Several years ago (four, actually,) I joined and email group which encouraged us to finish up our WIPs (Works in Progress), sometimes known as UFOs (UnFinished Objects.)
The first step was to list them.
Now, I know what you’re going to say, because I said the same things: “I don’t want to know! I have too many. I must have a hundred or more!”
But, if you don’t list them, do you really know you have too many? And how many is too many anyway? Wouldn’t you want to know if that monkey on your back weighed 50 lbs or 200?
I tore apart my bedroom (a.k.a. my Studio), and pulled every quilting-related item from it’s deepest, darkest corner. I used this as an opportunity to reorganize my quilting stuff, as well as to see exactly what I had.
I put the projects I found on an Excel spreadsheet with a note about what state it was in and, if I could remember, when I started it. I also named the projects. (Naming is one of those fun things for me.)
I only counted projects where I had actually cut and pieced at least something.
While I was compiling this list and organizing my quilting stuff, I was actually looking at my projects and asking myself: do I love this? Am I really planning on finishing it? Can’t I just rip this apart and use the fabric for other things? If I put it in Goodwill, who will ever know that I was the person who pieced those wonky seams and un-pointy points? (Will someone like Tim find it in the future, tsk over my seam allowances and turn it into something really nifty?)
And, if I didn’t love the project or was just “totally over” it, I ripped it apart, moved the fabric from “reserved” to “stash,” or gave it away. (Groups that quilt for charity are always a great resource for getting rid of these unloved projects, guilt-free.) I even *gasp* threw some away.
I put blocks that had no quilt planned for them (and I decided I wanted to keep) in a box (well, several.) The blocks were noted on the spreadsheet, but I didn’t count them in the “WIP/UFO” count. I have since used some of these blocks to make smaller projects like grocery bags (a tutorial to come!), charity tops, or small quilts for my Guild’s auction.
The best thing about compiling the list was finding out that I really was finishing things…I just “forgot” that I had when faced with what I thought was a closet full of UFOs.
So, where am I today?
I still keep a list, and I usually look at it after I finish a project and/or before I start another one. (Because, yes, sometimes I start a new project before finishing anything…so sue me.)
My spreadsheet is also a bit more complicated. I still have the name of project and the estimated starting date, but I also have notes about where I am in the project (updated usually if I decide to put it aside for some reason) AND a space for ideas for the future of the project (sometimes a quilting design pops in my mind before I finish piecing, sometimes I have a flash about who to give it to, etc.) I now have a column for the size of a completed quilt top, so I can quickly decide if I need to buy batting or backing if I want to quilt that quilt.
To date, I have 25 unfinished projects. 13 of them are tops waiting to be quilted. Three of the 12 left are small projects which may or may not be finished this year. Four projects need borders before I add them to the “Completed Quilt Tops” number.
I’ve finished 6 projects (so I’m almost “on track” for 12 months/12 completions challenge on the email list), but I STARTED 6 projects, too, so my list will no doubt remain the same length at the end of the year. That doesn’t bug me. The list will, no doubt, always have more than one thing on it.
My list varies every year and as long as I check it for projects before actually starting a new one, I have no problem. Sometimes you just want to start something new, but sometimes something old is something new and that will satisfy your creative side.