The Emotions Of Finishing A Project

February 12, 2011

Finishing a project always brings out so many emotions.  Usually it is happiness and pride (is pride an emotion?).  Sometimes it’s plain old relief.  And then there can disappointment and frustration.  Every project is a roller coaster of emotions, I think. Even the little projects.  The intensity of emotions is directly related to the purpose of the project.  Knitting a hat isn’t quite the emotional experience that is knitting a vest for my mom for Christmas.  Sewing a pouch isn’t the same as making a quilt for a friend’s daughter.  And maybe the more you do something, the less of a journey it becomes.  The first time I flew home to Chicago from college brought out more emotions than any other trip.

I finished Amy’s quilt yesterday and wrapped it up to mail today. I originally started this project in June and it took me until yesterday to finish.  First emotion:  embarrassment.

pile o squares

I knew it would take me awhile because it was the first “real” quilt project I had done in a long time.  I warmed up with a lap-sized zig zag quilt and then jumped straight into a twin size bed project.  The pattern was easier and yet it wasn’t.  The pattern was also an original idea though you can find a similar one in the book The Practical Guide to Patchwork (Snapshots).

I got frustrated in August because my corners weren’t lining up and it wasn’t turning out as nicely (ie perfectly) as I had hoped. Second emotion:  frustration.


I thought about working on the quilt all through the fall and then I got caught up in other things, but started thinking about it a lot in December.  Finally, in January I pulled it out again.  I think about 1/8th of it was put together and it was seeming too wide to me.  I measured it, compared it to another quilt and decided I didn’t need two columns and I cut them off.  Just took the scissors and got rid of them.  I added on a few more rows and a couple of days later, started wondering about how wide the quilt really needed to be.  I re-did research on quilt sizes and realized that indeed, I needed those two columns.  Third emotion:  intense frustration at own stupidity and rashness.

quilt in progress

I fixed my “mistake” and in doing so, I realized that I had done a horrible job of planning.  I had no idea how many squares of each print I had, how often I was using them, if I had enough…  I got organized.  I created this crazy spreadsheet where I named each print, figured out how many I had already used, how many I had, how many total squares I needed, then how many more of each fabric I needed and then I was a little more systematic when I laid it out.  Probably a bit of overkill, but the project started humming along after that.  I’d lay out three or four rows at a time, take a picture (because once I started sewing I’d get confused) and then add it to the body of the quilt.  It took me about a five days to get the quilt top done.  I already had a plan for the quilt back and that was an evening and morning’s worth of work.  Then I made my sandwich which went a lot more quickly than I expected.  Except that once I had the quilt back taped to the floor I realized that my batting was in a closet that was inaccessible because all the furniture in the room was pushed up against the door.  Brilliant!  I managed to get it out, which entailed quite a bit of swearing. That roadblock notwithstanding, the sandwiching went well and then it was on to the quilting.


I wish that I could undo the early passes I made on the quilt. About a quarter of the way through the first round of quilting, I started to get the hang of it.  Fourth emotion:  joy!

The quilting took me two days.  That went a lot faster than I anticipated.  I did a relatively simple lattice design.  Interesting without being too difficult or too busy.  Next up was the binding which also went well.  I machine sewed it on, and then finished it by hand.  I thought it would take me a week to do the binding, but that took less than two days.  The next day I made a simple quilt label and sewed it on and she was done.  But she wasn’t feeling exactly done to me.

quilt backing

quilt front


She needed a pillow.  An embroidered pillow.  I went to bed making up the design in my head, and in two days, the pillow was done.  Then the project felt complete.  Fifth emotion: contentment.


I’m always super critical of myself and my work.  Could my corners have lined up better?  Yes.  Could I have quilted straighter lines?  Yes.  Will anyone notice the imperfections? Only experienced quilters and me.  Could this project have been made with more love?  No.  I am truly proud of this project.  It is one of the nicest things I have made.  It has been a roller coaster of a journey, but I learned so much through my many, many mistakes.  And in the end, when I looked at it, I don’t think I could have done a better job.

P.S.  I used 5 – 6 squares of 44 different prints.  Finished size is approximate 68 x 100 inches.

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Huddled In The Corner

February 1, 2011


I wish there was a way to take a picture of me, huddled in the corner of my craft room, tucked in by the garage door and laundry room, waiting for my floor to dry.  At least I’m in my comfy chair.  I moved the furniture and washed the floor in preparation for laying out Amy’s Quilt!  YAY!!  It’s a Mir-acle! I started this bad boy in August and am just now finishing it. Shame on me.  Truth be told, I got a little frustrated with it when I was having trouble with my corners lining up.  When I picked it up again it started to go a little better and I powered through. And now, here I am waiting to lay the whole thing out.  I’m a little nervous to be starting the quilting part, so if you can, please send positive thoughts my way.

While I’m here waiting, I thought I would let you know how I did with my January goals and set February’s.

So for January:

1.  Lose five pounds.  Not so successful.  I’ve neglected my cardio even though I’ve gotten back into the gym routine, and my birthday was more like a birth-ten-days which included Margaritas and cupcakes and all the yummy food I could get my hands on.  But I am down a pound so that’s better than nothing.

2.  Figure out how many skeins of yarn I currently have.  Yeeesh…a lot.  364, and that number has gone up by a few.

3.  Finish Amyâ??s quilt.  Not done, but I have made so much progress on this one!

4.  Finish Billâ??s mittens.  They are done, but I fear they are a little too tight.  I just don’t have it in me to knit another pair right now, but I have enough yarn and might do so in the future.  He insists they are fine, but he knows I’m burnt out on the pattern.

5.  Finish green apple cardi.  Yay!  It turned out ok, but wearable.  It’s a little too big, and I even made a size smaller than I am.

6.  Read 2 books.  I actually finished 5, one I started in November, No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty (it’s about NaNoWriMo), and another I started in December, Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler.  The other books were Winter Study by Nevada Barr, Trixie Belden and the Secret of the Mansion by Julie Campbell (a book from my childhood), The Game by Laurie R King.

7.  Finish â??75 and â??76 photo albums.  Didn’t even touch ‘em.  But I did think about what I need to do and and how to do it.

8.  Clean out closet in Billâ??s room.

9.  Get to halfway point on basketweave afghan.  - Didn’t get to work on it because I started a baby blanket for a friend and I’m ok with that.

10.  Make master bedroom valances.  They are so cute!

So I accomplished 6 out of 10, made serious progress on another and one goal was swapped out for another more important project.


For February I want to:

1.  Finish Amy’s Quilt

2.  Sew Mom’s Bag and mail out her goodies.  The Fabric is already cut, just waiting to be put together.

3.  Get to halfway point on Basketweave afghan.

4.  Create something.

5.  Lose 5 pounds.

6.  Finish ’75 and’76 photo albums.

7.  Read 3 books.

I feel like I am missing something on this list, but I can’t think of what it is.  Since February is a short month, I’ll keep my list short. And I’m sure other projects will pop up.  I even got started on those 5 lbs.  I took the photo above on my walk this morning.  I found the little burst of yellow to be quite cheery.

Here’s to a productive February!

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January 30, 2011

I’m so inspired by people who create things.  I make things. There’s a difference.  To me, creating involves vision.  It’s seeing a beautiful picture in the midst of a jumble of things.  Or looking at a blank slate and seeing a thousand possibilities.  That vision is something I lack.  Actually, I’m hoping it is something I just haven’t developed.  Like my triceps.  But with some hard work and determination, maybe I can improve myself some vision.


1. forest love…, 2. Whooooos this wise guy?, 3. Half Square Triangle Quilt, 4. Felt embroidery, 5. Rainbow Mini Quilt , 6. flower4, 7. friends, 8. Hexillow, 9. rlynn

I started last night.  Inspired by this image, I decided to try and create a new throw pillow cover.  I’ve never done anything like it. I dug threw my scraps, cut strips, cut triangles, found some linen, and then sewed.  And sewed.  And sewed.  And voil .


I’m really quite pleased with how the pillow top has turned out.  I cut the fabric for the back, and I know how I’m going to finish it, something I will hopefully get to today.

For my first foray into “creating” I think I did ok.  It’s not something that comes easy to me, but I’m going to work at it.  I think I’ve found another goal for the year…

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Making Progress

January 15, 2011

I have a couple of minutes to kill before I leave for a quilting class, so I thought I’d pop in here.  I’ve been meaning to for several days, but just haven’t done it.  Things are good.  I’m making progress on some long put-off projects.  For example, there’s a pile of fabric that I have been moving around my craft room for months.  At least since October.  I finally dealt with it.


I cut up most of it to make some tablet cases.


And then I cut the fabric for my new bedroom valances.  The fabric part was easy, the trim part gave me fits.  I was originally going to do some fancier kind of valance, like a bubble valance.  The more I thought about it, the more complicated it was getting, so I decided to do a plain old gathered kind of valance.  When I had bought the trim (about a week ago) I was only going to do 3 panels, but then I decided to make 4.  Back to Joann, where apparently everyone needed brown ball trim.  There was a little over a yard left, so I took it.  As it turns out, I was 4 (four!) inches short.  Ugh.  So after the gym on Thursday, Bill kindly detoured to another Joann to get the rest of my trim.  What should have been an easy trip took twice as long since Google Maps misdirected us.  In the end, it worked out because I was able to get a yard of the fabric at 70% off since it had already been cut.  That meant that I got 9 times what I needed for only twice what my 4 inches would have cost.  I was able to finish my curtains and I have a little left over trim.


This article on Apartment Therapy distracted me on Thursday.  I ended up tidying up my “junk” drawer.  It’s not really a junk drawer since it contains mainly office supplies, but I made a little more room for the hammer and scissors I keep in there which have been getting in the way.


The weather is beautiful so I have my sheets hanging on the line, and I turned off the heat and opened some windows.  Ahhh… fresh air.  I see a nice walk for CJ in our future.  I have my quilting class today, and then Bill and I are going to watch some football, and work on our bedroom.  Now that I have my curtains done, we’re going to hang those and pick up and reorganize a little.  I need to re-hang some pictures and just make it look a bit more inviting.  I’m changing the colors from black-white-pink to blue and brown, a transition that has been in progress for many months.  The junk drawer article has motivated me to clean out our bed side tables which have become catch-alls.  That’s what’s on tap for me.  I hope you all have some fun stuff planned for the weekend!  Or if not fun, at least productive.

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Hello, Kitty!

October 8, 2010

We were finally ready to take the plunge.  That’s right.  On Tuesday Bill and I went to the Humane Society of Silicon Valley to pick out a kitty.  Not a replacement for our sweet Bri Bri, but an addition to our family.  It sounds like fun, and it is in a way, but to me, it’s difficult to look at all the kitties needing homes and knowing you can just bring one home.  But we did find our new kitty.

The Newest Napier

She still doesn’t have a name.  We’re still getting to know each other.  She’ll tell us her name when she’s ready.  She is a sweetie. Shy, but not skittish.  A pur machine.  Jet black, but has a couple of white hairs on her chest.  She had been at the Humane Society for awhile and had trouble adjusting at first.  She’s only nine months old and has already had a litter of kitties.  Poor little girl has been through a lot in her young life so we decided it was time she get settled in her permanent home.


For now, she’s getting acclimated in the bathroom off my craft room.  We go in and visit a lot so she can get to know us. We’re taking it slowly, letting her get used to our noises and smells before we introduce her to the dog, and give her more of the house to explore.  I spent today making her two cat beds.  I really liked the look of the Better-Than-A-Box pet bed in One Yard Wonders.  It was easy to make and I like how she can nestle into the bed.  I made one out of Amy Butler cotton fabric I had in my stash, and another out of fleece I bought from Joann.


Then I decided she needed a toy so I knit her this little heart, pattern care of Martha Stewart.  It took less than 30 minutes from start to finish. I happened to have the yarn and catnip on my desk, needles within reach, so I made it.  Kitters hasn’t played with it yet, but I’m optimistic.  I also like this feather toy and this cat scratcher.

We’re excited to have another kitty in the house.  Not sure if CJ agrees, but she was always so good with our other cats.  Now all we need to do is decide on a name!

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FOF: The Wrap-up

October 6, 2010

My Focus on Finishing has ended, and I would call it a big success!  I started with 34 projects in various states of completion, and I was able to completely finish 26 of them!  I also made progress on two other projects.  I am thrilled with what I was able to accomplish this month, especially given the yucky events of the month.

FOF 2010 done

1. halloweensocksnotdone, 2. Whippoorwill, done!, 3. curtains, done!, 4. booties, done!, 5. cabled capelet, done!,

6. my design tote, done!, 7. IMG_0010, 8. IMG_0009, 9. bill’s fun pj’s, done!, 10. billsglovesnotdone,

11. nappy bag, done!, 12. amysquiltnotdone, 13. Lizard Ridge Afghan, done!, 14. Feather & Fan, again, 15. voile top, done!,

16. blue cotton top, done!, 17. IMG_0023, 18. focusonfinishing2 092010, 19. satin top, done!, 20. gatheredscarf notdone,

21. coasters, done!, 22. bill’s green pjs, done!, 23. BB Chevron Love Mitts, done!, 24. fabric boxes, done!, 25. IMG_0014,

26. bwafghan notdone, 27. Reindeer PJs, done!, 28. dog bed, done!, 29. B&W Tunic, done!, 30. concettacardi not done,

31. table not done, 32. jersey top, done!, 33. tawashi, done!, 34. green cotton top, done!, 35. sweetheartsocksnotdone

Here’s my mosaic, showing my completed projects.  The whited out squares are the projects that I wasn’t able to finish.  I knew I wasn’t going to be able to finish everything.  I do need to sleep, after all.

Aside from everything I’ve finished, this process really helped me clean up my craft room.  It looks better than it has in months!  All these unfinished projects were taking up valuable space.  I spent time this month reorganizing and cleaning up.  I’m starting October with a clean slate!

The only downside to my month of FOF was I didn’t always allow myself to enjoy the process of whatever it was I was making.  In some cases I forced myself to power through and get it done, whereas I normally would have put it aside and taken a break.  On the other hand, I can’t complain about the results.

I’m still motivated to finish the unfinished projects I have left.  I do need to start on Christmas crafting soon, but for now I’m still focusing on these last few projects I have going.

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My Fleet of Turtles

September 17, 2010


They are done.  Six cute little tippy turtles.  I am so relieved.  I stayed up late last night trying to finish, but they were taking longer than I anticipated.  After three more hours this afternoon, I have finished them.

Over, I’d give the project a B+.  High marks because of the end result.  The embellishment with the flower and leaves is a much needed finishing touch.  It takes the turtles from nice to really cute.  For construction, I’d have to give them a C, mainly because I found them a little tedious.  But I was making six of them.  The feet are pretty superflous; the turtles really sit on their bellies. Two of them are especially tippy, resting on their chins for balance.  I’d say that adds to the charm.  My feet also have little creases in them.  I couldn’t get them stuffed to avoid it, and I was almost ripping the seams trying when I overstuffed.  Again, I’m chalking it up to charm.



They are cute though, aren’t they?!

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Turtles, Turtles Everywhere!


I’ve been working on a herd of Heather Bailey’s Henrietta turtle pincushions.  For three days.  These little guys are more time consuming than you might think.  They are one of my FOF projects.  I cut most of the fabric around April or May.  Then they sat until this past Tuesday when I started working on them again.  And here it is, Thursday, really Friday and I’m still. not. done.

I will definitely be done later today but I can’t believe how much time these have taken.  Except for maybe two hours I spent on my embroidery, these have been the focus of my attention.  They are fun, but challenging.  My sixth one went better than the first. The first took me all of last night.  They are fiddly, and I’m not used to working on such small things.  The other problem with them is that they are almost too cute to use as pincushions.  All this trouble to make them and I can’t bring myself to stick a pin in it.

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To Line Or Not To Line?

September 10, 2010

Another one of my projects was to finish making curtains for my craft room.  Actually, I’m making a valance but they are still considered curtains, aren’t they?  I cut the fabric over a year ago. And then it sat. One of the reasons was because I couldn’t decide if I wanted to line them.  Then I got to thinking that it would take forever to cut the lining and do the ironing… Momentum lost.

prelined curtains

Bill helped me out one evening by ironing the fabric panels. They had gotten a little wrinkled sitting in my fabric drawer.  The next night I ironed all the seams and the fold over for the rod pocket. That was an exciting evening.

Once again, the question was whether or not to line the valances. Reasons why not to line: 1.  they are just for my craft room and 2. why make a simple project hard.  Reason why to line:  1.  if I’m going to do something, do it right, 2.  I have curtaining lining out the wazoo, 3.  it’s good practice and 4. they should last longer because they won’t fade as fast.  It was important to me that they last because we do plan on moving at some point (though not in the near future) and panels could be used again on a different size window.

lined curtains

Yesterday, I cut the lining and did the sewing.  It went pretty quickly because I had already ironed the seams.  And by quickly I mean it took me the entire afternoon.

curtains, done!

Here’s the end result.  It is perhaps a little too cutesy, but I’m keeping them.  They are also a tad bit too long because they just brush the top of Bill’s head when he goes in and out.  The rod was already there and since we’re renting, we’re not going to move it.  All in all, they are cheerful and it’s nice to not see the bare rod and brackets.  Looking at them hang, I’m kinda impressed with my cutting job.  All the flowers line up and the curtains are even along the bottom.  I’m also very happy with my decision to line them.  It definitely gives them a more professional look and it wasn’t as much work as I thought it was going to be.

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Fabric Boxes, Take 2

September 9, 2010

Last week I started making some fabric boxes for my entertainment unit, as blogged about here.  I was very pleased with the result, but upon further review, there was one thing that was bothering me.  And it kept bothering me.  Actually, it started bothering me more and more.  There just seemed to be a lot of excess fabric and it made the end result look less nice.

fabric boxes v 1.0

I decided to go to Joann’s and get some heavy duty interfacing to use to make the boxes stiff instead of manilla folders.  I found one that happened to be fusible, though I didn’t see myself fusing it.

The only other change I made was to cut the lining fabric 1/4 inch shorter on the height.  I made no adjustments to the length and the width.  I followed the same steps as last time, including sewing about a half inch in the seams to create a pocket for my interfacing.  On impulse, I took an iron and fused the interfacing to the canvas and it actually created a very nice, crisp final product.  I fused the bottom as well, putting the fabric box over another firm box and ironing on that.

Fabric Boxes v 2.0

The outside doesn’t look that different from version 1.0, but the inside looks A LOT better.

fabric boxes, done!

And here they are in their final spot on my entertainment unit.  I decided to only do 4 boxes instead of 6.  They are easier to get out and I think it looks better than having a wall of fabric boxes.  Now I’m doing another happy dance!!

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About Me

Welcome to my spot on the web where I talk about needlework, crafts, and [many] other random things.

A few tidbits about me: I met my husband in college, flirting over tuba letters in the Penn Band. Our dog, CJ, and our cat, Sabrina, round out our family. I'm a sewist, knitter and needlepointer, and an occasional scrapbooker. I love organizing, reading, making jewelry, and hiking. A Chicago girl at heart, I am an avid follower the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks.

You can email me at mlynapier [at] pobox [dot] com. Thank you for stopping by!

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