Monday, September 20, 2010

My Assistant?

Under a little pressure to finish a quilt yesterday, Howard offered to help.  But he had to get all his gear on in order to do a proper job of it!! This man cracks me up!  The sun glasses are not because of the bright lights -- they are his safety goggles!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Start New Projects!!

Did that title make you blink?  Here I am for the past few weeks studiously working on cataloging and organizing my UFOs -- unfinished objects -- and stewing about what to finish next and what to do to get things finished by the end of the year.  And then I encourage you to start something new!!

I haven't lost my mind!!  I promise!!   And finishing up these things is still really, really important to me!  But you know, sometimes just working on "old" things can be downright boring!!  Where's the fun in looking at new fabrics and patterns that inspire you if you can't focus on how much fun that new project will be.  Talk about a "downer"!!  And what about that new technique you saw your friend using?  Or the new ruler that your local shop is carrying?!!

Do you feel like a hostage to your UFOs?  Are they overwhelming you?  Follow some of the tips offered in earlier posts and then get your creative juices flowing again.  Got a pattern you have fallen in love with?  What fabric to use? what color choices?  How can you resist the call of the new project?!  Your UFOs are still going to be there, and you can still work on them ... but give yourself a break and have some fun with a new project!

Guilt is a terrible thing to waste -- so save it for something besides those unfinished objects that are sitting around.  Remember that you'll get to them eventually, or they'll find new uses and new homes eventually.  Focus on having some fun!!

I'm off to cut fabric for my new Saturday mystery class -- maybe it will be a UFO someday, but in the meantime, I'm having fun choosing fabrics from my stash!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bonus view!

Even though I hadn't scheduled it for today, I also went to work on my sewing station.  Here it is (even found the scissors that belong to this space!) all ready for me to work.  The little pile of fabrics to the left of the machine are the "Potato Chip" bags that were a work-in-progress before my room exploded!

So tonight is probably hand-sewing, but look out tomorrow!  When that sun comes up, I'm ready to go to town in my sewing room.

And lest you think I'm done .... there's one more space in the sewing room that I haven't tackled.  Here's what's waiting for me ...  This is the big double closet in the sewing room.

But I'm going to close the doors and think about it another day!

There is a light ...

You probably didn't believe me when I told you that my sewing room was a disaster ... but here's the proof!!  I not only couldn't cut on this cutting center, I couldn't even find a pair of scissors or a rotary cutter!  So my primary goal for today was to find my cutting mats under all this, and actually have a place to work again!

With a couple of stops along the way to do some "normal" housework and have some lunch, I can show you that four hours later, I really have a cutting station ready to go!

The red Folgers coffee container is what I throw my bits and pieces in while cutting.  And the basket that is kind of overflowing at the far side of the table are scraps that need to be cut into strips.  I've even got my mystery group notebook out to cut my pieces for this month's class which is on Saturday.  Oh, wow!  It's not even Friday and I can cut my pieces!!

How do you count UFOs?

Another good question someone sent me yesterday!! And the answer is: Any ole way you want to count them!! lol!! The real answer is that YOU get to decide when a project is finished!

Is it finished when all the blocks are done? Or when you've made enough blocks? Or when you decide you really don't want to make any more blocks and you'll use what you've done for something else?

Many people count a UFO if it is a project that has already been started. Others decide that a UFO is a work in progress, even if it is only in your mind! Is an idea a UFO? It is if you think it is!!

Here's how I count UFOs:

It's a UFO if I've cut some fabric for the project and want to continue with that project.

It's a UFO if I have a pile of blocks and I know what I'm going to do with them.

It's a UFO until the blocks are together and it's "officially" a top! Once it's a top it's really a completed UFO unless I decide I'm going to quilt it myself. Then it becomes a new UFO (but the original one comes off the list). Before I had my own longarm, a finished top was a completed UFO. These days I add the steps to quilt and bind before it gets off the list.

It's a UFO if I have all the fabric and the pattern together in a package -- for me it means I'm close to working on the project. But I always have the option of returning the fabrics to my stash and putting the pattern away and PRESTO! I no longer have that UFO on my list!

After you decide on your UFO definition, and it scares you to pieces (eeeeeeeeeek!!) you can make different lists!! lol!!

Make a list of PIGS (projects in grocery bags)
Make a list of PIMMS (projects in my mind)
Make a list of PIPS (projects in progress)

And before you know it -- you won't have any more UFOs!!

I'm off to tackle the cutting table today. Wishing you a sew wonderful day!

Monday, September 13, 2010

UFOs -- Can't live with them ... Can't live without them ...

Or can we?

Recently there has been much discussion on managing our UFOs, particularly when they reach the volume that causes undue stress, often immobilizing us by the sheer numbers!  Can we avoid this trauma? never have a UFO? huh? You mean, start a project and actually finish it before starting the next one?  While I know many people who have the ability to do this, I sure can't wrap my head around it, never mind developing the restraint to avoid the next shiny ball that comes through the Internet! but if you get too carried away, your space could look like this!

What to do ... what to do ... Here are some things I've tried in the past:

About 10 or 12 years ago, a friend who is very organized came to my house in Virgina all the way from Michigan.  Her mission -- help me get control.  Did it work?  She was totally awesome!  But it was too traumatic watching things going out the door for donations or tossed somewhere ... Yes, my sewing room was definitely more organized, but I still mourn some of those projects that found new homes hehehe ... Wouldn't do it again!

Another idea that I tried was picking the top 7 projects from my list or piles and make a page for each in a small notebook.  Each day, whatever amount of time I had allotted to working on quilts I would work on the quilt for that day.  So, I started out budgeting an hour a day to sewing.  If I ended up with more available time, I could spend it on that day's project OR I could work on another day's OR I could even choose anything else I wanted to play with -- new or old.  I used this system for a long while -- it gave me freedom to start new things, or focus on something for longer time and I found that things were getting finished and off the UFO list.  It was good, really!  But then somewhere along the way I decided it wasn't "perfect" for my needs, so I haven't used it in a while.

Have you tried the "bobbin method" of project management?  This was my own little idea a while back.  Wind up a bunch of bobbins in colors you might need for various projects.  I happen to use only a selection of neutrals for piecing, so I had white, ecru, grey and black bobbins.  I start with a full bobbin and the first project.  At the end of the bobbin, I switch to the next project.  Keeps me from getting bored hehehe ... and again, frequently by the end of the first bobbin I'm in a zone and keep working on that one project.  But I have given myself options for switching off.  Sometimes I still fall back on this method!

Next I read about someone who assigned dollar values to each of the steps involved in the quilt all the way to finishing.  And she paid herself for her work!  Now, that was a good motivator for me!!  I promptly opened a special savings account and made a list of steps for the UFOs that looked sort of like this:

Assessing the state of the project
Completing the blocks
Putting the top together
Fixing the backing
Attaching the binding

Each step was worth $1 ... then I added some more monies:

Each week I didn't buy fabric was $5
Each quilt that I quilted was $10
Binding was worth $2
Each bobbin was $.25 and each spool of thread was $.50 (cones were more of course!)

There's probably a few other things in there, but it works really nicely!  At the end of each month I tally up what I've done and put that money in my ever-growing little pot.  I'd love to buy a new sewing machine some day with the money ... but I guess I have to finish up some more UFOs before that can happen!!

Today I was entering a list of UFOs into one of my list databases because I wanted to participate in the UFO Challenge for the rest of the year.  Though I stopped at Number 80, I easily could have kept going, and even thought of a couple as I went along (so much for thinking I've got it under control), and of course I didn't include any of the six projects I just printed out over the weekend.  What I did do over the past few days, though, is make some priorities to the projects on my list in the hope of finishing a number of them as Christmas gifts.  My initial intent was to choose the top few, which unfortunately turned into the top "many" but, hey, I can do the best I can do!  I've taken those top projects and broken down the steps I need to complete each one ... then I went one step further and really did cull off the top 5 to work on.  I put these projects on index cards that are now sitting beside my sewing machine along with the projects.  Presto!!  I no longer felt overwhelmed!

The rest of the UFOs are in their tidy little bags in the tidy little closet, and I feel like I can function again.  Here's my after shots of the little closet in my sewing room ... One space done, three to go!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Does it Make Sense?

"I don't see much sense in that," said Rabbit.
"No," said Pooh humbly, "there isn't. But there was going to be when I began it. It's just that something happened to it along the way."

I think I feel like Pooh when I look around at my current (and not-so-current) projects and the state of my sewing room.  Don't worry, I'm not going on a self-discovery journey here to determine how I got into this mess! I'm just once again feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of "things" and the chaos that spreads the more I ignore my sewing space ... And what did I do recently that put me into this slump?  I just bought five, FIVE, new quilting books and I want to make every quilt in every book ... and I can't even see space to open the book!

My list of "things to do" this week didn't get much attention as I pretty much just stayed drugged and asleep after my hernia repair surgery on Monday. Topping that list is a note to give some attention to the sewing room so that I feel happy to go in there again.  Right now I just turn my head away when I walk by!  And though I really haven't had any vim or vigor to attack the room, I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about it (hey, that counts!!) and hope that this weekend I'll take some steps.  I can see that you've perked up now that there might be some actual activity taking place here, so here's my plan.

1.  Make a list of Christmas gifts for this year -- you do realize that Christmas is just a few days away?

2.  Update my inventory of unfinished projects.  Identify 6 of the oldest projects and/or the ones closest to being completed tops.  Set them aside in their own project drawer (I have a small collection of those storage units on wheels that aren't being used right now -- perfect for this!!) If there is anything in that UFO pile that fits in the list made in Item #1, put it in the top drawer!

3.  Clear all surfaces in the sewing room (that includes the floor!!).  I find myself making piles everywhere -- a fabric group for a project; a stack of fabric that are all coordinates; a bag full of something I was working on.  Put it ALL away somewhere ORDERLY so I can find it again and use it again!  No "stuffing it" allowed!  All parts of a "work in progress" need to go together in those big zipper storage bags (don't you love those??!!) and the projects need to be put on the shelf, not the cutting table!  Maybe then I'll have some room to work!

Well, that should take me the rest of the weekend to accomplish.  When I can walk by the sewing room and actually look in and smile, I'll consider it a "job well done" and can move on to Phase II.