I read a marvellous post today where Stephanie gets out her “stash of shame” which includes several unfinished jumpers. I think she did so in order to encourage her own creativity, but for me it was a revelation. This high-achieving woman, who makes beautiful clothes, actually has several half finished jumpers and unsuitable purchases in her cupboard. What a relief! It certainly made me feel a bit better to read about her tussles with her buying mistakes and fitting problems. Her confessions have provided me with therapy and relief. And encouraged me to do the same.
In line with today’s culture of “transparency” and “full disclosure” (and for my son Gus who especially likes it when I write up my failures) here is the large bag that lies in my “Corner of Shame”.
I leave the bag in full view, in our living room, hoping that seeing it daily will prod me into action. This is done in line with a post from Lesley in Australia who says that between each major project she mends something. I thought this was not only virtuous but probably the only way to get this sort of work done – we all prefer a shiny new project which promises to be perfect, to an existing one that is anything but. I put all my unfinished jobs, my mending and alterations in a pile and promised I would tackle them between the more exciting projects. But, if the truth be told, I have not never done so.
Let’s tip out the Bag of Shame.
There are two categories of item in here – the mending and alterations; and the true UFOs.
First mending and alterations.
- I am not sure why the pink skirt is here. It is from SWAP 2014 and I wear it a great deal. I think the lining has come down. Ten minute job.
- The green pencil skirt is lovely. I put it in the alteration pile as it is a little bit big and it slips down. I need to take in the side seams and redo the facings. Half hour job.
- The silver top is from Topshop sale. It was £10, and is a size 18 (109cms). I took off the sleeves and used them for the Octopus eyes. I need to take it in. This would take half an hour, but I am not sure I need a silver top.
- The blue linen trousers have a broken zip. I wore them on our Amalfi coast holiday. They are a little bit small to get into, although they fit OK once on, but I think this is what has caused the zip to fail. Not a nice job and a new zip may fail again.
- In the navy corner, already pined, is another Topshop sale item – a polyester sleeveless, navy jumpsuit. It needs taking in at the bust, but is otherwise fine in terms of fit. A bit of a fiddle but not a big job. Maybe an hour.
- And finally is a dress I really like but cannot wear. I underlined this with silk organza and it scratches. I need to line it to prevent it being so uncomfortable. I think this would take a couple of hours but would probably be worth it.
The next category of items are my UnFinished Objects. These are more shameful really, especially as I have alot more invested in them. Two were items from this year’s SWAP.
- The first is my YSL Mondrian dress. I don’t like the dress as it is. Some people have suggested removing the sleeves, and others – taking off the sequin hem. I am not sure I would wear it anyway. But I find it hard to give away. I am sort of expecting a suitable invitation and then I will try altering it. Maybe.
- My purple Courage coat is not finished either. Something went wrong with the sleeves. I put them in as per the instructions, but I think they are back to front. It doesn’t make sense as the cuffs are correct but not the top of the sleeve. It may be that the pattern is wrong. This so disappointing. But it could be put right. However Esme said it looks like a dressing gown and Nick thought it was something from a 1920s Am Dram production so I sort of lost my enthusiasm for this project.
- This is a rather nice Burda blouse in a lovely colour. It has buttons and buttonholes. But the sleeves are too long. Not difficult to do, this is more an alteration really. But I can’t bring myself to do it.
- The blue, thick wool dress is something I made in my pattern cutting class. It has a princess line, empire bodice, a waisted section and a slim skirt. It fits well. It has the most marvellous silk lining given to me by my dear friend Meddie. But I didn’t choose the design of the dress and I don’t love it. The lining is not finished. I am thinking of just making it into a rather nice straight skirt. But I haven’t yet.
Any suggestions or advice? Or are you in exactly the same boat yourself?
I haven’t inventoried my UFOs. Between knitting, sewing and quilting, I probably have almost a dozen. Luckily, I keep up with the mending.
I don’t have too many UFOs to deal with but those I have seem to have been around forever. I believe once you have doubts about a project it becomes much more difficult to complete. Sometimes you really just have to accept defeat and give up/throw away the projects to give you a clear head to carry on with something else.
Only invest the time in altering or finishing the garments you actually love. I have found that, otherwise, they get fixed and then I don’t wear them anyway. Could have spent the time on another project!
I have many many UFOs even after culling those I don’t feel excited about anymore. I think it’s a bit of laziness and the allure of a fresh project that stops me working on them, but lately I’ve been making myself do at least one a month. I think most people would have at least a few so we’re not alone!!
I think the dressing gown comment might just put me off the coat! I do have a corner of shame – a half finished cardigan for which I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough yarn, several charity shop finds which need refashioning and a couple of half cut out garments I’ve lost interest in! I agree with Kim that sometimes you just have to accept defeat and move on but there are some things in your mending/alterations pile that look worth the effort, especially the pink dress with the scratch lining.
When I started back sewing I made myself finish every bit of sewing I started – to the point of a tacked hem or zip as if there are too many UFOS I found I was looking at defeat each time I consider a new project. So I do have a few finished projects that I don’t wear, but find them useful as they are from various blocks or patterns I still use. One UFO springs to mind -its a lovely lawn cotton and it never worked as a summer top – completely wrong shape – its a creamy yellow and the tones were a challenge some years ago, where now that I am grey they look awful, so every now and then I take it out – look at it wondering what to do (its now potential handbag lining) sigh, and put it back…..
A whole shameful crate. Some jobs have been in their for years. The horror! Maybe we should all do this, and share our shame?
A whole shameful crate. Some jobs have been in their for years. The horror! Maybe we should all do this, and share our shame?
oops I meant ‘there’. The shame!
I wonder if sharing dilutes it!? 🙂
Well you’ve already done the first step, identified the items and what is required.
I would probably work through looking at which items I would actually want to wear afterwards, and then set myself some targets with rewards. I sometimes have a mending week, where I fix something every evening. The other approach I have is when the right colour is already on the machine for something else then I tell myself that I don’t even have to change the thread and then I just try to get on and do the alterations.
The hardest ones for me are where the project went wrong and I don’t know how to fix it – sometimes I just cut these up into shoebags and use the scraps to fill draught excluders. Sometimes I just do a quick fix and donate the results. If you don’t want to finish something and it wouldn’t be wearbale by someone else in that form, it can go to the charity shop for rags, though that’s my last resort.
Make It Any Wear
My best UFO is a half made dress of my mother’s that she started sometime in the ’60’s. The fabric is gorgeous and someday I’ll make something of it. I have a couple of projects that I’m in the middle of the muslin/toile stage, but otherwise only current project.
This is great, Kate. You are too kind regarding my making. It’s funny that I did a post about UFOs in that I was thinking in terms of yarn to make new projects. I suppose this is because I think of knitting as malleable and often tear out projects and start on another design with the same yarn. A lot of yarn therefore ends up in perpetual limbo…as in twenty year limbo.
Incidentally, Gus must be a storyteller. It’s like Tolstoy’s bit about all happy families being happy in the same way but unhappiniess deriving uniquely. “Misses” are much more interesting than ” I love this and wear it all the time!” 🙂
But PS Sorry to hear about the Courrèges coat. I hope that will be successful with a little bit of work.
It is frustrating when you start a project and have the finished item in your head and imagine yourself wearing it etc…then it just doesn’t turn out like.
Luckily I don’t have too many but I can think of skirt and a teeshirt that didn’t get finished and were put in the bin as I just didn’t want to see them hanging around.
My worse is a Sewaholic Trench coat which I spent ages learning to do bound buttonholes for then half way though it wasn’t working an my enthusiasm dropped. It’s all the worse as I must have spent £60 – £70 on fabric and components and the pattern. It is stuffed in a bag out of sight on top of a shelf. It will never be finished as I used some of the fabric for a toil.
My thoughts on your (much smaller than mine) unfinished things!
mending and alterations section
1, 2 and 6 – do it, 3 – give it to someone else or bin it, 5 if you are sure you will wear a linen jumpsuit this autumn, do it but if not see 3, send 4 to your local alterations shop, they can put in a new zip much faster and more easily than you and it doesn’t cost much.
1 was probably a mistake – give it away
2 and 4 don’t bother with you will probably never wear them
3 Yes finish it.
Good luck with getting some finished.
I’m in the same boat. From where I sit (I also leave my ‘UFO’s in plain view in the hall so I won’t forget) I see three skirts (one too long that needs to be lengthened, on too long that needs to be shortened, and one with a too-loose waistband), a dress that just needs to be put back together after some modifications, and a dress I am making into a top b/c it doesn’t look good as a dress. I also have a pair of trousers that only need the waistband attached but were too big when I made them so I either need to take them apart to redo them or redistribute some weight to my derriere.
I’ve managed to fix a few dresses, as that was my summer plan rather than making new, but that was less successful than I anticipated.
It’s very interesting to see the projects that are hidden under the rug (or behind the blog!). I don’t have many unfinished sewing projects – just lots of un-started ones! I keep them spread about, one or two upstairs, a few tucked away in a cupboard, some in the sewing room! Mainly ‘bargains’ from the charity shop that need to be altered. Although just today I mended a knee in my daughters leggings after putting them aside for six weeks…. At least now she can wear them before the next growth spurt!
I even have some that my mom made (or rather started) for me when I was in my 30s that she passed on when she got bored, hit a snag, etc, so that I could do the “last little bit”. Which didn’t happen then and won’t happen now AND who would they fit anyway?
Having said that, its hard for me to image that you don’t need a silver sleeveless top that is close kin to an octopus.
I try not to have sewing ufos but I do have a knitting one as it hurts my hands (a magnificent jumper for my husband that is half done). What I have is a big pile of clothes to refashion somehow. I can’t bear to throw the fabric away but I have zero inspiration for transforming them.
I sure do! My tailored wool jacket need buttonholes and a bit of a tweak at the collar.
I did a post a thousand years ago where I took the UFO hamper and dumped and sorted. It was sad.
That hamper migrated to a corner of the house where I stumbled on it this weekend. I had no trouble dumping the contents (mostly still undone) in the scrap recycle pile (thank heavens we can do that in Seattle) because I have another hamper in plain view, and I have ‘outgrown’ a lot of the previous items (as have the children).
I see an Instagram event here: the Hampers of Forgetting
Seems you have taken inventory, know how long it will take to be done, what you want to complete and what you don’t. But I wouldn’t leave the bag out to annoy me. I suggest you choose one, and put the rest away until you are ready to tackle the next.
I pretty much sew one thing at a time,until it’s done..but…I do have one ufo in the closet! It’s a cape I started last fall…didn’t complete…not sure if I will…we shall see, and I do feel quilty that I used the fabric but did not complete the garment….
If I don’t finish it this fall…ill recycle the material for something else ( cape , big pieces)
I usually have a sewing project, a painting project or a sculpture on the go at the same time, and now I have a knitting project for quieter times.
I do have big bags of scrap…which I should get rid of but don’t…cause you never know…I might need a little this or that.
I don’t have a big stash…but I like to have my next project bought and ready to go while I do another. I find that motivates me to finish what I’m doing at the time.
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I would guess ufos are more common than not as we’re practising an inexact science. I’m a giver upper when I encounter a problem that I can’t resolve, I also recognise that I’m an enthusiastic starter and love the planning and prepping stages and that wears off the longer I work on a garment.
I have a pretty cardboard box (full) that I labelled ufos and I’ve stuff on hangers that I’m not going to finish but I’ve also got finished stuff that I haven’t worn/used.
I’ve got a couple of incomplete jackets on the go, one I made in a class and where I was forced to make a larger size than I would’ve chosen, it was fitted to me after cutting but the armsye were in my opinion too large and thus look too big, a real pity because it’s beautiful fabric.
The way I see it, this is my hobby and hobbies are time consuming, costly and sometimes unproductive but the journey is salve to the soul, hopeful and full of possibilities, so jog on, the enrichment outweighs any negatives.
A very wise and thoughtful reaction from you Annie, as ever. That is such a sad and annoying story about the jacket. And the final justification captures exactly how I feel. Thank you.
That mauve coat with silver trim may have been my favourite of your swap pieces this year. I hope you won’t let an offhand comment by a husband put you off it.
Sew It Or Throw It
It is really interesting to see a follow-up type post on garments you’ve made that I remember from their original post! I often wonder how sewing projects work into people’s everyday lives, and am delighted to see a ‘where are they now’, even if the answer is the unfortunate ‘in a bag’.
With things like tacking up a hem, or taking in a garment, why not take it to a tailor/dry cleaner/alterations shop?
If you don’t want to do the alterations, pay somebody else. If the garment isn’t worth paying to have finished, maybe that’s your answer?
Good point Liza Mae. I will make a decision on what to do with each item and report back. There is a danger that everything will be in the Throw it pile.