Finish What You Start

One of my time-killing pasttimes on the computer is browsing the shops on Etsy. There's something about seeing all that talent and creativity that gets my creative juices flowing. The problem with that is that I'm a fairly creative person myself, so as I browse, I also realize that there's a lot on there that with a few supplies and a good Youtube tutorial, I could probably do myself.

I've never tried blowing glass into beautiful beads or forging sterling silver into intricate jewelry, but I've tried felting, scrapbooking, altering books, crocheting dishcloths, making hats, forming tissue paper flowers and balls, baking, making bags, creating Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus jeans, elaborate children's clothing, cross-stitching, embroidering...well, you get the picture. I'm usually decent at these endeavors and sometimes I'm actually quite good. The problem is that I might have CADD (creator's attention deficit disorder) and too often, I start a project and then don't finish it.

As I've sorted through boxes this summer, I've found way too many half-finished projects--a couple of really beautiful cross-stitch pieces that have dozens of hours invested in them, but sadly, I no longer have a pattern or the thread. I found an embroidered silk pillow that was partly finished and I honestly have zero desire to finish it, so regretfully, it will forever remain half-finished.

It is because of these many half-hearted attempts, that the finished projects become very special. One of those was the yoyo dress pictured above. I got a jolt of inspiration after making a bag embellished with yoyos. Wouldn't an all-white yoyo dress be beautiful? I imagined how playful and interesting and unique it would be, even envisioned a bride on the beach or in the forest, wearing the playful dress. I was inspired!

A trip to the fabric store to purchase a good-quality, white cotton and I was on my way. First, I sewed a fun, babydoll dress to be my base. Then I started cutting out yoyos. I cut out a hundred of them in three different sizes and began sewing them. The stacks of yoyos grew. Each yoyo is a circle twice the size of the finished yoyo. Each is gathered with dozens of stitches round the outer edge of the yoyo, all the while turning in the fabric to eliminate raw edges, and then gathering it tightly.Once each yoyo is sewn, it must be pressed to give it a nice, round appearance. When I'd sewn all 100 yoyos, I began arranging them on the dress and painstakingly sewing them on--each one with tiny, blind stitches that go all the way around the yoyo. I sewed on all 100 yoyos and much to my dismay, they barely made a dent in the dress.

A part of me was overwhelmed. What was I doing? I'd spent hours and hours and hours and here I was, only a fraction of the way there. So another trip to the fabric store to buy everything left on the bolt (it was over ten yards!) and I was back to cutting, sewing, pressing and stitching on yoyos. The sleeves presented a challenge because the edges of the yoyos are only sewn to each other, giving the lacy look I wanted.

I spent well over 100 hours on that dress, but I finished it. More than a year ago, I listed it in my etsy shop. It didn't sell. It isn't because it isn't beautiful. I've received more emails and positive comments about that dress than you can imagine. It's because in order to make minimum wage on it, I would have to charge over $900. That's fairly daunting.

My hope all along was that it would be a wedding dress. I hoped that so much that one of the small yoyos by the hem of the dress is pale blue (for that something blue).

A couple of weeks ago, I offered to take offers on everything in my etsy shop and within two days, I had an offer from a bride in Switzerland. I took the offer. I ended up making about $1.75 an hour, but it's going to be worn for a wedding in Switzerland! Not good money, but hey, I finished the dress and it's being used for what I envisioned, so I'm happy.

I won't be doing it again, but I'm happy to say that ten years down the road, I won't be sorting through boxes and find a half-finished yoyo dress.

What kinds of projects do you leave unfinished?

(p.s. If you want a smokin' deal on anything left in my etsy shop, go to and make me an offer.)


Mellie said...

I think I might have terminal CADD. I have so many unfinished projects it's just sad. Some of them aren't really even started... like the long, fleece-lined coat that I bought all the fabric, zipper, pattern, and trim for back in 2006.

I have the same problem with Etsy. Thanks to that delightful smorgasbord of craftiness, I've gotten it in my head that someday I'll make fused glass sushi plates, sculpted chocolates, a nuno felted scarf, and an insanely elaborate patchy-scrappy sweater coat. It's also thanks to Etsy that I've already taken up leather tooling and embedding stuff in clear resin.

I'd still be in trouble without Etsy sparking ideas though. It's because of the behind-the-scenes bonus features on The Lord of the Rings that I have an unfinished faux stone wall made of craft foam on my bedroom wall. Someday I'll finish texturing and painting it... really.

Congrats on selling your yoyo dress! It really is beautiful and unique, and it's awesome that it's going to be worn for a wedding!

Scott / Lori said...

To be honest I have the same problem, so unfortunately over the years I have just learned to not start any projects.....sure I like crafting and creating and brainstorming and such, but I never seem to be organized enough to stay on top of the rest of my responsibilities to be able to give any time to the project. I do, however, make time to read. So good job on the dress. I would have NEVER finished that.....or started it.