The Free Motion Quilting Project: UFO Followup #3

Monday, September 10, 2012

UFO Followup #3

No More Monsters!  I think this is going to become my new mantra.  It came from this wonderful line from B at the Mariner's Compass Quilting Project:
So the moral of the story is quilting something is often better then quilting nothing and letting the task build up as a monster in your head.
So true!  Isn't it easy to get bogged down with thinking, thinking, thinking about a project to the point that it grows so big and so problematic that it becomes a 10 ft monster in your head?

It feels so wonderful to be working through projects steadily and even more wonderful to see all of your projects evolving as well!

Honestly this is changing my mentality about many things - not just quilting UFOs but also my business UFOs like books and DVDs I've started and not finished, and family UFOs like James's 0-5 year photo album.  The more I think about it, the more I see many things I start with the best intentions, but do not get around to finishing.

So far I've found two major keys: #1 - stop making more UFOs.

I'll admit, every time I've heard of someone declaring a stop to new projects until all UFOs are finished, I've balked at the idea.  It just seems so boring, so tedious, so....goody goody over productive.  I could probably think of a few more negative ways to describe it, but now that I'm doing it myself, it honestly feels wonderful.

My goal is now to be completely UFO free by the time I'm 30.  I turn 29 next month so it's going to be one serious year of UFO busting!

#2 major key to UFOs - the best way to NOT make a new UFO is to spend more time planning and investigating a project before jumping in with both feet.

Speaking of planning, two awesome quilters have great examples of planning and experimenting before tackling a big project.

Danielle Hudson from Fresh Off the Spool tested 6 different types of thread in her wholecloth wall hanging:
Photo from Danielle's Blog Fresh Off the Spool
By stitching out a different thread type each feather cluster, Danielle was able to compare the different types of thread ranging from cotton to cotton blends, silk, and polyester and see exactly how they would work on her project.

This is SUCH a good thing to do!  It's SO important to know what thread your machine likes, but also what look you're looking for.  Do you like luster?  Do you prefer matte effect?  How thick do you want the thread to appear on the surface?  Does it shred, break, or knot up often?

Yes, you can ask 10 quilters what their favorite thread is and you may get 10 different answers and this can be confusing.  How's a girl to pick from so many different choices these days? TEST IT YOURSELF!

Start building opinions about what you like and what you want to see on your quilts.  If that seems difficult right now, just come up with a list of what you DON'T like and do this by testing many things side by side to see what is best.

And speaking of looking at things side by side, definitely check out Laura Stermer's blog L2D2 Designs and how she's auditioning quilting designs with Glad Press n' Seal wraps:

Photo from Laura Stermer's blog L2D2 Designs
Again, this is SUCH A GREAT IDEA!  We learned how to audition designs using a printed photo and drawing a few weeks ago on the Free Motion Quilt Along, but really sometimes you want to see the design ON the real quilt.

If you don't happen to have the Glad wraps, many other materials could work as alternatives.  Tracing vellum, clear upholstery vinyl, and tissue paper can work, though it looks like the Glad wraps are probably the best option because they stick to the quilt slightly without pins.

The point here is simple: if you're feeling like your UFO is a 10 ft tall monster in your head, get it OUT of your head!

Get it out of your head and on a wall and start playing and experimenting.  Audition designs, test thread colors and types, think outside the box and investigate your options.

Keeping a UFO folded up in the dark is just going to keep it in the dark where you can't see it or think about it or discover ways of overcoming the very issues that are making it a monster.

So pull em' out and definitely check out these two blogs to learn two terrific ways of taking the mystery out of your UFOs.  Test thread, test quilting designs, start stitching when you feel excited and confident about how you're moving forward.

Now I'm off to do a few tests of my own to find the best method to dye a white wholecloth quilt dark red and purple!

Let's go quilt,



  1. Two really great ideas! Your posts are always so informative Leah!

  2. It;s also okay to have UFOs, or even (dare i say it) pass them on!

    your ufo can be someone; finished project. Maybe you were exploring a technique. Sometimes you don;t have to have a finished project, it can be all abou the process. :)

    I should probably write a blog post. :D

  3. Ludicrously pleased to be quoted – thank you so much.

    I totally agree that the first step is to HALT all new projects. I made the vow at the beginning of the year (for a number of things not just quilting) and am down to the last UFO which is now a WIP.

    I still managed to fit in two “emergency” quilts, a new baby and a nap quilt for my sister, and an on-going border round robin but otherwise I kept to my promise of dealing with the UFOs.

    Thank you for inspiring us to clear out the cobwebs.


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