Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Staying focused on the goal . . . .

. . . . . well, not exactly -- the 12 target UFQ's are still on the shelves.

But I did finish a quilt during the past couple weeks that both spent time in the "unfinished" department of my studio.  So I want to share the story of how this quilt evolved.

On March 14, I finished the chicken quilt!  It's been in "progress" for over 10 years and began life as an excited effort to replicate a magnificient applique block of the month that many of you will recognize.

No, this isn't it.  This is Sandi Schaab's version that was exhibited during the 2013 Farmpark Quilt Show in Lake County.  My enthused beginnings were interrupted by something "more interesting" somewhere around 1999 and the two blocks I made laid with a large pile of "perfect" chicken feather fabric on a shelf in the studio for a lo-o-o-ong time.  So here's the whole story!

Fast forward to 2003.  My shop, Erie Street Quilts, has a booth at the NQA show in Columbus, Ohio.  Two booths away from me, an applique basket quilt is hanging that catches my eye (I'm a sucker for a basket block of just about any description). 

First, I'm looking at the quilt as I walk past (it's on the way to the restrooms) and then, I'm walking through the booth each time to take a closer look.  On the last day of the show, one of the gals in the booth shares with me that they have a kit for that quilt.  "Thanks" I say and walk away because I don't "do kits".  But as the show closes, I'm leaving with the kit and "oh, by the way, you need to buy this book for the pattern". 

Now I've plopped down over $100 for a kit in a somewhat "primitive" color scheme (not my favorite) and a book I can't read (yea, it's Japanese).  You know where it all ended up, don't you?  Yep, on the shelf.  But each January when I go through all the UFQ's, I put this one back on the shelf -- the photo of it (above) kept it on my "to-do" someday list!

Now it's 2010.  I'm headed to Texas in February for a couple weeks of sunshine and birding.  I want to take some handwork for the quiet evenings and I remember the basket kit.  The kit was very well organized (when I finally opened it) and all I needed to do was trace the patterns from the book (didn't need to read Japanese to do that).  By the end of the trip, I have half the small basket blocks finished and I am completely engaged in the project so I kept working on the little blocks.  But as I neared the end of that part of the quilt, I began to think about the large basket block in the center and the 5 or so unfinished complex applique projects in my UFQ's.  That "thinking" gave me an idea. . . . . . . 

Knowing what is on the UFQ shelves as a result of reviewing them every January has made a big difference in thinning my UFQ's out.  As I thought about the unfinished applique projects -- the Baltimore Album blocks, the botanical wreath blocks, the chickens . . . . the chickens!  It occurred to me that the color/fabric palette was similar to the baskets and you need baskets to collect chicken eggs!  And so a quilt was born from a merger of two UFQ's. 


That is why you need to sort and cull and organize your UFQ's!! You can't just leave them squirreled away in bags.  There is often something already in progress that I can finish or redesign to get a gift organized for a bridal or baby shower in less time and without investing more money in fabric. 

I still love these original pattern designs and I'll enjoy seeing them in the future at quilt shows as gals finish them.   But my quilt is unique -- no one will ever reproduce this quilt.  The excitement this quilt has generated for me as I pulled it together has been very enjoyable.  I'm confident this won't be my last redesign project.  Some of you have seen the quilt in person as I've been working on it but now it's time to send it to it's new home where it will be loved and appreciated for many years by an obsessed chicken loving woman. 

So maybe you better go take another look at that stash of UFQ's you own!  There is untapped potential!!  And think about signing up for my e-course, UFQ Assault Tactics.


  1. Fabulous! Brilliant! I like it so much better than either of the two "originals".

  2. Mary, you have inspired me more than you can imagine to finish or repurpose ( love that word! ) UFOs. you've led me in the direction in there is no shame in not completing them or changing my mind midstream in what I want to accomplish with what I do end up dong withthem. I'm free! It's a good feeling. your talk on the subject at our guild was life changing :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Great quilt, Mary! Serendipity for sure and better than the kit could ever be because it is your own unique disign.

  4. those Chickens are amazing! What a treasure to have. I love how you put the two together. Now there's somewhere for those chickens to store their eggs :)

    1. thanks, Sue -- it now belongs to a close friend who is raises chickens and it hangs in her office so I get to see it quite often!!

  5. What a wonderful version you came up with! I especially like the large print border - it goes so well with your center.