5 Reasons Your Quilting Projects are UFOs – and How to Finish Them!



We all have those UFOs (UnFinished Objects) on our sewing tables…or folded up in a stack beside the sewing table…or tucked away in a bag in the linen closet…or stored in a tub in the basement. Projects that came to a grinding halt for one reason or another. There is no better time to get some of those projects finished up and cleared out than National Quilting Month so we can make space for new techniques, new fabric and new projects!

The quilt top is done, but I don’t know how to quilt it.

Decide whether you want to quilt the project by hand or by machine. Both are great options that will yield a beautiful finished quilt.

Hand quilting can be done quickly and easily using big stitch, all-over quilting with thicker threads. Carolyn Forster shows you how simple designs and big stitches can make easy work out of finishing a quilt in her book Utility Quilting.

Machine quilting can be very simple or very intricate. Lynn Witzenburg shows you everything you need to know to get started – or improve your technique – in her award winning book Machine Quilting The basics & beyond and the free 19-part video series based on the book you can watch on our YouTube channel.

I have made about half of the blocks for my project and I don’t want to make any more.

Not to worry! You can  “save” the project just by trying one of these ideas:

  • Make a table topper or a bed runner instead of a large quilt – adding some sashing and a border to a small set of blocks is quick and easy and turns a almost-done project to a finished work in no-time, so you can move on to something you want to do.
  • If you have a few blocks finished, add multiple borders to what you have made so far to increase the size of the project and skip finishing the rest of the blocks – find border inspiration in Borders The basics & beyond.
  • Add spacers to the blocks you have made to complete a quilt. Check out Quilting a Circle of Nine for ideas.

I ran out of fabric/The fabric I need isn’t in stores anymore!

This one is a bit harder, but you can still finish that quilt! The easiest thing to do is find a fabric that coordinates without matching exactly. Head over to your local quilt shop and ask for help. The folks working at independent quilt shops are extremely knowledgeable and can help you select a fabric that will look great in your project. If you need to match the fabric exactly, you need to be prepared to work a bit. Here are some things to try:

  • Visit or call your local quilt shops to see if they happen to have any left in stock. Depending on how old the fabric is, and how popular it was, they might still have some.
  • Search for it online. You can go to sites like Fabric.com or FatQuarterShop.com and search by designer or fabric line.
  • Ask your friends and guild members to search their stashes. Bring a picture to your next guild meeting and ask around.
  • Check the online message boards and quilting forums. A lot of message boards have online fabric exchanges, but if you’re looking for something specific you might want to try taking a picture of the fabric and asking others on the message board to help you find it or hunt in their stashes for it – with a note if you’d be willing to pay or trade for the fabric. Check the forum’s rules to make sure it’s okay to put up a post like that, and make sure you’re safe about who you give your information to.

I bit off more than I can sew and I don’t have time to finish the project.

If you are bumping up against a deadline for a larger project, then it is time to call in reinforcements! Perhaps you have a few friends who can help you finish this project by helping you cut fabric, or sew blocks and borders. Maybe you can have an old-fashioned quilting bee and get that quilt completed! Check out Quilting Among Friends for some ideas and inspiration.

I am so disorganized. I have so many projects going at once that everything is all jumbled together!

This is a (frequent) problem for me. I get so excited to start a new project that I don’t complete the previous quilt…or even put it away neatly to finish later! But all things considered, this is an easy problem to solve. Begin by doing some old-fashioned cleaning and tidying:

How do you keep all your projects moving in the right direction? Let us know in the comments below!

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