One of the reasons I took such a long “intermission” at the end of 2011/start of 2012 was because of a bit of traveling.

I know, I know. Excuses!

But sewing was on my mind. When in Cincinnati, I visited this great new fabric shop that just celebrated their first birthday – Sewn Studio. I picked up a fun pattern by independent pattern maker Hemma Designs, and some great fabric (stay tuned for an upcoming post). Speaking of indie pattern makers, check out all the fabulous designers, courtesy of Sew, Mama, Sew!

And then I was NYC-bound to visit my college roomie. We had a craft-tastic weekend, and even squeezed in a trip to Brooklyn General Store, a yarn and fabric shop.

She was kind enough to write in this week:

My name is Amber, and I have a problem finishing projects. I love to make things and am always working on not just one project but several at the same time, starting new projects before finishing the old ones. This results in a lot of unfinished projects; projects that I started with the best intentions and enthusiasm sit incomplete and undone.  I wish I could say that the reason for this was because my creative mind is in overdrive but really my problem is impatience coupled with a short attention span.  I am bad at following instructions and when I get to a step that I can’t figure out, I grow frustrated and put the project aside and take up another. 
 
The cycle repeats.
 
People ask me to make them things and I agree, get the materials, get started, and then stop because either I need to make something else for someone else or I can’t figure out what I am doing.  Guilt ensues.  In my small apartment in NY sit many (I’m embarrassed to say how many) unfinished projects.  Besides basic storage and space issues these unfinished projects gnaw at my conscience.  The thought of finishing them makes me so overwhelmed I’ve fallen into a creative rut and instead of finishing a project I sit feeling overwhelmed.  Just as the dust on my unfinished projects began to reach an unmanageable level Stitch Me Something, Sister! arrived at my door like my fairy sewing mentor and kicked my butt into gear.  Who knew she made house calls?
 
Jenn and I have a sewing history.  We took a class together last year and she finished her project (a very cute romper) while mine sits in a plastic bag on a shelf in a storage cabinet (a shirt dress) because I got to a point in the instructions that scared me (buttons).  Jenn started Stitch Me Something, Sister! shortly after our sewing class, and I started to not finish several more projects.  She made me the cutest tank that fits me just perfectly and filled with inspiration I fully intended to finish some of my projects.  But I didn’t. 
 
Fast forward to Jenn’s visit/ intervention. She announced that we were to spend the next few days sewing and that I was going to work towards finishing something. 
 
1. The first step was full disclosure.  I showed her several (maybe dozens) of my unfinished projects. She pointed out how close I was to finishing many of them and how much time I had already spent on them.   She makes a very valid point, I had already put a lot of time, effort, and money into some of these projects, what was another hour? 
 
2. Step two was making a list of a few of projects that I needed to finish and projects that I promised to start.  I chose three projects that I need to finish and three projects that I promised to start.  Rather than trying to finish everything Jenn’s suggestion of picking a few things made the process manageable.
 
3. Step three was setting a time line to finish these projects.  Jenn gave me until March 6th, which is getting closer and closer.  She also forbid me from buying anymore fabric or patterns for any new projects until these projects were done.  This way I am focused on the tasks at hand.
 
4. Step four is making myself accountable by giving Jenn the list and committing to finishing and starting and finishing my projects. I would hate to disappoint her.  Especially after she traveled all the way here and made me that cute tank.
 
 
5. Step five will be actually finishing all six items.  Where am I in this process? Like usual I am almost done with a few things.  Unlike the past however, I’ve made it through parts in the directions where I would’ve usually given up.  How did I do this?  Deep breaths, underlining all the verbs in the pattern instructions (I find this helpful for some reason) and constant emails, texts, and even a visit to Jenn.  Also unlike before I know I can do it with patience and Stitch Me Something, Sister! holding my hand.

We will need to check back in with Amber come March 6th. She does have a bit of distraction though, in a form of a cat named Pablo:

I find the snowball method the most helpful when approaching unfinished projects. Tackle the smaller projects first. Start feeling that sense of accomplishment, then move on to the larger projects. Once there’s momentum, there’s no stopping the sewist inside of us!

Update

(02.22.12)

The first project on Amber’s “Projects to Finish” list is completed. Here are her very lovely swaddle blankets:

And the blankets in use:

Ambs, keep the momentum, girl!

 

(02.27.12)

And the apron for Caroline is finished (number 2 on the list):

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