UFO confessions

I love reading sewing blogs, because I learn something new all the time! Before blogging, I’d never heard the term UFO (Un-Finished Object) and I love it.

Although, it seems UFOs are taking over in the sewing room. UFOs happen to me for three reasons:

  • I made a mistake and don’t feel like fixing it right now! I need time away from the project before I’m ready to attack again.
  • I’m missing a crucial notion – buttons, zipper, twill tape – and I can’t go on to the next step without it
  • I’ve lost interest in the project, usually once it reaches a certain stage I have a bad feeling about the finished garment… and decide to leave it alone for a while
  • Ok, four reasons, when the next step is scary! (Usually buttonholes.) I have a whole Beignet skirt ready to go, but twelve buttonholes… yikes!

I even have one UFO that’s over a year old. (For me, that’s a long time, since I moved four times in a two year period and did a lot of purging.) It’s a Burda dress that my gut said wasn’t going to be cute.

Although I love the fabric, and think the pattern has potential:

I’d started the middle version with chocolate brown trim. Cute, no?

So, I’m putting myself on the record, I have (at least) 7 UFOs:

  • Beignet: oh, those tricky buttonholes! I need to take my machine in for servicing (desperately!) because the buttonhole function is malfunctioning…
  • Burda 7829: fabric pictured above, yay or nay?
  • Macaron: it’s also all done but the zipper needs to be re-set. I stretched the fabric too much when sewing it in, and now one side is a little lumpy! Pictured in my sewing room reorganization photos. I’m embarassed to admit that it’s been unfinished for so long!
  • Vogue 1161: In black, it’s going to be so wearable once it’s all done! It’s all cut out but I haven’t been inspired to start.
  • A leopard print dress I mentioned here. Not cute, not sure what to do next.
  • A Vogue skirt in blue wool
  • The gold brocade dress: thanks again for the awesome suggestions on how to fix it, now if only I had time to test them out!

And that’s not counting all the fabric just waiting to be made up!

Time plays a huge part as well. If I only have an hour to sew, what’s the best use of that hour? What am I most excited to work on? Let me tell you, it’s not buttonholes. Or fixing mistakes. It’s usually starting the next big thing – and therefore why there are so many half-started projects! Plus, I love cutting out projects, it’s my favourite step… which doesn’t help either!

I’d love to be one of those uber-organized seamstresses that buy all the right materials at the outset, and work through their projects start to finish, one at a time. I’d feel so organized and productive! Although, I still produce a lot, so maybe my scattered approach works.

What’s your oldest UFO? Do you even have UFOs or do you finish everything, doomed or not?

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35 Responses to UFO confessions

  1. Ms.Cleaver July 26, 2010 at 6:37 am #

    Cutting out is my least favorite part!! I usually only have one project going at a time, but if I loose momentum it sits for a few months… My biggest cause of UFOs right now is I’ve been teaching myself pattern drafting and I’ll get to a point where I don’t know how to fix a fitting issue, so it sits until inspiration strikes I suppose…

  2. Molly July 26, 2010 at 6:49 am #

    I love watching tv and cutting out stuff. I used to be really good about finishing one thing completely before starting another because I only have one bobbin, so I would have to rethread the whole thing. I now have 4 things laying (lying?) around, including my three years unfinished cape, so don’t feel too bad!!!!

  3. Freya July 26, 2010 at 7:15 am #

    I know exactly how you feel about the Beignet skirt, I had 16 buttons on my Ceylon dress -but at least I had a deadline which forced me to do it! Ashamedly I also have a horrendous amount of UFOs as well – I never seem to have the time nor all the right notions!

  4. woolcat July 26, 2010 at 7:36 am #

    I love cutting out too!

    I have a patchwork quilt I started in 1990! (hand pieced, because I didn’t have a machine at the time…)

    I just threw out a jacket that I realised 2-3 years later was never going to fit nicely. I am doing not too badly with (sewing) UFOs right now, but I do have tubs of fabric I need to use! (and don’t even ask about my knitting UFOs!)

  5. Ali July 26, 2010 at 9:06 am #

    Ha ha, Tasia, you make me laugh! I actually have that exact Burda pattern and was planning on whipping it up as a summer dress but discovered I don’t have enough of the intended fabric. Oh, well (wink), my interests have moved on since I bought it though I think it’s a lovely pattern with a classic, feminine shape — I bet yours would be perfect!

    And I can’t wait to see your Macaron. It’s taking every bit of resistance to keep from buying it and instead getting through, not my UFOs, but my patterns!

  6. Kelly July 26, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    I have some UFOs that are at least 5 years old. I just went through the box last night and dismantled some that were too hideous to wear, the wrong size, or just plain wrong. The rest went in the “to do” pile with my normal UFOs. I couldn’t tell you how many UFOs I have, for the very same reasons you listed – probably more than a dozen.


    But, like you said, starting a new project is so much more fun!

  7. Shannon July 26, 2010 at 9:31 am #

    I am amazed I don’t have any UFO’s. I am such a Type A when it comes to sewing. If I run out of a notion I go and get it. I just can’t allow myself to start something else if what I am working on is not finished. I guess I am kind of obsessive about each project. However, if I see something is not turning out, and I really can’t salvage it, I will throw it away and start fresh. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened too often! Great question to think about really. Good luck with getting to your UFO’s. I am sure they will look lovely.

  8. Jaime July 26, 2010 at 9:42 am #

    AGH!! I’m currently making that dress (your 1 year old UFO)!! I LOVE IT! It goes together easily and the fit is wonderful. It’s currently one of my UFO’s right now as I’m waiting for piping and material to make the straps out of, but I have the skirt done and waiting on the dress form for the top half – already cut out, waiting for piping…getting it today. :)

    My UFO’s have severely decreased this year. I was up until now sewing for other people. THat only left me minimal time to try to eek out something for myself and often those items were usurped due to a paying customer. I was tired of sewing for others and never getting to make what I wanted and since I have a full time job and dont’ NEED to sew for income (and after seeing my profit last year while doing taxes – $300 for the YEAR), I decided to quit. I cleaned out my closet, got rid of UFO’s I’d never work on, and spent the first half of this year working on the one’s I wanted to finish. Then I started SSS.

    Self Stitched September has really discouraged this UFO Phenomenon for me. I can’t afford to leave something half done…otherwise I”ll have less to wear in September! LOL. There is something cleansing about forcing yourself to finish the UFO’s – while it seems overwhelming at first, or at minimum, undesireable, you’re in for a treat! My oldest UFO? A pair of denim shorts I cut out ??? years ago (http://www.facebook.com/pages/JaimeSews/44818812415?ref=search#!/photo.php?pid=4289618&id=44818812415&fbid=408821162415) – they were my first project for SSS, as I wouldn’t let myself start something new while I had UFO’s.

    I wish you quick and satisfying sewing through your UFO’s!! :)

  9. Lizzy July 26, 2010 at 9:58 am #

    UUfff!! I have several of those!!! the oldest one is yes….a year!!!!!!!!!!! I started sewing the vogue pattern reproduction 2401 but as I got lost in instruction I decided to continue sewing it “later”…….BUT I’ve not finished it. I have other 3 UFO but last night I started finisshing one BUT I didn’t finish BUT TODAY I’ll do it!

  10. Kelly July 26, 2010 at 10:49 am #

    I call them OPPS (“oppressive pending projects”), yeah you know me. I almost always finish them. I have three right now; one project is a year old (flannel double-sided wipes) and one about 6 months old (a pair of Dortje trousers for my daughter), and one is essentially three years old (a quilt I started years ago– but I recently pieced the top). Considering how MUCH I sew I think it’s pretty good I don’t have too many unfinished projects.

    I either muscle through (& often end up giving away the finished product) or sometimes I carefully package the whole bit up in a ziploc, label it, and give it to one of to thrift shops. I figure maybe someone else will finish it or use the fabric or pattern (if I include the pattern). Sometimes I just have to let it go. Because enough OPPs can really drag me down.

  11. learningnewtricks July 26, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    Buttonholes! OMG, I, too, cannot seem to get them right. Recently my main problem has been zippers, i.e., until I downloaded many zipper tutorials. I always start sewing from top to bottom, but then I found a tutorial that said to baste it first. Then the tutorial on Sewing Republic said to sew it from bottom up — I finally conquered my zipper problem – yea!

    You sew beautifully, so if you have a few UFO to finish, that’s perfectly understandable. We all need a little challenge in our sewing to keep us on our toes.

  12. Margie July 26, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    I’ve been trying to work through my UFO’s recently. Last weekend I finished a dress that I started almost five years ago. Of course it was way too big, so I had to make some adjustments, but I don’t know..(five years is a long time). I have a pair of pj pants that need to be hemmed from the same year. Then a dress I started last year that needs to be finished. A bag I started maybe 6 months ago for my grandmother. And then some placemats that I was going to give to my mother in law for christmas maybe 4 years ago. The placemats are the worst, because I did end up making a table runner for her, and the placemats were to match (a much too ambitious project). She loved it and keeps asking me to finish them for her. But, I just can’t seem to bring myself too cause there is only enough stuff for 4 placemats and they really need 6.

    I just really love starting new projects. The excitement of a new project is intoxicating. Though, now that I’m actually sewing well enough to wear my creations the excitement of wearing them is even better :)

  13. CGCouture July 26, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

    If we lived closer together we could totally collaborate–I could do the sewing and you could do the cutting/marking! :-P (We’d have to find someone else to do the buttonholes though–I don’t mind them when I have a machine that makes pretty ones, but mine isn’t one of those machines.) I hate, hate, hate(!) the tracing, cutting, and marking step of sewing. It’s hard on my back/neck, and takes for.ev.er! My UFO’s are mostly ones that I try on partway through to discover they aren’t going to fit. :-( The rest of them are projects that I either lost interest in or had something come up where I needed to stitch up something else first. Right now I have 3 UFO’s going–one shirt for hubby that only needs hems/snaps/cuffs, J2908 for me that needs a waistband and hemmed (they don’t fit…:-( ) and J2561 needs a waistband (which are like clown pants they are so large!!)

  14. ~Sherry~ July 26, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

    I generally finish things quite well, but I am not very good at going back and altering something once it is done. Sometimes I want to shorten that skirt a little bit more, or take it in a little bit here or there, but to be honest it rarely gets done!
    I really need to get my trenchcoat buttons and buckle – it is practically finished but just waiting on me to go button hunting. Just to make it more difficult, I have to find the right sizes too, as I’ve already done the buttonholes!

  15. Hatty July 26, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    I have one UFO started last winter – a jersey knit tunic that my sewing machine cannot get through. To finish it I need to take the machine into the shop and have the foot pressure adjusted but I only have the one machine and cannot bear to be without it for long enough (I don’t think they will do it immediately – they’re so slow). Everything else I finish or, if I don’t want to finish it, it is not a UFO, it’s a wadder and out it goes, or the zip etc gets ripped out, buttons taken off and the fabric goes into my repurposing/making partial muslins store.

    For me if I only have an hour or two, then putting the buttonholes on something is a lot more motivating than starting over. I mean, I get something to wear today if I finish it, not next week or whenever.

    As for going off things, I know I almost always go off things at the end of making them. So I always finish them and then wear them three or four times before I decide on my final verdict! What the heck, i’m not that keen on my RTW stuff, so a few doubts about my own stuff won’t stop me. The DH and the DS are absolutely dead set on the fact that my garments are better than RTW, though, so a bit of feedback helps.

    I also have a “more out than in” rule going on with fabrics (because, darn it, people, generous people, actually GIVE me fabric!). So that means I have to finish my stash fast if I want to buy some particular new fabric. I am only just keeping up…..

  16. Red July 26, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

    Wow–I *hate* cutting out projects! I find that I come home from the fabric store all excited about a new project, but cutting it out takes me so long that it seems to drain that excitement before I’ve really gotten started. So you can come over to my place and cut out projects to your heart’s content!

  17. cidell July 26, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    You really should make that dress. I did, http://missceliespants.com/2008/03/21/green/#comments It is probably the best dress I’ve ever made. Really beautiful and perfect in cotton. But, I have since grown out of it and had to hand it off to my mother. So, please, make it for me :)

  18. Tilly July 26, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    Send your Beignet over to London and I’ll finish it for you – I love doing buttonholes! So satisfying!

    Your 1 year old UFO needs finishing – it’s going to look so pretty, and with so many colours to pick out you can accessorise it in loads of different ways!

    I’ve only got one UFO, my pedal pushers which I’m putting off fixing because it all sounds a bit complicated. But I’ll get round to it soon, honest… ;)

  19. Venus de Hilo July 26, 2010 at 2:14 pm #

    I am extremely susceptible to distraction by inspiration, which means I always have way too many projects either active or aging at once. I pay no attention to whether I have all the required notions on hand before starting a project. I’ve been known to cut fabric and sit down at the sewing machine with it before realizing I do not have an appropriate color thread in the thread stash.

    My personal shame is the length of time that can elapse between completing everything else on a garment and getting that last hook-and-eye sewn on. (hint: count months, not weeks, of procrastination on that sometimes).

    UFOs? Yup, I got ’em. And no, I don’t want to count how many.

    I am making an effort this year to finish more projects than I start, but can’t say that I’ve made a huge dent in the UFO pile yet. You’ve inspired me, though, to see if any of my UFOs are things I will never go back to, and can now toss.

  20. Venus de Hilo July 26, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    … forgot to add:

    Yes! Make up that summer dress, quick, before this summer is over. It will be lovely, and you’ll be glad you did.

  21. Darci July 26, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    @Venus de Hilo:

    That will be so cute! You’ve GOT to finish it!

    I’m afeared of buttonholes, too. And zippers, but it gets better the more you do it. Currently, my oldest UFO is a two-year old black and white houndstooth coat that will be completed this fall BEFORE I get to the new list ‘o projects. Like cute pencil skirts and “Mad Men”-inspired 1960s dresses‚Ķ

    UFO’s stink. There’s no way to really get around it, but think about how satisfied you’ll feel when you have a happy pile of FINISHED projects. Maybe for every “new” project, you finish a UFO? That might be a happy compromise.

  22. Tanit-Isis July 26, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    Hey, if you cut out my stuff, I’ll finish your UFOs! I haven’t had that many UFOs since I kicked up the sewing gears this past winter. Prior to that I hit a few, although a lot of what I was sewing was costume-grade, so it was usable even if it wasn’t awesome. And then there were the projects that were never really finished, you just kept tweaking them as the years go one. Actually, what’s the dividing line between a UFO and a wadder? I had a disaster of a knit top on the weekend, so that’s unfinished and probably unsalvageable. I’m using it as a chair cushion right now, actually. Or the firs time I tried to make a shirt for husband, and melted part of the collar when I was ironing it just before giving it its final touches (he hated it anyway so just as well).

  23. G July 26, 2010 at 4:14 pm #

    I will NEVER publish such a list. I’m in denial but the truth is I have at least as many UFOs, the oldest one of my first projects ever so dating back to 2008. That’s other reason a project can turn into a UFO: when I underestimate the techniques involved or overerstimate my capabilities. Today, I’d probably finish that lined jacket in a few sittings but at the time it was too much for me to handle and now it’s so difficult to pick back up!

  24. Laura July 26, 2010 at 6:36 pm #

    My mom had me clean out an old chest in the basement recently. It had been sitting there untouched since they moved into that house 25 years ago. The chest contained fabric and patterns and other miscellaneous items, including two tops I had cut out for one of my little sisters. They are the ruffly, prairie style blouses of the early 80’s in a girl’s size 14 (I think), and that sister is now 5’10” with a full-grown daughter in the Air Force Reserve. I plan to sew the blouses sometime in the near future, partly for the challenge of figuring out how they go together, since I think the instructions are long gone. Another UFO in the chest was a pair of corduroy knickers, started by another one of my sisters. All that’s missing are the bands at the bottoms of the legs, and buttons there and at the waist. A good joke present for her daughter, once I finish it!

  25. Katherine July 26, 2010 at 7:47 pm #

    I don’t have UFO clothing though I do have a pile that needs refashioning, because I don’t wear the garment in its current form. I do end up with lots of craft UFOs though because I much prefer sewing clothes. I have a quilt that I spent 2 days on at Easter that needs probably another hour of quilting and then the binding…we have started using it already in its unfinished state.

  26. Fourth Daughter July 26, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    Cutting out is my least favourite bit too, Ms Cleaver, mainly cos I have to put the pattern on the floor and my cat ends up sitting on the fabric or the pattern and I have to jiggle the pattern around to get the most economical use of fabric as I rarely buy new material and there’s never quite enough in the bits that I have.
    And buttonholes.. nearly as scary as chickens to me.
    You think 1 year is bad for a UFO??? My room is like outer space, it’s so full of them… (haha)… did you see this post?? Can you do better than keeping a UFO for EIGHTEEN YEARS? Sorry, but I think I’m going to have to claim victory on this one (um, is it really a victory to procrastinate for 18 years…??)

  27. Kara July 27, 2010 at 12:34 am #

    Oh my gosh. I HATE cutting out patterns! Can we trade? You cut out my patterns for me and I’ll sew for you! LOL
    I recently finished a top I had started *gulp* I think 2 years ago? And I have a jacket muslin all cut out from at least one, maybe two years ago. Does it count if it’s just a muslin?

  28. Renay July 27, 2010 at 4:06 am #

    Oh no. I thought I was the only one. Glad to hear you do it too. I hate looking around my sewing room at all the half made things…. I swear I’ll finish them one day…
    I want to see your macaron and gold dress finished!!!

  29. Jessica July 27, 2010 at 6:24 am #

    Oldest UFO, by far, is this quilt top that I started when I was 16, lugged to Boston and proceeded to NOT TOUCH for two years … and will probably lug with me again wherever I go next.

    I also have a handbag and a self-drafted half-circle skirt sitting around from last spring.

    It’s funny, when I knit, I try to be really good about “one project at a time.” But when it comes to sewing, that’s a different beast entirely …

  30. Sofia July 27, 2010 at 8:01 am #

    I HATE cutting out projects too. I wish I could go in the fabric store, point at the fabric and trim and pattern I want, and it comes out cut and ready to sew. It’s so tedious! Let me sew already!

    Ha – I think my most annoying UFO is that idiot skirt – you’ve seen it, it’s a full pretty chiffony lace patterned fabric, with a really really odd thick lining. Almost a canvas lining. And I stopped it a while ago because I didn’t have the right serger thread, and then lost the zipper, lost the pattern, and the thing got all wonky because it’s on the bias. SO basically, I just want to secretly throw it away and not let mom know.

    And that ink blot dress. Gorgeous pattern, gorgeous fabric, SO SICK OF PLEATS.


    But really, I’ve been really good. I’ve made a rule – no more new fabric until I finish my old projects. Which hopefully will work. Maybe.

  31. Sarah July 28, 2010 at 12:55 am #

    Boy, I love your blog, Tasia! :) It’s always so fun to come by and visit. My UFO’s are all wadders at the moment. Boo!

    I have a primo set up where I sew. Mr. Friday (my hubby) set me up with a TV & DVD player. I love to have a good movie on when I’m sewing. *bliss*

  32. amber July 28, 2010 at 8:53 am #

    I, shockingly, only have one UFO – a lined wool skirt that I cut out, realized would be too small and repurchased the fabric to make it in the correct size. I’ve since lost quite a bit of weight and I’m sure said UFO would fit well now. Has that inspired me to resurrect it? Not even a little. Ah well, maybe as it gets closer to winter, I’ll reconsider. ;)

  33. lakaribane July 29, 2010 at 3:45 pm #

    The burda dress is on my To Sew list and I think your fabric is delicious. I would do an orange or light blue piping myself but brown is very chic.

    My oldest UFO I finished last year and it was 4 yrs old. Yes, still fit as my weight doesn’t fluctuate too much (ugh, maybe I just jinxed myself saying that?)

    And I had a white eyelet Burda top that only needed buttoholes and sewing dow the bias binding to be finished. Lingered 2 yrs, IIRC, in the UFO pile.

    So you are NOT alone. Sursum corda!

  34. Katy Rose December 1, 2010 at 10:29 am #

    I have a UFO that is 7 years old. I started cutting it when I was preggers with Cole. It was a Burda Coat for winter, it’s halfway cut out and I think I’m not excited about it because I wanted a sapphire blue kasha lining and all I could find was boring slate grey. So now its boring…One of these days I’ll find the right lining and be excited about it again.


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