Am I fast? not so much

I do a lot of blogging as well as Facebook posting about my hand quilting.   It is really fun to share what I am doing.  I really get a lot out of the exchange of ideas, questions, and feedback.   There is, however, one consistent comment that really bothers me.    “Wow you sure are fast”.    Let me assure you I am NOT fast.   Honest I am not.
Yesterday I posted a picture of the progress of a rose on the whole cloth quilt I am working on.


I worked for most of the day Saturday to get it to that point.  I worked on it for the remainder of Saturday and part of today.   If I add that all up and it is something like 16 hours (for the filling not the black outline) and here it is .


That is less than one square foot of quilting.  It is slow, it is time-consuming, It is not magic, it is NOT fast.   It is consistent long hours of work.  I would love to be fast because I have so many ideas and quilts to do…..and I am faster now after hand quilting 6 + hours a day for 6 years than when I started, but I am not faster than most other hand quilters. I understand that it looks fast when all you see is a progress picture, It looks like it magically happened, but there are many many hours of quilting between pictures. When people say I am fast I feel like it really minimizes all the hard work and hours I put into it.

Now that I got that off my chest let me share some garden pictures.   I took a quilting break and planted some Pansies …. and took a few pictures of the beginnings of spring flowers in the garden.   (click pictures to enlarge)

Back to work

Happy (slow and steady)  Quilting


89 thoughts on “Am I fast? not so much

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Your honesty and talent is commendable.

  2. So true, Tim. Quilting is just a slow, steady endeavor. You do inspire the rest of us to be persistent in our own projects and for that, we thank you everyday.
    ~Billie Farley

  3. Kelly Tosaka says:

    I love the fact that I’m not the only plant nut and quilter out there. Thanks for your honesty and the beautiful garden photos. I think everyone else’s work always looks faster than our own because we are not putting in the actual hours. I will wait patiently to see the completion of this rose.

  4. lorieast says:

    Slow and steady wins the race! I know I am the slowest hand-quilter on the planet, but I don’t mind a bit. And yes, it appears (!) that your fingers fly, but I know well how many long hours you spend.

    Your garden looks wonderful! So glad spring has finally reached you!

    • timquilts says:

      Thanks Lori… we need some rain…..did not have a lot of snow (plenty of cold) so the soil is already dry

      • lorieast says:

        I wish I could send you some rain. We’ve gotten so much lately that we can’t get in to do much. My husband got vegetable garden tilled (although I’m not sure how–wet clay is a sticky mess), and the tomato plants in, but everything else is tall and scraggly and very, very muddy.

      • timquilts says:

        I guess there is never a happy medium 😦 mud is no fun either

      • lorieast says:

        No, but it’s a necessary evil. Better to start spring muddy than dry, I guess.

  5. Ellen Heath says:

    Tim, your comments here really resonate with me. I even named my little blog “The Tortoise and the Quilt.” The other comment that sets my teeth on edge is, “I’d never have the patience for quilting.” I have been known to reply, “I completely understand your feelings. I have no patience for watching TV.” That tends to shut down the conversation.

  6. Deb says:

    That’s your secret, Tim , ” Steady” . Your flowers are so lovely. What are the little purple fuzzy ones called? Can you believe that my cone flowers have little buds on them?!

    • timquilts says:

      Thanks….the fuzzy guys are pasque flowers, or Pulsatilla vulgaris…..they will be somewhat different when they open more….my coneflowers are just a few tiny leaves emerging at this point…

  7. Mrs. Plum says:

    Thanks for your garden photos, Tim. The hyacinths are my favorite.

  8. Ann in PA says:

    Lovely flowers and lovely quilting! As a (slow) hand quilter I can certainly understand the many hours of labor that goes into a quilt. I just enjoy the journey, however long it takes. I really don’t think people mean to minimize what you do when they comment on how “fast” you quilt. It seems more like they are amazed at your beautiful work and what you accomplish.. I can’t stand “watching” TV without having handwork to do-it seems like a waste of time.

  9. Nancy says:

    I don’t think I’m guilty of what you speak since I know how many hours go into a project. However, I think at least some, possibly many, of the ‘quick’ comments are given as comparatively speaking of themselves. 🙂 I find a lot of other things get in my way of being quicker than I am, like tending plants. It also depends on how excited I am about a project. The more I love the ongoing resulting stitches, the quicker it gets done.
    Happy stitching and gardening!

  10. Claudette says:

    Thanks for sharing. Yes, when you quilt 6+ hours at a time, a lot more can be accomplished. I am one of the lucky ones who has the time to do this. I do remember the time when I was lucky to get a couple of hours in after the kids went to bed. It doesn’t matter if you quilt for hours or minutes a day, eventually those quilts get done. And yes, a lot of TV gets listened to during my quilting time. Now if only I had a green thumb.

  11. Elise says:

    I am one of the “guilty” ones… One of my first quilts, I took what seemed like 10 years to hand quilt a king sized double Irish chain, so anyone is faster that me. (Never do a big first project!). I did not mean it as a slight, because as a hand quilter, I know no matter how fast, it’s always slow work. And I don’t sit for longer than a couple hours a day, if even THAT at the hand quilting work. So again, anything goes fast, relatively speaking, if you’re quilting 6 hours a day to my two…. I am pretty sure we all agree that your work is beautiful and you are a prolific quilter on top of that, so keep on keeping on!! With love and admiration, Elise

  12. Carolyn Lueder says:

    Pictures of your garden and quilt are beautiful. Do the rabbits or others eat your pansies?

  13. Sandra henderSon says:

    I think that is one of the downsides to Internet/texting, etc. We are becoming more and more of an instant gratification society. I just finished a queen and my fingers are so sore and I didn’t think I would meet my deadline for the customer… It’s nerve wracking and your back hurts and hands. I have not commented too much because since I closed my blog (the cumberland island quilt chick) and moved from cumberland island ga to the someone u mtns (both very very remote) and loosing my husband; I’ve just “gone private” and walked and healed for the last 1.5 yrs. having said that, I had to comment on this post. I always, always look forward to having your posts come to my email. You are one of the few blogs I still keep up with. You are so worthy and it makes me happy to have watched you from the infancy of your blog until now. Keep up the great work! You work a real job, take care of a house and home, quilt and do shows… I see many things in your future. It will all pay off.
    It is paying off, from what I see.
    “Go get em Tim!!!”

    One of your biggest fans,
    Sandra henderSon

      • Sandra henderSon says:

        Sorry for typo-smokey mtns is where i now live . 10 minutes to Cherokee. If you are ever in the area… You have a place to stay. Gatlinburg and pigeon forge tn are just over the mtn.

    • Nancy says:

      Sandra… we were just in your area for the Mt Quilt Fest in Pigeon Forge last month. We love going down your way. Visited a very nice quilt shop near Cherokee as well as a few others in the area.

    • dljolin says:

      Sandra…. Sorry for your loss. Understand “going private”. It is a needed & necessary thing at times. Enjoyed your post very much. Have also been in that situation with client deadlines. No fun…. But always ‘recover’ & come back to it. I find the handquilting good for the heart & soul. You live in a gorgeous area.
      Blessings to you……. Dawn 🙂

  14. Rose in VT says:

    Oh Tim, you crack me up. You may not be fast to yourself, but you are to me. My progress on my latest HQ project is not nearly as consistent as yours. And your garden is also much further along. Even my crocus aren’t blooming yet, but I have one little iris with a beautiful flower. It doesn’t know it’s not supposed to be out for several more weeks, and I’m not minding a bit!
    It’s your duty to bask in the admiration of us even-slower-pokes!

  15. Thank you for explaining “fast.” I am a “fast” quilter, too, in that I make many quilts a year. But I spend many hours on each project. I have the luxury of being able to do so, and wanting to do so. It gives the impression that the quilts appear like magic. They do not. One other aspect of this is a little push-back I want to give to the “slow quilting movement.” I agree with many aspects of it, so this isn’t a condemnation. But just because a project is “slow” does not make it a better project. I make the quilts I want to make. Taking 2 years to make it instead of 2 months will not make it a better project or make me happier with it. Dont’ tell me to “slow down” and enjoy the process. I enjoy what I do, how I do it, and at the pace I do it. And thanks for letting me air that tiny rant! 😉

  16. Carolyn in Maine says:

    Perhaps it would be more apropos to say, “My, you’ve accomplished a lot!” (And without a time qualifier!)
    Enjoyed the garden photos. Thanks for posting.

  17. Robin Sutton says:

    Or, how about, I love seeing your progress because it motivates me to make more time for doing the thing that I love…handwork.
    Hugs to you and Teddy

  18. glendajean says:

    Morning Tim, where are you Teddy hiding in the Secret Garden? Every Spring watching your garden come to life it reminds me of the Secret Garden. Thanks so much for sharing so many photos of it. I now live in the tropical rainforest where it is far to hot and any thing that looks like a bulb the wild turkeys dig up, so I enjoy my spring and summer garden through yours. Cheers Glenda

  19. kemosabaycampground says:

    Your garden is lovely. Things are just getting started here. Maybe this year I will be able to keep up with the weeds and encroaching grass. I would get more quilting done also if I put in as many hours as you do. Thanks for keeping us motivated.

  20. quiltsalott says:

    You’re so right, it’s the hours you mange to put in and the help you get from Teddy 😉 it’s lovely to see your garden blooming.

  21. Michelle says:

    Tim, I think when people say that – they don’t mean it in a derogatory way. Some of us only get 6 hours a month to quilt, so to us, what you can do in two days of quilting would take us 6 months. Your work is steady, organized and inventive…..we are actually jealous 😀

  22. Julie Porter says:

    Glad you posted that Tim. I was getting frustrated with my progress and contemplating studying your style on video and after all these years changing. I will stick to my style and favourite silver thimble from the thimble lady n Australia which is a sort of rocking motion with your hand and the holes are on the side of the thimble.

  23. Kathy Roloff says:

    I always enjoy your posts and love to see your progress. This project is so very interesting. Hand work is not just for the finished project, but it’s the process that we love. Fast or slow, patience or not, it’s a personal experience. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I wish I could share gardening with you. Black thumbs, and very touchy back. But the house plants are gangbusters!

    • timquilts says:

      I wish I had the light in the house for house plants……the orientation of the house makes it really bad for them… previous homes I had great house plants

  24. Louise Jackson says:

    I enjoy watching your progress no matter how fast or slow you do it. It is amazing work. Love your designs and the way you finish the tops you purchase….I try to get a few hours a day to do my hand quilting. Sometimes I get a lot done, sometimes not. The thing about it, ENJOY the process of it all. Your flowers are beautiful. Mine are still hiding we had more snow last night here in NS, Canada…pats for Ted.
    Thanks for sharing your Blog…..

  25. Kerry Brown says:

    This is going to be so beautiful. Every little stitch takes time and effort. Keep up the posts?

  26. adaisygarden says:

    I don’t take as much time as I should to quilt or sew… This past week I was kind of “forced”, I’d say, to do so, because of gifts I had to finish before Sunday…

  27. missouristar says:

    Beautiful work. I so agree with your post. I know people mean to be complimentary, but it can be frustrating that they don’t see the hours and and hours you spend. Another remark that often gets to me is, “Oh, you’re so talented.” As if this gift just dropped down out of the sky without any hard work on my part. Yet I have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours practicing and honing my craft. Sure, there might be some natural talent in there somewhere, but I also work very hard at it!

  28. Mary Ann says:

    Your work is fantastic and beautiful. Each and every person works at their own pace. I consider myself a slow quilter as I don’t like to rush in picking out fabric,cutting out the fabric and sewing the fabric. Then I machine quilt on my home sewing machine so that takes me even longer. People need to be a little considerate.

  29. Amie says:

    I’m sorry I said you were fast. What I meant is that you tend to get more accomplished than I do because I fiddle fart around. You don’t. You get with it. I fiddle fart. If you looked up my name It will describe me as a person who is very very busy spinning her wheels with not much to show for it. However, I’m having a fine time lol!!

  30. Leo says:

    well fast and fast are two things … I always wondered how much time you spend each day on the quilts, because yes compared to me the quilts get finished really fast – that is less than a year … but then I’m lucky if I get to spend the random evening a week and maybe half the weekend on them …
    Now I can quit feeling like I’m “slow” … I can look forward to retirement in ehh 40 odd years when I can start working on the bucket-list of quilts that I put down as wanting to make over the years …

  31. dljolin says:

    I can relate to the comment about “fast”. On my 3rd wholecloth almost 20+ years ago someone made a remark about “is this all you do? Don’t you get anything else done?” At the time I had 3 kids in school/sports/after school activities/husband/household to maintain & a job. I just laughed it off because I knew she didn’t mean anything by it but I did share with her at the time that yes I did get things done. But while I sat with the kids waiting for the bus to come to the house for 20 min or so-I quilted. While they napped-I quilted. While dinner cooked-I quilted. In the early morning, quiet “me” time-I quilted. It came in spurts & moments……. Slow & steady….. 🙂
    Kids are grown now, life is slower paced but I still find myself quilting like that. Sleepless night-I quilt. Something quiet I can do while the house sleeps. I also at times “sort out all the worlds problems” then too. Lol
    Sorry to be so ‘long-winded’ but just thought I’d share my ‘slow process’ to get things done……..

  32. Mimi says:

    I think in this day and age when folks say you sure are fast, they may mean, no way would I have the patience to do that for an hour or two, much less 6 hours. You make a very good point that slow and steady would help a lot of us finish more of our projects.

  33. Nerida Duncan says:

    Sorry Tim, I’m sure i was one of those. Thing is in this short time you have inspired me to stick at it and be more productive. I have found a great space for myself with my quilting now and I am very content. I no longer envy the machine quilters who can churn out quilts in a week or a day. And I have found a long term focus for my quilting and am feeling very inspired. I also am much like dljolin and find I quilt whenever there is a break in the traffic, although I find I am more and more creating those breaks. Having read the post I thought about what do I achieve. Well it is taking me about an hour to outline quilt a 4 inch pin wheel and have surprised myself that I now have only 15 to go, and time taken is a bit of a record for me. Its a bit like eating an elephant, one bite at a time. You are perfectly right, you give up something else to do what you do. But you are inspiring and you have inspired me and thank you for that.

  34. Christine Brooks says:

    Thanks for making that clear. As a professional quilter… I know how tedious hand quilting can be. You are correct in saying, It is slow and time consuming and the trick is to do it everyday!!! It won’t get done by staring at it!!! I do have a question about the pearl cotton. I checked sites and find a variety of names but other than DMC I don’t know much about them. I tend to use Gutterman threads for everything. What is your brand of preference?

    Gardening is beautiful and always a pleasure. I live in DE so we have early spring. Magnificent blossoms now. Very inspiring.

    Regards and keep on quilting,

    Christine Brooks

  35. audrey says:

    What you are is very dedicated.:) It’s amazing how many hours you put into your craft and all of us loyal lurkers love to see the results! I get kind of queasy when I sit down and start to figure out how many hours I put into a quilt from start to finish, so I try not to focus on that. It’s the satisfaction I get from the process that really matters. You are an inspiration to all of us slow stitchers. Slow and steady, one bite at a time–it all adds up eventually!

  36. Lisa says:

    Thank you. I get the “handwork” is a dirty word, you have so much patience, you are fast but it really comes down to the choices I make. I choose to spend time at my craft whether it is piecing or hand quilting. I have taught classes on hand quilting but as I remind my students (and my friend that teaches free motion quilting reminds her students), practice perfects the technique and improves the speed. I choose to spend 2 hours a night hand quilting but that means I don’t do something else. I am pleased that my efforts make steady progress toward completion. Some day I might spend more time but for now, this suits me just as your time suits you.
    I love this quilt and how you are filling in all of the space. I look forward to seeing your progress.

  37. Janelle says:

    I am slowly learning the beauty of hand quilting. and it is a slow process–very slow process for me, don’t think I will ever get very good or for sure not out of the slow speed cuz I have neuropathy in my hands and can only work on it for a little while at a time then have to take a break. but I keep trying. And you flowers are beautiful–they reminded me of my Mom –she loved her flowers in the spring and summer, so thanks for sharing them. And thank you for sharing all of your great knowledge of the quilting that you do.

  38. Lorij says:

    Yes, it is the process. I think quilting was not only invented out of the need for warm covers but, also so that folk would have a healing place to go when there was trouble, problems, heartaches, sickness, hurts that need mending. Because when you piece or quilt on a quilt seems somehow everything works themselves out. Quilting is a solace for nearly any situation. As you work you pray, or think really deep. Sometimes you may even cry but, when you get to a stopping place whatever trouble was there will seem to have gotten much lighter. And many times you work quicker than you even realized. It is the process and I think that’s good.
    Give Teddy a rub for me.


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