By Judy Moore Pullen
In preparation for having a friend come to my studio to work on a baby quilt, I realized that there was very little room for one more sewing machine or person to work. My organizing system is that of “stacking.” Floor space is limited in my back-of-the-garage sewing studio. Partitioned off from the garage, it is warmed in the winter and cooled in the heat of our Texas summers, light filters in from French door windows, but square footage is limited. I have petitioned my dear husband to build a barndominium that would provide living space for us, as well as a place for our toys, a workshop for him to paint barn quilt blocks, and more floor space to better organize my work. So far, his answer is “No.” He also added that we are too old…
So, I decided to try to engage a few creative brain cells and work with what is. I need to better organize the space I have. While digging through my stashes of books, patterns, fabrics, and projects begun but not completed, a light bulb came on: collect all unfinished projects into one or more containers and whittle them down, beginning with the New Year. Sarah, a very dear friend and former president of our Highland Lakes Quilt Guild, made a list of her UFO’s. She focuses on completing one project, and proudly shares it, deservedly so, at our guild meetings. She started this practice as our guild president a couple years ago, and has successfully and joyfully been able to pass along the fruits of her efforts.
I have heard that in order to “get out of the box,” you need a box in the first place. I have stacks of plastic bins with lids from moving experiences several years ago. They will be put to better use to hold my unfinished projects rather than sitting on top of the freezer in the garage. While digging through my stashes like a dog digging for a place to bury a bone, I discovered projects that made me wonder what I was thinking of in the first place when I began. Somewhat like what was I thinking when I bought that dress several years ago, knowing that I probably was not going to lose the 5 or more pounds that would make it fit well. So, I tossed all UFO’s into bins, making a list, influenced by the season of the year and Santa, to prioritize them when the rest of organizing my studio was finished. That was the plan anyway.
But, if one project is good, perhaps a couple or three would be better. So, keeping in mind that: “We are successful because we are flexible,” a sign posted in one of the wonderful elementary schools where I have been privileged to teach, I modified my original plan. I do like to have several things to work on at one time. That way, when I find/make time to sew, I can work on whatever my little heart desires at the time. I work on what I am in the mood for: hand needleturn applique, machine piecing, wool applique, rug hooking, embroidery….
Now you can see one of the sources of my organization/excessive UFO problems: I simply enjoy doing too many things! I do not want to miss anything, except vacuuming and cleaning bathrooms. I remember a sign that said, “Housework makes you ugly.” For me, “Sewing makes you happy and pretty.” That is my story and I am sticking to it.
Better organizing my sewing space has also made me happy. In the process, I unearthed an antique apron that went missing several months ago. Found it, now I am happy. I also located several more projects that I am eager to begin. Therefore, I retrieved more bins from the top of the freezer and labeled them “NEW PROJECTS TO BEGIN ASAP.” My thinking is that if, like hot tea on a cold winter day, one new project is good, several are better. Still not giving up on that barndominium request. And, there are fewer plastic storage bins on top of the freezer in the garage.
Judy Moore Pullen