Thursday, November 9, 2023

Basics of a Successful UFO Assault Strategy

 It's that time of year again when I'm torn between reaching my annual goals and creating gifts.  This produces an element of self-inflicted stress so I was happy to run across a little handout I created perhaps 15 years ago as part of my curriculum for lectures and workshops helping quilters deal with UFO's.  I listed three points that made a difference in my personal quest and as I read through my handout, I realized that, thank goodness, these are now regular habits for me.  So I decided to review them with you in this month's post with some illustrations of how I am currently deploying these strategies.  

Perhaps one of them will strike a chord for you?

First, change your viewpoint about your UFO's -- think of them as a resource instead of a burden.  If you haven't already noticed in reading my posts, I know what UFO's I have and they are organized for easy access.  As I review my UFO stock regularly, I have found that the older something gets, the easier it is for me to redirect it!  So let's repurpose!!

Case in point -- that 5" charm pak of Christmas fabric that has been laying on the "reserved-for-something-wonderful" shelf (since 2019) has lost it's inspiration -- what was I going to do with it?

Since I had no clue, last week it became 5 potholders -- quick and easy project -- 4 squares for the backs, 4 more squares cut into 2 1/2" squares for the fronts.  They will be offered for sale at a little holiday boutique next week and if they don't sell -- they will become holiday gifts. (Or worse case scenario, they will refresh my kitchen's supply.)  And that charm pak can never trigger guilt again!!

Second, figure out why you stopped working on it!  Understanding that helps me get back to work on a project.  It has become an avenue for perfecting my skills and expanding my creativity, especially when I'm able to repurpose a UFO into something easier to finish while still being useful.

Case in point -- I'm currently tidying up flat surfaces all around the house and in the process of dealing with a small tabletop behind my sewing machine I found a few blocks of a forgotten teaching sample with a stack of matching fabric (to make a bigger quilt?).  
 Realizing how little progress I've made on that goal (the bigger quilt) in 15 years, I spent an afternoon piecing the blocks that were already cut and playing with them until I found an arrangement I like for a small quilt top that will be a quick finish.  And bonus!!  The stack of fabric is back on the stash shelves where it has a better chance of being used!!
Confession -- this is also a fine example of "productive procrastination" as I was suppose to be doing "something else"? . . . . but gosh, it's going to be cute and those blocks have moved OUT of the UFO stash.

Third, work at your craft every day!  20 minutes a day equals 2 hours a week and 30 minutes a day equals 3 1/2 hours a week!  Daily bursts of work were critical when I was working full time and that habit continues to move me forward faster than trying to find big blocks of time.
  (Plus now that I'm retired, 20 minutes usually stretches into 45 minutes.)

How do you think I get so many quilts finished in the course of a year?  Not by spending long hours at the machine.  Currently, I'm trying to knock-off a few tops I've pieced this year so they don't become UFO's!    Most mornings, I begin with 30 minutes of machine quilting.  That's about 15 minutes less time than it takes for my shoulders or neck to start aching.  
The Dresden Stars quilt top I made this summer for the sew-along is my current project and coming along nicely.  Tomorrow I'll start quilting the borders and it should be ready to bind in three or four days.   That means it is time to revisit the "to be quilted" stack and layer up a couple more tops so I don't lose momentum!?! 

Since my current focus is on finishing (no new piecing projects until I get caught up with the quilting!) I did let myself whip up a few little gift items just so my sewing machine didn't forget who I was?!?  Mug cozies (that used up some crazy scrap piecing blocks), little change purses, and some tea wallets for my club sale next week!!
Post script -- diving into my UFO's also seems to be a way to energize myself.  Not only do I "accomplish" something but I reduce the burden of "so much to do".  Taking a break from the excited frenzy of starting new projects and clearing out a few old projects has become a good cleansing activity for me.  But don't worry, a couple new projects are in the wings as I write this!!
I must do something fabulous with these two fabrics!!  Are they one project or two??
Now back to the sewing machine!!