilty and I’ll have to pull that out and look at it again!)  Of course, it might only have 50 hours of actual work in it.

Beyond the problem of how to answer the question, though, is the fact that I really don’t want to answer the question at all.

I feel like the question lowers the product of my skill, artistry and imagination down to an assembly-line number.  And frankly my quilting really isn’t about how many hours I invest in making a particular quilt anyway.  I enjoy the process of making the quilt as much as I enjoy the finished result. I like sketching ideas, choosing fabrics and revising plans as the quilt evolves; I enjoy sewing and quilting it; and I think the finished quilt is much, much more than the hours it took me to make it.

Do I value your baby less if I give you a 12-hour quilt rather than a 20-hour quilt?  No.  In either case I’m giving you the loving care that went into every aspect of making the quilt, from concept to the last binding stitch.  That can’t be measured in hours, but I hope it can be felt.

I’d like to think the dreaded time question is really an awkward way of trying to acknowledge and appreciate that.  So when I’m asked how long it took to make a particular quilt, I try to translate the question as, “Wow!  It’s beautiful.  Thank you!  I love it and I wish I could make something this wonderful!”

At least I hope that’s what they’re really trying to express:  pleasure, admiration, gratitude, and maybe a hint of understanding that this quilt has more value than a mass-produced comforter from the big-box store.

That’s why we should smile and say, “Hours and hours – but you’re worth it.”


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