Friday, April 23, 2010

8 Steps to finish your UFOs

I must confess that I didn't even know what UFO stands for when I went to my first quilting group. I thought, what are they talking about when they mentioned: "I have so many UFOs that I started hiding them."

Quickly I found out that they are not unidentified objects flying around somewhere, a UFO is an Unfinished Object, and the quilts we start but never seem to get finished.

Ask a quilter and they will tell you where to find the UFOs in their house. Stuffed in a basket under some wool for the jumper that I wanted to knit for my son when he was 3, he is now 13 and I don't have enough wool to finish the jumper, but never mind - one day….the jumper and one day the quilt.

You might find UFOs in boxes, the last draw in my cupboard or hidden behind some old clothes that I don't wear any more since I have put on 10 pounds...

Quilters tend to hide them after a while and go out to buy more fabrics anyway. It's like an addiction this quilting, there are so many beautiful fabrics to touch, to stroke and finally buy them to start yet another stunning project, which I promise to finish one day.

There are many reasons why this can happen, some I like to share with you here.

Someone comes along and gives me a negative feedback. Next I have the little voice in the head that says: "See, I told you so - you are no good at this".
I just bought this fantastic new fabric and wanted to get started right away with my new quilt, the last one I will finish later.
My auntie's birthday has passed anyway, so I can't give her the quilt now - can I?
I started a new job, now I don't have time to finish the project.
The weather is so beautiful and I started swimming again, no time to do the jobs around the house.
Oh, I forgot all about that quilt, I thought I finished it last year.
My friend didn't like the colours I chose, so I lost interest.
I don't know how to do the next step.

There are so many different ways to delay the final few steps - I could go on and on, but this is not what the article is about.
I like to encourage you to finish the quilt and give you some tips on how to do that.
At this stage you have to be honest here with yourself. You might discover that deep down inside you really love to cut up the fabric, sew the blocks and assemble them, but you don't like basting, quilting or binding. Whatever you feel, put this aside for now and follow the steps:

1. Decide you Really Want to finish your UFOs - one by one

Lay out your entire unfinished project and start to ponder over them. Pick the quilt that speaks to you the loudest and take it out. Put all the other projects back in the closet, basket, under the bed and out of your mind.

2. Decide on a time frame

You might have someone in mind for this quilt and his or her birthday is coming up, here is the deadline. Christmas is creeping up quicker than we think, another deadline.
Winter is just around the corner, the baby is arriving soon, my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary is in 2 months time, and I’m turning 50. There are countless reasons that spring to mind in regards to a deadline. You decide and set the date when this quilt will be finished.

3. Break it down

Now you have set a date, be it 5 days, 5 weeks or 5 months you can break it down to manageable steps. Say you only have to do the binding and don’t really like this part. Well, say to yourself, I will bind this quilt for 15 minutes a day, a week or whatever you decide. 15 minutes at a time is short and will surely finish the binding before you know it.

4. Promise

Promise yourself that you will not start another project until you have at least stuck to your timeframe as in step 3. I don’t believe it’s good to not start anything else until one UFO is finished; it becomes a labour of punishment instead of labour of joy. Stick to your plan and with your other free time do whatever you want to do…

5. Measure and Reward along the way

Measure your progress along the way. If you have picked the UFO, decided on a time frame and broken it down to an achievable task, celebrate. You have accomplished 4 steps already. Take the dog for a walk, have a cup of tea with your quilting friends, ring your best friend and tell him or her how you are on your way.

6. Getting stuck again

Now you have stuck it out for a few days/weeks and have arrived at a task that you don’t know how to do. It’s easy, pack the UFO away and leave it for another year or four. Or

Ring your quilting friends and ask for advice.
Take it to your next class, scramble through all your quilting books or DVDs and find the answer. Or
Go for a walk and think about it, the answer will come; say to yourself “I CAN DO THIS!”

7. The End is in site

You are nearly there, basting, quilting and binding has been finished. Thank you, I have done it….
Oops, before I forget, last not least the label. This is one of the most important tasks to do but not everyone puts a label on the quilt. I think the quilt will last for many years to come and might go through numerous hands, the quilter should not be forgotten and therefore add a label.

8. Celebrate

The label is attached – finally the UFO is finished.

What a wonderful feeling it is when I see my new quilt wrapped over the lounge. How the eyes of my friends, family or strangers light up when they see the finished project. Everyone starts smiling; the oohs and aahs are heard long after I have fallen asleep under my favourite daggy old quilt.

Tomorrow I will celebrate and buy myself some new fabrics, start a new project or go back to step one and get my UFOs out again – if there are any left.


Color the World with your Creativity

1 comment:

Dee Soden said...

have shared you on Face Book.
I like your UFO finishing idea.