creative, hand sewing, needle felting

Don’t beat yourself up over Unfinished Projects

Vintage thread

Speak to anyone creative about their stash and they will admit to having a pile of UFO’s or unfinished objects. It’s like a guilty secret – I also suffered from the same – it wasn’t until I moved out of a home of 10 years that I was faced with a mountain of half completed projects – I felt incredible sadness for all the waste and money that I had quite simply thrown away.

I have changed the way I think about these recently, because guilt stifles creativity and experimentation. There are times when we need to develop a technique or experiment with a new hobby – and it really is an opportunity to grow and stretch ourselves.


Permission to play

Giving yourself permission to play is key to finding new ways to develop your skills and improve your techniques. Release yourself from the obligation to have something to show at the end of the session and see the time and materials as an investment of your skills rather than judging things by outcome.

Don’t cheat on materials too, use the same material you intend to use on your project if you can – like a recipe – each element of your project will affect its overall effectiveness, using a lovely drapery fabric like georgette will not be the same if your toile is made from calico.

Vintage thread

Recognise what to keep and what to bin

Sometimes things go wrong, sometimes we hit on a block and what we hoped to do just did not work out. Recently I was making cushions and for some reason the bias binding was getting in a right tangle around my piping – yes, I could have spent hours unpicking, but in the end, I simply cut it off and threw it away. I did not keep the binding as a reminder of my failure, I just found another way to do it.

Sometimes letting go of what doesn’t work – is the best way to release yourself from the guilt. Keeping the project in a plastic carrier bag in an ever growing pile will stifle your experimentation because it is a reminder of ‘failure’. Don’t let your sewing space get cluttered up with negativity. Just let it go.

Give yourself some time

Sometimes you hit a block on a piece of work, you just don’t know how to move forward with something. These are the projects you need to keep, but don’t hide them away in plastic bags. Leave them out, on a noticeboard, have a fabric box or use a sewing basket to keep these objects in and now and then take them out.

This piece of needle felting (above) did not feel finished to me – although my creative friends suggested I frame it. I kept on looking at it, but could not see a way forward.

Then – I came across it again this week, (you can see from the state above that was over four years ago!) Suddenly, looking at it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and I began the process of completing it. It only took an hour or so, but it was delightful progress.

needle felting

I just needed time – and that is what you also need to be creative, patience with yourself. Be kind to yourself about your Unfinished projects, see them as work in progress and allow the creativity to come without guilt or reprimand. Most importantly, have fun!

10 thoughts on “Don’t beat yourself up over Unfinished Projects”

  1. Such good advice! I’m guilty of getting things finished. Never have UFOs !! Love what you’ve done with this wool felt picture.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No, it means I stress about finishing things, when taking more time, even putting it away a while, like you say would lead to less stress and a better finish….I think!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi LG Thank you, for the kind compliment. I agree with you I suffer that sometimes too – I found that avoiding Pinterest etc, while I am doing the projects helps me to stay focussed. I find the internet sometimes too overwhelming and it means that I can’t focus on one thing at a time. You seem to make beautiful things though!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you! I needed this encouragement!!! I feel like I just get so stuck and caught up in “failure” project. When I just need to let them go and move on!!
    And I love how you finished your needlework.. I have never tried that before but it looks so fun.


    1. Hi Vicki, thank you for your lovely compliment and kind words. I am so pleased that I am not the only person who struggles with this. Needle felting is fantastic fun, just make sure you don’t stab your fingers! lol

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a lovely post! I have so many UFOs, like many of us. I stopped feeling guilty about them a while ago. I know some of them will never be finished, I try to just salvage some fabric if that is the case for a quick sample piece of fabric. Others I will return to, and complete all in due course. Each piece represents a stage in the life long journey of learning and creating!

    Liked by 1 person

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