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ufo spring cleaning

Happy Easter everyone! I hope these days off are a welcome break, filled with all the things you want to fill them with. For me, its crime shows on tv (a Norwegian must! I don’t know why, but Easter is all about the murder mystery books and the who-dunnit on tv), chocolate, reading, knitting, and…. spring cleaning.

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There are several reasons why the cabinet with my in-progress sewing projects is getting emptied and scrutinized these days. One is of course that I have a very generous two weeks off from working, thanks to the local school system adding winter break onto this years early Easter. Another is (exciting things up ahead!) I’m looking to move soon – this time into my own apartment! Nothing is finalized yet, but I’m making every effort to become a homeowner this spring! This is beyond exciting and also terrifying, but mostly I’m feeling the happy feelings. This is also an excellent opportunity to sort through my things, and in the spirit of Marie Kondo and her life-changing tidying magic – only bring with me what sparks joy.

So, unfinished sewing objects… Some of these are years old, and have felt like a cloud hanging over my sewing time – “I should be working on that dress that only needs buttons, but…” I wanted to clear out the projects that no longer thrill me, and at the same time I was a bit curious why exactly I stalled. This might be more to my benefit than of interest to others, but here is an overview of the projects I found lurking – and why I’m giving away two incomplete dresses if there is someone who wants them and finish them. 

There were three categories I found:
– Simple projects that really just needed 20 minutes of attention. I tried to knock these out straight away, and managed to hem a dress that has been waiting for 5 months, mend a hole in a knit sweater, and patch up a pair of jeans.
– Slightly more involved projects that should still be doable in a few hours, like the several pouches below, a pair of zippered welt pockets in an otherwise finished jersey dress, a leather bag that needs assembly, and an umbrella destined to become a reusable shopping bag.
– The bigger projects I found were a trenchcoat with a partially assembled muslin, a lace skirt, a muslin for a bias cut silk slip, and a pair of pants with serious fit issues.

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What: First up, a ufo I’ve tackled and want to show off as a finished object! I’ve had a scrap of black pleather lying around for ages, and at one point decided I wanted to make a lined clutch with gold teeth zippers and a gorgeous golden-green dupioni silk.
Why did I stall: I didn’t have a pattern, and the odd shapes of the scraps meant this was an excersise in creative patterncutting, and it just required too much brain power to get started.
What now: Yesterday I was finally in the right mood to figure out construction details and cut out pieces. I really like how it came out! Save from a small corner of the lining that I left open to pull everything through, this is all machine stitched, and the challenge of finding the right order of operation was a lot of fun and very satisfying. The proportions are a tiny bit off I think, and the top zipper is really a bit too long for the edge I sewed it to (see the slight puckering?), but for the satisfaction of those colors together and the top stitching, I can live very well with the imperfections. Mostly it just feels good to have finally finished it and not have it “waiting”!

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What: Next up, the two smallest pieces of the Grainline Studio Portside travel set. I made the dufflebag itself last summer, before my sailing trip on the Statsraad Lehmkuhl, and it was great.
Why did I stall: I had all the self/outside patternpieces cut and interfaced, but not the lining. I think also I lost the sense of urgency as I barely managed to finish the dufflebag before my trip, and that’s why I was making the set.
What now: I lost a couple of the self pieces, so I had to recut those, and then I cut the lining pieces. They now just need to be slip-stitched to the zipper, and anchor the corners. Also, I forgot that I had added an extra inch of width, so the bottom of the dopp-kit is a little wonky. This is why leaving projects for months and years suck – you totally forget all the little changes and choices you’ve made!

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What: Smaller repairs – zippered welt pockets, and interfacing a floppy collar and buttonstand on a blouse.
Why did I stall: Tedious unpicking ahead. Decisionmaking – where to place the zippers? How much of the buttonstand to interface? Remove the  buttons and the collarstand to really get access? Annoyance – why is this blouse made without interfacing? It’s so floppy and unsymmetrical! Impracticality – I actually wear the blouse quite a lot, now it will be out of commission for a while (well, given my track record at least! I’m hoping to change that!)
What now: Just do it.

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What: Oh, wow. This is an oldie. I’ve had this bag planned since my senior thesis collection (in 2011!). I didn’t have time to make it for the fashion show, and I don’t remember when I actually cut it, but.. here it is.
Why did I stall: It’s like a kit that didn’t come with instructions. Last time I had it out I got totally overwhelmed with trying to figure out the spacing for the holes along the edge that I need to punch out, so I just put it away again. Also, I’m not in a very dire need of a small leather bag, even though it will be cute.
What now: Well, some math and a good album is maybe what this requires?

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What: Lace skirt, from pattern testing Sewaholics Rae skirt pattern.
Why did I stall: I want to make this into an underlined pencilskirt (check out my asking for input on lining choice here), but that means unpicking 8 serged seams, drafting a panelled pencil skirt pattern and underlining each panel piece.
What now: I know, I could make this much easier on myself, but I think this is a project I would enjoy doing very thoughtfully and thoroughly. I should probably start by seeing if I have a suitable skirt pattern in my stash somewhere – that feels like the biggest hurdle to keep going. I almost decided to get rid of this project, but something keeps holding me back. I think I will like this skirt once I finish it!

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What: This is also from last summer – a pair of Named Patterns Alexandria pants.
Why did I stall: I really did not like working with this pattern. It put me in a bad mood. Then the fit was not good, so I tried to slim the legs down and made it worse.
What now: I’ve decided I think a crotch gusset might be the solution. I’m wondering if the width across the hips and… crotch width perhaps? is not wide enough, making a very unflattering “tent” when I sit down. This will need some trial and error to get it to fit, and that requires patience on my part.

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What: Sewaholic Robson coat! I’m actually really looking forward to working on this! I bought the fabric several years ago in London specifically for this coat.
Why did I stall: That lovely printed cotton voile is to become bias binding. Something like 14 metres of it. That is stalling me, as is the fact that I made the decision to grade between several sizes while cutting out the pattern for the muslin, and now I don’t remember what sizes I used and where. Once I have the muslin sewn up I anticipate fitting changes that needs to be transferred to the paper pattern. Also, the amount of fabric is a little daunting!
What now: Now that I write this out, it doesn’t feel all that undoable actually. I think when I work on this coat it needs to be the only project I’m working on – or else I will lose track and get confused.

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What: Pattern Runways Gathered sundress. I blogged about it here.
Why did I stall: I’ve worn this twice. I really love the fabric, a soft cotton silk in lovely colors. It’s just that the fabric reads very differently at a bit of a distance, as a garment, than it does up close. I used a gold-colored silk as an accent in piping along the waistline and the pockets, and I thought changing out the waistband itself would break up the print a bit. I did a lot of unpicking, and then… I don’t think this is my style anymore.
What now: I loved making this dress – I put a lot of effort and care into it, but it’s not for me anymore. If anyone wants this, and put it back together, I will be happy to ship anywhere. (The zipper is included, it needs to have the waistband reattached to the bodice and the skirt, and the lower portion of the zipper attached again. It measures 98 cm/ 38,5 inches in the bust, 75,5 cm/ 29,5 inches at the waist, and is 94 / 37″ cm long in total from top of shoulderstrap to hem)

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What: 0451/2246 Traveler dresses by Lisetteblogged about in progress here.
Why did I stall: My sewing machine doesn’t make button holes. Or, it does, but it’s totally anti-automatic. I’ve been waiting for a chance to borrow someones machine and make the buttonholes, but it’s become clear now to me that even if I finish the dress, I won’t wear it. So, again – if anyone wants this and finish it, I will be happy to ship anywhere in the world.
What now: I really enjoyed making this dress as well – as you can see, I took great care to match stripes, made interfaced bias sections for sleeves and hem, and I did a small FBA as well. I made alterations to the pattern, which I’m glad for – if I want a shirt dress, I have a fitted pattern ready to go! But the colors and the plaid isn’t for me anymore, so it’s free to a good home if anyone wants it! It measures 98,5 cm/ 38,75 inches in the bust, 77,5 cm/ 30,5 inches at the waist, and is 95,5 cm / 37,5 inches long in total from shoulderseam to hem). The fabric feels like a wool/linen blend, but there could also be some polyester in there. It’s a tiny bit scratchy, in other words. 😉

What is the main thing I’ve realized going through my UFO’s? For one, I think I should try to only have one sewing project going at a time – maybe two if the second is a fairly simple one. The choices and changes I make as I’m underways will be forgotten if I put away a project for too long. Another thing I’m realizing is that I stall out when things veer off course. Some days I’m up for the challenge of figuring out things, and other days I just want to follow directions and use sewing as my meditation time. It feels really good to go through these old projects and sort out the ones I actually want to finish! And maybe I can be a bit more mindful about new projects that I start – that I am exited enough about them to work through any problems that might arise?

How about you out there – any spring cleaning or finishing up projects? Regardless – Happy Easter!

  • birdmommy

    Good morning from snowy Canada!

    I wish our school board had combined the spring break and Easter – the kids here were off for a week, back for 4 days, and now are off today (Good Friday) and Monday. Very annoying!

    For your leather project, have you thought about getting a stitching wheel (also called an overstitch wheel)? They generally come with a few different sizes of wheel, so you can try a few samples and see what spacing you like.
    If you’re not planning to do a lot of leatherwork, a makerspace may be able to loan you one. But they’re pretty inexpensive – especially if you only need one size.

    • An overstitch wheel! How cool – I’ve never known this tool exists! I love learning things like this. I actually have something that looks similar, though in our fashion design program it was called a tracing wheel and used to transfer markings from the top layer of paper patterns to the one underneath. I’ll have to look at the spacing of the pins on the wheel I have, but I might be able to use that. Thanks so much for the tip!

  • Oh my goodness, what a lot of UFOs you’ve dug up! I”m now a little scared to find how many I have lying around! I’m doing that before-moving cleaning and purging, too, and some days I enjoy it and some days I just can’t part with a single thing. Too much stuff “brings me joy”! So back in boxes it goes… Will you be staying in the same city or area, or moving somewhere quite different??

    • Oh Gillian, I didn’t even take pictures of everything either! I thought it would be a bit boring for others to see every single piece, but I never actually thought “lady, you have too many UFO’s here”, surprisingly enough. I wonder why? Maybe it’s because I’ve moved a lot of times the past year and a half, so I’ve gotten a chance to get really familiar with all my “stuff”, and I’ve had these unfinished projects together in a big old pile for ages. I guess the number of UFO’s haven’t surprised me – they’ve lived in my consciousness as things waiting for me to get the time to hang out with them. Hmmm!

      Another thing are all those projects that feel like UFO’s but are still only in my head – all the fabrics and patterns I’ve already matched and I’m committed to, but have never actually started. I feel like I have a mental list sort of nagging at me there too. That’s the next step – tackling my imaginary to-sew list!

      I know what you mean, some days parting with things is easier than others. But eventually you’ll come across something on a random day and know it’s time to let go of it! Have you read the book by Marie Kondo? I’m actually potentially moving… right across the street! I’ve loved living in this neighbourhood the past six months, so fingers crossed I get to stay here! Is your new place far away from your current one?

      • It’s funny that things that turn out to be so personal in sewing, eh? The amount of stash that feels “right”, the number of projects on the go, and the number of UFOs! Personally, I like a lot of stash, 1 project on the go, and very few UFOs. Sounds like you have the right number of UFOs for you! 😉

        • You’re right, that is very personal! Reading your preferences is strikes me that I really like starting projects! Haha! That probably explain all my UFO’s, as I find the most joy in planning and starting things, and then when I hit a stumbling block I start a new project. I think I am going to challenge myself for the rest of the year to have maximum two projects going at any given time, and see how that works for me! :)

  • Wow! That’s a lot, but it’s positive that most are salvageable and worth the work! I think I am very similar. I tend to have UFOs because I have reached a tricky bit that I don’t want to deal with (bound button holes, pattern matching, something that I just can’t figure out). It’s very frustrating, but maybe like you, I just need to be in the right mood! Thanks for sharing.

    • Haha, I just have to laugh – appearently I’ve been blind to the scope of my UFO’s! 😀 But it’s very nice to go through them and sort of give purpose to them. It’s just a waste for something to be sitting unrealized and in limbo like that – regardless if I end up with something usable, or just get it out of my cabinet altogether!

      And I agree, that tricky stage that I don’t want to deal with – that is absolutely the point I put something away. Which just makes it harder to pick it back up again! Good luck with your UFOs! :)

  • Wow, congratulations on your new house and good luck/have fun with the decluttering and moving! I’m looking forward to seeing you finish that pencil skirt, I love your choice of underlining colour and the lace is very pretty!

    • Thank you Alessa – I’m so excited this is happening! And of course, it’s an excellent opportunity to tidy and declutter and reorganize. I’m looking forward to the lace skirt as well; I think those fabrics will look good together!

  • Amanda

    Hello Birgitte, Long time follower, first time commenter. I was looking to see if you had posted the pattern name of the sweater you are working on in your OAL project in your previous UFO post when I stumbled across something I missed the first time. Do you still have the Gathered Sundress up for grabs? I am so interested! The colors and construction are beautiful! If the dress has already found a home, I understand but could I get the name of the sweater pattern? The sleeve in the OAL post was enchanting…

    • Hi Amanda – lovely to hear from you! I should have mentioned which knitting pattern I’m using – I will update the post! It is the Bayview Street Cardigan by Elinor Brown (http://www.indigorchid.com/2011/03/10/bayview-street-cardigan-finished/), that I’ve made once before in a mustard color (and still gets worn lots! I really like the pattern, obviously, when I’ve started another one!).

      The Gathered Sundress has moved on, but if you like the fabric I still have at least a metre length I’d be happy to send you. I just can’t figure out what I would make with it! I can measure it if you’re interested. :)