UFO Exchange--Part 1: Inspiration and Organization

My own stash of UFO projects that inspired a UFO Exchange
At the start of the new year, I started to tally up my UFOs and WIPs.  I quickly realized there were several projects that had lost my interest for one or more reasons, and I was ready to part ways and was about to donate them to our guild's Philanthropy committee.  Then inspiration struck, and I had the brilliant idea to host a UFO Exchange with fellow guild members.  Giddy with excitement, I went to work formulating a proposal to pitch to my fellow guild board members.  My vision was to invite fellow members to bring unwanted/unloved UFOs (including any spare blocks, fabrics, embellishments, etc) and leave with someone else's UFO to complete as desired and keep for themselves.  I was a little nervous pitching my idea to my fellow board members, but was pleasantly surprised by their positive response to my crazy idea.  They offered some very helpful suggestions such as including a time frame to motivate the participants to complete their new projects and even put forward a motion to allocate $150 budget to purchase incentive prizes to award to participants that complete their project by the deadline.  And then a member in attendance at the meeting offered her edge to edge long arm services as a bonus incentive, which was awesome!!

Round 1:  Pile o' 1" strips of hand dyed fabrics
Announcements were made at our January meeting and in our February newsletter, but I had no idea how many members would be game to participate at our February meeting exchange.  I heard some buzz but wasn't I sure which scenario I feared most:  a total dud turnout of only one or two member bringing UFOs or to be swamped by a 100 participants which could mean total chaos when it came time for members to select a new to them projects.  Hoping for the best, I hung large signs along the side wall, each printed with different quilt/fabric styles  modern, batiks, ethnic/asian, baby/youth, florals, applique, historical/repros, wall hangings/table runners, etc.  As members arrived with their projects, they were asked to first, label the project with their name and a brief description of the project and to then deposit their UFO under the category that best captured their UFO.  During the meeting break, small groups of participants (selected by birth month) were then given the chance to go to the wall to select a fun new project.  I organized the small groups order so that I would be in the last group, and was thrilled to find that the bag of hand dyed scraps I had spied upon arrival, were still up for grabs!!!
Round 2 UFO Exchange Selection

For those members who brought more than one UFO (and believe me, there were several of us anxious to purge more than one UFO), they were able to select one project per round, and after everyone had their chance to select their first project, they were invited to go back and select another project, until all the projects had been claimed.  I was totally thrilled with my first selection but revisited the wall to see what other projects remained, when I noticed a small cardboard box that had been sealed shut.  I opened it, curious as to what was inside, and to my surprise, found some very pretty log cabin blocks made with asian fabrics with metallic highlights, extra yardage and directions to make a long, narrow table runner.  So I scooped that one up as well!

There were a few leftover, unwanted projects which were gathered and donated to Philanthropy to be made into quilts for our community.

Email addresses were collected from all participants to send out a follow up email outlining the challenge and 2 updates/reminders for the approaching May meeting show and tell deadline.  And along the way, members would email me with their own progress and pics, which helped to motivate me as well (especially since I usually procrastinate and stall on quilt challenges!!)

Come April, Doug and I went to work securing all the gift certificate prizes, purchased from our various affiliate quilt shops.  It was a lot of fun doing our own shop hop to visit each of the quilt shops to purchase the gift certificates, while doing a little fabric therapy of my own!  I also worked with our long arm quilter to draft up the terms and limitations of her services (size limitations, date restrictions, and clarifying what the winner must provide and what the long arm quilter provides).

The night of the big reveal, members earned one drawing ticket per each completed UFO shown.  Since edge to edge quilting was the big prize, the UFO projects did not not have to be quilted or bound to be entered into the prize drawings.  I was thrilled that 8 of the 11 participants had one or more completed pieces to show!  Finished projects included quilt tops of all sizes, wall hangings, a pillow, lampshade and even an apron complete with two potholders (super creative!!)  As the names were drawn, winners were able to select from remaining prizes.  Several of the participants expressed to me how much fun they had with this challenge, and how it stretched them to work with someone else's fabric selections or block constructions.  Many of the participants asked if we would do it again next year, in addition to many other members who after watching the UFO exchange unfold now wanted to join the fun!  Even the visiting quilt artist, Cara Gulati, commented on what a fun idea our UFO Exchange was!  If any fellow guild members are thinking about hosting their own UFO Exchange--feel free to contact me and I am happy to share my planning documents and timeline.

Stay tuned for posts revealing my progress with the 1" strips and asian fabric log cabins, as well as how two of my fellow members worked their magic with some of my former UFOs!