Posts Tagged ‘UFOs’

What to Name My UFOs

January 9, 2019

I have a support group for my 2019 challenge to finish projects. They came to the meeting with tidy lists of unfinished objects (UFOs). I came with a vision of stacks. Now I am trying to catch up by creating my own list, but what do you call something like this?

This is a stack on my ironing board that I believe I will turn into the Progressive Party star project. I suppose I could name it “star project” and hope for the best.

This is a little trickier. Most of the elements in this box are meant for a crazy quilt, but there are a few things that snuck in when I wasn’t looking. Okay, I tossed them in the box when I was too lazy to put them where they belonged. Still, how to name the collection? I might call it “project in box” as I believe it is the only one in a box in my sewing room.

This is the hardest one. Most of the fabrics come from a row-by-row project. They didn’t play well with the other fabrics, but I think they are destined to live together in another quilt. However, I suspect there are a few surprises in the pile. I see some magazines, and I don’t recall saving other patterns for the row-by-row project. This one can’t be called “project on floor” because there are too many stacks on the floor. I’m not even sure I could number them based on the compactness of the pile.

And this is why I challenged myself to finish half of the projects I could reach, not name.

Luck and wisdom!


August 12, 2015

This is my 300th weekly post. Three hundred weeks of saying, “I’m cleaning up my sewing room, starting tomorrow.”

And the stacks, they are a-growin'

And the stacks, they are a-growin’

Probably won’t happen.

I imagine my legacy will include written instructions not to turn my favorite batik into a clown costume, but it will also include memories of my unquenchable optimism that there is indeed enough time left in the universe to organize my sewing room. Then there will be the UFOs.

Paint, a stamp, blank fabric - what more could I want?

Paint, a stamp, blank fabric – what more could I want?

Someone may wonder what I intended to do with this grouping of leaves. That’s a very good question. Let me know if you’ve got an answer I can borrow.

I hope I won’t have too many UFOs that elicit the blank stare followed by, “Oh no, she didn’t.” That’s what happened when I tried to rinse out what I expected to be disappearing marking pen from my grandmother’s embroidery UFO. Turns out it is there-until-the-stars-grow-cold ballpoint ink.

Oh yes, she did

Oh yes, she did

Time to add some beads, I guess, or perhaps ribbon embroidery. Or maybe I’ll leave it as a warning to myself that some shortcuts really don’t work.

Luck and wisdom!

The Joys of UFOs

October 9, 2013

I have an embarrassingly rich collection of UFOs – unfinished objects. We all do, of course we do. Usually our reward for such a collection runs along the lines of dust caches, spider colonies, and discovering you already have three fat quarters of that perfect rose print you just bought piled up in other places.


Yesterday, the universe was kind.


Soon to be an ex-UFO

Soon to be an ex-UFO


The leaf project from Laura Wasilowski‘s workshop has been whispering to me. I used some of her hand-dyed threads for small embroidered motifs.


Lani Longshore embroidery hand-dyed thread


Since there was no immediate place for this project to go, I figured it would be another UFO for some time to come. The next Challenge project, however, is on the theme of . . . LEAVES! Thank you, thank you, Linda Ballou and Kathy Levesque!


The best part of this theme is that they encouraged us to think of more than tree leaves. They even gave some examples – leaves in a book, tea leaves, Leif Ericsson. It just so happens I am writing a story about space Vikings, so I could make a quilt about that. I also drink a tremendous amount of tea, so I could aways tea dye some fabric and make a quilt from that. But I already have a UFO for leaves of a book.


Lani Longshore handmade booklets


The open booklet in front is from Doria Goocher, a quilt artist I met at the Studio Art Quilt Associates conference in Santa Fe. The covers behind are for the version I want to make for myself.


There are two other book leaf UFOs that are calling to me. One could use the badge I earned at Laura Wasilowski’s workshop as a book cover.

My Chicago School of Fusing badge

My Chicago School of Fusing badge

I also have a collection of hardware that I thought might make an interesting binding for a fabric book.


Lani Longshore hinges


The plan at the moment is to make a mixed-media travel book with fabrics from or referencing other countries, photos, mementos, and embroidery. Whatever comes from these experiments, I will at least experience the joy of finishing UFOs.


BSOs and UFOs

March 28, 2012

I felt guilty about clutter this week, perhaps because I admitted sweeping stuff into a box so I could quilt. Since I didn’t have a complete idea for the quilting pattern anyway, when I got to the part where a little more thinking was required I multi-tasked and sorted out the box while I mulled over what to do next. This is the result:

You can see the floor!

The ideal quilt pattern still hadn’t presented itself, so I continued to sort. It was at this point that I realized how much of my life is ruled by BSOs (bright shiny objects) and UFOs (unfinished objects). In clearing out some of the clutter on the sewing table, I found these:

These are celtic-themed stamps and some glittery ink. I bought the set long enough ago that I can’t remember any of the details. I think it was at the Caledonian Club Scottish Games, and I suspect I had an idea for a project. I know my little hand stuffed them into my shopping basket because the ink is shiny and the designs are cool. I also know that the reason they were hiding under a pile is that I had another UFO with a more pressing deadline to finish before I could start the project that required stamping. Then they got buried. The good news is I still have an idea for a project that could require those stamps.

I sorted a few more things and ran across this:

This is an ornament that I bought because it is shiny. And a bear. And shiny. The good news here is Christmas is scheduled for this December again so I will be able to put it on the tree. Perhaps by then the ideal quilting pattern for my mosaic tile quilt will make itself known and I can scratch one more UFO off the list.

Surprise Endings

June 8, 2011

I woke up Tuesday morning with pieces that might be useful for my Challenge project. The meeting started at 10 am, and I am not a morning person. My best creative times don’t start until after brunch. Still, I padded to the sewing room and stared at the stuff on the design wall. A thought wiggled itself into a plan – I could take the embroidered portrait, put it in a frame, and call it done.

I found a frame that would work, sewed a border on the embroidered portrait, and tried to assemble the piece. The operative word here is tried. No matter what I did, it looked ghastly. Then the frame acquired a little chip, and I called it done.

Plan B – I put a border around the foot drawing and auditioned fabric to create some sort of collage effect. The first fabric looked like very old, very out-of-style wallpaper.

Plan C – I went with the wallpaper.

I have collections of small pictures which are hung in tight groupings, and that’s what this quilt is supposed to evoke. I finished in time for me to get to the meeting, so I’m happy enough. It wasn’t what I intended when I started the project, but that’s okay.

My son helped me get another project finished in an unintended way. He saw a little Halloween experiment that I made years ago, mostly inspired by these fabrics:

He said he liked it. I said I could quilt it for him. He said, “How about making a pillow case?” So I did:

The top was long enough but not wide enough, but I had other Halloween fabrics that worked. A medium strip down the back was sufficient, and now one more UFO is done.

I’m not counting how many are left to go.

Unintended Consequences: The Reckoning

March 16, 2011

For the first time in three weeks, I turned on my sewing machine. Between waiting for my hands to heal and trying to keep up with other projects my trusty Viking hasn’t seen a lot of me. I think it was resentful, too, because my first seam was just awful – wibbly-wobbly doesn’t begin to describe it!

After correcting the error, I put the final borders on the appliqued hearts quilt for Challenge:

Then, since I am determined not to add to the UFO pile (at least this week), I started looking for backings. Those who have seen my quilts will tell you that I’ve never been bound by the convention that the back of a quilt should somehow correspond to the front. Very often, my quilts are backed by whatever was on top of the cutting table.

This is what was on top of the cutting table:

Much as I love the dancing lobsters, I thought it would be worth the effort to paw through some of the other fabric on the the cutting table to see if there was something more appropriate. I came up with this:

Unfortunately, I only have half a yard of this, so I went to the fabric drawers. I found this:

There isn’t quite enough of this, either, but perhaps together they would make a good back:

I’m not sure how I want to sew these two fabrics together – straight panels, larger strips, big blocks – but it’s a start. In the meantime, I decided I would deal with the scraps from the borders. Just as I picked them up to cut into squares, I spied an orphan block. This is where the title of today’s blog comes from – the revenge of unintended consequences. Here I am, all set to be tidy and organized, and a random orphan block leaps into my field of view. Now it’s demanding attention. This is what I’ve come up with so far:

So, instead of congratulating myself that I’m finally finishing up a project, I’ve got a newer, pushier project on my hands. The life of a quilter is never dull.


March 9, 2011

At the last meeting of a friendship group, one of the women challenged us to count up our UFOs. I tried that once and didn’t like the result. Still, a challenge is a challenge, so I pulled out all the UFOs in the corner of the closet.

The mountain of forgotten dreams

There are ninety-three (93) in this pile. Not included are the three I plan to finish for the quilt show in April and the collections of fabric that are just waiting for a design. I guess not knowing exactly how many projects languished in the sewing room has made it very easy for me to make a new top and toss it on the pile.

I’m also guessing my new mantra should be when in doubt, reorganize. Since I had moved the tops out of the corner of the closet, I took the opportunity to stack the upholstery, corduroy and flannel fabric in that bin and move the UFOs to the shelf. That led to unearthing more pillow cases (which I moved), yet another tote bag, and a box of barrettes and hairpins (which I will throw out in the very near future). Here is the new version of the closet:

I also found a top that I intended to use for the next Challenge project. The theme is hearts and flowers. The woman who issued it said that since we’re all going to be working on our pieces for the quilt show, we should feel free to use something we’d already finished for Challenge (thank you, Kathy Levesque!). Although I haven’t quite finished this piece, I know it could be completed with the right border – which I may have found:

For the last couple of years I have used the bi-monthly Challenge meetings to tackle the stacks of fabric on the cutting table. Regardless of the theme, I was going to make it work with whatever was on top of the fabric pile. Perhaps I need to adjust that scheme and start finishing my UFOs for Challenge, using whatever is on the cutting table as a backing.

Of course, then I’ll need to figure out where to store the completed quilts, but that’s a problem for another day.

Other People’s Loose Ends

February 10, 2011

I was cutting some donated fabric into squares, and came across a UFO. It was a shirt – cut, with interfacing attached, ready to sew. Literally, all that was left was to sew the two front pieces to the back and attach the collar. I stood there, rotary cutter in hand, and decided I couldn’t let it end this way. I don’t know why the shirt was never finished – maybe styles changed before it was completed, maybe the intended recipient’s color sense changed, maybe the person who started it put it down and forgot it, then moved it from one shelf to another until it was time for her to go to that great sewing room in the sky.

Once I hem it I’ll have a work shirt. Every time I wear it, I’ll be reminded that the UFOs I abandon in hidden corners will resurface someday. My family will open box after box, exclaim “What was she thinking?” and move on. If a project is really important to me, I’d better get it done now.

With that sentiment in mind, I decided to tackle the shelves at the back of the closet. I found fabric, of course, but also pillow cases to protect quilts that need to be shipped, a pair of wool pants that I wear when cross-country skiing, and a pile of shawls.

The pillow cases went back on the shelves, but in one stack instead of mixed in with other things. The wool pants may go to the thrift shop, since the last time I went cross-country skiing was about fifteen years ago and it isn’t likely I’ll be going this winter. The shawls are going in a spare dresser drawer, where they’ll be more protected.

The fabric is still on the shelf, as are two trays of scraps that need to be sorted. Now that I can reach them, the chances of something useful being done with them just sky-rocketed. And – best of all – I have another couple of inches of maneuvering space in the closet.

I still have many unfinished projects staring at me, but at least I can see them now. If I can save just one UFO from being shipped out to some unsuspecting quilter, it will be worth it.

Alien Week

January 19, 2011

When Jan Steinhoff, Block of the Month coordinator for Amador Valley Quilters, announced that her husband thought the heart pattern she chose for February looked like an alien, was there any doubt I’d be buying a kit?

Find the eyes!

The alien face effect is subtle. If you aren’t looking at the block from just the right angle – or don’t have the proper mindset – you might miss it. So I decided to kick it up a notch.

Since the kit includes a gorgeous red and black tulip print, I looked in my collection for something similar. I found a pink and burgundy print and started looking for background fabric. After a few minutes, I dope-slapped myself. Why use the tulips for the alien face or eyes? Obviously, it should be the background and the quilt needs to be titled Garden Variety Aliens.

Which meant I had to make more than one face. Since the whole idea of using the heart pattern was to piece a simple face, that left the eyes. My first attempt used the same piecing as the original block, just one less:

Surprised alien

I had a good chuckle, but the effect wasn’t quite what I wanted so I made a woeful alien:

Woeful alien

Again, close but no cigar. The contrast for both attempts wasn’t quite strong enough. So, here is plan C:

Evil alien

I have three blocks of each of the three faces, and – yes – I intend to finish the quilt. And display it. Maybe in a show near you. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Oh, and let the UFO jokes begin.