Show us your UFOs!

22 Jan 2010

In the spirit of the New Year, I think it’s time for all of us to engage in a cathartic, quilt-related confessional. For the most part, we all start our quilts with the best of intentions. No one wants to waste materials, time, or precious quilting energy. But sometimes your inspiration slips away mid-project or another too-tempting distraction comes along, and before you know it, you’ve got a UFO.

Yes, we all have them—and for many of us, UFOs are guilt-inducing objects that make us feel like noncommittal and unproductive artists. But it has recently occurred to me that perhaps they're not really anything to be ashamed of after all. When I moved into my new apartment a few months ago, I left many of my UFOs behind, but soon realized that a studio without a few half-complete projects tucked in its corners is just a tad lifeless. It’s as if these unfinished endeavors continue to emit their creative juices, as if they’re in some transient state of becoming that makes them even more alive than those pieces which we have declared complete.

On that note, it’s time for all of you to share your UFOs with the Quilting Arts Community in the UFO Gallery! Just go to Photo Galleries, select Quilting Arts Challenges, and post a picture with the tag "UFO Gallery." You can share one, two, or several of your UFOs and tell us your thoughts on them. Do they make you feel ashamed—or do you proudly consider them badges of past quilting adventures? To view others' UFOs, click on the "UFO Gallery" tag on the right hand side of the page (in the "Tags" box) or underneath the photo of your own UFO.

Don’t be shy. To get the ball rolling, I’ll share one of my weirdest UFOs with all of you. It sits in this large tin on the floor of my studio:


A few months ago, my boyfriend cleaned out his closets and ended up with a large pile of Polo shirts that he no longer wears. I’m too much of a fabric junky to let anything fiber-related go to waste so I insisted on keeping them all. I washed them, ironed them, carefully cut them up into rectangles, and made big plans for some kind of funky Polo shirt collage (in retrospect, I don’t know what I was thinking). Here’s how far I got:


So my UFO is basically a pile of cut up fabrics—but I’ve grown to love it. I’m comforted by the thought that if I ever run out of projects (not that this has ever happened), it’s there for me to turn to—or, more likely, it won’t ever evolve beyond this point and that’s just fine too; a little reminder that we can’t win them all.


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on 22 Jan 2010 2:55 PM

I must have a closet full of those UFO maybe we can trade some.


chaos000 wrote
on 23 Jan 2010 8:18 AM

I COMPLETELY understand your need to keep the fabrics...even if the fabric is stretchy shirt material. I did something similar with a disastrous result though: my husband has collected t-shirts since before we were married (and continues to collect them). I was overwhelmed with his shirts: bands, cities, celebrations, and logo for every conceivable product. So I told him I'd make a t-shirt quilt. I cut them all up and decided that the different sizes, weights, and stretchiness were more than I bargained for... and never finished the quilt.

I did, however, get rid of a lot of old, smelly t-shirts!

sha1non wrote
on 23 Jan 2010 2:30 PM

I think it's important that we only include our quilting ufo's because other wise I'm in big trouble.  Altered books, cross stitch, knitting, paper piecing and paper projects, need I go on.    And at a certain point my ufo's turn into abandoned projects which is an entirely different.

I do agree with Pippa somehow ufo's are comforting and I do take certain ones with me when I think I'll need something to do.  And it's nice if it's not too serious because when you're sitting around a camp fire the project can get dirty or singed.


Laura54 wrote
on 24 Jan 2010 3:11 AM

Pippa, you made me smile!

I think I have sooo many UFOS well hidden in boxes over the closet, in forgotten  drawer and so on, that I can complete the Gallery!

The truth is that my spare time to sew and quilt is minimal,  but ideas are too much.

Tomorrow, that my husband will leave for work for some days I will take some will be better if he doesn't see.

on 25 Jan 2010 9:47 AM

Well it's nice to know I'm not alone. I can't wait to see all of your UFOs in the gallery!

mswheels wrote
on 25 Jan 2010 3:51 PM

I believe, what were you thinking sums that one up!!   I am a miser when it comes to saving way to small pieces of fabric.  There are several baskets and sacks full in my studio.  One day they too will become something.

ckquilter wrote
on 30 Jan 2010 6:10 PM

about ufo's

you know, many quilters have ufo's. but i think many need to change their way of thinking. first off - if you are still working on it (and yes, thinking about it is working on it) then it is NOT a ufo; rather i call them a wip (work in progress!).

doesn't that sound much more positive!!!!

also, i know many of you have read stories about a quilter who found/bought/inherited another quilters wip. and went on to finish it. or you may even be the one in the story!! but just think of all the pleasure we would be depriving our children/grandchildren/ or even an unknown future quilter if we finish everything we ever start. so be sharing and thoughtful, and leave a few projects for someone else to contribute to.

another thought - life and available sewing time is just too short to be working on something you are not loving. so if you are not working on what is nearest and dearest to your heart right now - you are wasting time. don't throw away present and future time finishing something you aren't happy with - you were happy with it at one point, and that filled the need then. if it is no longer filling the need, LET IT GO, and move on.       ckquilter