Week in Review 2020 – 10/09

Frequent Question

“How long does it take you to make a quilt?” This seems a very straightforward question. I’m asked this frequently. Because of this I have some standard answers. What I should probably do instead is ask a question. That would be “Why do you want to know?” This question sounds glib. It isn’t. I enjoy having artist to artist and artist to art curious conversations. I truly want to understand the intent of the question and what the asker hopes to gain from asking it.

How Do You Measure Time?

How do you even measure the time it takes to make a quilt? I know some artists keep stop watches and clock the actual hours. Not me. That means one more thing to keep track of. I can’t imagine clocking in and out every time I enter my studio, exit it to replenish my beverage, take a short break, eat a meal, or answer email.

A process image of Cautiously Optimistic as it appeared on October 9, 2020.
The first row of Cautiously Optimistic is nearly complete. Just one more block to go.

What actually counts as time spent working on the quilt? There are times I may be working on household chores, writing my morning pages, going on a walk, or brushing my teeth when a solution or improvement occurs to me on a piece I am currently working on. Do I add that to the time? How about all the time I spend, hours and hours every week staying on top of the art scene, honing my drawing skills or even pondering what I am seeing at the moment to understand nature’s art principles? Personally, I believe daydreaming is crucial to art. In fact, it answers another frequent question, “Where do you get your inspiration?” Does “from inside my head” count as an answer? But that is a topic for another post.

It Takes What it Takes

How long will it take me to make Cautiously Optimistic? Longer than I want. But I refuse to rush it, eager as I am to see how it plays out. Instead, I will doggedly and joyfully create one block after another and enjoy the process.

I am linking up with Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Fridays.

By Gwyned Trefethen

I am an artist who uses fabric, thread and miscellany to create designs gifted to me by my imagination.


  1. Excellent post, Gwyned. I, too have often been asked that question. Do we count the time it took to dye my fabric, the time hunting for just the perfect fabric for a border (as I did this week), the time the piece was on the design wall arranging and rearranging blocks, the time ripping out that seam that wasn’t perfect, etc., etc. I did start keeping track of the quilting time on one quilt and it just became too tedious and I soon gave up.
    I love what you’ve done so far, no matter how long it took.

    1. So much time goes into making a quilt that is difficult to qualify as part of the creation or not? Should correcting a seam be included? Maybe we ask questions like this because making art quilts is our avocation and not our vocation. Something to ponder.

  2. Okay, Gwyned. Trying again! (I follow another WordPress site that allowed me to log in, reset my password and keep going!)

    So…where was I? Keeping track of time! I do this only for bed quilt commissions, and I don’t get many of those! But I *have* done it a couple of times for art pieces. The first was for my City & Guilds final — it was a requirement to keep track of time spent. The second was because I used beads as leaves on a piece that was a good size, and I wanted to know how long it took to do it. Sixteen hours. I usually tell that story when someone asks me how long something I’ve created took to make. It seems to satisfy them! (Note: this is shorter than my original comment, but I’ve jumped through so many hoops to get here that it’ll have to do!)

    1. Margaret, thanks so much for your perservence. I received 5 of your comments, looks like I missed the first. I’m not sure why WP boots you out, particularly on your end. On my end comments appear as pending, approved, spam or trash. I’ve learned to check trash after I post. I have the ability to either delete the comment or move it to pending, then approve it. Your comments did land in my trash bin, but I also received one in my email junk folder. I believe you have my email address. Feel free to contact me directly. Time is too precious to spend trying to get a comment through.

      As for you comment, I am wowed that you could make leaves from beads in only 16 hours. Perhaps it was all that work you did with City & Guilds.

  3. Here is an easy answer to that question: Nine hundred hours. That should cover the cutting, sewing, stitching, layering, quilting, and binding, as well as any drafting, dying, ripping, and designing, and last but not least, the hours and hours of day dreaming and skill-building and What Ifs that go into a quilt from start to finish. Just tell them 900 hours.

    1. Love that answer. The reality is the work that goes into making a quilt, is not that different from any other profession. I am reminded of people who don’t understand the hours outside of a classroom that teachers put in, including lesson planning, communicating with parents, correcting work and more.

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