Quiltmaker 100 Blocks

Quiltmaker 100 Blocks
My block is in the November 2015 issue!

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Confession and a UFO problem

There are some parts of quilting that I just plain don't like. Dislike is probably too mild a word. Hate would be too strong a word. 'Dread' might be the best description.  

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!



  1. Years ago I used to quilt on my home machine. It didn't take too many quilts bigger than baby size for me to decide it didn't work for me, so I can appreciate your dilemma. Back then I found a long arm quilter who did fairly basic things, and she was quick and not expensive. But as my piecing skills got better I decided the quality of her work just wasn't cutting it. Now I am fortunate enough to have a mid-arm machine. For a long time I had a friend who used my machine and she would sometimes give me fabric or gift cards as a thank you. Do you have a friend with a machine you could use? I've also heard of people who trade with friends -- like you piece something for her, she quilts something for you. That sounds like a good deal if you can get it. I wish you the best of luck in finding a workable solution! Also, I looked at your profile and noticed your location. I grew up in Allegheny County! I haven't lived there in a long time, but do go back fairly often to visit family. Nice to meet you Barb!

  2. Hi Barb! I confessed my lengthy UFO list in this blog post: http://sewhigh.blogspot.com/2018/02/ufo-confession.html. I love making blocks, but it is a marathon exercise to assemble them and add that final border. I prefer to quilt crib to lap size myself and for the large quilt I outsource the quilting to a longarmer. It's worth the cost to me. When I moved from eastern PA to South Carolina, I took over a small bedroom and turned it into an office / sewing room (like you, I had used my dining room in PA). The closet had lots of shelves for the former owner's child, which was perfect for storing quilting projects. I use clear shoe boxes from Costco to store additional quilting project. Cheap Walmart clear boxes store scraps sorted by color. As for your UFO count, if you separate test blocks from partially completed quilts your count might be lower and less daunting. Also, you can donate unfinished projects that you have completely lost interest in to a local quilt guild. Good luck in tackling your backlog! Sandy at sewhigh.blogspot.com