A day in the life of a designer

2014-180One of the things my Jono often repeats to me is the need for me to take a vacation. And I smile and tell him my whole life is a constant vacation.

I realize that might not be entirely accurate. The truth is that quite often the life of the self-employed involves longer work hours than when one works a 9 to 5 job. Here’s a look at a typical day for me…

I usually get up between 5 and 6 a.m. I’m an insomniac, and actually am lucky if I can make it to 4 a.m. without waking up several times. Although that is a normal wake-up hour for me, I try to go back to sleep for an hour or two. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Most often, I just stay in bed because it is so cold, who would want to get up anyway?

2014-181I will admit to being a pretty structured person, and feel the most comfortable with routines. So I get up, make the bet right away, and let three excited dogs out to… well, you know…. “relieve themselves.”

Next, there has to be coffee, or I won’t make it through the day. Morning exercise, breakfast– for me and for the four critters I live with– :), shower and dress. This puts me at my desk anywhere between 7 and 7:30 a.m., and my work day begins.

The first item of the day is to deal with correspondence and any issues involving members and the running of our websites. A little bit of blogging now and then, some catching up with friends and family on Facebook, and whenever possible and time allows, checking in with quilting friends on their blogs. And then the bulk of the work day is about drawing and writing patterns.

When I first decided to go into the quilting business, Jared and I discussed what my competitive advantage could be. Obviously, the local market is so tiny, we knew we would have to focus on an international clientele if this was to work. It was just as obvious that I would not be able to offer printed patterns – the printing and shipping costs would be just to high for us to afford. So e-patterns and a member pattern club were the way to go. For this… I needed to be prolific.

2014-183So I draw and draw and draw. What you probably don’t know is that a lot of what I draw doesn’t even make it into a pattern. I choose a theme and keep drawing blocks until I come up with a collection to choose from. On average, for a quilt pattern involving 9 blocks, for example, I will easily draw anywhere between 20 to 40 blocks and then choose the ones I like the most. As you can imagine, my Electric Quilt library contains thousands of designs. Completing all the designs for one particular pattern can take anywhere from one to five days to draw, depending on the number of blocks and their complexity. Naturally, I sometimes am able to just go through my block libraries and pick designs here and there for a quick project that I can actually write up into a pattern within one day. That is not often, though. On average, it takes me about three days to draw and write up a pattern, which allows me to come up with about two patterns a week.


I keep some little hand sewing project on a table by my desk, that I can work on when talking on the phone! 🙂

One of the problems of this line of work is that I get so engrossed I can go for hours without moving from my desk. So I’ve learned to work with a timer, which I set to ring every hour. Even though that sometimes gets extended to an hour and a half. But I do try to get 2 to 3 fifteen-minute breaks both in the morning and in the afternoon. During those breaks I do chores. Now that I live alone, things stay quite orderly, so I can actually accomplish a lot in those fifteen minutes, and don’t need to dedicate a lot of time to housework. Basic picking up and then our Pedrito usually shows up once a week to do the more in-depth, heavier cleaning.

2014-184One of my morning breaks is always dedicated to the pets. Without them I suspect my life would get pretty lonely. They are a constant source of companionship and entertainment. Josie (Golden Retriever) is now ten years old but as immature and playful as ever, while Alyssa (Labrador) is eleven, and starting to slow down.

You lazy dog you!

You lazy dog you!

Marley is the latest addition to the family. He is a rescued mixed-breed dog that was found in pretty miserable conditions (most probably run over by a car because his back legs were paralyzed) and brought back to life by our vet who then begged us to take him so he wouldn’t end up in a shelter. It’s simply amazing how these wonderful creatures can change within a short time with some good nutrition and plenty of love. From being a frightened, jumpy dog, he has now become the king of the castle. Funny, extroverted, cuddly, and the best watch dog ever.

2014-186The only problem with Marley is that he just doesn’t seem to understand the cat is part of the family. So he chases our poor Remi. And now Alyssa has decided to join him. Any chance they get, they try to get to that poor cat. I’ve had to block the staircase so they can’t get to him, and he pretty much lives his life upstairs. So part of my morning routine involves locking those two dogs outdoors so the cat can come down and visit the one dog who actually adores him. I mean, everybody needs to socialize, right? And then the cat and I head outdoors for his daily “constitutional.” Yes… I walk my cat. 🙂

Lunchtime is pretty uneventful. Cooking is not one of my passions, so I tend to make quick and simple meals. I guess I pretty much live on soups and salads. Or a veggie lasagna or casserole or other vegetarian dish I can quickly throw together and will last for several meals. Lunch pretty much counts as another fifteen-minute break. Then it’s back to work. The afternoon is where I really get most of my work done. Breaks during this period are usually to stretch and move around a bit, and hopefully a little bit of sewing.

2014-187I usually work until 7:30 p.m. That is the time for my daily talk with Jamie. We usually talk while I’m making my supper and feeding the pets. We rarely miss a day. You’d think we’d run out of topics, but I never get tired of our chats. This brings us to 8 p.m.. Time for supper and the evening news. I sometimes watch TV for a while, or put on a movie and sew a bit. If I’m on a roll and want to finish the project I’ve been working on, I might go back to work until bedtime, which usually occurs around 11:oo p.m.

2014-188This is the routine of my life. Broken on Thursdays when my niece comes to sew, although often I also work while she sews. Then just about every week I take a day to go into town with my mother to run errands and see Jamie or/and my boys, or to do my shopping.

This is pretty much the way I spend six days out of the week. And I do take a day just for myself. To sew, or watch movies, or even just vegetate in front of the fireplace. Although I do work long hours, all in all it is pretty much a relaxed, stress-free life. And I love what I do. Which is why I continually feel my life is one big, long, lovely vacation. 🙂

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