Quilt projects can be like relationships...we've all jumped into one or two too quickly or lost interest at some point. With quilt projects, turned UFO's, at least we don't experience that awkward "I-just-ran-into-him (her)-in-public" moment...maybe just a head slap or twinge of "what was I thinking when I started (or bought) THIS?!?"
UFO's can be a source of embarrassment and shame for many quilters. I gave that up. I freely admit to having 31 UFO's in various degrees of doneness in my stash, right now...full disclosure. They range from partially cut out to needing binding.
OK...so how do I make the most of my UFO and collected kits situation?
Well, keeping them organized can be most of the battle. If they are organized and easily approachable when I have a few minutes to sew, they have a better chance of having their shame status changed to "DONE."
Where to start?
- LOCATE - go through your stash and find ALL UFO's and kits (time to fess up and face the music...)
- FIND ALL PIECES OF EACH UFO/KIT - are the blocks here, the borders there , and the binding no where to be seen?
- LABEL EVERYTHING YOU CAN (before you forget MORE important details...)
- SORT AND BE BRUTALLY HONEST - divide your sorting space in half...the UFO's you still want to finish on one side, the ones you've "fallen-out-of-love-with" on the other side
- PURGE - either find another home for the unwanted projects or re-purpose them
- SCOPE OUT A STORAGE LOCATION IN YOUR SPACE - even if your space is small, make sure UFO's are prominent - let's face it, it's hard enough to work on them WITHOUT having to dig for them...out of sight equals out of mind
- CONTAINERIZE - as long as each UFO is in labeled bag, zippered pouch, etc., they could be placed in one BIG container if you don't want to give each one a separate container
- SET GOALS - set REASONABLE goals - choose one thing and finish it...now, didn't that feel good?
So now you have sorted them all...did you find projects that don't excite you anymore? Look at each one honestly and decide if you are going to fish or just cut bait...put each project in the "to do" pile or the discard pile.
Hey...no shame in putting things in a discard pile. You have many choices:
- give it away - have a quilter's "swap meet" with your buddies
- garage sale - I LOVE stumbling on a quilter/crafter's garage sale!
- re-purpose the pieces - if you have only cut things out, can you use the pieces in another project?
- re-purpose the constructed parts - can you turn the blocks and units that you've finished into smaller project(s)...like a table runner, wall hanging, coasters, etc.? can you finish it in a smaller version as a donation quilt?
- feed the freebie scrap box at your LQS or put components in baggies, distribute to scrappy quilts you know, and watch the smiles erupt!
- simply throw it away - maybe the project is so old, the fabrics so dated, the construction so poorly done (we all become better quilters with time, don't we?)...sometimes the only decent thing to do is walk away
I love freezer paper for labeling things that might sit for a while. Masking tape, even painter's tape, will leave a sticky residue on fabric over time. Many LQS's label their blocks-of-the-month with masking tape. Hey, THEY didn't know you were just being "squirrel-ish" at this time, putting "nuts" away for later construction. You may need to re-label that BOM before putting it on the shelf. This also works GREAT for that kit you just bought...more and more shops are putting together kits for customers. Just make sure you understand and label the kit components before you squirrel them away.
Quilt shops deal with SO MANY fabrics, BOMs and kits...don't count on them to be able to sort out your project when you finally get around to making it!
If you are worried about the freezer paper coming off, don't be a afraid to use a hot iron! When I use freezer paper when doing glue stick applique, sometimes my freezer paper looks a little scorched!
Experiment with your freezer paper to determine how much ironing is required for good temporary adhesion between the shiny side of the paper and your fabric. Sometimes the finish on unwashed fabric can hinder this adhesion, or the quality of the freezer paper (hence my need for scorching sometimes- don't worry, the paper will scorch before your fabric!).
I have started inserting an index card in all projects where I write the name, the start date, and jot any other important details. It goes in the box or bag with the project.
Sometimes I cut swatches of prominent fabric with my pinking shears and I staple, or clip, them to the index cards. I will use these swatches later when I archive the finished project (it takes no time to snip these swatches now, when I have the fabrics out...later it would take too much time to go searching for the fabrics).
If I am working from a book, I write down the book and page number on the card. If I am working from a doodle or piece of graph paper, it goes in the box. If I used a project pulled from a magazine, I put the magazine, or removed pattern in a sheet pocket protector, in the bag or box as well.
I then label the container, bag, whatever, with an index card and a fat black marker. I place the index card label INSIDE the container or bag and use the contents to hold it in place.
This is not a permanent label. When this project is finished and no longer needs a container, I want an effortless transition...reusing the container for the next thing without scraping off the label.
A good temporary storage container for a UFO can be a pizza box (clean, unused please, big grin). They don't take up that much space, stack nicely and uniformly, can be recycled easily either in your stash or in your household garbage, can be big enough to store finished blocks (without folding your nice, pressed, finished blocks), and they are cheap! I have used these before in my stash and when doing group projects. I am fortunate to live in an area with a GFS, a place that sells bulk food, restaurant items and disposables. Maybe some buddies will share the cost of a small bundle (very reasonable!) and you can have a box-folding party (and order a pizza!).
I have bought them directly from pizza places...one place didn't even charge me for the handful I requested. Almost every small town has a pizza place! I either write directly on the box with my fat black marker or use masking tape. When I reuse the box, I just add another layer of tape on which to scribble a new label.
I have 120 green and neutral log cabin blocks ready to go, along with a handful of scrappy, free-pieced heart blocks. The decision about the final, outer border is what is holding me up on this one. The right decision will come to me one day, then I will take that container of blocks down, and get it done.
Cleaning up this part of your stash will make you feel better about planning future projects. Some times the dark corners of what we are saving can really drain our creativity and fill us with all kinds of dark feelings and guilt that can kill our quilt muse.
Slowly, but surely, I am attacking the UFO's. They don't stop me from starting new projects. I know I will get to them...sometime. In the spirit of REALLY coming clean, I will share that I have never finished the first quilt I started...it is my oldest UFO.
Have courage (and be gentle and forgiving with yourself!) if you choose to work on this part of your stash! The next installment of this organization-a-palooza will discuss tool/supplies storage and equipment set up.