It started so innocently. I was happily cutting blocks for a future project, when I remembered that I had made some similar shaped blocks in the past- maybe I could incorporate those too! Well, I have been happily making tumbler quilts during lockdown, and have created a trunk show based on those quilts. So I have made hundreds (thousands??) of tumbler blocks, and anything else I had been working on had been put aside. Searching through my piles, I came across a disheartenedly large number of UFOs, some ALMOST finished. I know there are more lurking somewhere, too. (note: I haven’t yet found those blocks that started it all). SO time to move these projects along… and NO NEW PROJECTS until I have made a start on these.
Wish me luck… and good luck with your UFOs in 2021.
When I signed up for this UFOvember, I was assigned the topic of re-homing. Well, since this is about UFOs, it is probably meant to be about re-homing those blocks that for some reason just sit there, staring back at you when you open a box to see just what is inside. But my story is about re-homing a quilt.
There are people who are interested in quilts, who just “get” them, and those who don’t. Working in a research lab, you are surrounded by intense people, who live and breathe science. Not many of them have the time or inclination to throw themselves into a time-consuming creative endeavour outside of science. So there were not many people who saw what I was up to outside the lab. One person who was interested, and loved what I was doing, approached me and asked if I would make her a quilt. I know from previous ventures that this can be a dangerous thing to do.. I much preferred selling someone something that was already made so there would be no surprises. She persisted. We talked about colours (bright), style (simple) and I researched patterns. I found a pattern online that was simple, and bright, and got the OK to proceed. I ordered the fabric, and got to work. I sent occasional photos to update my progress. All good. When it was all pieced, and ready to go to the quilter, I took a shot of it on my bed so she could see the final size and get an idea of what it would look like on her bed. Silence. One week of silence from someone who worked just down the hall from me. I was getting seriously nervous. Finally she came to visit, and told me she had changed her mind. My mind was racing.. she didn’t like it? But she had OKed the fabric, the pattern, the early photos! Maybe she was in a money crunch and couldn’t afford it? I asked if she would mind telling me why. “I’d rather not say.” was the reply. Things got frosty after that. The completed quilt sat in my house, and made me sad whenever I looked at it.
This is the quilt, which is the one I took with me to Black Creek Pioneer Village when I was pitching the idea of Quilts at the Creek. It was a big hit- the quilt and the show!
A year or two later, a girl that I had hired straight from school had a personal tragedy. This person was so bright, full of energy and enthusiasm, and became a real friend, despite a 30-year age gap. We later travelled to China together: almost 3 weeks sharing everything from a room to food to travel adventures solidified our friendship. When her 27 year-old brother died while completing a half-marathon she was devastated. When she returned to work I re-homed this bright, happy quilt to her. I like to picture her physically wrapping herself in a quilt given by someone who cares, and hope it helped her through the worst of times. The quilt had found its rightful home.
Here are the other blogs discussing this same topic… check them out!
Here is my re-work story: We invited Sherri Hisey of Border Creek Station Pattern Company to design a quilt for us, which would be presented as a mystery challenge. We sat on my back deck sipping wine and discussing what kind of blocks and designs we liked. We would publish a set of instructions each month over the winter, and display the quilts at the 2015 Quilts at the Creek show. Sherri worked her magic and sent us the pattern. So yes, we knew what it would look like. No mystery for us… this didn’t stop it from being a challenge for me though!
My modus operandi for quilt making is to play with colour until I am happy. As I made the blocks month to month I was not happy. My original choices were not playing well together, so I made more blocks, and more blocks and more blocks!
Well, because of all my waffling about colour choices, I ended up with a kazillion spare half-square triangles blocks. They were a lighter, brighter selection of blocks, and I used most of them to make this quilt for the 2016 Quilts at the Creek show. A successful re-working of those blocks!
You abandoned those projects for a reason- too boring, didn’t like it, too hard, not enough time. The excuses are endless. Check out the bloggers below to see how they got inspired to resume one (or more!) of their projects:
Hopefully you will be find inspiration here.. it is amazing how guilty you can feel about an unfinished project, and how great you feel when you do actually get back to it. Even just moving it further along in the process can be a big relief.
Here is my resumed work: I purchased this as a quilt kit earlier this year.. my 3 year old granddaughter LOVES horses and rainbows, and this would be great on her big bed. The finished quilt measures 60 x 60″, and is designed by Violet Craft.. I decided it would be a Christmas gift, and got started. Paper piecing is not my favourite thing- how do I always cut the fabric too small??- and during the Covid lockdown I got distracted with other, simpler tasks like making masks, and making my favourite kinds of quilt. That is a simple design, with lots of playing with colour. In fact I made so many tumbler quilts I have a 45 minute Zoom presentation on the subject.
Suddenly Christmas doesn’t seem so far away, and I still have 1/3 of the pieces to paper piece, then I need to put it all together and get it to the quilter, and finally the binding, all in about 6 weeks. Gulp! Wish me luck!!
Joanne Kerton of Canuck Quilter Designs (see her on Instagram) shows us some of her UFO inventory and why those pieces became UFOs. She has a lot of almost-done quilts. Maybe she needs a long-arm quilting friend to just get them done. But wait, who am I to talk?
Sue Griffiths of Duck Creek Mountain Quilting has some pretty awesome pieces in her UFO list. I especially love her William Morris applique piece, near the bottom of her blog post.
Two more bloggers will be tackling the topic of UFO inventories. so I will post about them soon. Meanwhile, here is my experience with creating that inventory.
I know the first rule for UFOs is to take an inventory. First, I started with just a list.. I think you can see how this went for me. Not well.
I am a person who loves to find the best way to organize things… So I bought a new binder, made a template page to use for my UFOs, and started.. see photo below. You will quickly realize that I had quite a bit of time devoted to this already.
So I started going through all the places I store fabric and projects — past present and future. I found so many wonderful fabrics that I started to add them as “unfinished” projects. These were so tempting I wanted to jump right in- I had to stop myself! Meanwhile I had found 20 UFOs so far, with no end in sight. This was taking way too long- I could have finished a project with the time I had spent here! Looking back at this book I had created, done in 2016, I see I have finished seven of these projects. One I packed up and donated to Value Village in frustration (paper-pieced, with too many intersections with too much paper). Hopefully some quilter stumbled on it and thought she had died and gone to heaven.