It’s the start of a new year, the perfect time to get your sewing room/supplies in order and finish off any quilt UFOs you have hanging around.
What does UFO stand for in quilting?
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, UFO in the quilting world stands for Unfinished Object. It applies to any project at any stage of progress that has not yet been completed.
UFO tends to refer to a project that has been put on the back burner for a while without progress, as opposed to a project that’s incomplete but is currently being worked on (that’s known as a WIP – work in progress).
We all have quilt UFOs. Some of us have MANY of them :)
If your UFOs become overwhelming, motivation-depleting or guilt-inducing then it might be time to actively work toward reducing them.
What to do with your quilt UFOs?
There are several options when it comes to handling your quilt UFOs.
You might like to spend a little bit of time reflecting on the project before you decide what to do with it. Was the quilt for a particular person or an event? Is the quilt still relevant to that person or occasion, or has it been overtaken by the time that’s passed? Is the UFO of a colour palette or style that you no longer appreciate?
There’s no rule that says YOU have to be the person to complete the project. If the quilt no longer speaks to you, you could gift it to a quilty friend who does love it and could complete and keep it. Or you can seek out organisations that need fabric/quilt tops for charity projects. (Just make sure that what you donate is useful for them. If they only take completed quilt tops, get it to that stage before giving it away.)
If you do complete a quilt UFO, you can give it to family, friends, charity or sell it on a handmade craft site such as Etsy.
Does the final outcome of the UFO have to be as first intended? If you were planning to make a twin sized quilt but found the process tedious, could you make a baby quilt instead and be finished with a lot less work? Or do you have an unfinished baby quilt that the baby has now outgrown? Could you extend the UFO with more blocks or borders to create a larger size that can be gifted to the now preschooler? Those two orphaned appliqué blocks don’t have to become a quilt – just make a pair of pot holders and be done with it!
Find some UFO Mojo.
The hardest part of finishing up quilt UFOs is finding the motivation to do so. That’s why the start of the year is a great time to commit to UFO busting… you can steal some of that Happy New Year magic and put it to good use.
Take stock of all your quilty UFOs and look at them honestly. Do you really want to finish this project? What else could you do with it to make sure it doesn’t go to waste? What’s the minimum effort required to get it to a useful state?
Once you’ve come up with a plan for each UFO, you can crack on with doing it. Give away what you need to give away. Prioritise which UFOs you’ll finish and remember – you’re aiming for FINISHED not PERFECT. Momentum is so important here – results will encourage more finishes; you want to take advantage of that. Try to keep the ball rolling!
Try to imagine how good it will feel to have those projects completed. They’ll be out in the world (or your living room) and they’ll be used and enjoyed. Much better than languishing in the back of a cupboard!
Once they’re gone, make sure they don’t come back!
When you have your quilt UFOs under control, be careful not to let yourself fall back into the same position.
Try and have WIPs, not UFOs. Even if you have several projects at the incomplete stage, making time to work on all of them will ensure nothing falls back into UFO status. I like to have a few things on the go at any one time so that if I hit a bottleneck with one, I have something else to work on in the meantime.
My simple way of making sure my WIPs don’t become UFOs is to keep them in plain view. I find if I put it in a cupboard for any reason at all, it’s a case of “out of sight, out of mind” and it won’t receive any attention. So I keep my projects out, taking up valuable table space, which provides further motivation to get them done!
The first quilt UFO I tackled this year was this sunny yellow project.
I think I started this quilt in 2011. It would’ve been for my daughter (who still loves yellow) and was about 5 years old at the time. (She’ll be a teenager in a month…eeek).
Problems can occur when WIPs become old UFOs, which is why I thoroughly recommend you don’t let UFOs hang around too long.
It’s much quicker to do them early.
Firstly, the reasoning behind this quilt is long gone. I can’t remember a thing about it. The yellow squares are all odd sizes – why did I do that? Did I have a handful of scraps in that size? Or were the sashing strips all cut before I’d done proper calculations? The individual patchwork blocks finish at 6 1/2″…again, I’m not sure why. You can see the weird sizes needed to create this quilt below.
The quilt is now too small for my lanky pre-teen daughter. I wouldn’t mind making it bigger with some white borders, but what white fabric did I use? Was it my preferred Kona Snow or was I using something else back then? And of course, even if it is Kona Snow, over time fabric changes colour and manufacturers can change their colours so they may no longer match.
The biggest reason why I’ll try not to let quilt UFOs get the better of me in the future is this:
In many of the rows I found seam separations, no doubt due to excessive handling over the 8 years this project went from cupboard to cupboard to moving box. I had to repair many seams before I could sew the rows together. So much extra work I could have avoided if I’d finished this project in a timely fashion. Even if I’d just reached the quilt top stage I would’ve saved myself a lot of sewing the same seam twice.
So if you can, finish those quilt UFOs before they degrade and you have to do the same work again.
If you like to set goals for these sorts of things, why not join the 2019 Finish-a-long that’s underway? There are several hosts across the globe and you can link up your potential finishes and read more about it all here.
Happy sewing and all the best with clearing your quilt UFO backlog in 2019!