No to UFO’s

The 1 Million Mile Quilted Postcard Challenge is done. The Quilt Along is done. Now it’s catch-up time.

UFO’s, for the benefit of non-quilters, is quilting language for ‘unfinished objects’. But I have decided that regardless of the number of quilts on my inventory list, I do not have any UFO’s in my closet. No, my quilts are projects. And I am the Project Manager.

Each quilt starts with a pattern or a plan. You have to source materials, decide what comes from your stash and what is required to supplement it. It has a beginning & end. And it goes through many steps in between (known as the critical path), with risk factors in each. Have you not run out of fabric mid-stream? Or made a critical mistake that affected the outcome?

I have identified 10 steps in my critical path (my inventory at year end is indicated in brackets):

  1. Future Considerations (too many to count – patterns marked, ideas jotted down)
  2. Concept Planning, working out a pattern (2)
  3. Next in the que -fabric & pattern ready, set and itching to go (3)
  4. Fabric at the cutting/piecing stage (1)
  5. What in the world do I do with this mess – set aside (3)
  6. Quilt tops waiting for me to quilt (9)
  7. Quilts currently at a long-arm quilter (2)
  8. Quilts that need binding (0)
  9. Quilts that need labels made and attached (3)
  10. Documentation, including The certificate-of-completion if it is to be a gifted quilt, and/or a picture if it is going into my records (? – I may be a little behind in this!)

According to Wikipedia, a Project Manager is a professional (no less!) responsible for planning, executing, controlling and finishing a project while managing the triple constraints of cost, time and scope. Do we not do that?

Quilting is not cheap but we manage that the best way we can -buying on sale, trading fabrics, using recycled clothing if necessary.

Time is relative, especially if quilting is your retirement job! But once again, we manage project on a stage by stage basis. Certain stages are great for working on retreat days. Some are done in front of the TV. Others are better done alone when you can focus on the task at hand. Sometimes it is better to outsource parts of it or form teams. All of this is done with families and other life circumstances in mind (think multi-tasking!).

Scope is a good one. You can run out of a certain fabric, you might run out of money allocated to the project, or you might simply run out of ambition for the project. At this point you manage the risk – modify the plan, downsize or eliminate.  A quote by Lin Yutang is appropriate:

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials

For example, I have hand stitched hexi’s that were intended to be a queen size quilt. It might be ‘de-scoped’ to a bed runner.Although I had big plans for that quilt, I have lost my desire to complete it. Last month I took some partially finished projects to the ‘Go Green’ auction sponsored by our local guild so someone else could reuse the fabric. And you may remember that last year I took scissors to a ‘failed’ experiment. Having done that meant it is not on my inventory list at year end and I do not have to look at it. Very freeing!

There is no question where my quilts are stalled. Of the 9 quilts ready to by quilted, 3 are donation quilts, 3 are class quilts, 2 are art quilts, and 1 is a whole cloth quilt (that I am afraid to start). I have an appreciation for great quilting, but I am not there yet. Practice, practice, practice.Yes, I have lots of material to practice on.

We are quilt professionals. Well, maybe not perfect – yet. No professional is. They all start somewhere, and usually get better with experience. What you do is important, so keep at it! And only you can decide how many projects you can manage at any given time.

Have a great week. Since doing my inventory I have worked at finishing a few – but also started some new ones. More of both next week…


About Judy's Quilting Studio

Creator of all things quilted; minimalist in everything except fabric!
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10 Responses to No to UFO’s

  1. Marilyn Fontaine says:

    I knew I was”t alone in the unfinished, what do I do with this mess, ran out of material, what have I got myself into projects. It is good to see you put it in print. I think I will also make a list and start crossing off some of the projects that are dragging me down. Have a good week Judy.

  2. Peggi Chambers says:

    Extremely motivating! Love the fresh perspective of a lifelong passion! What a wonderful way to start the day. I believe no quilt is perfect and each quilt is a learning process. You gave me a lot to think about as I go about my daily chores. Peggi

  3. Kate says:

    I told a new quilter, just the other day, that my skills have been acquired through practice, not through giftedness. I think the trick is to practice on things that give you joy! Good job letting go of those not giving you joy.

  4. NM Grenier says:

    Don’t know if this will reach you but here goes. Could you send me that name of the batting you use
    in your postcards.



    Think less, love more.

    • I use a product called FlexiFirm. It comes on a large roll and you can buy either single adhesive and double adhesive. I buy the double adhesive. If you are in Canada, it is available at Fabricland for about $20/meter. There are other products available – look for something stiff and adhesive. Some use Timtec (spelling ?) or other stiff products that are not adhesive. Then you will have to use Steam A Seam, Mistyfuse or Heat & Bond. Hope that helps you find something.

  5. Sim Koongoek says:

    Hi Judy, I’m not a quilter but I can definitely use your ‘No UFO principles’ to my other projects!! Thank you for teaching me to ‘free’ myself.
    Koongoek 😉

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