UnFinished Objects: Tips For Taming Your UFO Pile

In honor of World UFO Day read on for tips and tricks to tame your UFO pile.

If you’re one of those types of sewists that starts and finishes every project before moving on to the next, this post probably won’t be for you.  If, on the other hand, you’re a person who starts and stops projects, is easily swayed by pretty Instagram feeds and creates unfinished objects all along the way, then read on for tips on taming your UFO pile.

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Having a hard time keeping track of all your UFOs?

I recently asked on my personal Instagram feed and blog what are your best tips for controlling UFOs and got some great ideas. Now, I know some people have a strict rule of no UFOs. They finish every project regardless. I’m less inclined to operate this way. If something is just not ringing my bells I put it aside for awhile, but when I pick it up again if it’s still a  torture to sew it, I drop it and move on.  I write in my sewing journal what stopped me from moving forward on it. Was it the fabric, the pattern, the fit? Maybe it really doesn’t fit my lifestyle. What was not to like? Jot that down and hopefully learn a lesson next time you want to make parachute pants.

Tidy Up The Sewing Room

Sewing for most of us is a big hobby. Made more so buy our uncontrollable urge to be labeled The-One-With-The-Biggest-Fabric-Stash. I have seven sewing machines, a metric ton of fabric, wall of notions, trims, beads, interfacing, three bookcases filled with…books and so on. Plus, I’m not the neatest pin in the cushion. When I’m in the throes of a project watch out!

One tip, and it’s a hard one for me, is to tidy up every time after I sew. Even just a little. I’m also motivated by the dog and cat. Recently, I finished a pink velvet zebra printed throw pillow. I left it on the floor by my sewing table.  The dog came in the dark of night and ate all the pom-poms off of it.

I do a large scale clean up every season. That’s four times a year. This helps me locate UFO’s. I’ve been known to put a UFO away and come back to it in a year and it all comes together. Sometimes you and your sewing project need time and space.

Organize Your UFOs

Keep UFOs all in the same area, a tub or shelf. Place them in zippered bags with the pattern and any other notions or things you might need to complete the project at a later date.

If you have a lot of UFOs sort them by season, work on the ones that can be finished during the current season and can be worn sooner rather than later.

Try working on one UFO per month. This is helpful for complicated garments or large projects like quilts.

I often cut out a number of projects during a weekend. Then bit by bit  over the week I sew them together. I don’t count these as UFOs but WIP work in progress. You can apply the same process. Work a little here and there are your UFO and save bigger blocks of time for current projects. That way you are always moving forward and not creating more UFOs.


Sometimes a project just doesn’t work out. Try not to feel guilty about abandoning it. If it helps, donate the fabric or turn it into something else. Toss it if need be. Then ask yourself what you learned from it and move on. We don’t have time to wallow in guilt.

Lastly, if you have way more UFOs then projects maybe some wardrobe and sewing planning is in order. I love the idea of planning my sewing projects. I’m also working on my knee-jerk reaction to buying pretty fabrics and sewing patterns that are not part of my plan. I  have really cut back on my fabric buying this year and using what is in my collection.

Additionally, I’m not going to the fabric stores every week, which keeps me focused. And, this might be a bit radical but, I’m cutting back on social media. Seeing all your amazing projects just makes me want to go and buy more stuff and create more UFOs in the process.

Here are some suggestions from my Instagram and Facebook post.

Not Fancy Nancy recommends donating fabric scraps at an H&M drop.

Ryliss of Sewing & Design School uses hers as teaching samples.

In honor of International UFO Day, lets give a shout out to Julie Eilber of Jet Set Sewing  and the first intergalactic sewing blog!

What are your best tips for keeping UFOs at bay? The truth is out there!

2 july UFO day WF y 300x187 UnFinished Objects: Tips For Taming Your UFO Pile

 UnFinished Objects: Tips For Taming Your UFO Pile

About Jill

I write for the Sew News and Creative Machine Embroidery blogs. I love sewing, vintage and would love to get a comment from you!
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