UFOs – How Did I Get Into This Mess?

by Kim Stenehjem

In my quest to find the first project I’m going to tackle for the 2023 Resolution Challenge, the first thing I did was take an inventory of the projects that were taking over my workspace storage. I narrowed it down to nine candidates but which one goes first?

Of the nine I’m considering I thought the best way was to first identify the roadblocks that moved that project into the UFO pile.

Roadblock #1 – Guilt

First up — Hearts and Flowers. I started this crazy quilt maybe 10 years ago when I created all the crazy quilted hearts. Those were supposed to be traded to other crazy quilters but I found out when I printed out the template, I printed it to fill the page instead of actual size. There turned out about 30% too big for the guidelines of the swap. Oh dear.

So I had all these reallly pretty hearts I couldn’t send and decided to make them into a crazy quilt. I was, at the same time, committed to participating in a round robin with an online crazy quilt group where we circulate a block for others to work on so I selected the asymetric one on the bottom. (This is how I make blocks that don’t leave a grid of block outlines in the crazy quilt).

In my guidelines, I said that I was interested in only having seam treatments done and a few flower motifs since I wanted the hearts to shine. Seemed straight forward.

When I got it back– that block was bedazzled and embellished to within an inch of its life. I was not a happy camper. It went into the UFO pile. I’d pull it out from time to time and get overwhelmed by how bad I would feel ripping out other people’s well meant work. But the truth is it thows off the entire balance of the work. I either have to add more doodads to the other blocks or get my seam ripper out.

Roadblock #2 – The blahs

I had big plans for this art quilt. I even had a sketch which I rarely do.

But for some unknown reason it just didn’t excite me. The plan was to add wavy quilting and maybe some more trapunto in the trapunto panel, piece the side panels, do some matchstick quilting on the side panels, cut them shorter than the central panel, bind the whole thing and add a beaded fringe. I got this far and it just said……meh.

It still says meh. Maybe it’s the pink blobby fabric I selected. Or maybe it’s that I was only interested in learning the trapunto technique. But this is a definite UFO and it’s either going back in the UFO pile or I will accept that it’s a WOMBAT and cut it up.

By the way, you can’t tell from the photo but this thing is big.

Roadblock #3 – Creative Indecision

I still really really like this piece but it’s not quite done. The pink blob at the bottom is just too blobby. I need to break it up but I just can’t make up my mind what to do.

I’m not about to WOMBAT this one but I need to come up with an idea. I think I want to bring the green down somehow. Maybe some reverse applique, or some fabric paint, or add beads, or something. Argh. I just don’t know.

Roadblock #4 – Missed Opportunity

I have taught a couple times at the EGA (Embroiderers Guild of America) National Conference. The guild puts out a call for proposals and prospective teachers send in classes they offer to teach that year. They usually have a theme for each conference that your class may or may not be geared to. They usually call for proposals 18 months ahead of the seminar date so you’re guessing what may appeal to the panel selecting classes.

I started this a sample for a beginning crazy quilt class that would focus on improvisational design (something embroiderers could use more of). But then COVID hit and the seminar that was going to be held in Boston was canceled (hence seashore design) and the next year’s seminar would be in New York where this really doesn’t fit the theme there.

That moved this one into the UFO pile. But I really like it so I’ll finish it for myself. Some day.

Roadblock #5 – Not Knowing When To Stop

I’m mostly finished with this crazy quilt. I think. Maybe.

I made it for last year’s Color My World Challenge and got it up to the point of just needing to add binding. Or so I thought. I displayed it in the show & tell last year with the other challenge pieces but then when I started to bind it I thought “maybe I should add a few more embellishments. It’s looking kind of bare in a few spots.” And then a few more spots. And here is is, still needing a binding but with more bits added to it.

Is this only a problem crazy quilters have?

Anyway, it’s still a UFO

Roadblock #6 – Change of Plans

I made this silk ribbon embroidery wreath as an part of my Masters in Surface Embroidery program with the EGA. The judging panel sent it back as not meeting the criteria of an original design. Fair point because I had in fact used a pattern and modified it significantly to include all stitches I was required to demonstrate.

But here I have this beautiful thing and I don’t know what to do with it. At the moment, I think I might make a pieced silk border and make it into a wall hanging but I just haven’t found the right design yet. Needs a lot more thought and I keep getting distracted.

Roadblock #7 – Other Priorities

Isn’t she beautiful? Peggy Spitzer and Deb Richmond made some beautiful hand-dyed mandalas. I got this far with hand quilting the mandala and then other projects came up. And then I decided to make all my kids, grandkids, and great grand kids a bed quilt for this year’s Christmas. I just made it but I did it just in time. I sewed the binding on the last quilt ten days before Christmas.

This is still on the UFO pile and I still love my original pland to hand quilt this with metallic thread but it needs time to make forward progress.

Roadblock #8 – Time Commitment

I have loved these patterns by Piece of Cake for the longest time and I still love them. But they have…so…many…pieces. The cantalope has 57 differenct pieces to applique. Fifty-seven! Seperate! Pieces!

I have the backgrounds pieced, all the pieces cut out and as you can see I even have one of the blocks appliqued. But this is a massive time committment. I keep putting it off for that reason.

Roadblock #9 – Class Samples

One of my favorite quilters is Velda Newman. Her very large scale painted & appliqued quilts are just beautiful. I have taken five of her classes and as you can see I now have disembodied bits of baskets, seashells, fruit, and tulips. All these bits and bobs were done in class and went into a project box when I got home never to see the light of day again.

I learned a lot in this class about adding texture and shaping with quilting and paint but while taking pictures of my UFOs, I realized I really don’t have any interest in doing anything more with these. If anyone’s interested in adopting some or all of these, you’re welcome to them.

So those are my candidates for the 2023 Resolution Challenge. You can sign up at any time and join the fun.

I started with nine UFOs and am now down to eight candidates. Next week I’ll let you know which one I selected and a few tips I’ve read for getting off the starting blocks.