Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The UFO Question

I get asked a lot of questions. Some of them are fairly predictable (how do you store your fabric? (where I can see it); how much do you buy? (half yard cuts); what kind of iron do you use? (Sharp, and I use steam); do you wash your fabric before you use it? (always); how many quilts do you work on at one time? (My favorite answer: I can only have one lover at a time.)

The Holiday Quilt is away being quilted.

But one question puzzles me. "Do you have any UFO's?" (Un-Finished Objects)

It's puzzling because I tell everybody I only work on one at a time. So why ask?

Finally I figured out that it wasn't unfinished quilts folks were asking about (and I do not consider a quilt that is waiting to be quilted as a UFO), it was ABANDONED quilts. Do I have any abandoned and unfinished quilts hiding away in a drawer or bag somewhere?

this wasn't working

Answer: NO!

Getting rid of the white mini diamonds was the solution.

Why not?

Because when I am working on a quilt, I have made a commitment. If the idea is worth it, and I am stuck, I am going to figure out what's wrong with it, and fix it.

I don't care how long it takes. I don't care how much fabric it takes. I don't care how messy the studio gets. If I have set myself up with a creative problem (which is what making quilts for me is all about), then I am going to solve it.

I don't stuff it in a drawer where I can't see it, because if I can't see it, it doesn't exist. I'm going to leave my work in progress up on the design wall where I can look at it. I'm going to check it out when I get out of the shower in the morning, or while I am brushing my hair before I go to bed.

I -want- the thing to haunt me. I -want- the thing to stay at the forefront of my thoughts. I -want- to be thinking about it on the drive to work in the morning. I -want- to be able to look at it and think about it when I -can't- work on it. It makes me think harder. It makes me push through the roadblocks and the trite, easy, predictable solutions to find something unique and interesting.

Remember, if you're working from a pattern, somebody else has made the design decisions for you. If you're working from a kit, somebody else has solved your color problem. I start from ground zero.

I don't have a complete plan when I get started. I have only a partial plan. I have a basic idea of the color I want, but I'm not usually married to it. I don't always know how big the quilt will be or what proportions it will be. I certainly don't know what fabrics I'll use. I don't know how long it will take, or if my idea will work or not. I don't even care if I don't use fabrics I bought for it. I don't care if I have to buy more fabric.

None of those things frighten me.

Instead they exhilarate me. Because there's nothing I love more than to crack that nut of a puzzle, turn it on its head and make it SING!

And THAT'S why I don't have abandoned UFO's hiding away at my house.



Shasta Matova said...

I have UFOs, not because I have abandoned them, but because there are so many quilts I want to make, and I really want to make them all. They always take longer than I thought they would/should!

Shasta Matova said...

I admire your commitment.

Just Ducky said...

So you won't have a PhD. Projects Half Done!

Rebecca said...

While I do not have the tight commitment you have to a project I do have fewer UFO's then I used to. What I have learned is that sometimes what catches my is a new process I want to learn and I do not need a whole quilt to do that...just a couple of blocks....instead of a quilt I have place a couple of placematts or hanging and I am done and good. Sometimes its a color play issue and some potholders bag fronts are created. The other side of this is when I do start a ""quilt" I want a Quilt.... and have gotten much better at finishing them off.

Patty said...

I absolutely love your passion for quilting...it shines through!! I endeavor not to have the bright and shiny object syndrome where I want to be part of every new QAL I see or hoard patterns I may never get to. You have inspired me to finish what is on hand...which for me is on my craft room counters and on my design board where they are in plain sight!

I also buy by the half yard. It is great when doing sampler quilts or quilts that call for FQs but harder when a pattern calls for more of each and I don't want to go scrappy.

Lots to learn from you - thank you!!

karen said...

Different philosophies (needs) for different people. I definitely have UFOs. I am easily distracted by patterns, fabrics, and ideas for new projects, and sometimes I have a pile of blocks to iron or trim when all I want to do is sew or blocks to piece when I really just feel like ironing and cutting, so I have a lot of projects going at once. Occasionally I put some away to keep everything together and then forget about them. Those become my found treasures because eventually I open a box to see what I put in it and discover a quilt cut and waiting to be pieced or a partially pieced quilt or a top waiting for a backing and quilting. My professional life is deadline-driven. Quilting, knitting, stitching--these are my therapy and I take them at my own pace and in my own way. I find this approach drives other people nuts--not that it would make them nutty if they tried it, but nutty that I bounce around--but I don't see why it should. It doesn't bother me that they are monogamous to each project. :)

Allison said...

Wonderful description of your process! We each work our own way and for our own constellations of reasons!

Quiltdivajulie said...

I have a number of projects in the pipeline at any given point in time. Some are being thought about with fabrics being pulled/edited, others are being pieced, and other are waiting their turn to be quilted. I do not consider ANY of those to be UFOs (I agree that those are abandoned projects that are unfinished without promise of ever being finished). I have worked hard this first six months to reduce the number of waiting quilt tops AND those waiting to be pieced - and it has made a big difference in the studio. Allison is right - we all have our own ways of working and that is a GOOD thing.

Kiwiquilter said...

I have UFO’s from when I start something, maybe lose enthusiasm or get sidetracked by a different technique, etc. But I find when the club I belong to is getting close to holding an exhibition, which happens every three years, I become motivated to finish the UFO’s.
I have realised though that I am more keen to finish a quilt I’ve designed myself than one where I’m following a pattern. I have never bought a kit, as I don’t like the thought of making something that maybe lots of other people have too.

quilter mom said...

I simply like the way you think. It works for you. I have some of the same mind sets and it drives some of my quilting friends crazy. Whatever works!