Time Management & Meeting a Deadline

Time Management & Meeting a Deadline

16th May 2022

Have you ever had a deadline to meet? It might be an exhibit, a competition, a commission or something like a quilt for a birth of a baby. As a quilt artist I am faced with deadlines all of the time. There are a lot of ways that you could approach these situations. I have tried them all or at least have been forced to try them all.

The first approach is to start on the quilt weeks to months ahead of time to assure yourself that you will have it finished by the deadline. This works for some, but not for all. One reason is finding out at the last minute and you really want to do something special, but know that you will need a minimum of 2 weeks to get it completed. The second approach is to faithfully work on the quilt at least once a week and trying to schedule everything else around the time that you have alotted to work on the quilt. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't. Third approach is to work like a maniac for 2 or 3 days prior to the event to complete it (if you have that kind of time).

What I have found that works best for me is to approach the quilt with slow methodical sessions. First thing I do is decide on the subject and the technique I will use. Next I gather all of the necessary supplies such as fabrics, threads, fusibles, glues and creating of my pattern. Now it is time to get to work. What I do is work on a piece everyday for 30 minutes to an hour. This way I don't crash and burn on the piece. Also, if something goes wrong, I still have time to correct the problem.

Let's begin. The piece I am going to discuss is entitled “Majestic”. It is 45” x 54” and has a total of 5413 fused pieces. I was creating this art quilt for a competition. After selecting my supplies, which in this case was scrap pieces of fused fabric. I took a large piece of muslin and drew out the image to the size that I wanted. Next I had to figure out the color scheme and make sure that I had enough scrap fused fabric for the main part of the piece. Here is where the fun begins. I start filling in the main parts of the lion's face.

Also, I start filling in a little of the black just to outline some of his details. Each day I add a little more by working 30 minutes to an hour. Sometimes I get so immersed that I get more than an hours work done. So I bank the extra time just in case life happens and I only get to work on the piece for a few minutes or not at all. On a regular quilt, you could alternate between piecing and laying out your quilt top. In some cases you could start putting rows together depending on your color variations and difficulty of the layout. I always make a diligent effort to complete my minimum of 30 minutes a day. Here is how much progress can be made in a 1 to 2 hour session.

I continue this process each day as the deadline gets closer. You will know if you are where you need to be in order to finish your quilt in time. If I feel that I am not where I need to be, I will use my Sunday afternoons as a way of catching up or getting ahead. I can usually get way ahead if I use a couple of Sundays this way. These sessions are normally 3 to 5 hours depending on the size and detail of the piece or how free the day is. You could approach your quilt the same way depending on how much cutting is involved and how detailed the piecing is on the top. And remember to allow time for quilting whether you are quilting your piece or a longarmer. Using a longarmer and their turnaround time frame is another story in itself.

I have always been told that slow and steady wins the race, so once again, continue on this path until you have your top completed. This whole process of time management helps me to meet deadlines without feeling overwhelmed or rushed to finish. I love when I finish a piece ahead of schedule and then I can sit back and wait for that moment of glory. The time for submission or just simply having to ship it to it's location.