Lessons Learned from Projects Half Done

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Last Updated February 21, 2018

For a long time, organizing quilt projects has not been at the top of my list. In recent years I have become more organized. This week I presented a trunk show of some of my quilts and quilted items to the Livingston Piecemakers Quilt Guild. What a great group of people. I included some quilts that are not my best work but that illustrate a learning experience for me.

For parts of 2016 and 2017 many guilds challenged their members to finally finish their unfinished projects (UFOs) or projects half done (PHDs). I was inspired by these quilters to finish some of my projects. I already knew why I couldn't finish some projects, I just had to act on it. Here is a video I made last year describing how I try to organize my projects.

Two quilts in the trunk show this week illustrate why it's important to keep everything for each project together until it's finished.

Prairie Pinwheels Quilt

This quilt shows what happened when I separated finished blocks from the project bag. You probably can't tell from looking at the quilt, but it could have been bigger. I decided to finish this quilt at a retreat. I picked up the large plastic pouch containing the project and off I went. At the retreat I had 3 or 4 additional pinwheel blocks that didn't make it in the finished quilt. I was frustrated with the centers not laying flat. One of my fellow retreaters said she would take the blocks if I didn't want them. So of course I gave them to her. I ended up making this quilt top square. After all, finished is better than perfect, right?

prairie pinwheels organizing quilt projects
I quilted it and added the binding a few weeks later. As I was clearing off my sewing area at home, I noticed these,

pinwheels organizing quilt projects

sixteen flying geese units, enough to make 4 more blocks!

Oh well, it's too late now. Guess I need to start an orphaned block project or make a pillow.

ArticleUse Orphan Quilt Blocks to Make a Pillow

Prickly Pinecone Quilt

This quilt went together fast and I finished it at a retreat. It was fun to do.

Pinecone organizing quilt projects
I found a nice backing.

organizing quilt projects
I quilted this one and happily put it in the “finished” stack. Some time later I discovered yardage of a pinecone fabric.

organizing quilt projects
I remembered I bought this fabric at the same time I bought fabric for the quilt top. But, since I didn't keep everything together, I didn't get to use the pinecone backing for this pinecone quilt. The backing I used is a good fit but it would have been nice to use the fabric I originally bought. I ended up using the pinecone fabric on another quilt.

ArticlePiecing the Backing

Organizing Quilt Projects

Now I make more of an effort to keep my projects organized from the beginning. I'm still working on my UFOs and PHDs. Before starting each one again, I check to make sure everything is there.

In the past I used various plastic project boxes. I found them to be clunky when taking them to sew-ins or retreats. I prefer to use more flexible plastic or vinyl zippered bags. They slip easily into suitcases and rolling totes. Here are a few I have gathered over the years.

Organizing quilt projects and putting all the pieces in one place helps me to finish what I start. As long as I start with and keep everything organized, I'm finishing projects. Got any tips that help you finish projects? I'd love to read your comments.

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3 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from Projects Half Done

  1. Carol, thanks for your sewing inspiration. Our church group has a sewing ministry where we make lap size quilts to be distributed to members who have had surgery, death in the family, etc. We seem to have lots of tops that need finished, ie sandwiched and quilted. This is where we have a problem . Some sewists don’t feel comfortable machinr quilting their top. We’ve even had lessons on how to do it. We don’t have the funds to get them professionally quilted. Do you have any suggestions?

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