Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Joys and Dangers of Unfinished Objects

I've always been pretty casual about my Unfinished Objects (also known as UFOs).  I'm not one of these people who only work on one project at a time and finish everything they start.  [If you are one of those people, I admire you, but I don't see how you do it.]  My attitude has been this:  Quilting is my hobby, not my job.  I only have deadlines if I set them myself (for example, if a quilt needs to be finished by Christmas or a birthday.  And to be honest I'm ridiculously casual about that, too.)  I am free to work on whatever I want.
There's a lot of joy in that approach.  I can run with an idea when it hits me.  The time I spend working on my quilts is fun.  I do finish quilts (quite a few, in fact) but if something gets set aside, it's no big deal.  I admit it, I'm avoiding the guilt.
There are actual dangers lurking in the unfinished objects bin, as I found out recently.  My youngest daughter moved out, and I took over her room as my sewing room.  (There are windows in this room!  And a closet! Sunlight, fresh air, and a bathroom across the hall!)  In deciding what to move into the room, I did a major clean out of the basement sewing area.  Which led to looking through the UFOs and deciding what to do with them.
The first sort was easy--quilt tops in one pile, partial tops in another.  Then I sorted the tops by priority, from Needs to be Finished Now to Do When You Have Time to Give This One to Charity.  (There was one more category.  I call it Seriously?  OMG)
The partial tops/projects were tougher to sort.  More recent ones were pretty easy, but stuff happens to UFOs just sitting around.  The books with the pattern I was using get used for another quilt, put away or returned to the library.  Fabric (especially large pieces) gets "borrowed" for another project.  Worst case scenario?  I have no idea what I was doing with this quilt.  What pattern were these pieces cut for, anyway?
Here's a case in point:

I cut these 45 degree triangles with the Accuquilt cutter, and started sewing them together as a leaders and enders project.  It was not easy to line them up correctly, but I finally learned.  And then, when I let it sit for several months, I forgot.  I also couldn't remember how I was setting the rows together.  I started working on it again, and it finally dawned on me that it came from a library book.  Once I had that in hand, I could finish, but it doesn't help this little quilt that I had to learn how to sew it TWICE.  (I'll show the full quilt when it's finished.)
This one was a puzzle, too.  It was one we worked on at a charity quilt day.  All I had was the bag with the pieces in it.  Once I started laying them out I remembered we were planning stars, with the snowmen centers.  So I finished the top like this.  I have four wide red strips left over, and no clue what I should have done with them.

Not only do I create stacks of my own UFOs, I actually BUY other people's unfinished projects.  I've been doing this for years, and I've gotten some pretty nice quilts out of them.  It might be a good idea for me to stop sometime, though.
In the picture below, you can see a wonderful pile of stuff I bought at the It's A Stitch Quilt Show last May.  Can you see the small bundle of multicolored fabric wrapped in blue duct tape?  It's in the back, on the left.  It's the one not in a plastic bag.

This was actually a UFO someone donated, which I bought for $2.50.  Below is what it looked like opened out--a long row, a partial row, and a stack of about 50 triangles.
My first thought was to make this into a baby quilt for charity.  The colors are bright and cheerful.  But I didn't like the lack of organization in the original rows.
So I got going with the seam ripper.  I just left the project on the kitchen table, and worked on it a little at a time.
I kept most of the sewn hexagons made up of six triangles, and made more.  I had to cut more triangles, of course.  Some of the fabrics came from the same sale as the UFO.  I sewed white triangles between the hexagons, for contrast.  Every other row ended with a diamond made of two triangles.  White triangles finished off the rows to make a straight edge.
By now it was much bigger than a baby quilt!  That's another danger of UFOs, at least for me--I sometimes get carried away.
I added purple borders, and now the top is done.
This whole quilt is made with one pattern piece, a 60 degree triangle.  For my quilt, I cut 4.5 in. strips, and used a triangle ruler to cut the triangles.  I cut the white side triangles full size, and trimmed them down after they were added to the ends of the rows. 
For me, this is the joy of UFOs--figuring out how to make them into something you like.

[Note to self--remember to add notes to the projects when setting them aside.]

Note to you--Happy Quilting!