Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Rule of 3

  My rule of 3....or how I keep those dread UFOs under control.  Apparently I scared  some of us with my comment about breaking my rule.  It has been a while since I mentioned this.  So let me explain.
   The year was 2000, and my life had changed once again.  I had time to sew and the creative urge was upon me. I did not have a dedicated sewing space, but used part of the basement, a spare room, and the dining room!  That translates to started projects stored in shoe boxes, tote bags, plastic bags, and other various bins and baskets.  I never counted them, but let's just say I was totally out of control.  I needed to  make some sense out of the mess.
    First, I decided what I wanted to keep and finish.  The other UFOs were "gifted" to others, or trashed.  Yep, some things that were so bad / ugly / disastrous were tossed.  No guilt, no quilt police, just make space to move on.  Was it hard?  Yes, it was.  But all that "baggage" was not going to help me move ahead.  

  That first year I finished up about 15 projects.......and along the way began learning to machine quilt.   This was this first thing I tackled.  It was part of my "neutral period"......not wonderful, but I was so proud to have finished it.

   Then I found this in a tote bag......from an art and color workshop.  I spent a lot of money on the fabrics, so I had to finish it.   This was the workshop that began my philosophy of how to select  multi-colored fabrics  for a quilt.
    Basically, begin with one fabric you love.  Pick one color from the first fabric and find a second fabric of that color.  Repeat using another color from fabric number one. And keep going until you have your required number of fabrics.  Be sure to include light and dark values.  You will be surprised at how well all the fabrics work together!

  All the blocks in this quilt are variations of the log cabin.  And this really began my journey into machine quilting.  All straight lines here.....and there are a ton of them.  Sir Old Man's cousin bought this one just because of the colors.

  Back to the story of 3.....By the end of the year I had made a dent in the UFOs, and then I took a workshop in strip pieced watercolor quilts.  That did it for me.  
   Shadow Heart set me on the road to where I am now.  Note the quilting.....some straight lines, some large early curls, and lots of stippling.  I was learning as I went, finding my own way.  I enhanced my stash of floral fabrics, and moved on to using 2" squares and gridded interfacing for the watercolors.  I was forever hooked.
   By the end of that second year, all UFOs were done----a few more were given away.  And I decided it was time to figure out who I was as a quilter.    
  •  I loved the designing and unexpected surprises I found in watercolor quilts.  
  •  I got bored easily  when piecing the same block over and over.  
  •  I got bored with only one project to work on.
  •  I liked block to block arrangements and hated sashing between blocks. 
  •  I enjoyed the  machine quilting and wanted to get really good.   
  •  I would rather be inspired by a design or quilt in a book/magazine than to make a duplicate of it.  
Thus, the Rule of 3 for me was established.  One quilt to be quilted, one quilt being sewn or pieced, and one quilt in the design/planning/cutting stage.   Small projects, like tote bags, table runners, and such that can be finished in a day or two are allowed anytime.  Just no major quilt is added to the 3 in the sewing room.  

 End result----finished projects and no UFOs!  Twelve years later, and I have kept up  with this philosophy, and have a huge body of completed work that covers my family, friends and many unknowns.  Until now.....I have some major quilting to be done, so future projects are just dreams added to my wish list.   But to keep my interest and creative juices flowing, I will play around with a stack of mug rugs and  snack mats  between quilting times.   Now, this might not work for you,   but my Rule of 3 works for me.   Happy stitching.


Impera Magna said...

That sounds like a very good rule... hmm... *looking around sewing room* ...I'm fairly good at finishing things but there are a few UFOs that I need to finish up here.

Lynne said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing a little of your quilting journey, it was a very interesting read. I, too, dislike making the same block over and over but I don't like sampler quilts. As for sashing, it depends on the quilt. The flimsy I'm working on now needs some kind of "barrier" between the four patch crumb blocks of different colours -- I'm not sure yet whether that will be borders for each block or sashing in one colour. My boredom leads me to having UFOs as I run off with new ideas. Hence my need to for things like "The year of the Finished Project" and "something Old, Something New"! Just keeping track of everything has been helpful.

Terri in BC said...

I use the Rule of Three as well, but in a different way. I, too, can get easily sidetracked so each day I make a list of 3 things I want to accomplish. I think I need to look at my projects in your way and get more finishes racked up.

Janet O. said...

I'm glad you found something that works for you. I need to figure out my mode of attack--because this is my "Year of the UFO"!! : )

Dana Gaffney said...

I cringed at the "tossed" but I've had a few that I should have tossed, powering through them is just depressing, so next clean out around here may involve the trash can.

Susan said...

I like your rule of 3!

Nicki said...

Your rule of 3 is great & sounds like it's working for you. When I first started quilting I decided that I would not be one of those quilters with lots of unfinished quilt tops so generally when I make a quilt it is for a specific purpose/person & gets completely finished. HOWEVER, I've been working on one for me that I got tired of early in the game & it is dragging on & on. Other than that one, I've kept up really well with my decision to have no unfinished projects. I have had a few tops over the years that I did not like after I finished them & sent them on to a charity to be finished & shared with someone in need.

Kathryn D. Duke said...

when I started quilting I could not believe that quilters had so many UFO's because in the sewing/seamstress world you finished one before you started I am just like you!! hehehehehehe

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