Wednesday, March 23, 2022

So Much Quilty Going On!

There has been a lot going on behind the scenes!

There always is, I know - but I am so excited about this something it's all I can think about!

You know how it is - you work on something in fits and starts.  So many pieces.  Tons of units.

All sewn from the cabin when I could find some moments to sew in between the other daily must-dos.

There are things that have deadlines.

And there are things that don't.  This didn't.

A whole arm load - ready to set together!

This is my proof that sewing in small amounts does add up over time.

This is my proof that it is worth it to keep going - even on projects you feel you've lost your steam on.

I hear from quilters all of the time who say things like "I've got sets of blocks but I can't find the desire to put them together and make them into a finished quilt."

Your will power needs to be stronger than your desire to start something new.

There.  I said it.  I said it to MYSELF first.

In our quilting lives we are bombarded daily with eye candy always turning our heads to try this new line of fabric with that new pattern with another new tool in another new project and it can be really hard to stick with one thing.

Go ahead and make the new thing.  But perhaps use the old thing as the Leader & Ender while digging in to the new thing.

Or visa-versa.  Use the new thing as the Leader & Ender to help push those other languishing projects through!

Lola, the block compactor!

I know folks who have 97 projects on a spread sheet from partially cut out all the way through to blocks done and ready to assemble - and everywhere in between.

I would be completely paralyzed if I found myself in that situation.

And this is where I think we can help each other.

Do you feel paralyzed? Unmotivated? Not knowing where to start to make sense of it all?  

Leave a comment in the comments section below and let's talk about it.

Have you worked your way out of this kind of situation with ceiling to floor project boxes full of UFOs?  

Leave a comment in how you turned it all around - what worked for you.

Please read the comments section and reply to folks if something they say resonates with your own situation.  Offer encouragement.  This is something we ALL face, and I think we can have an honest discussion about project overload and how to work through it.

I currently have FOUR projects including this one in progress.  Any more than that and I'm a basket case.  

Sometimes I have to push everything aside and dig into something with an immediate deadline - like our Hearts 0f Hope Sew-Along. (Part One drops FIRDAY! YAY!) 

But I will say that my Leader & Ender project keeps growing just a bit in between the seams of that emergency project.  It gives me the "feel good feel good" of watching two things grow at once.

Slow Stitching in the Evening.

I LOVE my evening handwork thing.  It's going to take months and months, but it doesn't matter as long as some stitches are going in while I enjoy TV time with feet up in the evening.

Sometimes my evening hand quilting routine is set aside as I stitch down a binding, but it's still needle, thimble and thread in the evening.

If one project is my "main focus" and I am watching my Leader & Ender project grow in between those seams, and I am hand quilting in the evening - my hands have made progress on THREE projects during that day.

Progress in three areas on three quilts is about all my brain can handle.  LOL!

Please share your thoughts in the comments below - let's see if we can encourage each other to get to those UFO boxes and finish some projects.

It might mean that the bed quilt you were aiming for becomes a table runner or baby quilt instead - but empty out that project box.

It might mean that two projects can be combined into one to empty out two more project boxes.

It might mean that you decide that project just isn't for you and you donate it at your guild free table where it can do some good.

It might mean that the fabric in that box reenters the stash to be used elsewhere instead of continuing and those languishing UFO blocks become a set of gifty mug-rugs.

As to my blocks at the top of this post?  I hope to get them set together today while waiting for the Sisters of the Stash to arrive on retreat.

And it's raining.  Cats & Dogs.  Or just Dogs - because they came in soaking wet and so proud of themselves. LOL.

Here it is - Our Hearts of Hope quilt!

Quilt Size: 56'' X 56''

And there is Part One of our Hearts 0f Hope Sew-Along to finish up.

How many of you are ready for FRIDAY!??

I've had messages asking where to buy the pattern, etc.

There is NO PATTERN to buy.  It's a complimentary Sew-Along and I'll provide the instructions for each of the 4 parts here on the blog on Fridays starting 3/25 until we finish up on April 15th.

Print and save the PDF copy that is provided with each part by May 15th when this Sew-Along retires. 

All parts will be linked under the Hearts 0f Hope Sew-Along tab at the top of the blog.

The introductory post from last Friday is already linked there and contains yardage requirements and more information.

French and German translations will be linked a day or two AFTER the Friday releases as it takes some time for Elisabeth to work those out and get them back to me.

Thank you for your continued efforts in donating to our Quilters For Ukraine GoFundMe.

In lieu of purchasing a pattern for Hearts of Hope from me - my own hope is that you will donate as little as $10.00 to Quilters For Ukraine simply because you are participating in this Sew-Along.

If your guild or group makes our Hearts of Hope quilt - perhaps they can do it as a "donation" quilt (otherwise known as raffle but renamed for those whose laws state they can't say raffle.) with all funds going to our GoFundMe, Quilters For Ukraine.

Every little bit is helping.  ALL of this will be going directly to Together Rising in their continued efforts to provide real support - boots on the ground support - for the people of Ukraine.

The response on our March '22 PDF pattern releases has been fantastic!  Thank you so much!

The Quiltville Etsy Store has been busy for those who prefer to order from Etsy and like the way that PDF patterns are delivered.

Just remember that you need to download your files through your computer browser after logging in to your account. It doesn't work from the app.

I will slowly as time allows put up other PDF patterns there as well.  Right now there are just the most recent dozen or so.  I have added an Etsy tab to the top of the blog for easy access.

The patterns for Monkey Business and Bear Branch are both marked 25% off in the digital pattern section of the Quiltville Store and the Quiltville Etsy Store.  No coupon needed.

Save even more with the Monkey Business & Bear Branch Pattern Bundle, only available for a limited time, through 3/31/22.

Of course, digital patterns, books, rulers, notions and other goodies as well as PDF patterns are available as always in the Quiltville Store on my website.

Did you enter the gift away yet?

Our Drawing happens THIS COMING SATURDAY!

I will be drawing for TWO winners who will each receive the Monkey Business & Bear Branch Pattern Bundle with one winner receiving a Facets of Brown Color Roll, and the second receiving a Facets of Aqua color roll from Cotton to Quilts!

Winner must have fabric prize shipped to a USA address.  If you are outside of the USA, we can send it to a friend within the USA who can forward it on to you.

Head on over to the Gift-Away post and enter to win.  

I'll draw for our two winners THIS coming Saturday, 3/26/22.

What do you have going on for today?

Quiltville Quote of the Day -

Imagine all the things you could do with all the things you could learn!
Vintage orphan block quilt found in Winston Salem, NC.

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!



  1. A friend of mine gave me some advice - she put just 2 or 3 projects in a basket - when they were done, she got out 2 or 3 more -- just kept her focus on small goals -- I tried it and it really works!!

    Of course, I can get the tops put together - but getting them quilted is another story!!

  2. Oh boy. I am getting ready for a retreat and I am stuck at 4 sets of blocks ready for assembly into tops. But....boy I need something just piecing, for times I need to sit in a chair. So thinking I will be working on a baby quilt using Chunky Churn Dash. Right now I do not have a leader/ender so that will become it. We, in New Hampshire, are making maple syrup and are in our fifth season, mud season. Always fun. So E

  3. I have many bins of UFO projects. I do have a list and am trying to work thru them. I have past on one project of blocks that I would never finish to a friend she loved them. sponsoring a group that made a list of 12 UFOs and I draw a number each month for us to work on and hopefully finish but at least it moves them along. If I start a new project trying to use fabric from stash to reduce it. love it when I empty a bin. I am a longarm quilter for hire, so my tops get piled up so I have been trying to quilt at least 2 of my tops a month. good luck and everyone's UFOs.

    1. Quilting for ourselves always get pushed to the back of the line when customer quilts come in - I have at least 50 tops ready to quilt! We do need to put the time in to quilt our quilts and piece new ones. Good goal of 2 a month for you!!

  4. You gave some great tips on staying focused on started projects! Thank you! I came to a point where I had too many started when I was still working outside the home and did not have as much time as I have now that I am retired. It helped me to ask one of my quilting besties to hold me accountable when I wanted to finish a hand appliqué project last year. I asked her to check with me on the progress I was making. This really helped. Also, I had so many projects started that I didn't have many finished projects to show people who asked about my love of quilting. I was spending a lot of time but wasn't finishing up much. I am now part of a group that gets together a few times a year for a couple of days and that has helped me keep stitching on projects that I have gotten bored with. We meet at a fabric shop during the day for 3 consecutive days for great conversation and giggles. Of course this did not happen when Covid was rampant so it is so good to be back together for social interaction. Looking forward to the other tips that. your reader will submit. Thank you for all you do. Many blessings to you.
    Susan from Iowa

  5. YES! I am in project overload and feel paralyzed by the number of things in progress. I started this year out by listing just 3 projects I wanted to finish, and I’ve made progress on one. How do you stay motivated to finish one? Like you said, Bonnie, every day there is a new line of fabric with a new pattern that comes out that makes you want to drop the current project and dive into a new and exciting one! We need to start a Project Overload Annonymous!

  6. I moved in December of 2020 and unpacking my sewing room gave me a OMG moment - how long do I need to live to use it all up LOL I am one of those people that thrive on lists - it motivates me. Things I didn't love anymore got put away, projects I really want to make took their place. I get great pleasure in marking things as DONE.

    What was overwhelming was the amount of seasonal fabric I had - probably 6 large bins - what was I thinking ??? Anyway a couple of scrappy easter and halloween quilts were made and then I completed 12 Christmas lap size quilts that were given to my family as gifts.

    This year I'm tackling my civil war fabrics and trying to cover my eyes when I see a new bright and shiny toy HAHAHA

    1. Close to moving -- We had the windows replaced, which meant packing up and moving things away from the walls. The some of my quilt friends suggested I move mt sewing room into the bigger room (and hey, everything was already packed up, so this was a good time!) This allowed me to go through the UFO box, got a chance to go through A LOT of patterns and books I will never make (so donated for the quilt guild raffle basket) and took stock in what I had. That made me feel better about my UFOS.

      When Aurafil block of the month was announced as an applique, I made a list, and found 5 applique projects, so that was a good way to say "no" even though I LOVE variegated thread. (I stopped my UFO list at 20, before I even stepped into the spare bedroom...) Looking at the list helps with the bright and shiny!

      Now life has intervened (a co worker and my MIL have passed away since the beginning of the year) so I have not had a chance to get much sewing done. My problem is I want to work on a project, but I won't have enough leader and ender kits cut. And some projects don't make good leader and enders.

      One idea I have heard from other sewing groups is go spend time in your sewing room every day. You can make it 30 minutes, and hour, whatever, but go into the room once a day. This is helpful for people who are still working (like me). So i need to go in, and find some fabric for leaders and enders. tomorrow, I come back and cut them up, the next day, make kits, etc. This sounds like Bonnie does up at her cabin. heck, spend 10 minutes folding fabric and putting it away. Just don't go crazy and start cleaning your house. ;)

    2. Hmmm. I have never been able to sew with leaders and enders. I can only do one quilt at a time. Interesting that you feel you cannot do any sewing unless you are using leaders and enders...

  7. The honestlist had 87 projects on it. How did this happen? In 2000 two of us made list of our wins, decided to finish those. It took nine months and all twelve works in progress was finally finished. For two months nothing new was started and we were both in limbo, no projects and a bit lost. Then lots of eye candy, visiting shows reading magazines and the projects started, unexpected projects also arrived and was finished before the others.( It continues to happen even to this day). Almost six years ago the sewing room was unpacked into piles all over the spare room and the hallway. Each project was assigned a spot, then each one got its pattern, supplies added(which at this stage was all in different places in the sewing room, but not together). Sorting everything into kits helped create oreder to the chaos. Two lists emerged from this, one with each project(how far along it was or not), the other list was to note materials still needed for these projects (shopping list). The first place any shopping was allowed, my sewing room and supplies I already had. Things then looked a lot less intimidating and overwhelming. My next question to myself was: Do you still love these projects as much as you first laid eyes on it? Anything that did not, was to be gifted to someone who wanted it. The rest would be kitted into a bag/box and be worked on and rotated. When the project was done and given/sent to its forever home, it was dated on the list and crossed off. The list is now a lot smaller, still working on some of the original projects and enjoying them. By organizing the sewing room in this way, it made me more comfortable productive and I shopped for only what I needed, focusing on keeping my carbon footprint smaller and using what I have more creatively. The scraps are used and the landfill is not filling up with things that should not go in there. The threads and snips go into pet pillows, these inners get filled and then an old denim pants are created into pillow cases with zippers. These then are donated. The honest list was what was started and the list only comes out once a year or two. Now, I try to work on one project at a time and finish it before moving onto the next project. It is calming when order is created from the creative challenge of fabrics and thread.

  8. Three or four "real" projects at a time is about all I can handle. My leaders and enders project is always ongoing (3.5" squares alternating print and neutral for donation quilts), and on days when I need mindless sewing I make string blocks (I figure out what to do with them when I have a bunch). For the last few weeks, I've been finishing projects (the actual quilting is my least favorite step). I'm trying to clear the decks for the sew-along. 😀 Boxy Bow Tie (which insists on sitting in my brain as Botox Tie 😆), a Hallowe'en Trip around the World, and a flannel lap quilt are now done; Rhody Trail is getting there. I just have to keep at it.

  9. I am always in over my head with projects. I love each one but start too many. It's chaotic, but I have accepted that about myself. Your leader-ender concept has been revolutionary in my quilting adventures so thankfully I do finish many quilts each year.

  10. Thank you for the sew along. I LOVE THE STRING HEARTS. I made a medallion thus far in Ukraine flag colors. I made string heart with your inspiration of string and the Cluck Cluck Sew heart tutorial. It will be finished when the arthritis in my clavicle calms down. Thank you for all you do and the inspiration you share. I had already planned a donation to the Ukrainian refugees so they didn't get money through your charity.

  11. I have two spring projects on the sewing table and am alternating them as leaders/enders. It means it takes longer to get them done but I do love the feeling of accomplishment. Soon I will be cutting for a third project- a BOM that will fit in nicely in the chains. You notice there is no quilting mentioned as I just haven't the energy for that right now. Everything will shift around when I start quilting a summer top. I always enjoy working on more than one project at a time.

  12. Right now, my stuck project is getting a top quilted. It's been on the frame for a year. First it was deciding on quilting pattern to use? After months of thinking & waffling, I finally found one. I think. I made a stencil. I am having such a mental block on going from stencil to fabric. Do I use pounce or do I cut the stencil to use water soluble pens. Did I make the stencil the right size? The first quilt I did was stippling around applique blocks, so no marking was done. That quilt turned out fine. I have a HQ Sweet 16 on a Grace hoop-frame, so no computer or speed control. After this, I have 3 more tops needing quilting. I'm not sure if I need gentle encouragement or a swift kick to get me going on it. Maybe both?

    1. For your stencil, consider tracing it onto Golden Threads paper and then stitching through the design. Gently tear the paper away. Golden Threads is available at quilt shops or online. It comes on a roll of different widths. It is a thin, crisp paper designed for sewing through it. I find it's a great way to put a particular motif on a quilt.

  13. I have many projects, many plans, many fabrics that accumulated over the years as they got put aside that I believed would keep me busy "when I retire." Well, my retirement coincided with the need for me to be a caregiver for a family member for over a year, and during that time a lot of other things got delayed and postponed, which I am just now able to dig myself out of. So, though I am starting to work on small quilting activities more often, I still am too distracted and too pulled away by other things, as I know many of us are, that I have not really addressed all the UFOs and "seed blocks" and planned quilts. But soon. A couple of things that are out of my control will end in the next few months, and I will be focused on some needed non-quilting projects after that, THEN I will be able to play with whatever quilty things inspire me each day. I hope all of your can also see the light at the end of the tunnel, whatever that tunnel is for you, very soon.

  14. I find "resurrecting" UFOs can be quite challenging as well as satisfactory, as you get: "what was i thinking and where am I?" as well as "wow, this one is already half-way there!!" So they get d-o-n-e, sometimes more quickly than anticipated, a nice 'win' and part of my trying to add some encouragement... hugs, to all.. Cats in Carlsbad CA -- making quilted hearts for people to hang in their window/or on door knob to show support... xo C

  15. I really didn't have a problem with UFO's until Covid hit and I didn't have a place to pin a quilt. I'm a rare breed and don't normally start another quilt until I finish one. I made Unity, Grassy Creek into 2 lap quilts, A Queen size quilt for sister and 2 more lap quilts from a bundle + fabric from stash in 2020. I've been hand quilting since late 2020 when I managed to pin Unity. I'm down to 1.5 lap quilts to finish hand quilting. I did squeeze in a remembrance lap quilt for a friend this year when her husband passed. This has been difficult to not jump in and make another top. The ones in my head keep fighting for the "Next One" slot constantly.

  16. I've adopted several of your suggestions that have helped me finish UFOs. Where I get bogged down is when I'm paper piecing, which I love, but it's much harder to chain piece in between the paper foundations so I don't. Otherwise I leader-ender one project while piecing another, keep my UFOs under 5 total, and finish one before I start a new one. And yeah, the quilting is my biggest challenge. I have 7 tops right now, need to plan 2 days or so to quilt them.

  17. I have a number (too many to count just now of UFO's that are languishing. My get up and go went away with the isolation of the pandemic and the death of my partner as well as other family members. I've had a difficult time getting motivated. I do need to feel like what I do does matter to someone someplace and is just not to add to a stack in a closet. Encouragements are needed to carry on. This topic is just what I look forward to reading the comments of others to find the gems of wisdom that smack me into motivation.

  18. I HAD that tower of projects floor to ceiling for many years. My friend, Cindy Kingston, challenged me to go through them and be realistic about what I would finish. I emptied 50 project boxes of various sizes. Patterns went into a drawer alphabetically, or donate box. All large fabric pieces back on the shelves. Completed blocks evaluated for smaller finish. Orphan blocks bin grew and I made a quilt from those! All scraps sorted into color families and put in clear bags. I would work through each bag to cut down strips into sizes I readily use into the Scrap User's System you developed. I've been feeding it and making beautiful quilts with the system since 2010!! It works!!!! Thank you for developing a great system Bonnie. I admire and appreciate you and your creative thoughts. Hugs, Allison Bayer, Plano, Texas

  19. Since I started retirement I have challenged myself to finishing projects which become new projects since I haven’t seen them for awhile. I line up 5 projects for the year as I might want to do a few new ones too. For me it has worked, I was able to finish 19 projects in 2020. Hip hip!!!

  20. Getting ready to downsize yet again so making a promise to not add any projects. I am trying to clear out each bin. What scraps are left will be donated to local charity to be added to anyone else's scrap systems. I will only do one project at a time now.

  21. I recently went through all my sewing things as I moved into a new sewing room and I was genuinely shocked at the number of UFOs and “projects,” (fabric and pattern purchased but not yet begun). My plan is to work on these one at a time beginning with the one nearest to being finished and also the next one closest to finish. That way I’ll make progress on #2 while working on #1. And no more fabric purchases except if needed to finish a project or UFO. I may get all these finished in 5 years! Wish me luck!

  22. I have 12 UFOs, and I haven't had any finishes this year. I have been so distracted by life. I have a list, which is a good first step. I am retiring on April 1, and I plan on dedicating a certain amount of time each day to quilting. I am not buying fabric unless it is to finish one of my outstanding projects. My goal is to finish all of it by the end of the year and then start fresh.

  23. I have moved any number of times over the last 45 years. Projects always end up misplaced. This time my sewing room was downsized by more than half, I gave away 1/3 of my stash and projects and I still have 37 projects left. I was doing too many quilt a longs and other pandemic projects instead of finishing things. This year I have finished 5 projects completely. Except for two new special projects, and some clothes for the grandchildren, I will be working on my pile of UFO's.

  24. For the last few years I have been more interested in collecting vintage sewing machines, than actually sewing. I've got a mid 50's turqoise Brother being shipped. It should be here Friday! Once I go through it, I plan to get back to a Provance quilt that is to the point of arranging blocks for the flimsy. Can't wait!

  25. I'm not as dedicated a quilter as many of you are, partly from too wide a variety of other interests, and partly from the many part time jobs that prevent sufficient time to add sewing room time to the daily calendar. Even so, I have seven bed-sized quilt UFOs!! I've actually finished several over the past two years plus five baby quilts, and found that when my sewing room is a mess (it's such a small room that it doesn't take much to get that way!) I don't make progress, and when my projects are spread out in piles located around the room, I don't make progress. So I've bought some cute (large) baskets and large boxes, and the UFOs each have a designated container. That's a huge help all by itself. Then, when I can't stand it any more, I get that sewing room tidied up and things put away, and THEN I find myself making time that I didn't think I had.

  26. In 2019 I made a goal to quilt/finish 12 quilts. I wanted to finish 1 per month. Most of the quilts were already in top form, just needed to be sent to the quilter. I made 5 from start to finish. I ended the year with 13 finished quilts. My UFO pile went way down. I still had a few to quilt and they are currently at the quilter. I have 1 top not quilted. Think it needs borders so it will sit a little longer. I have 3 quilts started. One is a scrappy quilt that I am trimming my leftovers from the other 2 to use. These quilts are just to keep in my stash for gifts if needed. I have many (8+) bins of fabric with the pattern just waiting to be cut out. I will spend a weekend cutting a few quilts out so they are ready for machine time. Have not been successful with Leaders & Enders but will give it another try with my scrap quilt. Thank you Bonnie for bringing this conversation up. It's nice to know I am not alone. And now it has motivated me to go home after work and put together a top that has been waiting. We got this!!

  27. I need to clear out project boxes!!! This year I decided that I could start one new project, BUT I couldn't start a second one until I finished 3 UFOs to the completed top and back stage. I quilt by check and don't get backed up with binding, so that isn't a problem for me. So far I have one completed top & back. I have one 25 year old UFO that I was unhappy with, but I figured out how to make it work and am now in love with it!! It needs final borders and a pieced back. I'm not sure what I am doing for number 3. Everything is on hold as our house just went on the market, so no sewing has happened for almost a month. Right now keeping the house spotless is the priority. I found that focusing on fewer projects helped me feel less overwhelmed. However, I need the reward of being able to start something new. The balance of 3 UFO finishes to one new start seems about right for me. I usually use a scrap project as a leader and ender when I don't have something else.

  28. One of the best things I ever did is to give away a few WIP projects that I had lost interest in, or never really liked. Usually they were from a class I had taken to learn a new technique or experience a new teacher. I made a list of what was left and wrote everything on a white board under categories such as Quilt, Bind, Assemble and so forth. I must complete a WIP before I can begin a new project, or at least work on them at the same time. So far this is working well for me. The only time I allow myself to break this rule is if I need to make a prayer quilt for someone; that takes top priority but they don't really take long to finsh.

  29. I have only 2 UFO's. I finished one quilt in January and then lost my ambition. I have a lot of fabric I bought to make various quilts and haven't started any of them. There are four quilts I need to make this year for family and that's where I'll start. It's hard for me to get in the sewing room after working all day.

  30. Looking forward to the sew-along. Gathering my strings this week. This will be my first attempt at string piecing. Thank you Bonnie for all you do with us.

  31. I found what helps the most is to not browse patterns, books, internet... can't be tempted to buy or Starrl a new project if you don't see it. I keep several projects in progress so I can choose depending on mood.

  32. For the last 6 or 7 years, I have put out a 'challenge' to my quilt group to list 1 to 5 UFO projects (not an overwhelming amount) at the beginning of the year on an envelope with $1 for each project in the envelope. As each project gets finished, they bring it to show and tell, they mark off the project and get their dollar back for that project. At the end of the year, I count the left over $$, make out a drawing for the left over cash of the challenge - each finished project = one entry into the drawing. A tiny incentive for sure, BUT it does help focus our efforts and provides support! And it is fun to hear the story of why the project became a UFO and the joy and satisfaction brings to the finisher. I think over all in the group over the years we have about a 60% UFO finish rate...which isn't too bad considering many of the projects had been lingering for 20 years or more.


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