How to: Turning WIPs into FOs

It’s hard making time to make.

Often, it seems like our pile of WIPs (Works in Progress) far outweighs our FOs (Finished Objects). Quilt tops linger in closets and orphan blocks crowd our design walls. But taming the beast is possible! Here are a few tips for whipping those WIPs into shape:

1- List all your projects. Every. last. one. Go through every closet, shelf and drawer. Pull out every WIP at any stage, even if it’s just a pile of fabric that you have a vague plan for. Now list them out one by one. This is quite the reality check, but it gives you a very clear picture of what you have and helps you to prioritize and plan.

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2- Edit out what you’re no longer in love with. Maybe the fabric is dated. Maybe the intended recipient has changed their style. Maybe you’ve just fallen out of love. You might be surprised with how many projects you decide aren’t worth more of your precious time.  Find a friend or local charity that will take them off your hands. Some Project Linus chapters will take quilts at various stages of completion. Call your local coordinator to check.

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3- Prioritize. You can choose whatever criteria works for you to prioritize your WIPs. Maybe you want to get oldest projects done first, or those that are closest to completion. Or you could prioritize by the intended recipients… who has a birthday coming up? It’s really up to you. Just to remember that not everything matters equally. Your time is finite, and you should be spending that time on the things that are most important to YOU.

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4- Limit new projects. I know, I know… don’t yell at me! This one is so hard! I love shiny new things and starting projects is one of my very favorite things to do. I get it. But now that you have a handle on what needs completed, it’s a good idea to look at that list you made before starting something new.

Prioritize your potential project against that list… how does it compare? If it really is something important (like you just found out your best friend is expecting), yes, definitely add it in! But keep in mind that for everything you say yes to, you will say no to something else. Your other WIPs will move down the list, so make sure it’s worth it!

Often, we start a new project simply because we’re bored with what we’re currently working on. Instead, maybe we can add some excitement to our WIPs list by moving a current project one step closer to completion. I find that helps my need for something ‘new’ and novel without adding to my workload.

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5- Join a UFO completion group. Many local shops will have groups you can join that help keep you accountable to finishing a specific list of WIPs that you’ve chosen. Sometimes, there’s prizes to be won! If you don’t have a local group, there are several online ones. A popular challenge group is the All People Quilt UFO Challenge.  The 2019 Finish-a-Long is hosted by several quilty bloggers and is another great place to start. And The Crafty Quilter has a monthly UFO & WIP Challenge. There are lots more; find a group that you like and join in!

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6- Make the time. There is simply no way around it- if you want to finish projects, you have to set aside time to work on them. You’ll have to decide for yourself how that looks. You could block out 20 or 30 minutes a day, or set aside an entire day a few times a month. Look into registering for an open sew at a local shop if you want to socialize while you sew. Put sewing time on you calendar or add a reminder to your phone. Once you get a little momentum going, you’ll be surprised at how addicting it can be to advance your projects just one step further. And once you complete a project and get to cross that WIP off your ‘to do’ list, you’ll definitely be looking forward to your next FO!  

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7- Speaking of Finished Objects, track them! Keeping a record of the quilts you’ve completed and looking through it periodically is a really nice way to keep your motivation up. No doubt there are projects on your FO list that lingered. That you thought you’d never actually complete. Looking through the projects you’ve already completed gives you HOPE that yes, someday the WIP that’s driving you crazy will be done. There is light at the end of the creative tunnel. You are fully capable of getting those WIPs out into the world as FOs. You’ve got this.

Now let’s all finish some beautiful stuff!

Happy Sewing! ~L

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