There is a lot of words thrown around by quilt makers that might leave an outsider or new quilter scratching their head. The What Is Series is where I tackle those topics.
View all articles in the series here.
If you have something that you wanted covered, please let me know by contacting me here.
What is it?
So what is a WIP? It’s a ‘work in progress’, sometimes called a UFO (unfinished object).
In the quilt world, a WIP is that huge stack of half made quilts that you have hidden in the closet, or in boxes, or baggies, tucked away in drawers. You get it. You know it. You might even be a bit ashamed of it.
Firstly, are you ashamed? Why? Why do we cringe when we say the number? “Oh, I’ve got about four.” In reality, it’s more like thirty four.
For me, I’m ashamed. Maybe “ashamed” is too strong a word. Maybe it’s more feeling a bit guilty. I feel guilty. I feel guilty/ashamed/annoyed because I had an idea, I started it, spent long hours on it, spent money on it, then tucked it away.
To be honest, I groaned multiple times just pulling these WIPs out to write about them in this post.
What defines a project as a WIP? So I’ve always considered this to be a project I’ve actually started, but after conversations with fellow quilt makers have changed that thinking. From now on, I’ll be including projects that I haven’t even began as a WIP. For instance, I’ve purchased several patterns and fabrics for those patterns. I have the pattern and the fabric bundled up for that WIP.
This is what constitutes a WIP. How many do you have?
I love this big chunky sweater and am currently working on it. Since this is my very first wearable crochet project I’ve got my fingers crossed tightly that one sleeve doesn’t end up longer than the other (wink).
Purchase sweater pattern here.
How it happens
I feel like the very beginning of a quilt is the best part. I like being inspired and excited and coming up with an idea for a quilt or even deciding on fabrics for a quilt pattern is the stuff that makes up happiness for me. Sometimes after I’ve began a quilt and am loving or not loving it, another idea comes and I’m inspired by something completely different. I’m now ready to jump into quilt #2 RIGHT NOW!
So I begin another quilt/WIP. This circle could keep repeating itself until your closet and drawers and head are completely full.
I’ve purposely took all my WIPs off my design wall (unless I’m actively working on them) in an effort to stop fussing at myself for leaving them sitting idle for so long, to stop this ridiculous guilt creeping feeling I have.
We should not feel guilty, but I don’t know how to stop this feeling. I’m groaning just thinking about my beautiful ‘Modern Priscilla’ quilt in drool worthy Wonderland fabrics not getting worked on. Truth be told I haven’t touched it since last August.
Support a small shop
My friend, Kathy, recently opened up an Etsy shop. Please, please go support her if you are able to. She will be selling small quilted items. She is amazingly talented and one of the sweetest people I know. Visit Little House of Quilts here.
What to do about it?
I think we have to decide do we want to do something about the WIPs or about the feeling. Maybe both?
I don’t like the idea of limiting myself to a certain number of projects. If I want to work on this quilt, I should get to, even if that means stopping this other quilt. I like rotating projects, it keeps my interest piqued and I have multiple interests. My interest in my WIPs usually comes back around. That should be okay (assuming I can convince my own head of this).
This is your creativity time, you choose what you work on! I’m going to recite this to myself until it sticks.
But then there is this whole wasteful thing… I want to be mindful about my projects. If I know that I’m never going to be interested in this quilt again or I hate the work I’ve done on a WIP, maybe it’s time to donate it. Maybe use a WIPs blocks to make pillows for gifts or even smaller projects? I can actually think of several ideas for ridding my space and head with them if I just give it a little thought.
Here is what I’ve done
New years are all about tackling new things or getting ourselves on a path we want to be on. Lately, I’ve been having many conversations with friends about this very topic. I’ve made WIPs a resolution for myself. Not to finish them, mind you (although that would be fantastic), but to know what I’m dealing with in terms of how many I have, what work has been done and what work needs to be done. This way I can make better decisions on starting new projects or even buying more fabric or patterns.
It doesn’t matter what your number is. I think (for me) just giving this whole WIP list some proper thought will settle my thoughts and feelings.
So here is my plan:
- Organize all WIPs and put them in the same space. I currently have mine in baskets, baggies, and trays and they are on the shelf altogether. This way if I decide to work on one of them I know right where to go.
- Make a list as you organize. I’ve got a journal that’s all about my quilting. I’ve listed each of them. This way I know exactly what I’m dealing with. Plus, I really like the feeling of checking items on a list off. I feel like this always inspires me. I do the same thing with my cleaning loop (my list of cleaning chores that I check off).
- As you organize decide if this WIP is something you definitely want to keep or continue. Rid your space and your mind of the things you don’t. Hold a destash on IG or donate them to your kid’s school, nursing home, church, whoever will take projects or crafts. My kid’s Home Ec teacher used to love when I showed up with a box of fabric.
Take a class
Now that you have machine or hand quilted your quilt, it’s time to finish it. Sue shows you how to block and trim your quilt so you are working with a quilt that is square and lays perfectly flat. Then she shows you how to add straight double binding with mitered corners and join the binding for a clean join. Finish with a sleeve if you are going to hand, and add a label to document the date of your masterpiece.
- Making, attaching and finishing straight-grain binding
- Labeling the quilt
- Making a hanging sleeve
- Blocking and trimming finished quilt
- An easy-to-follow lesson on finishing and binding your quilt
- 8 HD video lessons you can access online anytime, anywhere
- Detailed supply list
- Step-by-step instruction by expert quilter Sue Nickels
- The ability to leave comments, ask questions and interact with other students
Take the class here.
My current WIP list
Bari J quilt along Anthologie quilt
I am actively working on this. Making a quilt with a group forces you to be productive. I want to keep up with this so I make the patterns as they are going to be released. This is one of the main reasons I like quilt alongs. I started this quilt in October 2017 and will be completed April 2018. You can make this quilt too right here.
Morning Sun quilt along
Same as above. I started this quilt February 2018 and will be finishing it by October 2018. I’ll have to maintain this WIP as I’m hosting this quilt along. Join it here.
Modern Sewciety BOM
Same as above. This one is a very recent quilt I began and I’m making it in my Liberty fabrics. Stephanie invited me to be a guest poster on her new website and be a part of her BOM. Join the BOM right here.
This was a round robin I joined in January 2017. I received my quilt back October 2017. It is currently folded up just waiting for me to quilt it. I haven’t finished it because I really want to hand quilt it. I probably should just go ahead and machine quilt it and then go back and add the hand stitching as I’m able to. This really is a very lovely and meaningful quilt for me and I would love to have it finished. See and read details on this quilt here. I have made the best group of friends from this round robin. We speak almost daily and I could not be more pleased with how this adventure went.
Modern Priscilla quilt
This is a quilt that I wanted to make for ages and I finally did start on it spring of 2017. It’s quite difficult because each block is paper pieced and the blocks are only 8″. The paper piecing is so time consuming and I know that’s why I’m stalling. However, if I ever finish this quilt I KNOW that it will be my most favorite quilt ever. Also, it’s Wonderland fabrics by Cotton & Steel, so it’s extra dreamy for me. The pattern for the block is here on my tutorial page if you are interested in making this quilt too.
Trip Around the World quilt
I started this quilt in 2016. It’s a basic TATW quilt inspired by friend Violet who also made and finished one. I’ve made a handful of blocks. The blocks take quite a bit of time and that is why this one has stalled. I’ve made all my blocks in purple, gray and yellow. I do love the work I’ve done on it so far, but would like to do more blocks in low volume. The piecing of a ‘trip’ block involves seam ripping and it’s kind of annoying to me. I think I’d do better just chain piecing. I might change the way I’m making it to my prefer method of patchwork. This way I might build up some momentum. I’d love to finish this one. It really would be a beauty. See my work so far here.
Heavens to Betsy quilt
So this quilt. Ugh. I LOVE this quilt design and I really love all the work I’ve done so far on it. I’m also incredible eager to finish it since I have a quilt pattern hanging in the balance. I started this one December 2017. My testers whipped out all their versions of it by deadline, but not this girl (sigh). I do have all the blocks made, they just need to be stitched together. It’s lovely and made with Liberty prints and Denise Schmidt. I think what has stalled me is that I’m making a queen version and I do plan on keeping this quilt. Pattern coming soon (hopefully).
Now this is a very sad effort. I started this in the summer of 2015. I only have everything cut, no other work has been done. I’ve stalled because I’m not sure what inspired me to make this quilt and my fabric tastes have changed a bit. Not sure if it’s salvageable. I am keeping it for now. I just don’t know if I’ll ever finish it or end up dispersing the fabrics into the scrap bins.
A String rescue quilt + Gage’s quilt
The string quilt is part of my “rescue quilts” series and one I’ve cleaned and pressed ready to finish. In this series, I usually finish an old quilt top, then make a more modern version of the same quilt in this case it was supposed to be for my son who has requested a quilt. The only work on this one has been to ready the rescue quilt and set fabrics aside for the modern version. I still haven’t written a pattern for it because I can’t decide on what to do. It has to use strings, but…… I don’t know. I’m in limbo.
My Kantha quilt
I started this one February 2018, so very recently. It’s only going to be a 60″ square throw and it’s all about hand stitching, so I plan to make this my BIG quilt project this year. I’m super excited and have made a great start. I’m working on it between crochet projects, so when I tire of yarn, I swap to this. This one is also catching all my orphan blocks. I haven’t written a post yet, but will as soon as I’ve made more progress. Discover Kantha here.
The Danielle sweater
I started this crochet project February 2018 and am actively working on this. I’m hoping to finish it before I can no longer wear sweaters this year because of the weather. This is the first time I’ve crocheted something that is clothing. This is the first project of an effort to make 10% of my wardrobe be handmade. I’m hoping to keep momentum as I love crocheting. I’ve worked on it a little each day since beginning it, but as you know crochet is a slow process. I’ve bought this pattern here.
I started this project in summer of 2016 and have worked on it off and on between projects that are more important to me. It’s quite a big shaw and will be pretty, but I’ve made it with yarn I’m not that into and in colors that just don’t do it for me. Another reason for the stall is what do you do with shawls? Like seriously how will I wear this? Maybe just on the porch at home. I’m not sure why I began this, just to crochet, I guess. The pattern is in this book.
Crochet Shell Afghan
This was my beloved grandmother’s number one blanket. It’s the blanket she made for countless babies. She taught me how to make this and even had a lovely vintage pattern for it. I’m almost done with it. I got started on this one in spring of 2015 and have no reason to have stalled. It’s a lovely yarn and the blanket is almost completed. It’s crazy lovely. I’d really like to see this one done and gifted to a baby soon.
Crochet Big Granny square Afghan
I started this one in the fall of 2017. It’s bright fuchsia pink and made with a furry chunky yarn. I’ve been really into working on it, but ran out of yarn and it was discontinued. I’m not sure where to go from here with it because the yarn is so unique. It’s not like I can just start a new row with a cotton yarn. I’m kinda lost on what to do.
2 Weekender Bags
I started these October 2017. They were supposed to be added to my shop for Christmas sales, but I just stopped working on them. Just stopped. I do have all the panels built and quilted to batting and lining. I just need to cut them out and assemble the bag. I’ll get back to this soon! Pattern is here.
Every time I go an overnight trip, I wish I had a bag suitable for all my toiletries, particularly some of the long skinny bottles. The bags are either too big, not shaped like I need, or too small. I started my own version of this bag, complete with hand quilting and made with linen. I’ll definitely finish this one before I go on another trip.
Sigh. I bought the pattern and fabric to make this dress and just never got around to it. It’s lovely and I want a wardrobe of handmade dresses. I’m hoping to get to work on this with the help of Me Made May and a resolution. Pattern is here.
I’ve made this dress once before with quilting fabric and just didn’t like the way it turned out. I’d like to give it another shot with this fabric. I have bought this fabric and the pattern is cut. You can find the pattern here.
McCalls off the Shoulder blouse
I bought this pattern at Hobby Lobby during a 99 cents sale. I purchased this fabric for it in voile. I’d love to have this to wear this spring and summer.
Out & About dress
I’ve made this dress once before, but it was ridiculously too big and I only wear it at home. I’d like to remake in the medium size. I have purchased the fabric and the pattern has been cut. I just need to get going on it. Pattern is here.
So how many is that? 22? Is that a decent number? I’m not sure if that is high or low. One thing I discovered after compiling my list is that it’s not as many as I thought, and they are definitely not as old as I thought. This actually makes me feel much better. Plus, pulling them out and looking my WIPs over has gotten me excited about some of them again. I am really ready to make those dresses and I’m again excited about that ‘trippy’ quilt.
Again, I feel it’s important not to judge ourselves or others based on our sometimes scatterbrain ideas and projects and WIPs. I’m just going to accept that some quilts get done quickly while others need to stew a bit. I will not be parting with any of my WIPs right now, but I am planning some work in the near future for them. Some feel more important than others. Maybe if I add it to my ‘to-do list’ progress could be made. Still, it feels good just to write them out and think on them.
So tell me about your WIPs or your thoughts on my thinking on WIPs, maybe you feel completely differently. Leave your comments below.
If you do decide to compile a list yourself, please use the #2018WIPlist, so we can all feel that we are not alone or drowning in our WIPs.
Beth LaMotte says
I actually have two lists, WIPS and QUIPS (quilts in progress). I’m slowly whittling my unfinished quilts down to what might be a manageable number (still to be determined) for me. In the process I am still allowing myself to start a project and finish it though, before starting another and another and another… The hardest part is making myself use the fabric that I have instead of buying the fabric that I think I need! My last daughter moved out of the house a week ago and plans are to turn her bedroom into a sewing room for me. Now to organize that space and move my stuff into it! Let’s face it, we creative people just need lots of space and room to create! At least my family knows where I am, now if they can just find me behind all my boxes and piles of fabric!
We’ve got to put all that fabric somewhere. ? Congrats on the new space!
Diane Muldoon says
OMG..your post gives me anxiety…I have so many WIP/UFO that I cannot find them all… This post does also give me direction. first step just has to be to clear off the ironing and cutting stations…Then…just then…I may be able to start..maybe.. Thx for starting the process…
Oh! I’m sorry about the anxiety!! Just take baby steps. I’ve spent three weeks gathering and organizing before I even wrote this post. 🙂
Tammi Williams says
WIP, no I don’t want to know how many! LOL! ? I wanted to do BariJ, and will. Eventually! Couldn’t decide what color, I need that piece of inspiration fabric. But, I did a good cleaning of my sewing room last week, made room for a new sewing table. While cleaning I rediscovered 6 finished tops, all waiting for that final border……
I felt rejuvenated to work on them after knowing about all of them.
Kathy Worsley says
You made me realize I can cross the Frog one off my list!!!! Thanks for the small shop love! You’re the best! ? Need to finish a few more WIPs for the shop ???
Nicole Gendy says
I made a list of mine a couple years ago and printed off a little spreadsheet I made. It helps keep me organized and I have a lot more WIPS than you, probably 50ish! I have quite a few quilt tops that just need to get finished up. Most of the time I don’t feel guilty as I’ve enjoyed all the projects for one reason or another. It’s all part of the process. I would love to finish a bunch up to have it out of my space and brain though. I’ll try to remember to use the hashtag on IG.