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Valances and Arm Rest Covers

Occasionally I get an idea for some quilted item I need and, before I begin creating from scratch, I open my bins of UFO’s (remember, this stands for ultimately fabulous opportunities!) and see if anything fits the bill. A few years ago one of my UFO’s became the valance in our bedroom. I never got around to making it a blog topic, but now I’m working with another UFO that is becoming armrest covers. With two such items – it just had to become a blog topic. We’ll begin with the valence!

We re-carpeted our bedroom in blue and I found drapes to match, but the whole look needed a little zip. In my UFO bin I found a bag full of plaid, 3-D bow tie blocks. If you’ve never made them, click here for a great tutorial! I had enough for the valance and, since the blocks were already made, it went together quickly!

bow tie window valence

You may have noticed our unique tie backs. I saw this on Pinterest™, and after a short walk in the woods, Mike was well into making my wish come true  😀 !

log home curtain tie backs

The second repurposing of a UFO happened because my parents have birthdays in July. My brother and I were very blessed to have parents who raised us with a cottage on Lake Sinissippi. It is a wonderful place of fun and happy memories for all of us.


Well, Dad and Mom’s chairs in the living room at the cottage were showing some wear. So, I pulled out the UFO bins and found a bag of blocks I’d made in a Scott Murkin class in Paducah last year.

quilted armrest covers

I laid them out in a pleasing pattern


and sewed them together, bordering them to the appropriate size.


Then the ends were sewn on and they were ready to gift!

quilted arm rest covers

This isn’ the first time I’ve posted about repurposing a UFO. In 2013 I made one into a cover for my Kitchenaid Mix Master. Click here to read that post. I did one other post in 2010 filled with ideas for completing UFO’s. You can read that one here.

Have you ever repurposed a UFO? Do you have a great idea for finishing them? Care to share a picture?



Due to life situations, family and friends of a dear friend of mine are holding a sale of her quilting fabric and supplies. Here are the details:
When: October 1-2; Saturday from 9:30 to 3:45 and Sunday from noon to 3:45
Where: The Whitefish Bay Library; 5420 North Marlborough Drive, Whitefish Bay, WI
What will be available: A lot of hand dyed cottons (Lunn & Mrowka, Melody Johnson & Laura Wasilowski, etc), commercial cotton’s (Hoffman woodblock prints, batiks, Alexander Henry, Nancy Crow, etc.), hand dyed silks, novelty fabrics, beads, embellishments, etc.

September 18, 2016, UFO
A UFO Who’s Time Had Come

Back in the late 80’s, at the start of my quilting life, I participated in my first Round Robin Challenge. For those of you who are not familiar with this term: A number of quilters get together (usually 3 – 5) and they each begin with a block of their choosing. They exchange blocks and put a border on the one they get. Blocks continue to be exchanged and bordered until everyone has worked on each block once. Than the block originator gets hers back.

Well, my block in this first exchange was done in rusts, browns and greens, to go in my then living room. Here’s the top I received back and I had every intention of finishing it because I liked it!

round robin quiltFast forward 24 years. While my Mom and I were making Christmas cookies this past December, my stand mixer died (the second one in 36 years of marriage). Mike encouraged me to get a “good” one and for Christmas he bought me a KitchenAid! The model I chose came in 4 colors: red, blue, silver and black; none of which went in my rust and green kitchen (can you feel what’s coming?). I loved the red.

mixerBut it didn’t really go in my kitchen. Neither did it fit in my cabinets, and I didn’t want it to get dusty either. So…..I dug the ancient UFO out and it was just a bit small. In my stash I still had the remainder of a beige fabric I used in the original block (are you really surprised?). I added the border, quilted it with no batting, took in a few tucks, stitched on 2 buttons and …

stand mixer cover

It is ready and waiting for the baking mood to strike. That happens a lot less often than the quilting mood, but I must admit the first batch of peanut butter cookies were delicious!

Have you come up with a unique project for a UFO? Please comment and let us know!


February 10, 2013, UFO
It’s All in a Name

While in Florence we went to the Academy of Arts to see Michelangelo’s David. As we walked through the gallery leading up to this amazing work, we were treated to 4 of Michelangelo’s sculptures that were never completed. They are large blocks of marble with portions of the intended subjects carved into them and they have been titled the Prisoners because the figures look like they are still trapped in the marble. Photographs were not allowed, but I found this one of the Apostle Matthew on line and wanted you to see what one of the Prisoners looked like:

Our guide was very passionate about her subject and shared that for a long time the art community wondered why Michelangelo never completed these sculptures, even though they were begun early in his life. From this I had a revelation – Michelangelo had UFO’s! Our guide then went on to explain that over the years it has been postulated that he left them in this state intentionally because it is up to the imagination of the viewer to release them from their prisons. So…………we may need to change the way we look at our UFO’s. Are they nagging, unfinished projects that we should feel guilty about? Or are they works that are complete within and we are purposely leaving them in this state so that future viewers have the opportunity to envision them finished in a way that releases the quilts from their fabric prisons?

I do believe I prefer to think of my UFO’s as Ultimately Fabulous Opportunities and not Prisoners, but there’s a good chance some of them may remain prisoners forever.

Don’t you feel better knowing you have something in common with Michelangelo? Do you have Ultimately Fabulous Opportunities or Prisoners?


November 18, 2012, UFO

I’d like to offer a huge “Thank You” to everyone who responded with votes and opinions for my Mariner’s Compass book title dilemma. I was impressed with all the creativity and I must admit the one that made me laugh out loud was “Origama-mama, Folding Your Way to a Mariner’s Compass”. I’ve made my decision, but you’ll have to wait until the book comes out to see which ones will be used :-)!

That being said, let’s get to this week’s topic: Leftovers!

Isn’t it more fun, when a project is completed, to start something new rather than clean up the leftovers? I think this is one of the reasons my studio gets so cluttered …… small, leftover project piles everywhere. Ugh!

When I do finally decide to clean it all up, there are always chunks and strips of coordinating stuff that I don’t know what to do with. If there are just a few portions of a few strips, I shove them into my  “light” and “dark” scrap bags, but sometimes I really overcut and, since I put a lot of effort into coordinating the fabrics, I hate to randomly throw them into the bags. So the piles sit.

Wait until you see what I came up with :-)!

There’s a new “Jelly Roll” technique making the rounds that is a lot of fun. The idea is to sew all the strips in the roll end to end until you have a verrrrrry long strip. Then you grab both ends of this long strip and begin to sew it together lengthwise until you meet at center. Cut the fold so the unit is half the length and double the width. Continue halving the unit in this manner until you have a strippy, scrappy quilt the size you want (this will really depend on how many strips you started with).

I decided to try this new technique on a pile from a bargello quilt I made a few years back. Those strips have been sitting out ever since – probably feeling very unloved and unwanted.

Sew, I laid out the leftover strips in value order. Then, before sewing them end to end, I realized I could take the leftover stripped units from the project and cut them into the same size strips

 and put them in the mix.

Once that was done I sewed them all end to end and the fun began!

I now have a lovely lap quilt, ready for borders and quilting, and no leftover strips! Hooray!!

November 27, 2011, Piecing UFO

I enjoy taking on a quilting challenge! Please understand, I don’t mean that I like it when I’ve sewn an entire seam right side to wrong side and I’m challenged to do 40″ of unsewing! A challenge made by other quilters is what excites me. Whether a fabric is chosen and a variety of stitchers are asked to do something original or an organization comes up with a contest, I can’t resist jumping in.

Last week the program chair at Wandering Foot Quilt Guild (thanks Jody) challenged the members to put a UFO in a brown paper bag, along with all it’s components, and exchange it at their next meeting. Each member was asked to complete the UFO they picked up and it would be their’s to keep. Doesn’t it sound like more fun to finish someone elses project than  one of your own that’s hit a dead end? I’m intrigued. (to read more about UFO’s click on that category in the right hand column)

I’ve also been challenged in other ways by some of you through this blog. I’m still thinking about my Liberty of London fabric thanks to the challenge from Pat. That one is in the “marinating” stage :-).

What’s the most interesting challenge or contest you’ve participated in? I’ll tell you my favorite on Friday!

November 23, 2010, Challenges UFO
UFO Musings

FORTY-SIX! That’s how many UFO’s I had in my bins! I figured that would make everyone feel better, but Lois Jarvis beat me with 67! Lois is also a teacher and she has a delightful blog:

While digging through my bins I decided to have my husband take a picture and….notice the smile. I’m adopting Pam’s positive attitude towards UFOs. They are just waiting to be needed :-). The one I’m holding is from 1991. Can anyone beat that? 

Many of my UFO’s are class samples. That’s not an excuse – just the truth.

In looking through my bins I found 2 crib sized class samples that are already quilted and only need binding. I’m stating here that I will finish them and send them off to Project Linus before the end of the month.

I also found a wall sized top in patriotic colors. I’m going to add borders until it’s the right size for Quilts of Valor and get that sent this month too! I’m writing this here so someone will check up on me and make sure I keep my word :-).

I’ve belonged to a number of guilds that have attempted to address the UFO dilemma and here’s a few of their ideas:

Years ago Linda Marcou, a member of Common Threads Quilt Guild, challenged the members to choose one  in January and bring it finished in December. As a reward all those who were successful were given one of her  handmade labels. I still treasure that special addition to my finished quilt. 

I currently belong to Patched Lives Quilt Guild. Last year they offered one entry into a drawing for each UFO finished  in a year with an exciting prize for the winner.  Many took up the challenge.

Evelyn Link is a friend who’s guild in Arizona asks members to bring 3 UFO”S to a meeting and the guild votes for which one should be finished. Let’s take that to another level – you grab 3 to show to a friend, let her pick one to finish for you and you do the same for her! I wonder who I can get to take up that challenge – hmmmmm.

So often UFO’s are just tops. If you

1. can’t afford to send them to a long arm quilter 

2. don’t have time to hand quilt

3. like free motion quilting, but don’t like to meander,

try this: quilt that next project with the design you doodle when you’re bored. You’re probably really good at it, it will flow easily and the quilt will be done without too much effort. Or, take a free motion quilting class and when you return home, practice all the techniques you learned on a UFO you aren’t really attached to. Then donate it to charity. The recipient will love it and they won’t see all the mistakes that jump out at you. By the time the quilt is done your free mo-ing will have improved!

Hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you’ve been inspired to get something done! I’m rather excited about the accountability I’ve forced myself into in this post. If you’d like to gently commit yourself as I have, feel free to write it in a comment here :-).

June 17, 2010, UFO

bins, bins, bins

When a quilter uses the term UFO, it usually refers to Un-Finished Objects (specifically quilts). Now I’m aware there are some unusual quilters out there who don’t have any UFO’s, but I’m quite sure they are the exception, not the norm. In my “stash” post I mentioned I dislike bins, but what else are you going to do with UFO’s?

A year or so ago a friend showed me some UFO’s she had purchased from another quilter. She thought they looked like fun and was planning to practice her free motion quilting on them. I told her I probably had a few I’d give her for free and (can you believe it?) she was excited. This led me to dig through my collection, pick out a few to “donate” to Patricia and then to count those that remained. SCARY! I’ll share the results and some ideas I have for what to do with them in my Thursday post. In the meantime please share your thoughts on UFO’s. How many do you have? Do they cause you guilt? Have you any thoughts on what to do about it? I’d love to hear from you!

PS Wendy Rieves and I teach quite a variety of classes at Waukesha County Technical College and there are still a few openings in our Summer class schedule. My Mariner’s Compass class has been a popular one over the years and I will be offering it again on July 8th. To get the details go to: ; click on Class Search; put a dot in Summer 2010 and type “quilting” in the Course Title/Subject box, then click on Submit. You’ll find this class plus all the others there. I’d love to have you sign up! Blessings, Chris

June 14, 2010, UFO