It’s UFOvember, a month-long blog hop dedicated to finding, cataloging, and dealing with your unfinished projects! Bobbie over at The Geeky Bobbin hosts UFOvember every year, and kindly invited me to be part of this year’s programming. To see the full list of contributors, scroll to the bottom of this post.
Ah, UFOs. We’ve all got them. No, I’m not talking about aliens! I’m talking about UnFinished Objects, the ghosts of projects past that haunt your sewing room.
I often work on a lot of projects at the same time— a few quilts, a garment or two, maybe some other crafty experiment on the side. Many projects, many stages of completion, some things I love working on and others that I loathe.
Over time, I end up with unfinished projects all over my apartment. A finished quilt top, but no backing or binding in sight. A garment that is cut out, but not sewn. Fabrics bought with good intention but no time to actually make the thing I want to make.
I joined UFOvember because it seemed like a great way to get a handle on my own UFOs. To let go of the projects that aren't working, to get unstuck on the ones that I still enjoy, and to plan future projects with intention.
Of course, the first and most important step in handling your UFOs, is simply taking inventory of all of them.
Inventory is a powerful process. Simply acknowledging all of our projects on paper (or keyboard) brings awareness. Maybe you have more projects than time to finish them. Maybe in taking inventory, you realize you don't have that many UFOs-- but are there one or two that are taking up a lot of brain space right now? You never know what you will confront, discover, or realize while you take inventory.
I created a free printable worksheet to help you through the inventory process. It's the same one I used to inventory all of my projects.
My tips for taking UFO Inventory
Write it all down.
I firmly believe that writing down every project, no matter how big or how small, no matter what stage it is in, will help you make the best, most informed decisions about your UFOs. Minimizing your list just keeps the true state of your UFO pile out of sight. It does nothing to actually help you make decisions about projects. So print multiple copies of the worksheet if you need to, or grab a notebook and a pen, and make a list of every single UFO you have.
Move towards joy.
On the Project Inventory Worksheet, you'll notice that I've included two extra sections: One called "Goals for my creative practice" and one called "Goals for this project inventory." Fill out both of these - they will be guideposts for the decision making process.
Before you make any decisions about what to do with your UFOs, I encourage you to think about what you want your creative practice to look like. Calming? Relaxing? Exciting? Freeing? Nostalgic?
When you think about what to do with each UFO, ask yourself: "Does this choice make me feel good? Does this decision move me closer to what I want in my creative practice?"
Sometimes it's easy to make a decision we think we "should" make instead of a decision we want to make. If you want to feel free in your creative practice, is finishing a quilt out of obligation really going to get you there? If you are creating a project to remember a special time in your life, but are setting it aside to make gifts for the holidays, are you going to feel satisfied with that decision?
Use your overall goals for your creative practice as guideposts for making decisions on UFOs.
It's okay to throw things away.
I don't know about you, but I don't like wasting anything. It's just now how I grew up. And putting a half-finished project in the trash or recycling can feel like such a waste of time and materials.
I will do just about anything before I throw half-used materials away. I'll try to finish my project, try to modify it, and try to give it away. When none of that works, I will keep brainstorming all the ways I can take it apart and reuse all the materials. And most of the time, this is a good instinct to prevent waste.
But sometimes this tendency to save stuff can really get in my way. I end up with piles of things that are not going to be useful in the foreseeable future. An inability to get rid of stuff when it's no longer useful can really hinder our ability to declutter, reorganize, or clean up our project calendar.
If you're looking for permission to throw away or recycle projects that no longer work for you, this is it.
If you'd like to recycle your textiles but are not sure where to start, call your local H&M -- many locations offer free textile recycling, and you can drop off your old projects there!
UFOvember usually encourages just 3 action options: Resume, Rework or Rehome. I've added a fourth option, Recycle, to my own list, because I've found it's something I need to do to keep my creative practice running smoothly. You'll also see it included on the worksheet, in case you want to incorporate it into your own UFOvember process. Take or leave this fourth section depending on what works best for you!
So, how did I do on my own inventory?
20 projects. 14 to resume, 4 to rework, and 2 to recycle or toss. I ended up not having any projects to rehome this time around.
I can honestly say I feel much better knowing what's going on with my sewing projects. And I feel motivated and energized to keep sewing on those projects I chose to resume!
My goal this month is to finish the projects that are already well underway, including a few quilts and a couple of garments. I do have a good number of resume/ rework projects that I bought fabric or patterns for, but haven't started cutting yet. These items are going to be tabled for a later date!
How is your UFOvember going so far? Let me know how your inventory goes, and what you decide to do with each of your projects!