UFO Permission Slip

So how goes your UFO pile? It seems that every quilting and crafting blog I’ve read this month is exhorting us to make this the month, if not year, of finishing the unfinished projects. I was inspired by the first couple of excited blogs, but by the 20th, I just wanted to take to the couch with a cup of tea and some seriously unimportant reading matter. And a plate of cookies because I haven’t yet resolved to lose a ridiculous amount of weight this year either.

I’m all for finishing… as you can imagine, Miss Efficiency here doesn’t like the clutter of UFOs! I tend to be serially monogamous to my projects so I don’t have many UFO’s around. I can look you in the eye and tell you I had 3 UFO’s at the beginning of the year – don’t hate me! And for the record… if it’s a planned project, as in I have the fabric but I didn’t start cutting yet, it is not a UFO by my definition. It can’t be unfinished if I haven’t started it!

I will show you the 3 UFOs tomorrow, but in the meantime, let’s have a chat about what can be done about UFOs in general.

I think there really are two main categories – UFOs you are still interested in, and UFOs that you no longer love. On the “still interested” side there are many tricks and games to play in order to get yourself to do them, but really, find a way to make a list (that makes sense to you) and just get going on it. Really. Just do it, and reward yourself heartily at each milestone of completion, no matter how small the milestone or the reward.

The other side of the drawer is reserved for the stuff you no longer love. You started it, and for whatever reason, you stalled. Perhaps you hated a fabric choice, and it’s too far gone to fix. Perhaps it was a workshop for a technique that you now know you’ll never, ever, ever do again. Perhaps the boyfriend that you were going to give it to is no longer in the picture (and seeing the fabric doesn’t bring back any good memories). Whatever the reason, it no longer moves you, and is taking up space in your sewing room and on your list of things to feel crappy about.

So let’s get rid of them, shall we? Think about it…. if you were to kick the scrap-bucket tomorrow, and look down upon your friends and family as they attempt to sort through your UFOs, what would you see? Would they see things you love, or things you hate? What if a long lost cousin grabs for that set of mismatched baskets from a block swap in the 80’s and mistakenly thinks this represents you? And fights through putting them together with their awful seam allowances (and doubly awful fabrics), imagining that this honors your memory? Hardly.

Why put yourself through finishing something had no longer inspires you or has value in your life? You really don’t need to struggle through these things, wearing the quilting equivalent of the hair shirt. If you can let it go, you can make mental and physical space for new things.

First, try to give them away. As the saying goes, one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Take them to your guild or offer them to your quilty pals, and someone will probably want to take them home. It doesn’t matter if they stall in a friend’s UFO pile because, let’s be honest, they’re no longer in yours!

Second – look for the places that welcome donations of quilting supplies to make projects for people in need. If your guild doesn’t have an ongoing community service gig, Project Linus is always a good place to start, and there are many chapters with quilt store affiliations that let you do an easy drop off.

Last option – chuck it. Toss it out. Snip it into little pieces for fun (or if it was the ex-boyfriend project, for catharsis). Give it to the kids to glue into collage. Burn it ceremoniously. But get it out of the house.

There. Doesn’t that feel better? Out with the old so there’s room for the new! And if anyone asks, tell them you had my permission!