Coming to Terms with your UFO’s

Posted by & filed under UFO's.


I have a quilting friend who jokes about her QADD, or Quilt Attention Deficit Disorder. (Please note we do not wish to make light of those who live with the real version of ADD or ADHD.) It seems every time she begins a quilt project, she is distracted by the next project she discovers and can’t wait to try. The current quilt project is quickly abandoned, and a new quilt is started. And then it happens again. And again. And again.

There are many quilters, including myself, who have a bit of QADD. We get excited about a project, buy the pattern, the fabric, cut out some of the pieces, and maybe even start sewing the blocks together. And then life, or another pretty quilt, comes along, and the project is abandoned. Pretty soon, we have four or five, or maybe more, abandoned or UFO (called Unfinished Objects) projects, all in various stages of completion.

If 2018 is your year to reduce or even eliminate your UFO pile, there are some steps you can take to improve your chances of success. And no, it will not require medication for your QADD (unless you consider a glass of wine as effective medication).

Spend some time going through your UFO’s (this is where that glass of wine might be helpful) and sort into two piles – Finish or Donate. Quilting is supposed to be fun and rewarding, not stressful. Be honest with yourself. As you are sorting, think about how each quilt makes you feel. If you begin to feel anxious, and dread the thought of completing a particular quilt, then make your peace, say goodbye and put it in the Donate pile.

Don’t let the Donate pile linger too long in your sewing room. It will eventually fill you with terrible regret and migrate back into your UFO pile! Instead, take the Donate pile to your next guild meeting and offer the projects to the other members. Donate them to a charitable quilt group (maybe your guild has one that would be happy to take unfinished quilt tops), or your local thrift store. Give them to friends. Whatever it takes, be sure remove them from your home as soon as possible!

Sort your Finish pile from easy to difficult. Think about ways you may be able to ‘re-create’ each project on a smaller scale, especially the more difficult projects you are hesitant to complete. You started to make a king-size double wedding ring quilt for your bed. What if you made a bed runner instead? Or, you have four of twelve blocks completed for a quilt for your newborn nephew, who is now two years old. Sew what you have together with some wide sashing. Quilt it and bind it, and you can give it to your nephew to use as a nap blanket. He’ll never know, and will be just as happy with it because he can use and enjoy it.

What if you have a complete quilt top just waiting to be sandwiched and quilted, but you’re struggling with quilting ideas? Join a sew-in or day retreat at your local quilt shop. Many shops offer their classroom space for a minimal charge (and even supply lunch!), and you can get to work on completing your quilt, while enjoying the company of others who will provide helpful suggestions and advice. If you really don’t want to quilt it yourself, then ‘quilt by cheque’ and send it to a professional to finish for you.

Finally, I was once offered a suggestion that is (I think) quite brilliant. Randomly give each UFO in your Finish pile a number. For example, if you have six UFO’s, number each one between one and six. Then pick up UFO #1 and get it done! Send your family away to dinner and a movie, take your machine to your BQF’s (Best Quilting Friend) house for the day, or attend a weekend retreat. Think of the satisfaction you will feel as you make that last stitch to attach the label. And then you can move on to UFO #2.

The most difficult part in reducing your UFO pile is getting started. If you can get beyond that hurtle, and take that first step of sorting, you’re well on your way to success!

I wish you all the best of luck.