Tackle Those Unfinished Projects To Start the New Year

set goals

By Rita Latour

With the holidays behind us and the winter months settling in, now is the perfect time to look at all those unfinished projects (UFOs) and try to corral them.

This time of year, there are numerous articles and blogs that address “tackling” UFOs. I am not going to restate any of those excellent suggestions—I am going to share what I use and what I recommend to my students and/or friends.

First, and foremost, in my world, if I have not started the project, it is not considered a UFO. Just because I purchased fabric and/or a kit does not make it a UFO. It becomes a UFO if after consideration, I have no desire to make it or cannot figure out what I was thinking when I bought it. I have been known to do that when I am shopping with my quilting friends, and everyone gets excited about something. It is always afterwards that I ask myself “what was I thinking?”  Anyway, you can decide if this concept works for you, but in my world, it is a “no brainer.”

Here are the categories I use when tackling my projects; organize, sort, and set goals.

First, pull out the projects and make sure that everything you have for that project is in one place. I purchase those big plastic storage bags and put everything—fabric, pattern, notions, and thread—in the bag. Now I can see the project clearly and can move to the next step which is sort.

Sort has four subcategories: 1. Want to finish; 2. Change the plan; 3. HELP; and 4. Swap/give away. Go through the bags and put your projects in one of the four categories. 

  • Want to finish is just what is says—you still like the project and you want to finish it.
  • When you look at the change the plan category, decide if you can take what you have completed and remake it into a table runner, lap quilt, or charity project. This category works well also as a “gift” category—these are usually projects that you like, but do not want to put much more effort or time into them.
  • If the project is in HELP, you are stuck on something. Several quilt shops in the area have “Sit and Sew” classes. You pay a small fee and take your project to the shop and one of their staff will work with you to complete the project. This is a terrific way to meet new people as well as getting the help you needed.
  • Swap or give away is a wonderful category and really can make you feel great. Give yourself permission to change your mind and not want to finish a project or make it at all. It is okay. My quilt group periodically takes projects and fabric to our retreat, and we swap or give away projects. Remember, your UFO may be someone else’s treasure. If you and your friends still have projects that no one in your group wants, have a quilt garage sale. You will be surprised how well this works and how you can eliminate your excess projects, patterns, and fabrics and still make a few dollars. Also, do not hesitate to check with local guilds and church groups to see if they take donations.

Everything is sorted, now set goals for those projects that you are keeping. Write a progress sheet for each project and mark off the progress as you work on it. This will motivate you to keep working. Everyone likes to check off and complete a list!

Finally, investigate joining a virtual UFO Challenge. It is an opportunity to meet and work with people all over the country and have fun completing those projects—plus it holds you accountable. For more information check out AllPeopleQuilt.com/UFO challenge or Google UFO Quilt Challenge.

I hope my tips work for you! Happy Quilting!

I’m a resident in Central Illinois and welcome your comments. Please let me know if there is a quilting topic you would like to talk about. Contact me at [email protected].


For additional informative and inspirational articles visit 50 Plus News and Views Greater Peoria Area online edition today.

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