Friday, July 5, 2024

Keeping Track of UFOs

UFOs are like a thorn in every crafter's side. Unless you are one of those weirdos who doesn't start a new project until the last one is finished. I only did that once, probably on my second quilt.

I have so many UFOs that I have a whole trunk show dedicated to the whats, whys, and how comes of them.  So why UFOs?

I am a process quilter. I love the entire process from idea, to design, picking fabric, cutting, piecing, quilting (mostly by checkbook), and binding. I don't usually feel rushed to get a project done, unless there is a hard deadline like a class or a show. My head is full of quilt ideas just waiting to be born. Which is why I have so many UFOs.

Besides my own ideas, there are new tempting BOMs in my Facebook feed almost every day. Quilt pics posted by friends and acquaintences. Workshops. Guild BOMs. New patterns by my favorite designers. New favorite designers. Virtual Quilt Alongs. The new input never ends.

 So, that's the why. I have a very hard time saying "NO".

OK, so lots of UFOs is a given in my world. The next question is UFO and project management. I happily start new projects monthly. No guilt. But I do feel guilty if they languish unacknowledged for too long (how long is too long?). To combat my tendency to forget about things not in my line of sight, I developed an excel spreadsheet to manage my UFOs. 

Here are my headings: Project Name, Technique, Date Acquired, Components (fabric &pattern, kit, panel and pattern, etc.),  Designer, Location in Studio, Status (1-10), and Notes. I go through the spreadsheet and my UFOs about once a year and update all my projects. I currently have 174 projects.

Besides getting finished, how do projects move off the spreadsheet? Some projects are in the unenviable position of not being exciting to me anymore. I may give the entire project to the guild exchange, decide to make it a smaller quilt or wall hanging, or get rid of the pattern and "liberate" the fabric back into my stash. Once it's gone I delete it from the speadsheet.

Before I started using my current system, I would go down to my studio and spend so much time trying to figure out which project I felt like working on. Many times I would end up not working on anything at all. Now I have a couple of strategies that keep projects moving forward.

Project Rotation Schedule - 

My Friend Shari introduced me to a rotation schedule. I use this for about 6 months at a time, list 8-12 projects and indicate the date I worked on it. This way, I don't have to waste time wondering which project to work on. I use this schedule to make notes, set priorities for the next few months, and jot any reminders that I need to keep working.

Finish It Up Fridays-

I have a different form that I use for quilts that are not on my rotation. These are quilts that might need one last border, need to be quilted or have a binding sewn on. Every Friday my goal is to move one project from one column to the next column on the form. At one time last year the pile of quilts needing a binding was quite tall.  I try to post my finish on Facebook to help keep me accountability. 

UFO Challenges-

Occasionally I'll sponsor or join in on a UFO Challenge. Again, mostly for accountability. Sometimes the quilts on a UFO challenge are on my rotation schedule, sometimes not. This month I'm participation in one with Stitch On, posting my progress every week. 

Retreats - 

I go to 6-8 retreats a year. Yes, I know I'm lucky that way. Retreats are a good way to spend focused time on priority projects. I'll be hosting a UFO retreat in the fall. On these retreats, I usually bring an old UFO, a more recent UFO, and maybe a brand new project (it can't always be about UFOs).  

Quarterly Goals -

I try to look ahead to workshops I'm teaching, trunk shows that need updating, quilt shows where I'll show a quilt, birthdays or other special events coming up that include a gift quilt. These projects get added to the rotation schedule and retreat projects list.

I'll never finish all my UFOs. There are so many quilts to be made, workshops to take, trunkshows to develop, and patterns to write. I'll just keep at it and use my tools to help me.  If you would like a copy of my rotation schedule and Finish It Up Friday forms, leave and comment with your email and I'll send them to you.

I'm curious about your strategies. Let me know.


Sunday, June 23, 2024

Seeing Quilting Through New Eyes

 This past year I have been fortunate enough to find a second Love after the passing of my husband Saul in 2020. Having Brian in my life has brought many marvelous feelings and experiences. One I didnt really expect was the childlike wonder he displayed when first being introduced to the world of quilting.

I am so immersed in this world that things tended to go stale at times and I am not even aware of it. Fabric, patterns, guild meetings, quilt shows, quilt shops, quilt museums and sewing techniques were all beginning to be a bit routine. Not any more!

Brian has so many questions, so much curiousity, so much wonder. It is SOOOO refreshing!

He has all the firsts under his belt now - at least I think so. There still may be more activities that I take for granted that will be the inspiration for more questions. I am asking his opinion now about fabrics, colors, patterns, and topics for this blog (the topic of new eyes was my idea, not his). We even joke that if we ever break up, he'll know where to go to meet women (quilt guilds). It's opened a whole new world for him, and reopened my eyes to the wonder of quilting. 

So many of us quilters have grandkids that fill this role, but if you don't, find someone to introduce to quilting - young or old, man or woman. It doesnt matter. Their sense of wonder will increase or revive your sense of wonder in this womderful art we share.

Keep yourself curious


Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Meet Annette Ornelas of Southwind Designs

 I've cruised and learned with Annette twice now and, man oh man, does it keep getting better!

Last year I went on a quilting cruise through Quilt and Cruise (Dawn Olmstead) with Annette as the teacher. We went to St Maarten, St Kitts, and San Juan PR. It was so wonderful that we booked another cruise for this year - same dates, same cruise line, same terrific teacher - but different ports.

This year - just a week ago actually, I joined the same friends and Annette for another week of sailing and sewing bliss. The ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) were our destination this time.

Most of Annette's patterns use a very clever technique that takes advantage of the bias edge of folded squares and rectangles. After becoming part of a block, these bias edges are then folded back and top stitched down to produce a smooth, gentle curve.

Last year we made "As You Wish" and this year "Mexican Star Dance". Both patterns have this fold and stitch technique that make them really interesting.

Annette also has lots of fun small designs for wall hangings and table runners.  Many of the cute little designs are cruise or inspiring words themed. I'm putting in an order with her so that I can offer her pattrns in my booth are the KC Regional Festivan in June. As soon as I finish Mexican Star Im goihng to start the Flamingo and Victorian Table Runner. There are so many cute ones it's tough to choose! I also just signed up her 2023 Mystery BOM. Can we say excited!

Do yourself na favor and check out Annette's website. If you have the opportunity to take a workshop with her, then please do. I'll be adding a class on one of her pattterns to my workshop list - but its better to get the real deal!

Curiousity on the High Seas!

Monday, April 10, 2023

Sedona QAL Block 3 - Desert Bloom -


Each Block just gets prettier and prettier. This one is my fave so far.
Each block is made of 4 "petals" - smaller units that go togethr fairly quickly.

There are a couple of things that you need to pay attention to. 

The first trouble spot is when you trim off the points on the background pieces. Its important to get the angle correct otherwise  you won't be able to properly cut the curve on this background piece. You should be trimming perpendicular to the short side. It is so easy to get it wrong and trim perpendicular to the hypotenus (remember HS Geometry?). If you trim them correctly, you will have no trouble completing the next step and cutting the curve out.

The next few steps just require following the directions. Easy-Peasy. Remember not to pull your peices as you are sewing the curves.

The next place where you need to pay attention is when you are squaring up the units. If you don't have 1/4 inch from the "petal" to the seam of the triangle on the corners, it won't match when  you sew the 4 petals together. Its more important to be exact on the center triangle (The dark green in this pic) than to be exact on the background triangle.
When you sew the 4 units together you'll want to match the seams of those triangles - see the center of the flower in this photo.

Overall it was a fun block, if a little fiddley to get the seams to match. 

This is the third block, so its not too late to join the QAL


Thursday, March 2, 2023

Sedona Block 2 - Stepping Stones

 Block 2 of Sedona is a cinch! Cutting strips. Sewing strip sets. Cutting strip sets into 2 inch pieces. Sewing 2 inch pieces into blocks. Done!

As usual, though, I have some tips. 

First - it you are doing Sedona Sky, you'll need to either get 1 inch more than the half yard called for, or you'll have to use some of the left over strip set fabric. Its doable, but if you don't want to worry about it, just get an additional inch or so.

Second - use your favorite starch product on either the strips or strip sets before you subcut them.

Third - reduce your stitch length when you sew your strips together. Since you'll be subcutting these into 2 inch units, your stitches may unravel a bit, so its best to use a tighter stitch. I almost always do this for strip sets that will be subcut.

Forth - if you are making the Sedona Medallion, it uses the same amount of fabric as Sedona Sky. 

Two down!

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Woven Wanderings

 Many of my quilt designs and patterns are quite complicated, with many peices and involved techniques. So I thought I should design a quilt that is simple to make, has just one block, and is perfcect for beginning quilters. Woven Wanderings fits the bill!

The block that makes up this quilt is one that I've made many times for block exchanges. It looked very cool on its own. I started wonderibng how it would look repeated over and over again.  So I made several of them and really liked how the pattern took shape. The problem was that there were too many seams to match. I wouldn't want to attempt matching that many, and it certinaly wasn't appropriate for a beginning quilter.

So, ever curious, I began playing with the block to see if I could achieve the same look without the matching. And of course there was another way.  However, this block required one additional simple technique - partial seams.

I've made the quilt in two colorways and I think the results are pretty darn cute! This pattern is a great way to feature a pretty fabric - either in the woven strips or in the background. I've done this in each of the samples I've done.

I am so excited to share this pattern with you. I hope to use it to teach beginning quilting, and I think it will make a really cute lap quilt. Woven Wanderings is available on my Etsy Shop and at the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival in Overland Park in June of 2023. If you make it, let me know and send some pictures.


GE Designs Ruler Stickers

 Who knew such as little thing could be such a big help? Gudrun did!

As I get older, I find myself double checking the lines on my rulers and more often than I'd like to admit, I still make mistakes. The one thing that helps is Gudrun's ruler stickers.

These repositional vinyl arrow stickers are a great tool for marking lines on quilting rulers, marking landmarks on QCR rulers when trumming the curved units for Sew Kind of Wonderful patterns, and marking the grooves on the GE Designs stripology rulers. 

The Sedona pattern has many opportunities to use these clever little stickers. Here is how I marked my QCR mini ruler for the Slide Rock Block. 

The stickers are available on my Etsy site, on GE Designs website, from your local quilt shop, or from Amazon. Check 'em out. I think you'll love them!