My “New & Improved” Plan for Battling UFOs and Scraps

Last year I came up with a plan that would allow me to work through more UFOs, whittle down the overflowing scrap baskets in my craft room, and allow me to work, guilt-free, on some new projects.  In the past, I always start the new year with grandiose plans to blast through all of my UFOs, and the white-knuckle willpower would only last about six weeks because the textile world is constantly releasing new fabric, yarn, and pattern collections.  So, I came up with this project rotation:

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The Original Project Schedule

And it worked really well for about six months until I discovered a glitch with my system–I never chose fabric from my stash when it came around to make a “new” project, choosing instead to use new fabric from a new collection that excited me.  The stash was starting to grow faster than normal, and I had this weird reluctance to cut into any of it because it was dear to me.  You don’t buy fabric or yarn with no plan unless you’re really in love, which makes it hard to use said fabric or yarn.  But, as a wise homeschooling parent told me about art lessons with my kids, “Art supplies is meant to be consumed, not conserved.”  The same is true of fabric and yarn.  USE THEM.

Plus, I’ve been noticing a lot of my contemporaries breaking into the pattern market, and they are killin’ it, which made me start wondering if perhaps I should start at least trying to write my own patterns for my use?  I know how patterns work by this point in my creative “career,” and the challenge involved excited me as well.

And then we did some charity blocks in quilt guild and it just made me feel good to make those.

So my project rotation schedule needed a few tweaks:

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And it’s been working WONDERFULLY.  I love the challenge of coming up with my own patterns, and I really love the idea of #everytenthproject being a service project–it’s like paying tithing on my creative abilities, for which I am so grateful to possess.

I kept a spreadsheet detailing my projects for last year, and it really helped me with my stash management and with branching out of my comfort zone:

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(It also alerted me to the fact that I tend to only knit with new yarn, which led to the decision to stop stashing yarn completely…because once it goes into the stash, chances are high that I’ll not be interested in using it EVER after that.  Interesting.)

It worked extremely well until I started sewing again for Fat Quarter Shop–by the very nature of those projects, they are always “new” fabric projects, which very quickly started eating up the next available “new” slots in my plan.  I’ll have to watch out for that this year, and possibly come up with a plan to accommodate those projects–the turnaround time on them is tight, so it’s not possible to actually have a “plan” to include those projects into my schedule.  I might leave them out of the “rotation” altogether, actually, and just enjoy the ride when I’m asked to ride along…because, duh.

Oh, another important note: Babies and weddings don’t have to follow the schedule because they are also impossible to plan around.  I just plug them into the spreadsheet where they belong and then work around them as necessary because I LOVE BABIES AND WEDDINGS.  I’m a gift-crafter at my core.

What I find, though, is that this schedule greatly reduces the chances of acquiring more UFOs.  I’m horrendously distracted by the new-and-shiny, but when I’d start thinking about cutting for or casting on a new project, I’d consult my spreadsheet and see if it could fit into the next category up for grabs.  If it didn’t, I’d tentatively schedule it; but more often than not, when I came up to its turn in the rotation, my excitement for the new pattern would have waned and I could move on to something that had been on my bucket list and would truly bring me pleasure.  I started 2017 with thirty-eight UFOs, finished (or donated or frogged) nine UFOs, and am taking in two new UFOs–that means I now have thirty-one UFOs, which is totally an improvement!  I have never ended a year with less UFOs than I had at the beginning of it.  Feels good.

And now it’s onwards to a productive 2018!  Happy New Year, and may you find a little time each day to move forward on your projects.

clementine-qal-e1504126058289And if you’re looking for an idea for a service project, maybe you want to consider joining Fat Quarter Shop’s Clementine Quilt Along?  I’ve committed to it, and it would be lots of fun to have some more friends quilting along, too!

You can find more information about the Quilt Along by clicking here to visit the Fat Quarter Shop Blog.  Proceeds from this quilt along will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

 

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My New Plan for Battling UFOs and Scraps

I made no resolutions this year because I knew that, by mid-February or so, I’d be looking for justifications to abandon them.  Instead, I decided to stew on the things I would normally make resolutions about, and hope that feasible solutions would present themselves to me.  Lo and behold, whilst scrutinizing my bulging scrap bins and the big ol’ bin o’ UFOs a few days ago, a plan magically unfolded in my mind:

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How freakishly simple is that?!  Lather, rinse, repeat.

I always start out my year with the resolution to finish as many UFOs as possible, but then new patterns, yarns, and fabrics start popping onto my radar, and it’s just such a teeth-clenching battle to not chase after the new bright and shinies.  And that sums up my entire creative year.

Now, instead of white-knuckling it as much as possible, I’ll plan for finishing up a few UFOs each year, a few “new-to-me” projects, and a few scrap bin-based projects.  No guilt required.

AND…if it’s time for me to work on a UFO, and I pull out a UFO and decide to just donate it instead, IT COUNTS.  The goal is to whittle down the UFO pile and close those open loops, and that happens even if I donate a half-finished project to Goodwill.

I am super excited to give the plan a try!

What are your methods for finishing UFOs and managing scraps?

 

Scrapping Happy

My family and I just moved back stateside after a five month stay in Queensland, Australia.  All the boxes we packed up were stored in my craft room, which means I haven’t been able to get to my sewing machine until today, almost a month after getting back into our home.  With the task of unpacking, I’ve taken the opportunity to re-organize my craft room and make it a little more user-friendly, which included finally finding a permanent eye-pleasing way to store my fabric:

Oh, I like rainbow order.  The two big bins on the bottom of each cart hold a specific color each, with the pieces being larger than fat quarter-sized.  I’ve organized the bins into pink, red, orange/yellow, green, aqua/turquoise, blue, purple, multi-colored, gray/black, and brown/white.  The middle bins hold fat quarters in any combination of the two lower colors (i.e. orange, yellow and green in the second cart), and the upper bins hold scraps–the top holds anything 2.5 inches or thinner, and the second from the top holds anything larger than 2.5 inches and smaller than a fat quarter.  The carts used to hold construction paper for my kids, but I’m taking a sabbatical from homeschooling this year and decided to re-purpose the bins for my own personal use.

One bin won’t close easily:  the “larger than 2.5 inches” aqua/turquoise & blue bin.  This tells me that I need to start working from that bin, and it turns out that a large portion of that bin is a bunch of snowman prints from a epic failure of a project many years ago.

What a great place to start!  I decided to whip something up out of the snowman fabric to give away, partly because I know someone who decorates heavily with snowmen during the winter months, and also because just seeing the fabric reminds of my epic failure, which isn’t a whole lot of happy-making for me.  Take the failure and make it into something that blesses the life of another!

Since Sherri McConnell over at A Quilting Life inspired me to start working with my scraps with her “Scraps Monday” series, I decided to take a quick look through her book, Fresh Family Traditions, and came across her “Sugar Pine” pillow pattern, which I think will work smashingly for this fabric.

I’ve got the first bit of sewing done, and I’ll work on turning these HSTs into some QSTs in the upcoming week.

I did go ahead and turn one of the HSTs into a QST, just because I wanted to see how it would look.  They’re at the top of this next picture:

I think it’s going to turn out rather well.  I’m planning on making two pillows, because I’m a “pillow set” kind of gal, and I’m rather certain that the recipient is as well.  Or maybe I’ll end up liking them and being able to overlook the “epic failure” memories, and just keep them for myself.  We’ll see…

Linking up with:
Scraps Monday @ A Quilting Life
Sew Cute Tuesday @ Blossom Hearts
WIP Wednesday @ Freshly Pieced
Let’s Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
WIPs on Wednesdays @ Esther’s Blog
Needle & Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation
Scrap Happy Saturday @ SoScrappy