Does Size Really Matter?

As I am getting older, increasingly I am finding myself drawn to making smaller projects as opposed to large quilts. There are a few reasons for this.

A main one is time. To make a large (twin sized or larger) quilt takes a lot of time. The shortest amount of time I’ve made one in is about 3 months start to finish (for a rather simple one) to as long as 2 1/2 years for the more artistic ones. This is not continuous time stream of course, I usually have quite a few projects running concurrently to fulfill obligations and other deadlines but the big art pieces take a lot of time and energy to make and somewhere in all this I have to make a living and pay the bills as well. Given that time allotment, I figure I would have another 20-25 years or so (if my hands and eyesight hold up) to make them and at about 1-2 years per quilt, that would only be another dozen quilts or so before I have to put my sewing machine out to pasture. On a list I keep of designs and concepts I really want to pursue, I have about 30 projects ‘ready to go’ – designs done, fabric purchased etc… not to mention even more sketches and ideas in progress. See just one spread open page from one of my design books below? I have about a dozen or more of these design books brimming with designs.

Just two pages from one of many notebooks full of designs just waiting to be made into a quilted project or pattern.

If I give myself permission to make the projects smaller, I will be able to realize more of them though never if I lived to 150 could I do them all not to mention I keep adding new designs all the time, I just can’t help it.

The other reason for smaller project is the logistics of quilting them. I can quilt smaller projects on my domestic machine with ease, anything up to a throw size (about 60″ x 60″) is a piece of cake! Larger than that, I have to start making compromises between what I want to do vs. what I can do. Larger than a twin/full size and even those compromises go out the window. I don’t like surrendering an art quilt to a long-arm quilter to create the stitching, I can’t afford custom quilting jobs for all my art quilts and besides, I have experienced those last minute changes when in the middle of quilting, I decide the design I was considering just isn’t working out right. If I am the quilter, I can change horses in midstream and try something different rather than allow another person to make that call.

Before suggesting that perhaps I should invest in a long-arm machine myself – A) I can’t afford one, B) I don’t have a room large enough in my home to house one (except for the living room and that isn’t happening) and C) the muscles and coordination to long-arm a quilt are different than tabletop quilting and I would have to quilt a lot of quilts before I was good enough to do as good  job as I can do on my domestic machines – there’s that time issue again. I do have friends who have long-arm machines who have invited me to use theirs but with a machine located in someone else’s home and doing the kind of custom quilting job I would want, I would have their machine tied up for days if not weeks  (plus I still would need to quilt a lot of less important quilts before tackling one of my art quilts).

And so, small it is and I can stitch away on more manageable projects while reminding myself that good things come in small packages.