crafting on a deadline


When it comes to crafting, “unfocused” would be a kind way of describing me. “Eclectic” is slightly more polite. I’m a flitterer (is that a word? If not, I’m declaring it to be one!), from one project and craft to the next. I generally have a couple of projects on the go at any one time, so I have options depending on my mood. Current active WIPs include an embroidery, a crochet blanket, a quilt, and a work of fiction. Then sometimes, despite all that, I get an idea and it gets so stuck in my brain I find myself putting all that aside and falling down the rabbit hole of incessant crafting to get a project in and out and finalised in a really short period of time.

This happened a couple of weeks back, when I decided to make a quilt to gift to our neighbour of 10 years who was moving away. I came up with this grand scheme Sunday night. She was leaving Tuesday. Yeeeaaah. But with a little bit of thought and a whole lot of ignoring the housework, I got it done. With literally two minutes to spare. I barely had time to snap a couple of quick photos before we were out the door. I have to say though, I am stoked with how it turned out!


This is my second last-minute, 24-hour quilt, and as scary as it can sound trying to do a whole quilt in such as short period of time, with a wee bit of “forethought” (I use the term loosely), it isn’t as hard as you would expect. Today I thought I’d share my top ten tips for completing a quilt in a day.



K.I.S.S. Save the fancy foundation piecing for another project. The key here? Simple simple simple. And there’s no need to reinvent the wheel – check out Pinterest for ideas, or blogs you follow – even if you don’t use the exact same design, using it as a jumping off point means you aren’t starting from scratch. For this quilt, I went to the Moda Bakeshop and scrolled through, looking in particular for charm square designs, and came across this sweet design (which I ended up changing slightly, but it was a good starting point). For my previous 24-hour quilt, I went with a disappearing nine patch design that I could easily strip piece.



Precuts are your friend – another reason I love the Moda Bakeshop! There are stack of patterns out there for quick and easy quilts from layer cakes/jelly rolls/charm packs etc, and you save a bundle of time on the initial cutting stage. I knew there was no way I’d be getting the “candy pack” precuts my chosen design required at my local quilt shop (being a country girl does have it’s disadvantages at times), so planned on a charm pack that I could then cut as needed. In the end I couldn’t even get charm packs (jelly rolls or layer cakes only), and so I settled for a four pack of fat quarters. Which leads to…



Be flexible. And be decisive, which is a hard one for me, I’m terribly indecisive. But if you are going to waltz in to buy fabric at 9am Monday to be finished by 10am Tuesday, you just have to trust you instincts and cross your fingers, basically. Spend 30 seconds debating the layer cake vs the fat quarters and then pick. And don’t second guess, like when you get home and find the white homespun is a good amount cooler than the white in the fabric. Does. Not. Matter. It’s picked, it’s bought, it’s sewing time.



Related to the above two – go in armed with a plan. Know what fabrics you need for which bits. A project like this isn’t conducive to emergency dashes to the shops. Know how much backing you need, how much batting. I grabbed another large roll of white thread so I didn’t run out (and didn’t need as much as I thought, in the end). I knew how many charms I would have used out of the pack, and knowing how many charms are in a fat quarter, I was able to do some rough mental maths to be sure I had enough for the top plus extra for the backing. Know how big your finished quilt will be some you can calculate binding. Planning is important!



Size matters. Both these quilts are small lap sized quilts. Quicker to piece, quicker to sandwich, quicker to quilt, quicker to bind. Larger quilts I’m sure are possible, but you do need to be realistic about what you can achieve given your skills, and other commitments such as children or work. Dream big – but not so big you get discouraged. It’s supposed to be fun and uplifting, remember?



Let go of perfection. This quilt was machine bound, because I just didn’t have time to hand stitch down the binding, which is my preferred method. There are spots where it didn’t quite catch, but small enough to not be a huge drama. The border should have really been quilted but I ran out of time due to the quilting I chose for the inner square (see below). I read somewhere once that each quilt should have at least one “humility block”, or an error in it, to remind us that we are only human, and not perfect. A 24 hour quilt will be humble as can be! (disclaimer – obviously I am only talking imperfections that don’t affect the quality or function of the item in question).



Stick with what you know. My biggest mistake on this quilt was, rather than going with a simple all over stipple or straight lines, I decided to choose a new-to-me free motion quilting pattern. It LOOKED easy and quick enough…nope! Easy, yes, quick, not so much. Admittedly, I did love the end result, but it cost me in other areas, like quilting the border and having to machine the binding.


You can’t do everything. I had to let other stuff slide to make this fit in my day. Only the most basic housework got done. The beds went unmade, the washing went unhung and unfolded. The floors weren’t vacuumed for a day or two. After I dropped the quilt off and came home, surveying the bombsite formerly known as my home, I did question my wisdom in ignoring all those jobs. But it got done. A day or two later than planned before the quilt idea launched, but it got done. No biggie, in the grand scheme of things. Especially worth it to see the surprise and delight on the recipient’s face when we gave her the quilt.



Just do it. Don’t overthink it. Make a plan, run with it. Get it done. Don’t faff about wondering if this layout or that is better. Pick one, and go.



This is the most important one. HAVE FUN. Yes it can be rushed and stressful and all that when you have a really tight deadline you are racing towards. But crazy projects like this don’t happen regularly (I’d say one in 2009 and one in 2014 counts as pretty irregular!), but I’ve found the buzz from getting projects like these done is completely different to the usual finished-project-excitement. It’s setting a tough goal and beating it. And while I am definitely in no hurry to do it anytime soon (there is a reason there is 5 years between efforts), now that I’ve done it, twice, I know I’ll have the confidence to dive in and just do it next time a deadline and a wave of mojo collide.


Surely I’m not the only one to engage in such madness? Have you made a quilt in a really tight time frame? I’d love to see what you’ve created and the stories behind your quick quilt.

Rachel @ The Barefoot Crafter (42 Posts)

I’m a wife and mama who loves to craft. I love creating, and have never met a hobby I didn’t like, though my main vices of choice are quilting and sewing, photography & memory keeping, knitting and crochet, art, and creative writing. I blog my eclectic crafting journey at, and you can find me on most social media at @barefootcrafter


  1. Nope, not the only one that engages in such madness, I do it more than I care to mention.
    Actually Amy recently posted..Getting Organised: School ClothesMy Profile

  2. You are not alone! I actually like these last minute brainwaves and get huge satisfaction out of finishing a project so quickly!

  3. I used to make quilt tops in a day, but not a completed quilt!! Well done Miss Dove!
    Car recently posted..Made it Monday (on a Tuesday) with a ChallengeMy Profile

  4. It’s not often I do it, either!
    LittleWhiteDove recently posted..Once Upon A TimeMy Profile

Leave a Comment


CommentLuv badge

Want crafty news in your inbox monthly?     Get it HERE!