Saturday, January 6, 2018

Executing UFO Quilt Projects -- Progress and Strategies

Winter sunshine is so special here along the southern shores of Lake Erie and it's abundant here this morning.  It has warmed things up a bit and we just hit 8F -- well, it was 5 degrees when I got up.
Odd to think that half a world away in Australia, it's 100 degrees warmer???
The extra cold weather this week has been a big help to me personally -- easier to stay focused on tidying up my studio.
An important part of any studio tidy-up, is facing the UFO's!
For the first time in several years (and perhaps the last time), I tallied "how many" are in there.
I'm embarrassed to say I got up to 95 -- there might be a couple more that I haven't rediscovered but I'm going to quit adding at this point and concentrate on subtracting.

The "count" has inspired me to really buckle down on the UFO's for January.  Do you remember when Weight Watchers was encouraging clients to begin by losing 10% of their weight?
Well, I'm going to execute 10% of my UFO's in January!!
Notice I didn't say "finish" -- makes my options too narrow -- they just need to be gone!

To illustrate "gone" in the hope it will inspire your own UFO assault in the New Year, here's some of the strategies I'm using.

My Opal Essence teaching sample has to be ready to hang the first of February, so it's a very high priority.
The top is now finished, the backing is ready, and I plan to layer it up over the weekend! 
Strategy -- establish priorities and  keep stitching.
Did you notice this little piece sitting on top of a pile in my last post?  It's a charming block, about 12" square, from my It's Okay teaching days -- so that's circa 1990?  I've been shifting this around for 25 years?  No more!!  Currently, it's under the needle on my studio machine.  It will be finished soon and it is providing me with an opportunity to practice free motion bubbles which I love to look at but not stitch.  So the small scale of the piece is just enough challenge me to find the rhythm of stitching the design and if I understand it better perhaps I'll use it in future quilts.
Strategy -- use my UFO's to build skills.
Setting the Opal Essence blocks together by machine uses the Set-In Piecing Simplified technique that I teach, but I needed more "sew-offs", so I pulled out this project.  In the process of setting the Opal Essence blocks together, I got a full Rose Star block and a half block for the edge of the quilt done at the same time.  Just two more blocks to piece and it will be ready for setting!
Strategy -- use stalled piecing projects for sew-offs during more interesting/deadline piecing.
This jumble of strips was born in the early 1990's.  My staff and I made a fabulous Lone Star quilt with them for King's Road Imports in 1992 and intended to make a second one for the shop.  Can you see how far that idea got?
I get all these warm and fuzzy emotions about that quilt when I see this pile and so haven't let them go, but I'm also (obviously) not very interested in taking them to their original destination.
They are 2 1/2" strips, so it would be very sensible to put them into that scrap box!!
Then this morning, I woke up thinking yet again about @stephkucera #plusblockqal on Instagram which I really want to do but seriously how can I think about starting one more quilt!!
And then, that desire connected with this pile of strips.
Using her instructions for cutting jelly roll strips into the "plus" pieces, I now have the beginning of 76 blocks which I'll use as a charity quilt project with my gang!!
It's helpful to review UFO's regularly since they can often be repurposed
Strategy -- wait for what you already have to connect with what you want to do!!
 And the ends of the strips went into the 2 1/2" box while lots of low volume strips are coming out of the box to be used for the plus blocks!  Win, win!!
So do you want to do it, too -- HERE are the instructions!
I made a darling quilt using these prints for a friend's grandson but I had grabbed the end of the bolt (owned the shop) and stashed all that were left (in 1984).
Why am I keeping these?
I've noticed one of the habits of modern quilters I follow on Instagram is that every now and then, they destash their leftovers/scraps!?!  I never do that but perhaps I should.
So, if anyone wants these three blocks -- they are on drapery weight cotton, approx. 7" by 10" -- speak up quickly before I change my mind!
Strategy -- Loosen up!!
The studio tidy-up is progressing -- look at all this cutting space!!
I'm feeling very energetic about this UFO assault.
Having a good time certainly makes it easier to move towards my goal of executing 10 UFO's this month!!
I have started a hashtag on my Instagram posts -- #noancientufoquilts
(You can use it, too if you want.)
Stay tuned -- the best is yet to come!!
Enjoy your weekend!


  1. Great strategies for UFOs, I'm working on some of these too.

  2. Wow, I need to bookmark this post. I can see how all of these could benefit me. A goal to reduce by 10% each month is impressive! I was feeling good that January was going well for me in the All People Quilt UFO challenge. You are going to have a banner year with your goals. Best of luck as you progress!

  3. I'd like those sealife rectangles. We'll make them into a baby quilt at our church group.

  4. These are great strategies. I took a look at my list of quilts, and want to work on tackling some of the ancient ones too. So far, I've gotten much better at finishing what I start, but sneaking an old UFO in or two will help reduce the list overall.

  5. When I had time last summer, I went through all my packaged projects and decided, so I still want to make this quilt? Some I said yes and they were kept, some were no's so the fabric was repurposed. That was a great feeling. I'm at the stage of life now where I can say no to making every beautiful quilt I see. I'm on a mission this year to finish tops I've already started. I like these quilts and want to see them finished. Thanks for sharing your tips.

  6. great idea to focus on 10% Mary, it’s makes it more achievable like eating an elephant one bite at a time. If not already promised those whale blocks would be nice to make a welcoming blanket for my daughters friends who have wanted a child for years and are now awaiting their first who’ll be born shortly then they’ll adopt.
    I just feel like 2018is going to be a great year! From Northern NY near the Canadien border where it a balmy -11F.

  7. Yes, I can say that today's forecast here in Perth, Australia, is 34C, which I think is about 93F. Not quite a full hundred more, but near enough.
    Good luck with those 95 UFOs - finish, rehome, repurpose, do whatever you need to do to get them cleared away. I just turned a random quilt-as-you-go block into a cushion cover if you need an idea for those cute cherries (which I did notice in an earlier post).