If you’re a quilter, you’re probably familiar with the term “unfinished objects (UFOs)”. An unfinished object is a project that you’ve started but hasn’t finished. UFOs can be found in many areas of quilting, from piecing to quilting to the binding. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the reasons why UFOs happen and how to deal with them.
So let’s begin with the question of why do UFOs exists.
Why do we have unfinished objects UFOs in our quilting pile?
1. Lack of Motivation
One of the most common reasons why quilters don’t finish their WIPs is a lack of motivation. Quilting can be a time-consuming process, and it’s easy to get burned out or lose interest in a project. This is especially true if a quilter has been working on a project for a long time or if they’re struggling with a particular technique. When motivation wanes, it can be difficult to find the energy to keep going.
Sometimes we pick the wrong battle, while some challenging projects make us grow, some may just be too challenging that it strays us away from them.
Or maybe there’s something that we have an interest in, whether it was the fabric we picked or the pattern. I have the Aviatrix medallion quilt that is currently in my UFO pile since I have not been putting any effort to move it forward in the last 6 months or so.
I love it, but I am not that into the colours of the fabrics anymore. Therefore, I lack motivation to continue working on the quilt. I do love the quilting part though, so maybe I should just focus on that and keep going.
2. Other Priorities
Life is busy, and quilting is often a hobby that gets pushed aside in favor of other priorities. Quilters may have work, family obligations, or other hobbies that take up their time and energy. When this happens, it’s easy for WIPs to fall by the wayside. Quilters may feel guilty about neglecting their projects, but it’s important to remember that it’s okay to have other priorities.
I am sure that this one of the main reason I still have a pile of UFOs in my sewing room right this moment. O how I wish to sew and quilt all day but with 3 kids, a full time job, I do have to be realistic. I am blessed to have this as a hobby and I absolutely enjoy it.
I shouldn’t feel guilty having progress slowly on projects or even forget about it for a year or two. I’ll get to it when I can.
Some quilters may struggle with perfectionism. They may feel that their work isn’t good enough or that they’ll never be able to achieve the level of skill they want. This can lead to a fear of making mistakes or a reluctance to move forward with a project. In some cases, quilters may abandon a WIP because they feel that it’s not meeting their high standards.
I am not a perfectionist but sometimes I can be picky. At the moment, I don’t have any projects that I am stalling or putting aside becasue I want it perfect. Just like I always say to those who wish to quilt on their own home machine, just do it. It may not be perfect but it will get better.
But then again,
I don’t make quilts for shows, so I guess that is why I don’t worry too much. It would be different if I were making a quilt to enter a show. I would for sure want it to be perfect (as in my best) and I totally understand why it can cause us to procrastinate. I once had my quilt in a show and there I was snipping the threads on while it was hanging there. It wasn’t for a comptetition but still..
4. Lack of Confidence
On a similar note, some quilters may lack confidence in their skills. They may feel that they don’t have the knowledge or experience to tackle a particular project, or they may worry that they’ll make a mistake that will ruin their work. This can lead to a reluctance to start a new project or to finish a WIP. In some cases, quilters may need to seek out additional resources, such as books, classes, or online tutorials, to build their confidence and skills.
This is very similar to the above, but really after knowing more about a technique, and starting this can be a no problem at all.
I have one project that I have stalled for so long, simply because I have yet to just get started. And that is the Liberty Courthouse Quilt. I wanted to hand-quilt this but I have never hand-quilted a full quilt before. And I guess, I am lack of confidence in myself that I will ever finish it if I hand-quilt
Finally, some quilters may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of WIPs they have. They may feel like they’ll never be able to finish all of them, and this can lead to a sense of paralysis or indecision. In some cases, quilters may need to step back and evaluate their priorities. They may need to set aside some projects or simplify their goals in order to make progress.
Or maybe you’re overwhelm with the messes in your sewing room. I know I can get paralyzed when I have too many open tabs (open projects) in my sewing room. I love a good reset every now and then, clean the surfaces in my room and then I’m ready to pick one project again to start over.
Now, each UFOs may have more than one reason why it is unfinished at this point in time, but I am here to try and work my way through my pile and I hope I’ve inspired you too. So let’s see what we can do to get those UFOs done and gone.
How to deal with UFOs?
With a few strategies and a bit of motivation, it’s possible to tackle those unfinished objects UFOs and enjoy the satisfaction of completing a project.
Here are some tips for finishing unfinished objects UFOs in quilting:
1. Assess each project
Start by assessing each project to determine why it’s not finished. Is it because you’ve lost interest, hit a roadblock, or need additional materials? Take a moment to reflect on each project and identify the reasons for not completing it.
I am taking time as I declutter around my sewing space, all of my UFOs, why it is not finished and how can I move them forward. If it is something that you know is not of your interest anymore, it is okay to let it go. Donate it and let go of the guilt that you have spent the money to purchase the fabrics and materials. Sometimes, letting go means more space and capacity to create more.
Related Post: How to declutter your sewing room in 10 days.
2. Prioritize the projects
Next, prioritize the projects based on how much you want to finish them. Determine which projects are most important to you, whether it’s because of sentimental value, the amount of time and effort already invested, or other reasons. Start with the project that is the most important to you and work your way down the list.
I like to do this at the beginning of the year, but anytime for a plan is better than none. So it is great to have a plan. I love having a blog to keep a record of my projects and it sort of keeps me organized.
Related posts : Making plans for Quilting 2023
3. Set realistic goals
Set realistic goals for each project. Don’t expect to finish everything in a week or even a month. Instead, break down the project into manageable parts and set achievable goals for each part. For example, you could aim to complete one block or one row of the quilt top each day.
I am definitely doing this, making a round of my many work-in-progress WIPs and unfinished objects UFOs just so they are moving forward toward a finish. I want to be realistic and instead of having big goals of finishing them in a short period of time, I am just going to have small goals that can keep me motivated to keep moving forward.
My Grandmother flower garden is in very slow progress, but I want to set goals to at least stitch together a couple of hexagons per week from now on. I’ll try and post a progress for a Sunday Stitch Post to keep myself accountable on this blog.
4. Set a deadline
Setting a deadline for each project can help you stay motivated and focused. However, make sure the deadline is realistic and achievable. For example, if you have a lot of other commitments, don’t set a deadline that requires you to spend all your free time quilting.
I know there are a lot of challenges like the APQ UFO Challenge that help you plan out some deadlines per month for the unfinished objects UFOs that you have. They do this every year, and by joining this challenge, it can keep you accountable to the community in the Facebook group.
5. Create a plan of action
Create a plan of action for each project. This plan should outline the steps you need to take to complete the project, including any materials you need to purchase, techniques you need to master, or mistakes you need to fix. Having a clear plan can help you stay on track and ensure you don’t get stuck.
As you assess the UFOs you have, keep a note on the things you still need for the project. For example, I had a few quilt backings that I needed to buy to finish up a couple of quilt tops in my UFO pile. I got some recently from the SALE section HERE, and I am now motivated again to finish the quilts.
6. Get support
Consider getting support from other quilters, whether it’s through a local quilting group or an online forum. Other quilters can provide advice, encouragement, and motivation. You could also consider hiring a quilting coach or taking a quilting class to help you work through any roadblocks.
Again, APQ UFO Challenge can be something that will help you. I also love the idea of having quilty friends or a guild that you can spend time quilting with. A day spent quilting at a retreat can also be a great way to focus on a project till it finishes.
And I think this is also why I love quilt alongs! There’s always support in the community and seeing other quilters working on it keeps me motivated.
I finished most of the quilts that I follow through Quilt Alongs like the Sewcialite quilt above. I see some other quilters who has just finished their Sewcialites 1 and we are now making Sewcialites 2. Usually this is how it is, even pass the time of the Quilt Alongs due date, there are still support and motivation in the group.
Related Post : List of 2023 Quilt Alongs
7. Stay motivated
As mentioned earlier, one of the reason unfinished objects UFOs remains as UFOs is that we lose motivation. So it is important to stay motivated by rewarding yourself when you reach a milestone, such as completing a certain number of blocks or finishing a section of the quilt top.
Staying motivated is key to finishing any project. Try to keep the end goal in mind and remind yourself of the sense of accomplishment you will feel when you finish.
In conclusion, finishing unfinished objects in quilting requires a bit of motivation and a solid plan. By prioritizing your projects, setting realistic goals and deadlines, creating a plan of action, getting support from other quilters, and staying motivated, you can enjoy the satisfaction of completing a project and adding to your quilting accomplishments.
Hopefully, you get inspired to tackle your unfinished objects UFOs after reading some of these tips. I know I am ready to make a step forward on some of mine. Just going through them sparks new joy and hope to get moving. Keep an eye on some of these projects as I post their progress here on the blog.
Till next time, Happy quilting!
I love you!
Thank you for this post. I will be evaluating each of my WIP and decide which to finish or which to donate. Great advice.
Thanks for the post. You’ve given me inspiration. After I saw your Liberty quilt I knew I just had to start mine. I’ve been so afraid to cut into these gorgeous fabrics but I see that you did! So I’m going to start mine!
That was the most insightful post. Those are all reasons why I don’t finish things. I’m inspired to assess my WIPs and see how I can improve. Thanks
It is so good to hear you say it doesn’t have to be perfect.
I am struggling with free motion quilting and I did take your course it was very helpful but I still do not feel confident enough to do the free motion quilting on my wall hanging. I am afraid that I will make mistakes. I am practicing almost every day, I have gotten a lot better, but just not good enough for my standards.
I will keep on practicing and then I will do my wall hanging to the best of my ability.
Your course is very good and helpful.