My Process for Quilt Commissions: A Step-By-Step Walkthrough

Quilt commission by Cortney Heimerl - Pyragraph

Originally published at

Here is a picture of my friend Hannah, giving her friend a custom made baby quilt at her shower. Hannah came to me with a vision and this was the quilt that resulted—complete with the little babe’s name embroidered in a heart on the back. I love this picture.

Most of the work I do is commission-based.

I really like making a quilt for someone. I like thinking about how it is going to be used and who will use it. I like thinking up designs that might speak to them and I like brainstorming with whoever ordered the quilt.

It occurred to me that commissioning a quilt might be a little bit of a mystery—so I thought it was time to write about the process.

I can make a quilt that the buyer has seen on my website, or I can send them a few sketches of quilts I have been wanting to make.

Usually commissions come to me by way of either an in-person conversation, an email, or by filling out my little contact form through my website. Generally whoever contacts me is familiar with my style of quilting and has a size in mind—it can be something as small as as a wall hanging or a baby quilt or as large as a king sized bedspread—but isn’t really sure about the design or the colors.

What happens then is a design consultation. I can make a quilt that the buyer has seen on my website, or I can send them a few sketches of quilts I have been wanting to make. At that point they might find something they like and we start talking about colors, or they might see one that is in the ballpark and then I send them a few more sketches in that style.

Once a size and design is settled on, generally we talk a little about color palette. Color can come from all sorts of sources. I have been sent Pinterest accounts, I have been shown paintings, I have been told, “Any color except aqua” by one person, and I have been told “Mostly aqua,” by another. My designs tend to have a lot of cream in them, but generally the buyer gives me some direction and I try to run with that.

After the colors are selected, we set a deadline for the project.

A lot of it is done by hand and depending on the color choices, sometimes I have it all on hand and sometimes I need to order it. The lead time depends on other projects I have scheduled, how easy it is to get the fabric in the color I need and how long it actually takes me to make a quilt—which is funny, but it really depends on my kids’ nap schedules because I will tell you—it is hard to piece some patchwork with a little lady tugging on my skirt. Usually, it doesn’t take very long. I really like to quilt and I have gotten pretty speedy in the 15 years I have been making them.

So if you are interested in perhaps ordering a quilt, please feel free to contact me. I get twice the inquiries as I get quilt commissions and I will tell you that I definitely do not mind working with people to see if ordering a piece makes sense for them.

My goal is to take a little time to start making a stockpile this summer for craft fairs this fall. So if commissions scare you, keep your eye on my blog. I will let you know where I will be so you can take a look at my work in person.

Photo courtesy of Cortney Heimerl.


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About Cortney Heimerl

Cortney Heimerl received her BFA in printmaking and art history in 2005 from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. She received her MA in visual communication from New York University in 2007. Since then, Cortney has co-authored the book Handmade Nation: The rise of DIY, art, craft and design and she contributes articles on art and craft to a number of magazines online and off. She is a Founder of Maker Market, as well as an annual maker fair called Hover Craft that encourages establishing and growing a strong creative community in Milwaukee. Cortney is a mother of two, a wife to one, and her dog is named Watt. 

1 Comment

  1. […] weight of the material. Two, because of the variety of colors and patterns, it is forcing me to use color and pattern in a way I am not used to in my work while trying to maintain visual […]

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