A Year of Finishing

Yikes! I'm under instructions from my fortune cookie to deliver an entertaining post.

It’s scary when one of my half-baked ideas goes viral among my friends. All of a sudden, after my quilting buddy Kim comes knocking on my door with piles of beautiful completed quilts to share, I’ve got to live up to one of my crazy schemes as well.  Turns out she was inspired by my rant last Christmas about prioritizing UFOs and tackling them. I’m so jealous plus I’ve got to get seriously motivated!

Jennifer’s scorecard to date:  12 unfinished projects, one completed, and two nearly done quilts. I’ll tackle one of those two this week and bind the other when it’s back from the long-arm quilter.

The first UFO finished in 2011 paired with a spectacular bouquet of crimson peonies.

Where has the time gone this year?  If I’d actually adhered to my goal of finishing one quilt a month, then I’d be done with six projects by now. Well, I can’t beat myself up about missing the quota; frankly, getting three done by June is pretty good.

The biggest challenge when committing to clearing the decks is avoiding temptation.  And as every quilter knows, it’s supremely difficult to stay on task when so many wonderful ideas and fabrics keep popping up to distract us.

Just look at Laura’s post from last week to see an irresistible fabric. I shop at Wooden Gate Quilts as often as she does and I never saw that fabulous Alexander Henry print.  Of course, I had to track it down because it was the perfect backing for one of my 12 UFOs. (Wasn’t that a terrific rationale for a purchase?) Then, she used that Moda jellyroll for her stars. No more scrolling down the posts to admire Laura’s pretty quilt–I must be resolute and focus on my goal!

Another obstacle to clear in a year of finishing is project add-ons.  There’s always a wedding or baby to celebrate and that can become a serious challenge to even the most-committed finisher.  Right now I’ve got to figure out whether I’ll be able to design and make an original quilt for a family wedding before the end of the year.  I guess the best case would be designating one of my 12 as the gift, but none of those projects celebrate wedded bliss.

A teetering pile of quilt incubators--gotta say I love my plastic!

So where does all this lead? To a rickety pile of plastic storage bins and a stash of giant Ziploc bags, each a home to one of my UFOs. At least I’ve got something wonderful in the offing once I conquer my project piles—I can shop for new fabric!

Do let me know I’m not alone on my quest.  I think a dozen unfinished quilts is scary–there’s got to be someone out there with a higher count.  Do share!


16 thoughts on “A Year of Finishing

  1. My son and his girlfriend were visiting recently, and requested a “quilt show.” Of course, this was about 90% an “unfinished quilt show,” as most of my production is unquilted tops. I was actually embarrassed by the number of my unquilted quilts…didn’t count them, but there were something close to 20. Mostly bed quilts, not little wallhangings. I’ve dusted off my quilting machine, and am trying to spend an hour or two here and there to chip away at them!


    1. Keep on plugging, Jan! I’m with you every step of the way–although I’ll actually be at my sewing machine in my house. This is definitely one of those “little engine that could” efforts.



  2. Well, I for one can tell you that I’m known as ‘queen of UFO’s’. Last count several years ago was 52. Have actually finished a lot since that time. No longer count just do. My plan is finish 3 UFOs than reward myself with a new project. This has worked pretty well for me as this will cover any possible gifts that I need. I store UFO in bags lined up on a 3 shelf bookcase in the order I want of finish. To tell you how well this works for me 3 of the 4 quilts currently in our local quilt show are UFOs. At the same time am on a fabric reduction diet but really see no dent in stash. Maybe because UFOs do not require large amounts of fabric.


  3. okay… how in the world did i miss the memo about storing UFOs in separate bins… GENIUS!!!! if nothing else (besides feeling totally guilty about how many UFOs i really have) that helpful hint inspiration enough to start to THINK about tackling my UFOs… right after i start/finish my newest quilt in a class that starts on monday 🙂 glad to see we’re not alone!!


    1. I’m sooo happy to have company on my quest! Thanks, by the way, for the “genius,” that tickled me–my plastic incubators are simply the result of too much time spend in Target trying out the latest storage models. Love them plastic boxes, especially the shoebox-sized models. Good luck with your Monday deadline.


  4. Hmm, let’s see. I have six quilts to finish piecing, and about five to quilt. But this year has been good. Finished four in the last two months. But I won’t even mention all of the “idea” quilts in my head. So very many, and PIQF deadline looming large. Priorities….


  5. Your probably going to hate me, but I really don’t have UFO’s. (OK, one from along time ago that I don’t think can be saved.) But I have a story to share that’s related I think. About this time last year I was working on a Quilt of Valor, and decided I needed another blue. I went to my stash, and I’m not sure why, but it REALLY struck me as to how large my stash was. Right then and there, I challenged my self to reduce it, and decided I would see just how many QOV’s I could make without buying ANY new fabric. Since then, I’ve finished 27 quilts from my stash alone. That means borders, backing, and even what Quilts of Valor calls presentation cases which really are just a pillowcase. I generally make large laps, about 55 X 66, and figure each quilt needs approximately 11 – 12 yards of fabric. Now, my stash has been significantly reduce, though I’ve just begun working in my red/white/blue portion. I’m sure I have another 15 or so. It has been fun to see what I can do, and there really has been only one quilt that I thought just turned out OK. All of the others, I’ve been really pleased with. And lets be honest, a completely planned quilt can turn out just OK.

    Puyallup, WA


    1. No, I envy you, Diane, and admire your most excellent resolution. What a tremendous accomplishment making so many Quilts of Valor. I’m certain each recipient is honored for the bestowal of your artistry and industry. So, once I tackle all my UFO’s, my next goal will be to deplete my stash. An excellent challenge! Happy sewing.



  6. Not to worry, Jennifer — when Judy of Patchwork Times blog set up her 2011 UFO challenge, she instructed readers to gather up 12 UFOs. Notice she said “12 of your UFOs” not ALL your UFOs! Then we numbered them, and each month she pulls a number. That is the assignment for that month. Because you know that row-by-row quilt that is all paper pieced would stay in the plastic UFO bin for eternity if you just said “I will work on finishing UFOs this year!” BTW, I store my UFOs in plastic bins and 2-gallon plastic bags also. It does make it easier to keep all the bits and pieces together.


    1. Hey, thanks for the supportive words–I like that: 12 of your UFO’s, not all of your UFO’s. That’s a relief. I also like Judy’s idea of numbering the projects in the UFO pile and then doing a random drawing of numbers for the project to complete that month. My #12 is probably gonna be my last UFO of choice for a long, long time so Judy’s tactic is clever way to face tough challenges we’d rather postpone. Happy Sewing!



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