Inspiring Quilters, Stitch by Stitch
I really did'nt relize what an air-head I really was until I started going deeper in the old stash.I have got boxes of basted applique peices that I don't even know what quilt they go to. LOL Time to make new with something that was meant for something else, whats a gal to do
Being a quilt teacher, I've made a lot of tops over the years for class samples. Needless to say my own projects were pushed to one side so I could focus on getting my class samples done by the store's deadline date. I had them all folded and stacked on what I call my "chair of shame". It go so bad I decided to come up with a spreadsheet listing every quilt I could remember and list what stage they were in: Top, Borders, Layered, Quilted, Binding.
I have to say I think it helped me keep everything in perspective and gave me the inspiration to get them finished. Every "X" in a column was an achievement. It was tough because for every quilt I finished I was adding at least two more. Now that my local quilt shop is in the process of closing I'm finally seeing the list start to come down. I rent longarm space in a local studio and the quilts are finally getting quilted and will eventually be finished completed. The list is now down under 60 that need to be completed. Unfortunately, I'm still finding UFO's that I forgot I started!
Hmmm, not sure where to start 'cuz I don't want to TELL others what to do. But here goes, jumping in with both feet: I was buried in UFO's 3 years ago and starting every new project in site, even some that were such vague ideas I was just sorting and making fabric piles for that future quilt. I stopped doing that, kind of cold turkey. I could open my own fabric store and while I have cut down on acquisitions, I have limited them to: a really really good buy (minimum 40% off); something I absolutely need to finish a project; or, something so gorgeous that after I walk out of the store, I have to go back and get it anyway. And yes, silly me, I actually walk out of the store and get in the car to think about it.
Next thing I did was a really hard "sort" through my entire quilt/sewing room. I only had one room devoted to quilting at the time. I packaged up each project individually. If it was started, the pattern, the cut pieces, blocks, and uncut fabric all went into the bag. I listed the project and rated how far along I was - fabric/pattern, all cut out, blocks made, borders needed, ready to quilt, etc. A lot of projects were 86'd/scrapped. The fabric went back in the stash, the patterns either went back in the drawer or were put in the donate stack. Some cut items that weren't cut so well went into the scrap bucket or were made into dog beds for the local shelter. I got myself down to about 40 UFO's in all stages doing this. I can't remember (self-denial) how many UFO's I had, but it was well over 100.
The big category split was finished tops and quilt tops that needed to be finished. Many tops changed categories. This is OK. There were things that I needed to finish because I didn't want to quit on a challenging project. They just may not have stayed in the same type/size range as originally planned. That was OK too. I had one very very boring strip sewing project that went from being a planned queen size quilt top to a single bed quilt top and two youth bed quilt tops. Borders are fantastic for this kind of thing. So two different charities got finished quilts on that one. The first year, I completed 18 of my planned 20 UFO's. And I added 3 new UFO's to the future completion pile.
The next two years I planned on completing 10 UFO projects each year. Never quite reached that momentum, again, but I'm also not adding more than 2-3 projects a year and those are usually in the "ready to be quilted" stage/category. I have my own long arm with more and more quilts working their way to that stage each year. So far this year, I have completed three to be quilted UFO projects, moved 2 projects into the "to be quilted" category and have my 4th to be quilted UFO pulled for quilting. Last year I added 1 to be quilted to the group and have one on the wall where I am working on pieced borders while I take part in the Splendid Sampler and do a couple of other small things start to finish.
It is getting better. The organization seems to help. And for some silly reason, I'm working out of my scrap barrel rather than pulling so much yardage. Lets hope I can quilt until well after I'm 100 years old. It will take that long to use up most of the fabric.
The other thing that helps is having a block box. I think many of us have accumulated blocks. We start a project, make a sample block, have extra blocks that don't quite fit, whatever. But we end up with extra blocks. I set these aside and have a huge bin that sometimes gets full. My bin contains blocks as small as 1.5" square to as large as 15" square. The most common sizes are 6" (usually flannel or cotton 9 patches at this time), 9" miscellaneous blocks and 12" miscellaneous blocks. When there is a general call for charity quilts in a hurry, the block box comes to the rescue. The last time was about 5 years ago when it was almost emptied. Our small group (I think about 8 quilters) needed to make 35 finished quilts in less than 3 months. Most of our group works full time and only a couple of us don't have family to care for. I was tied up with my business going full tilt and couldn't promise much more than quilting 5 tops for that project. But I called a couple of ladies to come over to my house and go through the block box with me. 6 single bed quilt tops were made from the contents of the box after we sorted it out. Those blocks were put together and presented as ready to be quilted within a week... Teamwork!