Quilting UFOs - Roswell Advice


We all have UFOs and we all stress over them from time to time.  Here's some advice from the Roswell Incident (flying saucer) that might help you face down your UFOs.

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Quilting UFOs - Roswell Advice

Our unfinished quilts are everywhere in the universe, it seems. UFOs are so common that guilds have developed challenges and awarded prizes for finishing them. They are so ubiquitous that Kari Sweeten has developed a Project Plan Sheet and published it free to download on the internet. There are so many that they are given different names depending on the stage of development.

Quilting UFOs - Roswell Advice


Let's dig into those names:

  • PIGS - projects in grocery sacks
  • PIPs - projects in progress
  • Rabbits - they multiply!
  • UFO - unfinished objects
    • BBUFO - barely begun UFO
    • NFUFO - nearly finished UFO
  • WHIPs - works hopefully in progress
  • WIPEs - works in progress eventually
  • WISPs - works in slow progress
  • WIVPs - works in very slow progress


In 1947, a "flying disk" landed in a sheep pasture in Lincoln County, NM, about 75 miles from Roswell. Roswell claimed the UFO title because the remains of the crash were taken there first.


So, how does the Roswell incident instruct us about our UFOs? We need to ask ourselves the basic questions:


  • Who? For Roswell, we might ask about little green men
    • For your UFO, we would ask who was the recipient of the quilt supposed to be?


  • What? For Roswell, this would be the tinfoil, rubber, and wood recovered from the site by the US Army Air Forces. (They said it was a prototype weather balloon.)
    • For your UFO, this would be the special fabric, etc. that you have already invested in the project.


  • Where? For Roswell, this would be The Foster Ranch.
    • For your UFO, it would be where you have hidden it.


  • How? For Roswell, this is how Roswell has turned the flying saucer into a good commercial venture.
    • For your UFO, it might be any special techniques involved, such as curves.


My UFO looks like a flying saucer.



It was made from a pattern, but when I tried to sew the rows together, it just wouldn't lay flat. That's why it lives in a box. I still like the fabrics.



Here are some suggestions that have been given for finishing a UFO:

  1. Give it a name. Calling it by its name makes it more real. I always say, "Give it a name instead of calling it names."
  2. Downsize the project if you can.
  3. Do the smallest task first. The feeling of accomplishment may help.
  4. Work only 15 minutes a day on your UFO. This allows you to reward yourself with working on your favorite projects.
  5. If you are lacking a skill, find someone in your family, Bee, or Guild who will help you with it.
  6. Trade or give it away to someone who will finish it.
  7. Figure out how to make it fun! Make it a game, a challenge, a contest, a bet with a friend – anything you can get into! For example, one writer rewards herself with M&Ms for each step she takes on her UFO.


For me, from now on, when the pattern looks like a flying saucer, I'm going to assume it will be a UFO and pass it by!

Sweeten, Kari. (2017?) How to Organize Your UFO's. https://www.u-createcrafts.com/organize-projects/


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Debi Warner
Author and humorist, Debi Warner, retired after many years as a clinical librarian and information specialist. She has her Master’s in Library and Information Science and achieved a Distinguished level in the Medical Library Association’s Association of Health Information Professionals. She has worked on teaching physicians to use computers and electronic resources. She also worked on several grants teaching the public how to use the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus public database and is co-author of several articles on health literacy. She took up quilting after retirement in 2012 and chaired the Rio Grande Valley Quilt Show in 2019. She currently teaches several quilting classes over Zoom and writes for QuiltingHub.
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