Thursday, January 7, 2016

Turn a Page

It's a new year! A fresh start! What's done is done. Leave the past behind, set lofty goals and . . .

. . .  feel disappointed by January 15.


Maybe there's a better way.

Confessions of a Quilter

I'm a finisher. You wouldn't know it by looking at my cubby full of projects-in-waiting. Stuff I started because I was excited about something new--a fun fabric, a tool, a process, or an idea. Then those projects got pushed aside, one by one, because of a deadline, another priority, a busy life, a scratch-your-head-moment. And there they sit.

Sound familiar? Some quilters call them UFOs (UnFinished Objects). And they are a source of guilt! Those who know me and know my books, particularly the book, When Bad Things Happen to Good Quilters, know that I feel deeply that this wonderful quilty hobby we all embrace has no place for a guilty soul. It should be fun. Filled with creative solutions instead of guilty burdens.

I've tried making resolutions at the turn of the new calendar year: "Complete all UFOs by next week!" Like the overly optimistic weight-loss plan, this declaration is destined to fail. It's not specific, it's not measurable, it's not realistic, and, worse, I've squished all the fun out of my joyful hobby.

Three Little Things

I'm not giving up. (Finishers don't give up, we're obsessed with finishing things!) Toward the end of last year, I noticed a big change in my attitude toward finishing up projects that have been long overlooked. I managed to get really, truly excited about a couple of quilts that have been lying in waiting in a basket or on a shelf. And they got done! Yay!!

The difference: the addition of three simple things--a plan, focus, and joy.

For 2016, I'm going to try an experiment and see if this approach helps me move some of my to-be-done projects (UFOs) into the Ta-Done stack.

For the next few weeks, I'll share my thoughts on how my plan is progressing. Are you with me? Feel free to join in. 

1) A New Plan

One of my big ah-ha moments from 2015 is having a specific, realistic, measurable goal.
Seems simple, right?

My plan from past years: 

Complete all UFOs by next week.

This isn't realistic. Not even close. I suppose it's measurable, when the shelf is empty, I'm done.

Scratch that plan.

On my office shelf, I found an unused spiral bound journal that has a quilty cover, filled with blank pages. It can be any type of journal, I just happened to have this one handy.


On the first page I gave the notebook a name.

 Sounds good, right? Very up-beat!

Turn the page, and there it is, a blank page. A bit scary, indeed!

On the top of the first page I wrote:

2016  - Goal for the year, 1 project per month complete. OR 12 projects for the year. 


Measurable and reasonable, and I have some options, if I have a particularly busy month, I can play catch up in the following months. Or hit the free-time jackpot and get lots done in a month. Flexible.

Since my job is to write patterns, I want this notebook to represent the hobby side of my quilty life, not projects associated with books or patterns that have their own set of goals.

Next I defined what 'completed' means to me. If it's a quilt, bound and labeled, if its something else like a bag or table runner, then ready to use. Specifics are good.

Then I made two columns and listed target projects, and next step targets. The "Target Project List" has the names of seven projects I want to finish this year. The items on the 'next step' list are projects on deck, if you will.

Seven, not 12 projects are listed. If I commit to a hard and fast list, at this stage, it starts to feel dangerously close to a commitment. If I miss one item, the whole goal starts to teeter on the brink of disaster. Small steps first, then add more to the plate.

It's that simple. On next few journal pages, I'm taking notes on daily progress. I've never been much of a daily journal-writer, but I think a few notes now and again will help me stay on track and feel like progress is being made.

The first project on my list, a red, white, and blue quilt is already showing good progress. It has been thread basted, ready to quilt, sitting on a quilt rack in the corner of my living room for years--at least 5 years. I don't think I have the pattern anymore, so I'm sorry I can't identify its source.

That's enough for now. More next time. . . on focus and joy.

Happy Stitching!


  1. I consider flimsies in the done pile even though unfinished technically.
    My though process being I doubt any flimsy will go on the burn pile but rather the donation pile after we are gone. UFO? Straight to the fire.

  2. Flimsies, I've never heard that term in conjunction with quilting, what is that? Enlighten me!

    1. A flimsy is a completed top for which the next step is to layer and baste before quilting. At least that's my understanding.

    2. That's what I was thinking, too! But I'd not heard that before. I have a few flimsies in my stash, and I didn't even know it!

  3. Great minds think alike, Joan! I made the same plan for myself this year, and love the idea of a journal to keep myself on track. If you don't mind, I'll link to your post in a blog post of my own later today. BTW, regular blogging is also on my list of New Year's resolutions! LOL! Happy New Year!

    1. By all means! Link to your heart's content . . .

  4. I love your plan. I'm doing this.

  5. I am what I call a "process quilter," not a goal oriented quilter. So I start lots of projects before others are finished. Then I panic when I see how many UFO's I have accumulated, and set a number to finish before I can start a new one. But this year my goal is to finish two before I can start one more. That should cut my pile in half in time. So far it is working. Lots were tops that just needed to be quilted, so that helped. That gives me freedom to choose, as well as dive into a new project once in awhile.

    1. Elaine, I love this plan! Not overwhelming, and always fresh with new projects to keep you happy!