I've thought a lot about this recently due to a UFO (UnFinished Object) challenge sponsored by the local quilt store that I frequent. The challenge is to find and complete as many UFOs as you can from February to December of this year. "Complete" means quilted and bound, not just a completed top. For each completed project, you throw a dollar into the kitty, and at the end of the year, the quilt store will match whatever you have accumulated to be used for a purchase at the store. Definitely worth doing!
In January, I started digging in my bins to see what I had in the works. I knew that I had some UFOs, but I did not realize how many I had! I found 41 projects in various stages of completion, and I think that I probably missed a few. As Charlie Brown would say - "Good Grief"!
Some of my UFOs....
So far, I have only finished 5 of those projects. In my defense, I couldn't count my Scrap Addicts projects because I hadn't started them yet. I did count the Knights of Columbus quilt, because I started that last August (2014). But even if I add in the Scrap Addicts projects, I still have only completed 8 projects. I thought that I would get a lot more done with all my free time!
So I started analyzing my UFO list. Tops that are completed, but not quilted make up 45%. Another 45% is sets of blocks that are done, but have not yet been set into tops. Only 10% are true works-in-progress. (Yes, I am analytical by nature. And working in a scientific field for 37 years helped to reinforce that tendency!)
After some soul searching, I realized the following: I love designing quilts. I love making quilt blocks. I even like hand sewing the binding on a quilt. I am not fond of sewing blocks into rows and I definitely dread the process of finishing a quilt. This dread is due to two things - space issues and 'how the heck do I quilt it?"
Once you start sewing rows together, quilts tend to get large, quickly. As more rows are added, it gets harder and harder to handle. And I just don't have a lot of space. My sewing room is my dining room, my 'design wall' is my living room floor, and I can't sandwhich and pin baste a quilt any larger than a toddler size anywhere in my house.
So when I do get a larger top done, I have to find a place to lay it out and get it ready for quilting. And that is a hassle. I used to use the Activities Center at our local parish school, but my husband isn't the facility manager anymore, and I don't have as easy access to it as I used to. The local quilt store lets people use their upstairs retreat center if it isn't in use. But that entails a half an hour drive along congested roads. It's an option, but not the most convenient.
'How the heck do I quilt it' is actually two problems - the design and the logistics. I do all my quilting on my home machine, a Janome MC6600P. I can quilt a baby or toddler size quilt on it fairly easily, but anything larger is very difficult. Trying to wrangle a twin, or even a lap size quilt is difficult, even when I set up a card table beside the dining room table to try to distribute the weight somewhat. Quilting the blocks separately, then sewing them together is an option that I recently discovered, but it obviously won't work for the tops I already have done. I don't have the space for a long-arm, and I don't want to incur the expense to send all those tops to a professional long-arm quilter. Then there is the problem of the design. I have taken a couple classes on machine quilting; one in person and one online, but I still agonize over what design to use!
So now that I have answers to why my quilts aren't done, I need some help! Have you experienced any of the issues that I have? How have you solved them? Or are you still wrestling with them? I would love to hear your experiences, so leave me comments! If I get 10 or more comments, I will draw a name and send you a copy of the new 100 Blocks magazine with my block in it!