UFO busting

Most of us have them, unfinished objects (UFOs). I’ve decided to do something about mine.

There are several reasons why one of my projects suddenly turns into an UFO.

  1. I mess up and it seems beyond repair. There might be holes due to too much unpicking. I might not have enough fabric left to recut a messed up pattern piece. These are the complete drama UFOs that make you want to cry and throw the project against a wall or your sewing machine out of the window.
  2. I mess something up and have to unpick a lot before I can continue (did I ever tell you how much I dislike unpicking? If I could buy a machine that would do this for me, I totally would).
  3. Halfway through I realize the garment is not going to fit or flatter me at all.
  4. I reach a point in the construction where I can’t continue because I didn’t buy any lining fabric/buttons/zippers/quilting thread etc.
  5. I reach a point in the construction where I simply don’t understand what the instructions want me to do next so I get stuck.
  6. I just get bored and want to make something else that is more appealing.

Some of my UFOs, do you see their accusing glares?

At any of these points I’ll simply shove the project into a plastic bag and store it somewhere in a closet or a corner of my sewing room until I feel like finishing it. In truth these projects can sit untouched for years, taking up valuable storage space. They sometimes make me feel a little guilty because I already spend money on the fabric and if I can’t show something for it that was a complete waste. Some of these projects wouldn’t even take that much time to turn them into a finished object so it is kind of stupid that I do not just get on with it.


I want to get rid of these UFOs and stop creating any new ones.

From now on I am going to allow myself only one work in progress (WIP) in the following 4 categories and and I have to finish the project before starting a new one. I do realize that allowing myself multiple projects is potentially dangerous but if I stick to it I´ll only have 4 UFOs at most, which I promise you is much, much, better than the current situation.

  1. Garment
  2. Bag
  3. Quilt
  4. Hand-sewing

An important part of getting rid of UFOs is to actually turn them back into a WIP, so that is what I am doing at the moment. I’ve created a flow-chart on how to tackle this and in the coming weeks I’ll be able to show you my progress. A quick look around my sewing room revealed that I have at least 10 UFOs (I know!), but it is entirely possible that even more show up as I dig deeper in my closets…


UFO busting flow chart. Click on image to view larger version.

How is your UFO situation? Manageable or spinning out of control? Would you like to join me in some UFO busting?


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September 16, 2013

Emmely Treffers

About Emmely

I am a sewing enthusiast from the Netherlands. I live in the Leiden area with my husband and two daughters and I am currently working as a senior researcher in molecular virology. With my quilting patterns and sewing blog I want to infect as many people as possible with my love for sewing.

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  1. Ali

    Love your flow chart…!

    • Emmely

      Thank you! I found it really useful to think about why I don’t finish a lot of my projects.

  2. carelesssewista

    Ha. Great flow chart. I am a frequent victim of the shinier project.

    • Emmely

      Thank you!

  3. Tara

    This is fantastic! I have way too many UFOs. I’ll have to consult your flowchart to bust some of my own. 🙂

    • Emmely

      I’ve so far busted 3 so I am on the right track, good luck with yours!

  4. jo

    LOL… my sewing room has several plastic bags dotted around with accusing glares… just starting a shiny new project right now actually…

    • Emmely

      I’ve gotten somewhat better at finishing things that I start but not all my plastic bags have gone since I posted this…. I should really finish some more soon.

  5. pyzikscott

    I found this post on “UFOs” while trying to fix a dress that proved WAY too big, despite carefully taking my measurements and comparing to the pattern. Much needed encouragement!

    • Emmely

      Something that turned out too big can often be saved by turning it into something else. Good luck!


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