Strategy for tackling UFOs!

It’s nearly the end of December, the time when people begin thinking about resolutions and goals for the new year. I’ve been following Elaine at Crazy Quilter on a Bike!, who has been writing about conquering her UFOs and is organizing at 2017 Dirty Dozen challenge to encourage herself and others to complete a UFO each month next year. Reading about her UFO journey, I began reflecting on my own.

It was March 2015 when I first started taking steps to conquer my UFOs. A visit to my friend Joline was the turning point for me. Joline showed me her list of projects and how she tracked them. After that visit, I went home and did a brain dump – I was shocked to discover I could list over 60 projects that I considered myself to have “on the go”. No wonder I felt that I could never make any progress!

Fast forward to today. I have 28 projects on my list, and three of those will be finished in the next week. I hope to finish another 15-20 in the 2017. Finally I feel like I’m on top of things, and I don’t feel depressed anymore when I enter my sewing room. How did I do it? I have to admit, my system has evolved over the months as I experimented with what worked best for me, but this post, and the following posts, will give detail my method, and maybe it will help you, too, if you’re feeling bogged down by your UFO list. So, ready for step 1?


The first step to conquering the enemy is to know what you’re dealing with! Either online or in a notebook, make a master list of every project you can think of that you have on your quilting mind, either things you’re actually working on or things you feel committed to. My list included:

  • true UFOs – things that were actually work in progress, including things like projects from workshops.
  • patterns I’d bought but hadn’t begun
  • fabric I’d bought for a specific purpose, even if I hadn’t made a cut yet
  • bags of coordinated scraps leftover from another project, that I vaguely thought could be a miniquilt
  • quilts I’d promised to make for other people, even if I hadn’t started them at all
  • ideas I was excited about, even if they were still in the idea stage

I captured everything – absolutely everything – that was weighing on my mind whenever I was in my sewing room. Keep this list, just as it is! (You may think of a few more things later that you’d forgotten about, so leave a little space at the bottom to  tack those on). If you did it online, print it out. This list is your “BEFORE” picture, and it’s going to feel so good this time next year when you go back and look at how much you’ve accomplished.


notebooks.jpgTo manage your list, set goals, and be motivated by your progress, you’ll need a notebook. I bought an inexpensive, spiral bound notebook from the office supply store.

Don’t spend a lot of money – I don’t want you to be afraid to use it! But if you want to make it look nice, you can always make a fabric cover for it (then the fabric cover can be reused on a new notebook once you’ve filled this one.

You may also want to have some sticky notes for flagging pages, pen, ruler, and some highlighters. Okay, you’re ready. Check back tomorrow for STEP THREE: SORTING YOUR LIST.



5 thoughts on “Strategy for tackling UFOs!

  1. Tackling UFOs, part 2 – Patchwork Tomato

  2. Tackling UFOs, part 3 – Patchwork Tomato

  3. Tackling UFOs, part 4 – Patchwork Tomato

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