Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Pin It In my ever-so-limited computer time of late, I've been browsing around the interwebs at all things quilty.  From shows and festivals (deadlines, mostly) to the new and fabulous Generation Q Magazine  (the new home of Quilter's Home editors and columnists), to chat sites and message boards.  I like to see what's going on in the world and try to see if there's anything new that I haven't heard of.  What am I talking about?  Of course there is!  I just can't keep up anymore.  But apparently, a lot of quilters can't keep up with themselves.

What the crap am I talking about?  UFOs.  I've been hopping around MyQuiltPlace, FacebookLand and several other places and one thing seems to remain constant:  Quilters have so many projects started, they don't even know where to start when it comes to finishing all of them.  I'm talking dozens.  Some have said they have over 50 projects that have been started and are nowhere close to completion.

I don't understand this one bit.  Not at all.  Nope.  No.  I just don't.  My brain doesn't work that way.  When I have a project started, I will work my ass off (and there isn't a whole lot to spare) until it's done.  I usually will dream up a quilt in my head, choose my fabrics, cut it out and start piecing it in the same day.  Typically, it's done within a week. 

I cannot stand to have things laying around unfinished.  First of all, who has the space to have 3059830948230958 projects cut out and half-sewn together?  How can you even find everything when you decide you want to finish it? 

I like to have something to show for my work.  I like to have things DONE.  So that I can show them off, and then eventually give them away.  I will work until 4am for 5 days straight because I know the end is in sight. 

It is in this way that I'm wired completely differently than my mother.  That woman (I love her, I swear) starts things.  The end.  She starts them and never finishes them.  It drives me absolutely bonkers.  The mounds and piles of "stuff" that she has accumulated over the years of being a serial "starter" is very overwhelming.

So my question is this:  Are you a UFO quilter?  If you are, why? 

I can certainly understand that there are just so many things out there that interest you and you want to do them all, but why do they never seem to get finished?

I'm certainly not speaking badly about UFOs.  I seem to be the only person in the world (okay, a bit dramatic and not at all true) that can't stand UFOs.  I look at it this way:  If I want to do something but don't have the time to do it, I won't.  When my time frees up and I can start a new project, I will.  If it isn't that project I wanted to start a few months ago, maybe I wasn't meant to do it anyway.

How many UFOs do you have (It's okay to be honest, this is a safe place.  Promise!)
If you had a guild or group focused specifically on social sewing time to finish up UFOs, would you join?
Would a UFO challenge help  motivate you to complete those unfinished projects?
When you're making quilts with a specific purpose (gifts, charities, etc.) do you have more motivation to finish them?
Do you have a hard time finding fabrics to go with your projects from a few years ago (colors really do change!)?

There's a reason I'm asking all of these questions.  As I'm sure you could've guessed.  :)

Anyway, I'll share a couple of recent projects with you just for the fun of it.
This first one I call "The Blue One".  I made it for someone special to me!  I made it in about a week.  Now, I pieced this quilt in a waaaaay more difficult way than I needed to (but there was for a reason too).  It's made entirely of triangle squares in graduating shades of blue with a grey solid background.  I could've just strip pieced around the center square on-point, mitering my corners as I went.  But, I decided I wanted the seams from the triangle squares to use as registration lines when I quilt it.  SO, to save myself an hour or two of marking to quilt it, I spent days longer making the stupid thing than I needed to.

Don't mind the millions of yards of batting and crappy angle.  It's the biggest quilt I've made in quite a while (96x96) and don't have much room left for laying them out for photos!  I'll be making a bunch of decorative pillows in all kinds of fun shapes.  Circles, stripes, more triangles.  Lots of pillows.  Think, Along Came Polly.

Next up is my new embroidery project.  It's Sarah Vedeler's newest design set, GO! Bloom, which she kindly sent to me as a gift.  She's also having a sale this month! Much smaller and "easier" than BeDazzled.  I say that in quotes because it's really difficult to work with so much fabric at once.  You embroider this as a wholecloth, and it's more difficult to position correctly where your applique goes.  But it's MUCH faster than BeDazzled!  Almost done.  I chose to do this one out of dupioni.

You can see that the two flowers on the left have no stitching on them yet.  (Actually, I got one done last night!)  I thought the outer tulips made this too orange, so I decided to make my daisies hot pink and light pink.  Unfortunately, all of the thread makes them look orange anyway!
This little lady will be done by the weekend.  What do you think so far?

What are you working on?  Is everybody having fun with our Rockin' Robin Modern Quilt-Along?


  1. My dining room is my quilting area. So said, that means that every time people come over for dinner, all my projects get packed away and go down to the basement. Down there, they tend to get 'lost'. I'm trying to clean the area up down there and find everything, but, there aren't enough hours in the day so far. It will take me months, but, I'm working on it. I work pt time at 2 jobs, have a busy family, volunteer with my local Quilts of Valor chapter, am in 2 guilds, yada yada yada. Doesn't leave me enough time to finish everything. I don't even want to know how many UFO's I have hidden in the basement. Also, I'm a hand quilter, and I haven't had time to hand quilt in quite a while.

  2. I have several UFO's I must admit. Sometimes it is on purpose though because my hexagon quilt is a "when you have time to make a few hexies" type of thing and I want to enjoy it and take my time. So I have other machine projects going at the same time. I hate to admit I have at least 4 quilt tops done, just waiting for quilting. I need to get busy, wish I was more like you.

  3. I have WIP's but I don't consider them UFO's. I try to keep less than 10 WIP's at a time. I keep them on a list and I'll stop and finish something before adding more than 10. Sometimes, it's BOM's or Quilt Alongs that I can't just sit down and do at one time. They require I wait for additional info or material. Sometimes it happens because I have to stop what I'm doing to make something for a specific person/event that takes precedence. Right now, I'm about to add another project because I need to have the tailgating quilt done before football season. Also, I added the Hexalong because I can make a Christmas wall hanging with it and I want it done before Christmas, so I'm putting it ahead of another quilt I started.

  4. My sistem sounds similar to DMDezigns. I don't have an actual written list. However, I have a few things that aren't for anything specific that will get pushed to a lower priority if I hear that a baby is on the way or a wedding is coming up. Once these time-sensitive quilts are done, then I revert back to the others. I also tend to pile up quilts and work on a bunch of bindings at one time. I'll rent some movies and sit down for a whole weekend and just work on bindings.

  5. I'm like Chris and DMDezigns where I have "my" projects that get set aside for time-sensitive projects that have deadlines. I also work full time and have a toddler, so I get about 3 hours of sewing time per week. If I could stay up until 4am like you say you do, I would get way more done, but I am not a night owl, so I'm conked out by 9:30. I'd say I usually have about 5 projects that are actually in progress at any given time, then there's the huge queue of projects where I have materials but haven't started them. I have about 3-4 quilt tops that haven't been quilted, so those are the ones I really consider UFOs.

  6. I have several projects in the UFO stage, and I'm perfectly OK with that. I have 3 tops done, waiting to be quilted. I'm hoping to start one of them soon, as I finish a few other quilts currently in progress.

    The others have ended up as UFOs for various reasons, including, reaching a point where I'm not confident enough yet to do the next step, boredom, some need to percolate before I decide what comes next, some were samples or trials of a particular technique, who knows if they'll ever get finished, others are just very long term projects, that get bumped for something more urgent, like a gift, or inspiration strikes and I'm off to something else etc.

    I like having different projects in different stages. Like right now, it's too hot to sit under the lights to quilt, so I could go sit outside and hand applique for a bit instead.

    Thinking back, I took a long hiatus from quilting, close to 10 years, and the reason was that I had UFOs that I knew should be finished before I started anything new, yet had long lost interest in them. So instead of doing what I "should", I didn't do anything. That'll never happen again! :)

  7. I'm going to add a bit of a twist to this...I had a conversation with Melanie Testa a while back about finishing quilts she helped put some of this in perspective for me - sometimes our quilts teach us all they need to and it's ok to let them go unfinished.
    We might make a quilt that teaches us what our color palate is -not- giving us vital information in the quilt making process. As Mishka alludes to perhaps the finishing is out of our skill set and we either need a really good tutor (tutors) or we need time and information.
    Sometimes we're just afraid of finishing for a variety of reasons and we, as quilt makers, need to decide how to handle that even if it means quilting by check to get our quilts finished.

  8. I have several projects on the back burner, when I started I swore I wouldn't be like my mother and sister with project started and not finished or projects waiting to be started but I ended up doing with a few projects. I'm working on them right now along with several my mother started and can't finished because of a medical condition. Sewing social yes, I spent two days last weekend catching up.

  9. I wish I could stop starting things, but I am too add. I like something one moment and then move onto something next the next moment. My husband says it is the shinny object syndrome. He calls me his raccoon often as I will be doing one thing and then oh shinny object and get distracted and forget what I was doing in the first place:)

  10. The only UFO's I have are really DOA's. I don't like the way something was going so I put it aside. Every once in a while I'll figure out what I don't like and try to fix it, but mostly the blocks are going into the scrap pile.

  11. I have several UFO's, WIP's, and PhD's too. WHY??? Well I work on 5-6 projects actively at once to keep from getting bored. That is how I ended up with so many 25-30 in the first place. Most are from 8-10 years ago when I use to sew, and I am just now getting back to it. I realized after a few days of working on something, that I wasn't going to get finished. BOREDOM. That is the answer. So back in October I made a New Year's Resolution, to shop from my stash as much as possible, to use as many scraps as possible (I found TONS when I cleaned out my room) and to finish up as many projects as possible too. It is getting there. New projects I have started are getting 100% done too. Hopefully by years end I will have less than 10 left, and I will more than likely be working on all of those at once. Right now my "needs to be quilted" pile is getting big, but I make BIG quilts too. I won't even attempt to quilt all those king size quilts I have got the tops, and backs finished.

  12. I envy you your lack of "unfinished", I would not want to count the ufos in my closet!! Many are from years ago classes expensive enough that I feel I should eventually finish but I lost interest in the techniques and/or fabrics. I also liked the comment about "shiny objects". I too am lured into fresh projects which often take me from the existing ones. Many of my ufos are merely nice, neatly folded quilt tops that are awaiting quilting inspiration or cash to have someone else quilt...
    Side note: one of the projects I AM going to finish...your Rockin Robin...too fun, love the rows and the flickr group!!