Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for UFOs


UFO's in the crafting world are not to unidentified flying objects but t UnFinished Objects - projects that have been begun but for various reasons has been left incomplete. 

There are many reasons why a project might be left to languish and progress from a Work in Progress (or WIP) to being a UFO. 

  • the crafter runs out of fabric or material needed to complete it, 
  •  they run out of inspiration or motivation 
  • it was begun at a workshop and once the workshop is over the momentum to finish the project falls away. 

This quilt was from a workshop. It sat unfinished for many years. Ultimately I made it much simpler than I had originally envisaged but I finished it. And it gets used periodically
  • the crafter has moved onto another new project Many crafters suffer from CPS - Compulsive project  Starting disorder or OCD - obsessive crafting disorder.... they love starting a new project - the thrill of choosing a pattern, selecting fabric and starting something new. They start but are easily distracted by the next new project.
  •  it was put aside for some reasons and when the crafter returns to it they find they have lost the instructions, forgotten what they were going to do next or lost confidence in the particular technique.
  •  the crafter has fallen out of love with the project - they no longer like the pattern, or the fabric or the technique.

  • Some quilters dislike particular stages of making a quilt - they love piecing tops but hate basting, quilting or binding. For some it might be the expense. They can make tops from their fabric stash but batting can be expensive as can buying the fabric for the backing.

 In my past I have had a pile of UFOs. At the beginning of 2012 I had 24 UFOS. I set myself the challenge of not starting any new projects that year, but just working through my pile. I broke this resolution to make a baby quilt for a great nephew (and to do an applique project) After the year I allowed myself to start some new projects but they had to be finished. I also kept on busting through the UFOs 

I wrote a blog post( here ) here November 2014 about my UFO busting exploits. By then I had only 9 remaining

Now, almost 2 years later I have to admit some of the UFOs listed still remain incomplete.

There are various ways of working through a pile of UFOs. One of the most helpful things I found was to actually identify all of them - go through the cupboards, project boxes, bags and the like and find them all. Write them down. This brought to mind all the different things I actually had... some of which I had forgotten all about.

Sort them out. Work out why they are unfinished - identify what still has to be done to them in order to bust them off your UFO list. Organise your list according to what has to be done. If its a lost pattern try to find the pattern - if it was started at a workshop then contacting the person who ran the workshop can lead to the pattern being found, or asking someone else you know who was at the workshop

This quilt was begun at a workshop. I put it aside for several years and when I came back to it I couldn't remember what I was doing and had lost the instructions. Another friend who had done the workshop had also bought the book and I was able to borrow it and finish of the quilts

Otherwise work out another pattern that you can use. If you need more of a particular fabric search for it (online resources are great for this) Identify something that you can use instead - adapt the design.

I had cut the pieces used in this quilt and then lost the pattern. I held onto the pieces for a good few years and then finally decided to just work out another pattern. It wasn't the same but it got the project done. Done is better than not done.

A challenge (such as I set myself in 2012) can be very helpful-no new projects for a period of time, just working on existing ones.

Some people set aside a day a week or month or whatever where they work on UFOs. Occasionally bloggers run UFO challenges - where people blog about ones they have worked on or finished, or commit to finishing a particular project in a set time frame.

Sometimes it is a case of being ruthless - go through the list and work out if there are ones you just don't want to finish - you don't like them or have lost the desire or motivation to finish. Its ok to just let them go - donate to charity, give them to another quilter or just throw them out. 

I don't like waste and I see UFOs as wasted time, effort and money - a pile of un realised potential. I used to get a real sense of guilt from the pile of unfinished projects. Since my year of UFO busting I have determined to NOT make any more UFOs and I am proud to admit that since then I haven't added any more to the pile. Every project I have started I have kept working on steadily till it was completed. I have worked on more than one project at a time which is different - so long as progress is being made its not a UFO, its a WIP.

We are all different.... we all have different ways to approach a problem. Find the way that works for you


  1. You're pretty good at working through your UFOs :)

    Fangirl Stitches cross stitching A-Z
    Travel like a Geek Harry Potter Tour

  2. Wonderful crafts and loved your UFO ideas.

  3. Sometimes I wish I could run a matching service for bloggers, I know a blogger whom you would love and it would be mutual!

    Actually, here she is:

    I don't quilt, but I do other crafts, and I write, and there is so much unfinished...I think your advice applies across the board.

    A Bit to Read

  4. Love the use of U! I have a few UFO's myself. Not quilting but scrapbooking ones. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  5. My husband doesn't craft but he definitely has CPS or Compulsive Project Starting disorder! I keep telling him to finish one before he moves on but it doesn't happen. :(