Wednesday, April 18, 2018

11 Suggestions For How to Avoid Unfinished Quilts (UFOs)

Most of the activities we do in life have part that are more enjoyable than other parts. Sometimes even the enjoyable parts may feel less enjoyable depending on our mood or the circumstances.

The same goes for quilting.  Most of the things we do in quilting is enjoyable. They have to be, or we wouldn't be quilters, would we?  But there are times when the process seems cumbersome and we either have to push through those less enjoyable parts to abandon our projects before they are finished. They become the dreaded UFOs -- unfinished objects.

Here are some suggestions on how to avoid the tedium of quilting and avoid a pileup of UFOs. You can use one or a combination that will be most effective for your project and your personality. I will warn you ahead of time that some of these may give you the the opposite effect, so you may have to abandon them after trying them. When you do, abandon the suggestion for that project, not the project itself!

DVIDSHUB CC BY 2.0 via Flickr

Avoid Tedious Projects

The best way to avoid UFOs is to avoid projects that you know will cause you trouble. If you know you don't like making the same block over and over again, don't make quilts that have that sort of pattern. There are plenty of other types of projects available. Allie prefers to work on applique projects because she prefers applique over piecing.

Remember the End Goal

When I saw the quilt mystery on Quiltville, I knew that this quilt would have lots of small pieces and lots of repetition of blocks, but I decided to make it anyway.  I pictured the finished quilt on my bed and now I want to see that quilt on my bed.  When the piecing becomes tedious, I can think of that mental picture and that helps me push through the boring parts.  I chose to make this quilt because I want it on my bed.  I had decided it was worth the repetition, so now I have to deal with the repetition. It is short-term pain for long-term gain.

Adapt the Pattern

There are many ways you can adapt a pattern to help you avoid or minimize parts that you do not enjoy. When I started the On Ringo Lake mystery, I made just a few blocks so I could make a smaller quilt than the pattern. That way, I could enjoy the process of making the quilt without the commitment of a bed quilt. When I saw the blocks, I decided I would rather have a bed quilt, but I could easily have decided to make the smaller quilt instead.

Another way I could have adapted the pattern is to make alternating blocks that didn't have as many pieces. I could have alternated with a different block with fewer pieces, or even alternated with solid, applique blocks. I could have used a solid instead of a pieced sashing. Either of these would have let me have a bed size quilt with less piecing.

This adaptation can be made before you start the project, but it can also be made at other times.  When the project is in danger of becoming a UFO, take inventory and see what you can do with the progress you have already made. This may mean you will have a table runner instead of a bed quilt, but at least you will have a table runner.

Vary the Process

Instead of cutting all the pieces first, then sewing each step in a particular order like a factory line production, you can vary the order in which you do things.  Since I wasn't sure at the beginning what size I would make my quilt, I made some blocks, then I made a few more, and then I made a few more.  By alternating the cutting, sewing and pressing processes, I was able to add variety. While this still involved making the same number of blocks overall, this avoided my making many of the same seams all at one time.

Jourdan Dukes cc by 2.0 via Flickr

Add a Change

If things are getting boring, it helps to change things up.  I did this by adding a new fabric to the mix.  I went through my scraps and added a few pieces that went with the fabric I was already using.  Adding this new fabric that held a memory for me helped add the variety I needed to push through.  Some of this was background fabric, and all of the additions were small pieces, so they didn't make a difference in the overall look of the quilt, but they did make the process less repetitive to me. Sometimes a small change can make a big difference.

Make Some Rules

Sometimes some rules can help with motivation.  Here are some I've tried:
  • No new projects until the old ones ares finished
  • No chocolate until I've quilted for at least 15 minutes
  • I can start one new project for each one I finish
  • I will add some seams for the repetitive quilt in between working on a quilt I am not finding repetitive

Be Accountable

You can make a promise and have someone check up on you to see if you have kept the promise, or you can make it more public by putting it on your blog.  I have challenged myself to stitch for at least fifteen minutes each day, and I show my results every week, even on weeks where I was not able to meet the challenge. It provides motivation for me to try every day since my results are public.

Create a Challenge

I tell a student that the most important class you can take is technique. A great chef is first a great technician. 'If you are a jeweler, or a surgeon or a cook, you have to know the trade in your hand. You have to learn the process. You learn it through endless repetition until it belongs to you. Jacques Pepin
There are many ways you can add a challenge to your quilting. When my daughter was in school, instead of having the students memorize the times table, the teacher challenged them to see how many multiplication problems they could solve in ten minutes. These timed tests helped make the worksheets easier and gave them motivation to find ways to do them faster. To translate that in quilting, you could challenge yourself to:
  • master the quarter inch seam
  • improve the  quantity of your work by seeing how many blocks you can make in a limited time period
  • improve the quality of your work by seeing how many blocks you can make without making a mistake
  • improving your vocabulary by timing how many blocks you can make without cursing
  • learning to avoid distractions by seeing how many blocks you can make without getting interrupted
  • practice good habits or build endurance by working on that quilt for at least fifteen minutes a day 

Fix Your Attitude

Kaja said "There are boring bits to almost everything; it's about the balance between those and the things we love to do." If we keep the boring part in perspective, we can push through them to get to the parts we enjoy.

Make It Fun

Add some lively peppy music or listen to a good book. Dance as you go back and forth to the ironing board.

Enjoy the Process

The most important suggestion is to enjoy the process.  I quilt because I enjoy quilting, not because I want a quilt at the end. When I immerse myself in the enjoyment of the process instead of looking ahead to the end result or the number of blocks I have to make, I really enjoy the meditative quality of quilting. many other quilters feel the same way, and it is one of the things we love about quilting. Sure there is excitement about starting a new project and finishing one, but the bulk of our time and attention is that time in between starting and finishing.

Kyle said: It all can be a soothing rhythm even if there are times with a lot of repetition.

Kate said: Sometimes there is a lot of repetition, but I like to call that my meditation time, my brain just floats while my fingers do the work

Rail Fence by Shasta Matova

Try these eleven suggestions, either individually or in combinations. I think they will help you get your UFOs finished!

Lnked to:
Let's Bee Social 224

Monday, April 16, 2018

Big Fat 0%

Here it is, another week, and time to recap how much sewing happened during the week.
Sewing, what sewing?  I don't remember since the week has been a blur, but I'm pretty sure I didn't do any quilting last week.

Days with stitching this week:  0 out of 7 days
Days with stitching this month:  8 out of 15 days
Days with stitching this year:  93 out of 105 days
Success rate:  89%

It is a good thing that the success rate percentage is based on the year and not the week!

Today, I decided to take some quick pictures so you would have something to look at, and it looks like I hadn't even created a folder for the April pictures. And it is already the middle of the month!

 Before I wrote this post, I did sew a little bit so that this week will be bigger than 0%! On the plus side, these completed blocks and sashing sew up together much faster than the individual pieces.

Linked to:
15 Minutes to Stitch

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Tedium of Quilting

Sometimes when I tell people that I am a quilter, they say "I could never do that."

You would think that this statement should mean they are in awe of my wonderful quilting skills and my abilities to turn fabric into wonderful work of art.  But alas, their tone of voice doesn't suggest the awe and reverence they give to my skills, but instead to the boredom and tedium they associate with such a past-time.

I don't try to correct them. Everyone has a choice of how to use their time, and if they choose to fritter away their time with browsing the internet, watching TV, or talking sports, that is their business.

In last week's post, I complained about the tedium of sewing so many sashing blocks for On Ringo Lake. I think we should acknowledge that sometimes it does seem tedious and monotonous to make the same type of join over and over again.  Maybe I was tired and would have complained about anything. More likely, it was a complaint because I didn't have the time to just finish this step and had to prolong it by working only few minutes each week.

After this week's sewing, I realize that I was eyeing the finish line, like runners might do, and in anticipating being over that line, I stopped focusing on the current run. It's like those runners who slow down and become tired because they think they should be over the finish line already (not that I would know anything about that personally).

I had a better attitude this week. This week, I enjoyed touching the fabrics, examining the colors, and sewing each seam.  I worked exclusively on the On Ringo Lake mystery sashing. I have finished all the sashing blocks, sewing and pressing.

I wrote that last week, planning it to be a prelude to a list of suggestions to avoid tedium. But that will have to wait so I can now get two weeks of results posted.  The last two weeks, I was not able to quilt during the weekdays, but did manage to make up the time on the weekends.

I managed to sew the sashing blocks together, press them and have started sewing them to the blocks.

Days with stitching this week:  7 out of 7 days
Days with stitching this month:  8 out of 8 days
Days with stitching this year:  93 out of 98 days
Success rate:  94%

Linked to:
15 Minutes to Stitch 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

15 Minutes to Stitch

It's time to update my progress on the 15 Minutes to Stitch challenge.  I'm not perfect anymore.

As you know all last week, I sewed sashing pieces for On Ringo Lake.  I've been working on the sashing for several weeks, in fact.  So when it came time to do more sewing, I could not find the motivation to do it.  I do know that if I keep at it, eventually I will be done. I know that the bigger pieces show more progress and once I get through the sashing, there won't be any small pieces to sew.

But instead, I wanted to watch last season's Relative Race and do genealogy research. I did do a lot - cooking, cleaning, working, filing taxes, grocery shopping, walking the dog, etc.. Genealogy and quilting tend to compete and this week, genealogy won.

I was almost going to clock a big fat zero for the whole week and then I thought about the challenge, and I didn't want to go from perfection to a total dud, so I managed to get about 30 minutes of sewing today. Having this challenge check-in did motivate me to get more done.

Days with stitching this week:  2 out of 7 days
Days with stitching this month:  20 out of 25 days
Days with stitching this year:  79 out of 84 days
Success rate:  94%

That's still an A on most grading scales, so I will take it. 

Linked to:
15 Minutes to Stitch

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Prize Winner!

I won a charm pack from Brooke at Silly Mama Quilts. Seriously you should go visit her because she has these drawings for prizes quite often, and all you have to do is comment.

This is such a sweet fabric with cute little motifs. I am going to have to find something very special to do with this. I am thinking of Kathleen Tracy's small quilts.

When I got the package though, I found that she had included a lot of other beautiful goodies in the package.  There is a cute pattern by Elizabeth Hartman. 

There are beautiful pink and orange fabric scraps. I may use these right away with my bonus HSTs from Ringo Lake.

There are also cute little buttons, a star pattern, a beautiful fabric ribbon.  Thank you so much Brooke!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

!5 Minutes to Stitch Update

As you  know, I've been trying to make progress on my quilting every day, even if it is only 15 minutes at a time. I was more successful this week with touching fabric than I was last week. Sometimes it takes a while to find a good routine when the schedule changes.

Other times a shift in the schedule shakes things up so much, everything falls in place in a better way.  In fact, I had a very productive week, working, cooking and cleaning, walking the dog, taxiing people to the airport, house sitting, changing internet providers, making up lost work time, genealogy research, and even assembling an office chair.

AND, I managed to quilt five out of the seven days.  The goal is always to try to stitch every single day.  And as usual, I am giving myself credit for all seven days, because I was able to make up the time I missed the other days.

I worked on sewing more sashing for On Ringo Lake - cutting fabric, drawing lines, sewing, trimming, pressing.  There is still more to go, but I am making progress.  With the limited time, the routine of making the same block over and over again doesn't bother me at all. I can see that progress is being made, and when the sun shines, I admire the colors of the quilt all over again.

So with my very flexible definition of "days," here are my results!

Days with stitching this week: 7 out of 7 days
Days with stitching this month: 18 out of 18 days
Days with stitching this year: 77 out of 77 days
Success rate:  100%

Linked to:
15 Minutes to Stitch

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Weekly Recap

I haven't been able to sew 15 minutes a day this week, as it is getting busy at work.  I marked some seams on Monday, but for the rest of the business days, I didn't do any sewing.  It is a matter of adjusting to the new schedule, but on the weekends, I managed to make time to sew.

This means I have to come up with new rules for my 15 Minutes to Sew challenge. In other weeks, if I missed a day, but made up the time, I gave myself credit. I have decided to keep this relaxed, easy going management style, and give myself leeway to make up the time, even if it means do all the time in one sitting. I'm not going to make myself sleep between sessions! I think it will give me incentive to do more sewing, and after all, isn't that the whole point of this, to keep making forward progress?

In previous weeks, I have been making both left and right sides of the sashing strips for On Ringo Lake. This week, I decided to be more consistent in a production line fashion and sew just the left sides.

I've even been sewing the bonus triangles. I like the challenge of working with these babies.  It works as part of the quality control step. If I am satisfied with the seam, I sew my seal of approval .

I think my quality control steps need quality control steps.  I'm not worried about these. I have insurance on this quilt, and cut a few extra pieces so I wouldn't have to rip. These extras can go into the orphan bin.  I have forgotten how many extras I made though, so some of these might need ripping, but they are short seams and no big deal.

Here they are all chopped up and ready to press. This a few of them; there are more on the ironing board. I am going to call this side done and move on to the next side.

Linked to:

15 Minutes to Stitch
I might have to rethink this chart, since it really isn't showing me which days are better for sewing.   I might have to simplify it, but I'd rather spend my time sewing!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Fabric Mandala

My sister was inspired by my scraps for the On Ringo Lake quilt and decided to make a mandala out of them.

The mandala was made on a canvas board. 

She drew some concentric circles on the board. Then she cut up pieces of my fabric scraps and laid them around the circles.

She used variegated and non-variegated embroidery floss to highlight some of the shapes.

She painted the backgrounds, added teeny tiny beads and added texture in the corners.

As incredible as this mandala is, the best part is that she gifted to me. It's mine!

Linked to:
WIP Linkup - I know it isn't a WIP, although Sis did make suggestions on how additional things could be added. Besides WIPs are supposed to eventually become finished projects!

WIPs on Wednesdays - Second verse, same as the first.

Wednesday Wait Loss - what a sweet creative name name for a linkup! And there is green in this project!

Let's Bee Social!

Friday, March 2, 2018

March Goal

Spring is a busy time for me, with work, spring cleaning, gardening, and enjoying the time outside, so I am going to keep my monthly goal simple, and continue with making circles and making progress on On Ringo Lake.

To make the goal quantifiable, I suppose I can still say I will  make one circle a day for the month of March, but that seems to not be very realistic if I keep making progress on On Ringo Lake. I will say I will make at least one circle every other day. That way, I can keep making progress on both quilts.

Linked to:
One Monthly Goal - March Goal Setting Link-up

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Monthly Goal Check in

Why is this month so short?  It is time already to check in with the One Monthly Goal. I thought I kept it simple by saying I would just keep up with my daily circles this year.  Here are some more circles I showed to try to catch up.

Block 238


This looks like a chair to me.


Block 239

A circle with spikes/spokes. I saw a picture of a quilt at the QuiltCon that had spikes.  Mine are too fat, but it is a small block and I want to keep things easier for me.

Block 240

A semicircle and its reverse.

Block 241

A collage with lots of layers. Using up the pretty trash.

Block 242

This is a spiral, and I had leftover when I got to the center so it became a Q.

Block 243


A semicircle is still a circle. See, it has "circle" in its name.


Block 244


Love the colors in these beautiful batiks.


 Block 245


I hope there is enough variety in these blocks. I am using scraps from On Ringo Lake mostly, plus a few bits that are still in the trash scraps bowl.

We've had 59 days this year, and I've made 45 circles, which means I haven't met my monthly goal, but I have made good effort, and the circle box is getting fuller, so I am okay with my progress.

Linked to:

One Monthly Goal - February Finish Link-up

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Valentine Art Quilt For Swap

A while ago, I showed you the quilt I received for the art quilt swap that was organized by one of my Facebook groups, Stitching with Fibers, Paper and More. Today, I thought I would show you the quilt I made for my swap partner.

I made two so I could choose the best one for my partner. It would also show that I did give my partner a quilt that I would be happy to get myself.  I tend to worry that the quilt I like may not be a quilt the recipient will like. Making two quilts helped, because one of those was mine, so I could make it to please myself, and the other one just used the same techniques.

I started out with a variety of fabric and paper scraps.  I have been focusing on the blue/green turquoise/aqua color scheme from Ringo Lake and decided to keep with that, but most of these scraps aren't from Ringo Lake. There are lots of upholstery scraps, paper and fabric scraps. I decided to do raw edge to make it more artsy and less traditional.

I added a border fabric on two sides.

The stitching that holds them down also double as quilting lines. I added the heart stitching around some of the edges to secure the edges.

The heart is a separate quilt (three layers and batting) that was appliqued on. I glued on paper hearts in case there wasn't enough paper. One of the rules of the quilt is to use 25% materials that you are not familiar with, and there are only a few squares of paper, so I thought adding more would bring it closer to 25%, although the upholstery and other fabrics should also count in the "fabrics I'm not familiar with" category.

Here are the two quilts. Neither of these stand out better than the other one to me. I mailed the one on the left because I thought it had a neater looking heart, and because it was skinnier and fit the envelope better.

They both have different hanging techniques. That was also one of the guidelines for the swap. I usually use applique pins for quilts this small.

I made a mistake in the mailing address so my partner did not receive the original quilt. I mailed her the other one last week to replace the lost one, and the tracking number shows she received this on Saturday, so I can finally show these to you.

Linked to:
Ad Hoc Improv Quilter Share Your Improv #30

Monday, February 26, 2018

Sunday Circles and Checkin

I know it is Monday, but ending the week with Sunday for the Sunday check-in means I have to sew before posting my results for the week.

This week, I have been cutting and sewing the sashing for On Ringo Lake. To keep things interesting, I have also been making some circles. The pictures turned out blurry, but they will still give you a good enough idea of what they look like, and I'd rather spend my time sewing than taking more pictures.

Block 222


This one was a collage of random scraps. It looks like the letter T to me, but it wasn't planned.


Block 223

My sister gave me a ruler that cuts circles. This is my first attempt at using it. I used a large blade and did it pretty quickly.

Block 224

This one makes me think of an African pot.

Block 225

This uses scraps that were gifted to me, exactly as sewn. Looks like an Easter basket to me.

Block 226

This one also uses presewn scraps that were gifted to me. I was thinking this might look like a heart, but it looks like Mickey Mouse!

Block 227


A leftover nine patch from On Ringo Lake. Whenever possible, I made a few extra blocks when it was convenient.


Block 228, 229, 230, 231


This uses the rest of the strip set that was used for the center strip of the nine patch. It gets four numbers because it is four times the size of a regular block. It was sewn improv, and then needle turned on the background. The center is a yo-yo.


 Block 232, 233, 234, 235, 236, 237


I showed you this one already last time, but it didn't have numbers because it wasn't sewn onto a background yet.  It is an odd size so it will be a challenge to figure out where and how to fit it into the quilt, but it gets six numbers because it looks like it will take the space of six blocks. I trimmed it after I took the picture.  I chose a random number for the stitch (17). I think I chose the same random number for another block that  reminded me of a baseball.

  15 Minutes to Stitch


This week was a blur so I am not sure I sewed every day, but I'm sure I made up for any missing days throughout the week.

I have made 37 circles in the 56 days of this year. Not perfect, but not too bad.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

All Blocked Up

Normally, a blockage is a bad thing. But all the whooping and hollering you heard here on the High Road is not a cause for alarm, but a celebration!

All of the blocks for On Ringo Lake are finished! I know!  I had to count them twice just to be sure!

Now onward march to the sashing and setting triangles!

Linked to:
Let's Bee Social

Sunday, February 18, 2018

15 Minute Challenge Feb 18

This week, I worked on basting around the crazy quilt blocks so that I wouldn't put beads too close to the seam allowance.

Most of my sewing time, however, was spent on the On Ringo Lake blocks. They look the same as they did the last time I showed you, so I won't show you again now. I don't want you to spend all your money renting the galloping horse when you can just wait until the finished quilt top.  I have more full blocks done, and have a few more blocks to finish. Then I need to sew the sashing pieces.

I did spend some quality time with the seam ripper this week.  (Not the one in the picture, obviously. It is the only seam ripper photo I have taken and labeled as such.) I use the seam ripper for blocks that aren't quality seams (bunching, not properly lined up, seam allowance too small, not going the right way), but I don't use them for points that aren't sharp or don't match exactly. I do want this quilt to be finished in my lifetime and I am choosing not to look for perfection for this bed sized quilt. It is a bed quilt and I don't want those sharp points to hurt me while I am sleeping.

Don't worry, this was a normal amount of correcting mistakes for this big quilt with lots of pieces. I didn't make any major mistakes. I  normally correct as I go, but I was trying to show progress, so I set aside the errors. I didn't want to make new blocks when the corrections were so simple, so I had to fix them as a bunch.

I did this spreadsheet early in the week, anticipating my perfection. It takes some concentration to figure out how to tally these, since each month has a different number of days and start on different days.

This week, I missed Monday and Tuesday but I made up for it. There will hopefully be one more week of "perfection" before the downhill slide.

Linked to:
15 Minutes to Stitch