Tag Archives: UFO

A New Plan for an Old UFO, Part 2

Where I left you last time was having solved the problem of setting the star points into background fabric without using Y-seams. I also showed you an idea for a quilt design using log cabin blocks. It’s pretty, but I really have no interest in making it.

This is where it is so far. At this point it finishes at 54″ square. 

The question is, what to do next? Often I begin a quilt with a center and two or three borders, designed in my mind and with scratch paper, and made directly. When it’s time to add more borders, I often switch to EQ7 for design help. It gives the advantage of trying out ideas without making them. With unlimited iterations possible at virtually no cost, there is not much downside. I did the same for this one.

Here are a couple of options, drawn in EQ7.

Original design in EQ7, 82″ square.

Original design in EQ7, 93″ square.

I like them both, but I have a pretty good idea which direction I’ll go with it.

A New Plan for an Old UFO

I’ve often boasted about not having many UFOs (UnFinished Objects, or quilt projects that haven’t been completed.) Why that would be something to brag about, I’m not sure. But it’s true, usually I finish what I start.

There is one long-time UFO, started several years ago.

There were multiple reasons for not proceeding with this. One issue was technical — I wasn’t sure how to do the Y-seams to set the points in a background. (Above they are not sewn together, just arrayed on batting to show them.) Another was that, once set, I didn’t have a good idea of how to show them off.

Almost four years ago I posted More of an Idea than a Plan. In it I showed one option for setting these star points.

I didn’t do this. I still like the idea, but I’m really not interested in making those log cabin blocks. Also, it turns out that the center resulting from the star points is bigger than I thought. Adding all those log cabin borders would make this a fairly humongous quilt. If that weren’t enough, I still didn’t know how to set the star points in background fabric.


Recently I got the star points out again. It turns out you can avoid using Y-seams if you extend the points with background fabric. The blue lines below illustrate the extra seams. The star block has six big segments, each consisting of a star point and two pieces of background fabric. Put together two star halves, and then stitch the long seam to create the whole block. Easy peasy.

The constraint I faced was not having quite enough background fabric. If you look again at the block above, you can see that the star itself is not the same width as height. The star points do not extend all the way to the sides. To make the block square, it requires “enough” background fabric to make the height and width equal. I didn’t have quite enough.

That gave me the next opportunity for problem solving. The easiest two ways to make a center square are to 1) trim it to square or 2) add borders to make it square. I had nowhere to trim; adding borders of different widths was the best choice.

The photo below shows my solution. To all four sides, I added borders of floral print on cream background. The top/bottom borders are narrower than the left/right borders.

The one-inch strip border in coral encloses all that and creates the illusion of uniformity. At least, for me it helps make the width differences disappear. That strip takes the center to 42″ finished.

The final border so far uses 4-patches on point for the edges, and broken dishes in the corners. I’ve talked before about using “easy” widths for borders, to make them divide into square blocks. This works even with blocks on point. With an edge of 42″, I divided it into 7 equal segments to have a 6″ border. 42″/7 = 6″.  Then I used the math of diagonals to find the correct block size. 6″/1.414 = 4.25″. Each of the 4-patches is a 4.25″ block. When set on point, they make a 6″ wide border.

It isn’t magic, and it isn’t mysterious. It’s just math. If I didn’t know all that and still wanted to use blocks on point, I could have made them any size and simply had them not fit perfectly. AND THAT IS OKAY!! And TRADITIONAL!!

Alrighty. This post is too long already. I’ll finish it soon with showing you a couple of options for the remainder of the quilt layout.

Putting It Off

Why do you put off working on a quilt project? Here are a few possibilities:

* I don’t have the supplies I need
* Parts of the project got scattered, and I don’t know where they are
* I don’t know how to do the next step
* I don’t like what I’ve done so far
* It’s boring or tedious or just plain hard
* Non-quilting parts of my life are taking my time and energy
* I’m mad (or something) at the person it is for
* I got distracted by a different quilt project (ooo! shiny!)
* The deadline is coming up, so I’m waiting to do my best work under pressure

If you have a lot of UFOs, any or all of these reasons might apply.

I never have many UFOs, but that doesn’t mean I don’t put stuff off. I’m doing it right now, in fact! The reason? I don’t have the supplies I need (good textile markers,) and I don’t know how to do it. And I have lots of other things I could choose to do instead. The fact that there is a deadline looming doesn’t make me delay; it just adds stress to it!

The other day I mentioned my guild’s annual challenge, to be presented in less than two weeks. This year the challenge is to create a quilt inspired by Iowa. There is no size or technique limit. However it must be quilted through three layers, bound, and labeled.

I have a start on my project, and I have ideas for how to proceed. The photo below shows a map of Iowa lying on top of pieced fabric. I used blue tape to draw a “dead body” outline around it, so I know the basic outline within which I’ll work. My plan includes some text, as well as at least one wind turbine. But the other elements are harder to envision. And in truth, I don’t know how to execute my ideas!

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What does that mean? I can keep putting it off and miss this opportunity to try new things. Or I can get busy, learn how to write text on fabric, play with sizes for wind turbines, and have some fun! What’s the worst that would happen?

Why do you put off projects? What great (or lame) ideas do you have for my Iowa quilt? Do you have advice or encouragement for me? Let me know in comments.

I Love Leftovers!

I’ve finished the top of my new medallion, and I have a name for it: Moonlight Waltz.  No pictures are ready yet and won’t be for a few days. In the meantime I want to share a new project made of leftovers.

It often happens that I build blocks for a border that won’t work. It’s been a long time since that upset me, as I know those leftover blocks will come in handy somewhere else. (Okay, every now and then a few find their way to the trash, just like tidbits from my refrigerator. But I am GOOD at making soup, and I’m pretty good at using orphan blocks, too.)

For Moonlight Waltz, I made 25 6″ puss-in-the-corner blocks. They are simple in design and can look clean and elegant. However, my fussy fabrics and odd color combination hit every note wrong. Instead of them (and all the alternate blocks I hadn’t yet made,) I used the flying geese border.

I had several choices for layout of these 6″ blocks. Here are some of them:
* straight setting, no alternate blocks, no sashing
* straight setting, no alternate blocks with sashing
* straight setting with alternate blocks, no sashing
* on-point setting with alternate blocks, no sashing
* on-point setting with alternate blocks and with sashing

The blocks are not suited to being set side-by-side, which means alternate blocks and/or sashing is needed. Adding only sashing would create a quilt center a little too small, so alternate blocks are needed. And honestly I didn’t even consider using a straight setting with alternate blocks. On-point setting was my initial reaction and decision.

Using a 6″ block on point, in a 5 x 5 layout, makes a center that is 42.5″ finished. (That is 6″ x 1.414 x 5 = 42.4″. With trimming the edges barely wide it will finish at 42.5″.) With borders it will be about 50″ square.

This morning I arranged the blocks on the floor in an on-point layout. Once they were spread out, I noticed the eight square-in-a-square blocks leftover from the last pieced border. They finish at 4″. I spread them out within the design. !!! That’s not bad! I had already cut two long strips of toile to use for alternate blocks, so cut the remaining of those needed from one strip. The other strip I cut into framing strips for the square-in-a-square blocks, to bring them up to size.

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Finally I cut four large squares of toile to create side setting triangles. I still need to cut the corner setting triangles.

The whole thing is ready to sew into a quilt center. I have other leftovers (fabric, not blocks) to use for borders.

With a little luck on sewing time, the quilt top will be done by the end of the weekend. However first priority today and tomorrow is spending time with my son, home for a couple days of leave.

🙂

How to Finish UFOs

UFO: Unfinished Object; an art or crafting project that was begun but not finished, with some extended delay in making progress toward completion. The creator still intends to complete it, differentiating it from an abandoned project. UFO is a common term in quilting and knitting, but can apply to other creative endeavors such as writing, scrapbooking, painting, etc.

Over the last year or so, I’ve seen a lot more emphasis in quilting blogs on UFOs. Last year was a movement toward “A Lovely Year of Finishes,” complete with a button, goal setting, and linky parties. This year’s version is “One Monthly Goal,” or OMG. I love that these encourage quilters to complete their projects, just as Stashbusters has been doing for years.

But the question often comes up of what to do with projects you DON’T WANT TO FINISH. It just isn’t going to turn out the way you’d imagined, or it’s boring beyond tears, or you hate the process, or it was intended for someone not in your life anymore. In truth, you want to abandon it, but you don’t want to be a quitter, or don’t want to waste the effort or materials already used. What then? How to FINISH those unfinished objects?

The first thing to remember is that quilting is supposed to be rewarding and positive, not stressful and upsetting. If you look at a project and a black cloud appears above it, it might be time to make another decision. It doesn’t matter what resources already went into it. It’s too late to change that. What matters is what resources you put into it now, including time, energy, and material.

You have choices. One choice is to make a quilt of a different design than originally planned. What you do might depend on how much you have done. Do you have some blocks made? Can those blocks be assembled into a top, maybe of a smaller size or with a different setting? With sashings if there weren’t any in the original design, without if there were? On point, or with unpieced alternate blocks?

If you imagine your setting as a big 9-patch, you only need 4 or 5 pieced blocks, alternated with something else, to create a small quilt. It could be a lap quilt or a baby quilt or a doll quilt, or a table mat. A narrow table runner might need even fewer blocks.

Maybe you were part of a swap and found the blocks you received vary substantially in size. You can frame all the blocks with one fabric and then trim them to a consistent size. Then use the same framing fabric for sashing. No one will ever see the differences in size. The BEST book for dealing with swap blocks and other setting problems is Setting Solutions by Sharyn Craig. (I do own the book now.)

Maybe you signed up for an appliqué block of the month, but found you hate appliqué. If you have at least one, lovely big block, say 12″ or larger, you could make a medallion quilt with the block as the center.

Other options for a small number of blocks include a tote bag, mug rug, or placemats. My guild members make placemats for Meals on Wheels every couple of years, and nursing homes often use small quilts as door decorations for residents.

Or you could give all the blocks to someone else. Or use them as practice pieces for your free motion quilting.

If you have part of the top already assembled and don’t like where it’s going, try something new. My friend Mary at Zippy Quilts shows some great saves on improv projects she’s done.

What if you proceed and make a quilt top, what then? You can finish it and keep it, repurposing the quilt for something else. Make pillow covers or a travel bag, like Carole at From My Carolina Home. Or give the quilt to a friend or relative who would like it, donate it, make a cat bed out of it… Or don’t quilt the top. Donations often are appreciated at your real-world guild. My guild finishes a lot of unquilted tops for donations to local organizations. And once a year or so, we hold a fund-raiser auction. My friend Karen bought a beautiful quilt top at the January auction. She’s already quilted and bound it. Now she’ll give it back to the guild for a community donation quilt.

If you don’t have blocks or parts made, but simply have a pattern and fabric pulled together, take it all apart. Restash the fabric if you want. Or if the fabric gives you bad memories or no longer meets your quality standards, give it away, too.

Finishing UFOs does not require making a quilt. Finishing can mean throwing them away or passing them on. You can put them in the burn bin, you can wash the car with rags made from them. Finishing means declaring you are DONE with that project. Then it is NOT a UFO, it is a FO, Finished Object. DONE.

The most important thing to remember with UFOs is there is NO ONE who gets to decide how they are finished or disposed of, except you. If you don’t want to finish it, don’t. Life is too short to spend it on stuff (like this) you don’t want to do. If you don’t make the quilt, no one will die and no one will go to jail. NO bad thing will happen.

Here is my one UFO. Yes, one. This one got stuck because I didn’t know how to set and border the 6-pointed star. Now as I look at it, I don’t love it, or the idea, as much as I did when I started it. I’m not ready to abandon it, but I probably won’t hurry to finish it, either.

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Tell me about your UFOs. What stops you from finishing?