Sewing UFO's - 7 tips to get them organised & finished.

[original image here]

If you sew, and unless you are a very particularly organised kind of person, you probably have a few "UFOs" (Un-Finished Objects) lingering around the house.
Today I'm going to share 7 tips I sorely need to take on board myself to help you get organised and ultimately finish your unfinished projects. Please make sure you share any tips of your own in the comments!

1. Sort them out.
Find all of the pieces, fabrics, notions etc and put them all into a large Ziploc bag with the pattern. I just buy mine from the supermarket. You can label them if you like but I usually don't as I like to reuse the bags once the project is done, and since they are clear you can usually tell what's what anyway!

Just a few of my many, many, MANY unfinished projects

2. Organise into categories.
Some of my UFO's are clothing that needs alterations to fit/repair, some are almost finished, some are just simply cut out. Organise them into categories - like those above - and store them in order. This way when you come to wanting to sew something you will know exactly what needs to be done to each one and roughly how long you will need to complete it. This is handy when you have a spare 20 minutes and want to finish something quick, or if you have all day to spend on something longer!

3. Store them all together, somewhere visible but neat.
I have all of my projects together in a tub, which just currently sits on the floor of my sewing room. You could get creative with this, or even super-organised and put them into separate tubs by type etc, or hang them all up but I don't have that much space. Do whatever works for you - just make sure they are out in the open, not thrown in the bottom of some cupboard.

My as-yet-not-organised box of UFO's. Nothing fancy, but it does the job!

4. Go and buy anything you don't have. 
I know a lot of the projects I've abandoned were because I realised part way through that I needed something I didn't have (I know, a terrible habit).. And then I just forgot to go get it. Look through all your projects and make a list of EVERYTHING you need to finish them, then go buy what you need. And only what you need - no fabric for new projects allowed!

5. Sew when you can vs create allotted time.
There are two ways to slog through your pile of UFO's - you can either sew whenever you have a moment, instead of (or whilst) watching TV etc, or you can plan out a specific time space for finishing something off. I like to do a mix of both, I'll set aside an afternoon on a weekend day to finish large projects but also finish little bits and pieces after work during the week.

6. Start with the simple. 
Got a bunch of skirts that just need a zipper installed? Or an almost finished dress that just needs a bit of hand sewing? Do the little projects first. Once you finish one you'll feel like you're on a roll and will be motivated to finish the next one, and the next..

7. If you get stuck, take a breather. 
But pick it up again the next day or move onto a different project for a while. There's nothing worse than getting stuck and frustrated with a project and then making a mistake. Put it down for the day, go do something non-sewing related and come back when you are refreshed and ready to tackle it with a clear and level head!

So, spill, how old is your oldest UFO? Mine is about 3-4 years I think, yikes! Do you have any other tips or tricks you use to get yourself organised to finish them?


  1. Love that ziplock bag idea! I came across it a while ago and have been using it for the first time. It's great! Particularly when working with vintage patterns. I love how easy it is to pack everything up so that you are not handling the fragile tissue paper too much.

    For myself, my UFOs usually are floating around because I've come to a tricky part and I am too scared to get in there a tackle it! So I put it off, and put it off, and... You know what, most of the time it's not as bad as what I think it's going to be! *le sigh* Silly me! I'm all inspired to finish off that 1940's blouse that's been hanging around for over a year now though, so thanks Taygan. I shall hop to it! ❤

    bonita of Lavender & Twill

    1. It's a really great idea isn't it!

      Ah yes, I have a few in the same state, it's incredibly frustrating! Yay! Make sure you post it when it's finished!!

  2. This is a brilliant idea! I have so many UFOs but I just get overwhelmed and forget about them. They usually get pushed aside and end up at the bottom of my fabric pile. This is a good way to keep everything together and keep them organised. I LOVE this and I can't wait to get all my UFOs into sandwich bags and out of the pile :)

    1. It is definitely hard to get them finished when they're out of sight, if you can see them then you will hopefully remember to finish them!
      Glad I could help :)

  3. I used to finish projects completely before starting another due to a lack of space in my dorm room, but now that I'm in a house my UFO pile is growing! I will be using these tips!

    1. Ah yes, the old "I have so much space now, lets cram it with stuff" ^_^
      I'm much the same, although I've had the opposite issue (moving from a huuuuge space to a much smaller one.)

  4. agh, this is so good. i defiantly have some major UFOs and they just get stashed away out of view and in the clutter. i needed this for spring cleaning inspiration to get them out, sort through and get back to work. the clear bag idea is genius!

    1. Thanks Abigail! It definitely feels much better with it all cleaned and organised :)

  5. amazing!!
    follow to follow?

  6. Great tips. Now I just need to implement them! I have UFOs that are decades old and have moved two states. I kid you not.

    One is a frock I was making to wear to a baptism and that baby turns 23 this month. I kid you not. I really need to either finish it and donate it. Or put it in the bin. From memory I ran into weird issues with the shawl collar arrangement (it was 1992).

    Another is a someone else's UFO. Friend D hands over a neat package whilst saying "Friend J thought that as you sew you would like this". "This", is a jacket all cut and ready to sew up. I can't bear to throw it out as the shell fabric is a glorious wool and the lining is a glorious silk. And it will fit me with a few minor tweaks.

    Perhaps I'll set myself a reward, finish a UFO and then I can make something new & shiny.......

  7. Thank you for these useful tips!
    ♡ Dulce

  8. Great list of tips! I'm afraid I break the commandment in rule no. 4 all the time - it's almost impossible for me to avoid picking up new fabric or patterns when I've just gone to the shop for a zip or some cotton thread. I really like the way you've bundled your UFOs up, too. It certainly makes everything look neat and organised and ready to go.

    My oldest UFO is a dress that I plan to cut up and turn into a skirt. It's been sitting in a basket for a few months because I've been too distracted by making other garments from scratch.

    Have fun with your own UFOs!

    Katie @ Katie Writes Stuff

  9. Hahaha, yes. Thank you for this. I'm so so glad that I'm not the only one. I have a big old UFO sitting right in my eyesight, right on top of my computer monitor as I type this.

  10. This is such a great post!! I really need to do this, and you've given me the inspiration again to do it!


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