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Mar 25, 2011

Sewing and the (dreaded) UFO


Loyal readers, you know we don't talk about UFO's here on MPB very often.  (I'm an accentuate the positive type of guy.)   And I have only two "unfinished objects" to my name, sort of.

First, my cranberry corduroy jacket (ugh):



Second,  a black polyester crepe skirt for my mother (belch):



How about Michael's suit, you ask?  I think to qualify as a UFO you have to have cut into the fabric, don't you?

What happens to me -- and it doesn't happen often -- is that I either run out of steam, run out of interest, or both.

Friends, I fear my rose-print dress is veering toward UFO status, though I am trying -- trying -- not to let that happen.  But I'm experiencing strong resistance and the headwinds are formidable.



The first challenge is that I have to make a crinoline for it -- that's spooking me, though I have all the materials already: the tulle, the net, the ribbon, the lace, polyester fabric for the top, elastic for a waistband.  I even have a pattern.

The second issue is that I'm still not sure what color I want the bodice to be.  I blame you for that, and myself for asking your opinions.  Who knew you'd be so persuasive -- and so polarized?

Next, I've fallen out of love with the pattern (particularly the raglan-sleeved bodice) -- and the fabric.  I think it's all too girlish for Cathy.  I fear she'll end up looking like Miss Yvonne.




Finally, the so-called Comeback event came and went -- and in an old dress with some new accessories, go figure.  Now it's over and the momentum has vanished.

I do want to finish this project, and it doesn't even have to be that big a deal.  I could probably finish it in a day or two and I don't have to make the crinoline; I can purchase one.  I mean, I don't knit Cathy's pantyhose!

I'm a big believer in going where my energy is (following my bliss, as it were).   I hate the feeling of pushing uphill and it always works out better in the end to work on what I enjoy.

So yesterday I poked my head into the fabric store and I left with five yards of this:





 

It's some sort of poly sateen (?)  with a bold peony pattern.  It's lustrous and dramatic and the wrong side is arguably better than the right side:



At $2/yd., why not?  So I thought of revisiting this pattern from a while back, a formal cocktail dress with matching jacket.



I'd tried making this a year ago with the poly brocade-from-hell.  It was a nightmare to work with and I threw the whole thing out.



Like it or not, this project sounds more gratifying to me than that rose-print dress right now.

Of course, this would mean another UFO to my name.  Eek.

Friends, I ask you: what is your policy regarding UFO's?  Do you have a lot of them?  Where do you keep them?  Do they depress you to even think about?

Do you ever re-visit them at a later date and complete them?

If I do assign UFO status to the rose-print Comeback dress, should I schedule a re-visit now (in two weeks, say?) or just stick it in a box and forget about it?

Guidance, please!  (Motivational mantras especially appreciated.)

60 comments:

  1. This is not what you want to hear I am sure but please just finish the first one. It is a labor of love and who knows you might like it in the end, if not then someone else will. I actually think it is going to look very nice.

    I do like the new fabric but really, please just finish the UFO first.

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  2. If you think the UFO, once completed, will never get worn anyway....throw it out! Why waste your precious sewing time on something you're pretty sure will end up at the back of a closet anyway? Three UFOs is not that many for a prolific sewer like yourself...

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  3. I find it easy to start a project then move onto to something new if I hit a tricky patch. All too easy when you have loads of things that you want to make! I've recently started setting targets for items to be finished before I move on to something new. But sometimes, you just need to admit defeat and say 'I hate this, I'll never wear it', in which case, get rid of it so you don't have it hanging around, making you feel guilty.

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  4. Hi Peter!
    Sewing shouldn't be a chore, particularly when sewing for your cousin. I'm an unapolgetic UFO hoarder, and I DO return to them. Usually. Eventually. When another project becomes a chore I'll pick up something old.

    To push on with a project that doesnt have the wind in it's sails is just inviting an unpicker injury.

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  5. When I get stuck, I give it a rest and move onto something that's more interesting or easier. That gets my energy up and often clears my head for the project that was blocking me. And when the machines are fired up and everything's going well it's easier for me to then turn back to the problem child and consider a fresh attack. With that said, there are no Sewing Police that will show up and raid your home for half-finished garments...and it there are, give them the rejects and throw 'em All out.;-) Love the inside of that new fabric--go for it!

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  6. I do have quite a few UFOs. Occasionally, I go back and finish them, but I usually just throw them out when I can stand to do so. If you can't see yourself happy with the final dress and aren't enjoying the process anymore, let yours go, learn what you can from the experience, and move on! :-) I agree, sewing shouldn't be stressful as long as it's our hobby.

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  7. My UFOs are the result of near-fatal errors. I set them aside for a few days, and then finish them.

    I hang mine on hooks on the wall in my sewing area, usually behind something so I am reminded of its existence but not whacked over the head with it every time I look up from my worktable.

    Set the Rose dress aside for one project, then go back to it and finish it. If you decide against it, donate it. Someone will love it if you and Cathy don't.

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  8. I've been sewing for 3 years (and I sew a lot!) and I do not have UFOs. I have a historical costuming project that lacks jewelry, shoes and a wig, but the gown itself including all undergarments is acutally finished and wearable.
    I just do not start a new project until I finish the one I am working on at the moment. Not ever. It certainly helps that I only start projects I love in fabric I love. But even if I kind of lose interest in a project, I force myself to finish it first. The option of leaving UFOs simply dos not exist in my (sewing, knitting, spinning) world, because I know I would never come back to unlined jackets, unhemmed dresses, skirts lacking only the zipper&waistband or blouses without buttonholes.
    So, I vote for: finish it. But I also agree that sewing shouldn't be a chore, so if you really do not want to make this dress anymore, don't.

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  9. I'd say take out the gathers in the skirt and donate the yardage. Some thrift-shopping sewer would be delighted with the windfall!

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  10. I could ungather that skirt in 5 minutes...

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  11. I had some UFOs that were haunting me so I dumped them. Now I'm free! Sewing should be fun. If you want to move on, move on. I'm a big believer in following your instincts

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  12. I currently have 8 UFOs which I plan to finish, even if two of them are winter outfits just as the weather turns balmy... My problem isn't lack of incentive but time (maybe I should spend less time on blogs!). I get excited about a project, cut out the pieces, sew some of them up... and have to stop because work commitments take over. Because picking up where I left off is never as exciting as starting anew, the UFOs just keep on accumulating. Of course I plan to remedy this imminently, as I have done these past three months...

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  13. Maybe we need to start one big bonfire.... ;)

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  14. I find that, if I want to finish a UFO, it helps to have a deadline or event that I want to wear it to. But if I've fallen out of love with a project, that's it. It's done and I might as well recycle it.

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  15. Learn and move on!
    I'm with birdmommy. A UFO can't haunt you if someone else is happy with it, even as yardage. Unless you might use the yardage for something else yourself...? I tuck UFO's away into corners until I feel purge-y. -Anywhere out of sight. I'm pretty sure I even stuffed a pillow with one once.

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  16. I find it's important to walk away when I become disenchanted with a project. That might not mean abandoning it entirely, but I find if I'm not enthusiastic about it any longer, I'm more likely to be unfocused while working on it. And of course, if I'm unfocused, I make mistakes and nothing is more frustrating than realizing you have another hour's worth of work because you weren't paying attention. Often, I lose focus because I'm day dreaming about the next project and when I'll have time to get to it, etc. In the end, I resent the UFO even more than when I started and sometimes I don't even end up with a usable piece. So, set it aside- come back to it later, when you're inspired. Who knows- maybe you'll fall back in love with the bodice? Or better yet- maybe you could Frankenstein another bodice you DO love onto the gathered skirt. In closing (this is a long comment), I have always been in full support of purchasing a crinoline for that dress. Save the tulle for another day.

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  17. What started me on my recent year long sewing jag was finding a bag of UFO's that dated way back. Most of them were knitted or needlepoint projects(yes I used to do needlepoint) and one was a cross-stitch sampler I started when my daughter was born. FYI she is turning 30 this year.

    I have pretty bad ADD (Attention to Delightful Distractions) so having a timetable or a date where something HAS to be finished is helpful for me( really helpful). I get your dilemma. I have two outfits (reams of fabric only) that I bought last year, but am too afraid to sew.

    IF you decide to pick the project up in a few weeks and IF someone can cajole you with a date (me)I have this crinoline (someone wore it to a party I had and then gave it to me) I would be happy to send it to you. me)..http://sassylassiesvintagelife.blogspot.com/2010/05/come-over-for-coffee-klatch-wrap.html It is for a longer dress, but I'm sure you could adjust it in a flash. Most of the hard work is done. Just let me know.

    I will be putting up a few patterns on my blog today that I just might use with a certain rose print fabric. Maybe one of them will appeal to you.:)

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  18. I started some skirts a while back and ultimately only finished one of them. The other one I'm afraid may never be quite what it should be, though I love the fabric. I keep it in my fabric bin. Sadly.

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  19. I have ufos....I usually will pick a time, say...the week or two before stashgame on sewing mamas, and just sew them all up! I like to groups stuff by thread color, so I don't have to mess w the serger or machine much. Altho changing the thread takes mere minutes, its enough to keep me from finishing stuff. No mantras, tho, sorry!

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  20. Since there is no real obligation to finish the now hated dress, I like the option of ungathering the skirt and donating the yardage. Or, if you still like the material, but can't find the mental energy to finish it, keep the material for another project.

    If you do finish the dress, I vote for a black bodice.

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  21. Seeing as all you've done is gather a big rectangle, why not pull it off the waistband and restore it to "unused fabric" status?

    I don't have many UFOs so far... Occasionally an item lingers around the fringes of doneness for awhile (especially if it's not wildly successful), but not full blown UFOs. I like it much better that way... I'd rather finish something and know it didn't work than be always wondering how to fix it...

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  22. i am pretty monogamous with my sewing projects, so i don't end up with too many UFOs. that being said, i do actually have one hanging in my sewing room as we speak - a little gingham seersucker day dress from a 40s pattern. the only thing left is hand-stitching down the neckline binding & then the hem. everything else is finished! i put it aside, though, because i realized the style of bodice + bertha looks really unflattering on my figure. i've been mulling over it for a few weeks now and i think i have figured out what i need to do to make it look good on me... now it's just a matter of finding the time/energy to do it!

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  23. Have you ever thought about making this into a skirt? When I saw your picture this morning with the tee, it looked so cute, fresh, and happy--just like you. This would give you lots of versatility. You could make a matching top which would look like the bodice of a dress, just longer so it could be tucked in. Maybe add a solid pleated cummerbund in black, rose, or another coordinating color.

    You could wear it with a tee, a sweater, or make another top in a dressy solid color so Cathy could wear it to a more formal occasion. This would give you lots of possibilities with no commitment issues!

    I look forward to reading your blog every day. It's how I start my day, and you always make me smile and/or laugh.

    Linda in TN

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  24. Unfortunately, I'm OCD regarding UFO's. I HAVE to finish them. Even if I know I'll never wear it, never look at it again after I have finished, it HAS to be completed.
    It's a stupid thing to be OCD about, but I've always been this way and I've been sewing for 40 years. I just can't stand having something half assed lurking around the sewing room.
    I love your new fabric and LOVE that pattern you are going to use.
    I say finish up the Comeback dress, but keep in mind my OCD.

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  25. If Cathy is no longer interested in wearing a rose-spangled dress from this fabric, why not put the UFO on your giveaway list? I'll bet that among your enthusiastic and growing blog readership there is someone who would love to receive it in its current state (skirt ungathered, perhaps, for easier shipping). You could simply donate it somewhere, of course, but this way you would know it's going to a home where it will be loved and appreciated. Just a thought...

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  26. Like anon-10:01 above, I'm fairly OCD about not creating UFOs, and I usually only work on one project at a time until it's done. I have a couple of quilting UFOs but those are unfinished only because my quilting motivation and attention span comes and goes. They'll get done eventually and I don't feel guilty while they wait because I know they are pick-up/put-down projects.

    If I don't love a project, I toss it. I don't need it hanging around glaring at me. It's only fabric, after all.

    If you don't want to finish the dress, then don't. Although I will say that if you go ahead and sew the crinoline, I know you could sell it on ebay and replenish the Ken/Featherweight coffers if that interests you. If not, toss it too. ;-)

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  27. I have quite a few UFOs, most from my early sewing days when I used to bite off more than I could chew and then get discouraged. Lack of motivation to finish those early projects combined with serious hoarding tendencies resulted in at least 6 plastic shoe boxes stuffed with cut out and partially sewn jacket/skirt/silk chiffon blouses, etc. I keep them around b/c I can't throw away fabric. I tell myself that I am saving them for a time when I don't feel like cutting out something new (cutting out patterns is my least favorite thing in the sewing process) and just feel like sewing. Yeah, one day that'll happen, hopefully. I am also a firm believer that you should NEVER sew something you don't want to sew. Sewing time is so precious, and you should only sew for joy (unless it's for school or you are getting paid to do it), which means that you should put your half-completed floral number in a box and let it marinade there until inspiration strikes again (without setting the 2-week deadline!). I am guessing Cathy will have more special events coming up in the future, and maybe then you'll be inspired to revisit this project.

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  28. I love the new fabric and I agree, the wrong side is very nice! Do you have enough to do a dress and the jacket? You could do the jacket in black and line it with the wrong side. I think the drape of the pattern would flatter Cathy.

    Get rid of the party dress. It just seems more Sandra Dee than Cathy. If you're still in love with the fabric keep it until inspiration strikes again. Ot you can always use it to line something. Or give it away!

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  29. I try to make only things I'm passionately about, and if I fall out of love with something, I throw it away. I know, bad girl.

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  30. Oh, while it may not be what you were hoping to hear... simply set the rose print dress aside for a few days, and go on to your next project. Once completed, come back to the unfinished one. Finish it. If you decide it wasn't what you had hoped for... don't throw it out! Donate it to charity... or auction it on eBay! You have a loyal following... I'm sure it would sell well!
    Dahling... it's simply too good to relicate to the UFO status!

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  31. A UFO should not be stuck in a box, unless the box is out on the sidewalk..

    I think perhaps the rose print dress is too similar to this week's triumphant one, in print at least. I think the bodice in its own print is probably the better idea, if only because as you saw it allows you to vary accessories. I don't think you should stress about the crinoline though - as you say you don't have to make it, but if you finished the dress first you'd be able to tell how much of a poof you want, not to mention if you want. You weren't thinking of building the crinoline into the dress, were you? It'd be much more flexible to make it a petticoat.

    Anyway, hand tailoring on corduroy was way too much fuss for the fabric. Maybe you should consider the fusible tailoring sew-along at pattern scissors cloth? You don't have to go all the way to the finish..

    It's not a UFO if you haven't cut into it. But if you cut into something else after you start, it is :-).

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  32. Strangely enough, I only have one UFO to my name... and that's because she *grew* and I couldn't find more of the fabric. I'm going to end up combining different polka-dotted fabrics and finishing it, anyway. I have, however, had UFOs kicking around for months before I sucked it up and finished them. I'm a big believer in finishing what I start. I have projects that were never started, though. I planned 'em, gathered the materials, and then never got around to making them.

    And in my 20 years or so of sewing, I've only tossed one project... and then I promptly cut it out again and redid it!

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  33. I think that's why I sew clothes for special events. That way, there is a specific deadline... However nerve racking it is.
    Good luck with your UFOs! I've got several ripening as well.

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  34. I'm laughing right now because I just divested myself of several UFO's. They are like awkward engagements where the food and conversation are awful and you're consumed with thoughts of escape. (Not the special kind of UFO that requires lots of TLC and will hang around the sewing space until complete.) I'm talking about the ones that gives you agita every time you see them. Those? Get rid of 'em...off to charity or ebay.

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  35. oh wow, all these responses are so interesting. The UFO question obviously has a lot to do with how we process things...and I'm with lorenakitty, there are UFOs and then there are UFOs.

    As for your dress, my first thought was, "Turn it into a skirt!" but I also see the value of ungathering and then either saving the yardage or donating it. In any case, you seem ready to move on. No agita!!

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  36. Don't stress over UFO's, I have a bag for them. And yes, I do go back to some of them. Most of my rejects are clothing I was trying to alter, or make fit me better. But What I do if I just get sick of a project, is change it. Maybe turn the dress to a skirt? Little changes like that can help get you over the hump.

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  37. Add me to the no-UFO club. I finish what I cut, and some of that is my own personal OCD. I do tend to cut several projects at once and then have a pile on the burner, but they are not UFOs - just in the queue to be sewn.

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  38. Take a look at Illustrated Guide to Sewing: Tailoring to inspire you to finish your corduroy jacket and Michael's suit. It's available at Amazon. It's "old school" tailoring in that it doesn't use fusible interfacings. It might provide the inspiration you need to finish these projects.

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  39. My head is spinning... Thank you, guys!

    I'll let you know what I decided as soon as I make my mind up! LOL

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  40. I cannot beleive that someone has not pointed out that: PR always has a UFO contest at some point in the year.
    Save them till then, and then when there is something ELSE to be gained, you will find the inspiration.

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  41. UFO's? I have no UFO's. Just don't go looking in the bottom drawer of the dresser in my sewing room... the one I pretend doesn't exist. I guess what I am saying is, if you have a UFO bonfire, I'll bring the marshmallows.

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  42. You certainly have hit a nerve and you are certainly not in need of any more opinions. Nevertheless you are getting mine. 8-)

    Burn, trash, cut up or otherwise dispose of the corduroy jacket.

    Keep the rose print and turn it into a skirt, Cathy could do with some separates. You could make or buy a white, black, pink or green blouse or top. If you have enough fabric you could make a simple bolero. You can make a crinoline whenever inspiration strikes.

    I am too much of a coward to get into a discussion of what to do about your mother's skirt.

    Sewing should be fun. If it isn`t fun, don`t do it.

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  43. Cathy coud never look like Miss Yvonne, she lacks the..um...equipment...
    As for UFO's sometimes the inspiration returns, but only if it was a ufo because of time pressures or other commitments. Otherwise give it away!

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  44. Ditch your mother's skirt. you are not a dressmaker. buy her something cute or take her out.
    That jacket is awful donate it. Rose dress Do something outrageous with the top like a bustier make rest into a skirt.
    join a sewing guild. they have crazy parties for UFO's and ugly fabric swaps. Always fun people.

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  45. I do almost always re-visit old UFOs and finish them. Or if it's a big picky project, I'll do a tiny bit every once in a while to convince myself it's not exactly a UFO. For example- if I make a square on a particular quilt once a month, then I'm still working on the quilt. Eventually I'll finish it. I guess it's sort of fooling myself.

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  46. My strategy with UFOs is as follows: If I don't like a project anymore, I stop working on it. Sewing is my hobby and I do this for fun. Then I put the UFO away for a while and sooner or later my opinion about it becomes clear, finish it or discard it! There is no need to force yourself to make a decision. Some things take time...
    Personally, I like the rose print fabric much more than the new dark peony print fabric. I think it is much nicer for spring time and I think it is a pity that you don't want to finish it. Keep it for a while as a UFO - hopefully you change your mind. The same is true for the cranberry corduroy jacket. I think it would be a real pity to throw this away.
    One more thought - fabrics bought as a bargain tend to end more often as UFOs than fabrics which I had to buy because I liked them so much and although they were so expensive (I almost never buy fabric for a special project).

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  47. Do you still like the lines/shape of the jacket? If you do, perhaps you could dye it a different color.

    Not much other advice as I also have a stack of UFOs. :( Frustrating isn't it?

    (((Peter))) <--- Sympathy hugs.

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  48. After 35 years of sewing I have arrived at this procedure: Set aside 2 weeks then revisit it. If you still want it, finish it. If the bloom is off the rose (and it happens) think about re-cutting it. The above idea of a skirt is great. Or burn it. Give yourself time to decide if you love or hate ~ then act.

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  49. Make it into a skirt with a waistband. No UFO and something to twirl in.

    And Peter, because I love you, I'm telling you, the petticoat will not be that bad, and will open SO many fun doors. You can do simple!

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  50. I do my best to finish something if I commit to starting it because I despise going back to something in progress when I have moved on to something new. If it is hopeless I either finish it to donate or recycle the fabric in some way not leave it half sewed in a box or in the closet and move on no sense in dragging out the misery. I could easily have lots of nasty ufos taunting me if I permitted them to happen so I am really firm about completing whatever I begin before moving on. mssewcrazy

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  51. Stick that UFO in a box with your others(I use those Rubbermaid tombs with lids) and forget about it for awhile - two weeks is not long enough. In a few months or whenever you think about it, go back and check it out. Sometimes it's like a new baby and gets loved again. If not, I find someone to give it to. I have a problem just tossing out fabric of any kind, because sooner or later I or someone else thinks of some way to use it.

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  52. I love the raglan sleeves, I have been searching etsy and ebay and squinting at your pattern trying to decide if i can wing it. That being said if you just don't like the project put it aside.

    I am equally excited about the new fabric your showing off (maybe more so!) and am wondering if the wrong side is better why didn't you put up a picture of it?

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  53. Kate, the last pic of the fabric is the wrong side -- do you see how silvery and foil-like it is? The "right" side black, albeit shiny too.

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  54. I am with the group that says to ditch it if you don't want to do it. Put your effort into something that will bring you joy. Life is too short to sew crap you don't want to sew. I think you could hold a giveaway with the fabric and pattern if you no longer want them. Let some Cathy wannabe finish it up!

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  55. Hi Peter, I hope by now you have decided to ditch the UFO without guilt because we all have sewing sins to confess. I have a worse fault than either the UFO or the obsessive compulsive finishing. It's hanging on to the N (for not nice) FO. An NFO is the carefully finished object in good fabric that fits fine but just doesn't look or feel right. In short, its the hand made fashion mistake. One is currently hanging about semi-unpicked waiting to be turned into something better, and guilt is looming that I should just have admitted that it didn't work and donated it rather than trying pridefully to rescue it. Others fester quietly in the corner of the wardrobe because I took such care with them that I can't ditch them the way I can a purchased mistake....Mea Culpa.

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  56. Thank you for that lesson, Cleverclogs!

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  57. You made the right decision. Ugh- I am a shameless UFO creator. I've only been sewing a year, and I have 1 current project (worked on them in the last week), and six UFOs. That is, if you count having cut into the fabric. if you count my "project stash," it's really not pretty.

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  58. I say: Embrace your UFO's!

    As a rule my sewing consists of 2 easy projects in varying stages of completion (read that as girly-dresses size 5, mainly in pink) 2 complex projects - one only just in the pattern-adjustment-stage and one cut but not yet finished (Those are for me)and finally one exceedingly simple project for times when my heart wants sewing but my brain is mush - T-shirts for my husband.

    So which project I work on totally depends on the capabilities of my brain at the given time and on the amount of pink I can stand :-)

    UFO's are a way of life :-)

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  59. I only start one project and finish it. However, I have half way through a project decided it is just too terrible for words. I have just tossed it out.

    My friend usually changes them up, if it started out as a dress and she didn't like it, it became a top.

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  60. Once I've conceived a project in my head, my mind automatically gives it UFO status until I've made it. I get headaches a lot!

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