The Quilt Scout
by Mary Fons
“How Long Did That
It happens to us all. You show a non-quilter a quilt you made and in under a minute, after the initial oohs and ahhs, the question comes:
“How long did that take you??”
You can’t blame the uninitiated for wanting to know. In a world of rapid-fire mouse clicks and itty-bitty tweets, being faced with something soft and pretty and bigger than a flat screen TV that someone actually made with her actual hands can be highly disorienting.
But if you’re like me, the question is a depressing proposition. For one thing, yeah, quilts take a really long time to make. And we don’t care about that, usually, until someone asks—mouth hanging open—how long it took us to do what we love, at which point the thought does flicker through the mind: “Am I, in fact, completely nuts to be doing this? Is it weird to cut up perfectly good fabric and sew it back together again?”
It’s a proven fact you sew straighter seams when you’re rocking
out to the latest John Mayer album. Photo: Wikipedia.
The other problem with the “How long did that take you?” question is that it’s practically impossible to answer. Sure, there are quilt projects that can get done in a day or two, but the labor we put into those “quickies” is still hard to measure. We don’t clock in when we sit down at our sewing machines or go to cut our fabric. (And again, we really don’t want to think too deeply about this, kinda like we don’t want to think too hard about how much we spend on fabric in a year. Shhh…)
Well, the angst ends today. I have come up with a solution, an answer to the “How long did that take you?” question.
Netflix. New sewing machines should come
with a free membership, am I right?
As I mentioned in a prior Quilt Scout column, I hand-quilted my first quilt this summer. Every evening, when I sat down
in my favorite recliner to quilt, I had two things nearby: A tasty beverage (okay, it
was red wine, and yes, my stitches are
pretty big) and my laptop, perched on the side table because I watched the television comedy “The Office” while I worked. Netflix has the entire series available for streaming and I started at the very beginning of the show when I began to stitch.
So when I show off this quilt, and point out that I hand quilted it, and am asked how long it took me, I can answer definitively: “It took me 3 1/2 seasons of ‘The Office.’”
Most quilters I know listen to podcasts, or watch movies or TV shows on Netflix (or Amazon or Hulu, etc.) while they sew. It doesn’t matter what kind of media you consume; you can use any of it as a unit of measure! For example, when asked, “How long did that take you?” you might reply:
You know she’s got “Game Of Thrones”
on the wall-mounted TV on the other side
of the room. Image: The Old Quilt by Walter Langley via Wikipedia.“It took me 54 episodes of the ‘Stuff You Missed In History Class’ podcast. I’m so glad you like it!”
“This particular quilt? It took the entirety of ‘House of Cards.’”
“Let’s see… When did J.R. get shot in Dallas? Like, which year of the show? Because I watched ‘Dallas’ on DVD while I worked on this, and I turned the last corner of my binding right about the time J.R. got shot.”
People who ask questions like “How long did that take you??” are the same people who think quilters are old-fashioned (or just old). This very 21st-century method of gauging our time well spent will show them that we are as plugged in as everyone else. And how.