A Year of Finishing

Some years ago we were living in Melbourne and I was a member of the Embroiderer’s Guild of Victoria. The monthly magazine, Threadlines, had an article entitled “A Year of Finishing”. The idea was that if you were feeling overwhelmed by the number of UFOs in your cupboard that you make a commitment to a full year of finishing projects. And you weren’t allowed to start any new projects!

At the time my children were still very young and I often felt like I couldn’t sew as much as I liked – and I had a cupboardful of unfinished projects! So the article really struck a chord with me and I decided to do it.

In fact, I had never been a good finisher. One year in high school (early eighties) I made cross-stitch bookmarks as a Christmas gift for all my teachers. My Art teacher immediately pointed out that my crosses were not all going the same way and somehow in my head this translated into a fear of not finishing things “properly”. So I had a cupboardful of cross-stitch projects with large swathes of crosses all completed (with all the crosses in the same direction) but no half-crosses, no back-stitch outlines, and no isolated single crosses – in case I somehow didn’t do it “right”.

A completed cross-stitch from the "Country Companions" series by DMC.

A completed cross-stitch from the “Country Companions” series by DMC.

Another completed cross-stitch from the "Country Companions" series by DMC.

Another completed cross-stitch from the “Country Companions” series by DMC.

Detail of stitching in "Catch the Wind" by Butternut Road - one of my all-time favourite designs.

Detail of stitching in “Catch the Wind” by Butternut Road – one of my all-time favourite designs.

My year of finishing was a revelation. It turned out that I could (of course) do all the fiddly finishing bits. The sense of satisfaction in finishing a piece and seeing it framed was wonderful. But having finished all those cross-stitch projects I realised that I wanted to do a lot more than just cross-stitch!

My sewing journey irrevocably changed from that year onwards. Most importantly I found confidence in my own ability. Finishing something meant that I could really say to myself “I can do that”. So now my embroidery life has blossomed into something rich and wonderful, and so fulfilling. All because I spent a year finishing projects instead of starting them…..

What helps motivate you to finish projects? Or have you done something that changed your sewing journey too? I would love to hear your stories.

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