The Free Motion Quilting Project: UFO Sunday - The Habit of Finishing Projects

Sunday, December 23, 2012

UFO Sunday - The Habit of Finishing Projects

It's UFO Sunday and I don't know about you, but I'm finally feeling like I've turned the corner on this whole unfinished project habit.

Back in August when I started this initiative, I had loads of projects that were all in various incomplete and chaotic states. I didn't even have an accurate count on all the projects needing to be finished. All I knew is that all my projects were very overwhelming and their combined weight was killing my love for quilting.

Where had all these UFOs come from? Well, we all know it feels great to start something new, but requires a bit more sticking power to stay with a project through the long haul. I'd gotten very good at starting new projects, but needed to work on seeing the quilts through to the very end, binding and all.

So it seems the first lesson for UFO busting is simple - stop creating new UFOs. Resist the urge to create new projects!

The second lesson is a bit trickier - build a habit for finishing what you start.

This requires a bit more effort than you might think. Big, complicated projects are hard to return to, particularly if you can't remember where you stopped, or how to get started again.

I've found the best possible helping hand is journaling - write about your project, how you feel about it, and what needs to happen next in order to move on with the project.

This has been a great help for me with the 365 quilt, which was stalled for several months because of one simple problem - I had no idea how I was going to handle the borders.

Four months later I STILL have no idea how I'm going to handle the borders, but at least the quilt is in one piece.  There's a bit more hand binding left to go and I'm hoping I'll figure out that border situation by the time it's done.  Journaling helped me to keep moving with this project and not let it totally stall out on minor details.

In a way building the habit finishing projects is a bit like building a muscle in your body. You have to start small with minor victories, then as you gain more momentum, really start flexing your muscles with harder projects. I can say for sure that sticking with a challenging project from beginning to end with no breaks for UFO distraction is a great feeling.

Ultimately I feel this UFO Sunday initiative has been a great success and I plan to continue these days in 2013. If you have a stack of UFOs in your closet that are begging to be finished, make the resolution to tackle these projects next year and free yourself from the overwhelming weight and stress of so much left undone.
Let's go Quilt,

Leah Day


  1. Leah,
    Your 365 quilt is beautiful! I would be tempted to just add a black binding and not use any borders. Thank you for your generous teaching, I have learned so much from you. I am looking forward to the goddess project, it will be something very different for me.

  2. Resist starting new project? That's crazy talk!

    Today I have gotten to work on a UFO that stalled. I don't think it officially got to the abandoned status, but it has been awhile since I worked on it. Having the holiday break means some good sewing time!

  3. "stop creating new UFOs. Resist the urge to create new projects!"

    I get what you're saying here, but I would say at the very least, go ahead and write your new ideas down even if you don't start them yet. In a couple of months or even a year from now, you may look at the idea(s) and go, 'Gee, I sure am glad I wrote this down, otherwise I'd have forgotten this great idea...or you may go, gee, what was I thinking?' And of course in the latter case, you'll be really glad you never started that project. But if you're in the clear on UFOs and you like the idea you wrote down a few months ago, you won't have to look for new already wrote it down!

  4. Please please do continue in 2013. I've moved very slowly with Mariners Compass due to house buying, new job, finishing old job but am still continuing to push through. As you say I want to focus on finishing new projects in one go so once MC is finished I want to keep up UFO Sunday as habit forming for new quilts.

    The 365 quilt is so wonderful, it sparkles.

  5. I'm glad you're continuing your UFO Sundays next year. Blogging my UFO progress since 2011 has really helped move things forward to finishes, and linkies like this are super motivating. Thanks :)

  6. Does it really need a border? If you add a border, that's more quilting to do. If I chose a border, I would think about a sashing-width (or double) black border, but a black binding might do the job.

    A quilter in a small group I belong to has the signature line "I need to finish starting and start finishing." It sounds like you're on board!

  7. If you decide you need a border you could add it quilt as you sew. Backing and batting to full border width plus some for trimming and then your front border can be a single or multiple after borders are added you could go back and add more quilting to them but it wouldn't strictly be necessary if you have multiple border seams..

  8. I'm happy to say that I have learned to be a finisher too this fall by getting over my fear of sandwiching, quilting and binding. I still have many UFOs to go but am confident that I can finish many of them in 2013. Glad that UFO Sunday is staying around!


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