Most of us have short attention spans. It doesn’t help that this wonderful q-biz we adore keeps putting out new fabric, patterns, tools and ideas, creating a constant form of creative whiplash for us. If you think you’re the only one suffering from a slew of Un-Finished Objects decorating your sewing space, think again. And if you don’t believe us, ask your best thread-buddy how many UFOs he or she has in their space?
Well, Q-bies, we’re here to tell you that it’s okay to have unfinished projects around, as long as you finish something, sometime. And if you’re starting to feel like you’re surrounded by the Leaning Tower of Fabric, we’d like to offer a short quiz to help you prioritize your sew-load. What’s important enough to put on the top of the pile is almost completely subjective, but we do encourage you to make sure that at least one out of every three projects you tackle is done only for your pleasure. Quilters, especially established ones, tend to become burdened by too many “command” quilts and projects, which are given to other people or groups for a variety of reasons. If all we work on are obligations, we start thinking of our stitching as, well, work. By allowing yourself to play regularly, we retain our joy for creating and learning.
So with that thought in mind, let’s help you triage the rest of the UFOs you’ve got. First, you need to make a list of what you’ve got started. Take inventory and make a list. If you think better visually, then take pictures of each project and its materials. You’re counting only projects started. If you have a project that you’ve purchased the stuff for, but haven’t actually cut into the fabric, bag the whole thing up and put it aside. (Hint: Extra large Ziploc bags, plastic storage boxes and rolling drawer carts are all great ways to hold projects waiting to be completed.)
- Is the project a gift for someone, does that gift have a deadline attached to it and is that deadline wishful thinking or hardcore? Sure we’d love to always give those baby quilts at the baby shower or watch our moms open a bound and labeled quilt on her actual birthday but real life steps in the way too many times. We need to assess which gift quilts in our hopper have an inviolate deadline which would prioritize it higher on your attention list. Here’s the exception to the prioritizing: Any gift quilt to be given to your mother-in-law that she knows about MUST be finished on time. Believe us, this is not the kind of grief you want for not getting it done.
- Is the project close to being done? If it is and you have all of the materials needed on-hand to finish it, move it closer to the top of the pile. The sense of accomplishment you’ll feel for finishing something will help move you through the next project. If you need to acquire something to finish this project, invest the time and money into doing it. Just the shopping trip alone will help motivate you to completion.
- Did you make a mistake on the project that you’re avoiding correcting? This is one of my favorite reasons for not finishing something. You have a few options here. If it’s something you really want to finish, you can a. unsew the problem and start over again at that point; b. decide the mistake is a design decision and embrace it; c. change the nature of the project (turn a quilt into a pillow for instance). Once you make a clear decision on how to proceed, assess the project’s priority by the other triage questions.
- Is this project being entered into a show, contest or exhibition? If so, then it has to move up the triage list. You set a goal for yourself and accomplishing your goal is important.
- Does this project have you learning a skill or technique you really want to know and are you getting hooked up in your ignorance? If you are exploring something new and struggling, now’s the time to tap your fellow Q-bies and see if someone can hold your hand through the process. If friend help is not available, look at classes–online and real time–to help expand your knowledge base. Don’t let something new intimidate your creativity. Send it to the top of the pile and enjoy the process. Remember, always, that it’s just fabric and there’s more where that came from.
- Do you still like the project? This is a hard one to admit, but there are projects we start with full-on love that we outgrow or stop loving for whatever reason. Guess what? It’s okay to walk away from it. Give it–and the materials needed to finish it–to a bud. Or ask if the charity chair at your guild would be interested in having it to finish.