I have come to realise an uncomfortable truth and I suspect I am not alone in this; I accumulate UFO’s; not the flying saucer soaring through the sky kind but the UnFinishedObject lurking in a box kind.
I have an idea for a quilt and get excited. I find the fabric and decide on the pattern; all things I love doing. I piece the top, loving how the idea comes to fruition. Then I make the quilt sandwich (top, back and wadding/batting in between), tack the layers together….and then start a new project. Why?
It’s partly to do with needing a bit of time to decide on an appropriate quilting design and partly to summon the courage to start quilting, or embroidering , on the surface of something I have taken days to piece, knowing that I risk ruining the whole thing when I am this far along. So I put it away for a while, (chicken out ) and forget all about it. I have about five or six unfinished quilts. I say that in a whisper, eyes downcast, as if I am at a Quilters’ Anonymous meeting. My name is Lesley and I have more than FIVE unfinished quilts. And, (mumble, mumble) a few other smaller projects.
Last week I dragged them all out of their boxes, laid them out on the dining table, and realised another uncomfortable truth. UFO’s that hang about lose their shine. I don’t like them much anymore. The thing is that UFO’s stay the same but you move on. You have new ideas, learn new ways of tackling problems, grow more experienced. And then you look at your UFO’s and realise they scream Old You, a You that you don’t want to be anymore. A much less experienced you, and it shows.
I am an English Paper Piecer and the quilt police have put it about that modern English Paper Piecers are not expected to have stitches showing. My stitches don’t show anymore, but in these quilts, the first few I did before I learned how to hide them, before I learned to quilt designs on the surface, before I learned to match thread more carefully to the background, they SHOW.
Of course if I was to hang the quilts on a wall, so I am looking at them from a distance, I the stitches holding it all together are no longer visible. But I know how they look. These quilts no longer meet my expectations. They make me feel unprofessional. All I can hope is that there are people out there who doesn’t give a hoot about stitches showing, that they know every one is sewn by hand, over many hours, and love them for that. Thank heaven for those people! Are they any?
So here is the first completed UFO. My ‘Bows’ quilts from the old, traditional, Bow-Tie pattern, in summery Moda fabrics. It measures 24 x 32 inches (or 61 x 81 centimetres).
I am now a reformed being. I have set myself the goal of finishing these quilts (well, as many as I possibly can) over the next month, so that I can get on with new ideas that I am itching to start. And because my box is full and I am NOT going to start another one.
The Moral of this Post:
Start very small, so there is more chance of finishing what you have started.
Don’t try and quilt before you can stitch. Create little samplers that are not so important and try techniques out on those.
If you are like me and can’t do sensible things like that, don’t put your UFO away. Leave it lying around where it bugs you, so that you tackle it at intervals until it’s finished.
Plan a reward: ‘When I finished this quilt I can….’ Maybe get a friend to help. When you’ve finished it you can do something together that you’ve both been wanting to do.
And if you really hate it, unpick it (shock, horror!) and begin again. It might be worth it in the end.
Here are two of my other offending UFO’s: a Burgoyne’s Quilt made during the last Olympic Games in the UK (still no idea how best to quilt it – any suggestions? ) and an Owl Four-Patch which I am working on next. I’ll post them when they’re finished. It could be some time….
and THIS ONE, below, (more shock, horror) I began in 1981 !! I thought it would be nice for my daughter to have a quilt when she moved from her cot to a single bed. I didn’t attempt another quilt until 2014.
This was as far as I got: A pieced, appliquéd cottage on a plain background with a single border, in pink and blue Laura Ashley fabric. A few trees are still waiting to be appliquéd on. There are curtains in one window and not in another. I don’t like how incongruous the flower patches look. I can embroider my own on, now. And I hate the stitches. They are WHITE. I probably only owned white and black thread then. This one is going to be taken apart completely and I will start again. Maybe I will finish it before her 40th birthday.
Do you have any UFO’s languishing somewhere? Quilts? Paintings? Poems? Drag them out into the light, get the pesky things finished and, who knows, maybe they will fly!