How to Finish More Projects

Although you spend time stitching on a regular basis - - one night you stitch on this project and make some headway, and the next day you select another project that is calling to you - - it seems as though you never -finish- anything!

You will - - if you organize the way you select which project to stitch.

First, look through your UFO pile (UFO stands for Unfinished Object) and weed out projects you know you are never going to complete. That roller-disco piece you started in the '80s is not something you'd hang in your home now. (What the heck -is- roller-disco? Can you even remember?!) That kit you bought early on has such poor quality materials, you know you'll never stitch it. Get rid of that stuff! Be ruthless! Be truthful! Donate it to a charity thrift shop or a youth organization which uses craft supplies. Ah! Your UFO pile is suddenly much smaller! Now you're ready to get organized.

One organization method is called the Rotation Method, and many stitchers swear by it. For this, you stitch on a certain project for a specific amount of time, say 10 hours or one week. When that time has elapsed, you put the project away and take up the second one. The amount of time should be a convenient and workable interval for you. Gather the fabric, chart, and materials for each project and put them together in a bag, tote, or pillowcase. Because you're not stitching a little on a multitude of projects and first hunting around for supplies whenever you have some stitching time, you'll find that your UFO pile shrinks because not only do you have supplies at hand, but you're being more efficient in how you use your precious time.

Another method is to prioritize your projects. Which one is the most important one? Is it one with a deadline, such as a wedding or a holiday gift? Is it one you're most anxious to stitch? Is it one you've had a long time, is not that appealing anymore, and you just want to finish it so you can move on? (Should this one be given away? See above.) Choose a project and concentrate on that one first.

You can combine these two ideas and put only the top 10 projects (or top 5 or whatever) in your rotation. Now you're really cooking!

A third idea is to get rid of the niggling little projects. Your UFO pile probably is not made up entirely of 11" x 14" samplers! Do you have a bookmark or two and a pincushion sloshing around among larger pieces? Try finishing up those little pieces. Now they won't get "lost" in the jumble, and you have the satisfaction of reducing your pile.

Use little projects along with big projects. Select one large project and one or two (only!) small ones and put all others aside. (Don't worry. They'll wait for you!) Stitch on one of them, depending on your mood, whether you're going to be stitching away from home, and so on. Don't let yourself set a stitch into any other piece than the ones you have designated. When you finish one project, put another of the same size in its place. When that sampler is done, replace it with another complex piece. When the bookmark has been washed and ironed, select another small design. (If you decide these two or three pieces are no longer your priorities or choices, replace them immediately with others, but don't continually do this or you'll be back where you started, with a bit of this and that.)

Old age is another way to complete more projects, and by this, I don't mean stitching until you're old and gray (but hey, we all hope to do exactly this!). What I have in mind is first to finish the project which has languished longest in your UFO pile.

Or, select the project that is closest to being completed. When that is finished, stitch on the one which is next closest. Eventually you'll get to a brand new chart and a brand new piece of fabric! (Well, that's the theory!)

Last, there's that old tried-and-true method: self-control, which says, "I will not stitch on anything else until I finish my current project." This is a nice plan, but as we all know, life intervenes. Somebody is born, somebody has a milestone anniversary, or a new design grabs you and won't let you go until you at least start it.

It is a delight to have so many lovely designs to choose from and so many wonderful people in our lives who deserve to receive them (and let's not leave ourselves off the list!) that we often put aside a project each time we purchase a new chart. With the size of our stashes, it's no wonder we're not getting anything finished! I would never advocate that you exercise self control in stash enhancement, but if you organize your time a little better, you'll have more finished pieces to show for it! And then you'll need more materials for more projects!

copyright 1996-2002, Martha Beth Lewis
Contact me about reprint permission.

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