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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

How to: Learning to let go of DIY projects

I love making things with my own hands; there's something about knowing that you've created an item which produces a special meaning. I'm not alone in my love of DIY and crafting, and it's easy to understand why - not only can it be cheaper and produce objects you might not be able to buy, but it's enjoyable and there's a certain pride in getting to use something and say 'I made this' to queries.

However, sometimes crafting projects can become more trouble than their worth. Occasionally, the task might be more difficult than previously thought, you can't get the materials you need or you just lose interest. Any of these reasons can lead to unfinished pieces, and you are left in flux about what to do. Do you soldier on and wait it out, or do you cut your losses before you waste any more time?

I'm the world's worst for leaving projects once my enthusiasm has faded. I also have a bad habit of forgetting I may not have the tools or skills for the job, and it can be demoralising to have to accept defeat on something I was determined to make. Whilst it's something I have improved at, I think every crafter should learn when to recognize that something isn't getting finished and is preventing you from moving on to other projects.

So, is a project worth sticking with? Run it through this check list -

  • Have you lost interest? Do you feel obligated to finish it so you can move onto other craft projects, but just can't face doing so?
  • Are you lacking the means to finish it? Can you get the materials to finish it soon, or does the lack of affordable and appropriate lace for the edging on your bell skirt mean that you have to wait it out until something appears?
  • Have you realised you don't have the skill level to finish it? Did you forget in your enthusiasm that making your own furniture is harder than it looks?

Accepting your defeat doesn't have to be associated with negative emotions; I often find it freeing to admit that, no, I am probably not going to finish making those goggles, and I should stop fretting over them. To best help you let go of DIY projects, there are a number of steps to follow -

  • Remove them from your craft space. Before you do anything, separate the projects you aren't going to finish from those you are. If they are hanging about your craft space doing nothing but making you guilty and causing clutter, there is no point to keep them hanging about. Out of site, out of mind.
  • Decide whether to bin or to store. Some projects are just failures, whereas others you might want to store in case the situation changes and you want to take it up again. Storage obviously also depends on the space available to you, and before putting in the bin consider if you can cannibalize the resources used for other purposes.
  • Review stored projects annually, or however often is appropriate for you. If the situation changes, and maybe you're a bit more experienced with needle felting now or have finally bought the machine part you didn't realise you'd need when starting, you can always pick it up again.

Hope this helps!

Fiona C.


  1. I'm guilty of all of these. I try new hobbies all the time and many are unfinished and taking up space. I combat this by taking classes at a studio instead of at home. That way all the materials are at the space, you've got someone standing over you making you finish and helping you improve, so all you take home is the finished thing. Of course this is expensive, though. I usually try the studio thing for hobbies I'm first trying out that require a huge investment... Like shoemaking or bookbinding.

    1. Yeah, it's a similar concept to having an exercise buddy; someone is there to make sure that you carry out what you said you were going to do. Great suggestions!

  2. Good article! When I mobed I had to get rid of a huge stash of fabric I didn' t have the time or motivation to use!

    1. Thanks! It's helpful just getting rid of it (though preferably not binning it) to clear your head space.

  3. Thank you for the important reminder. I've many times gone to craft something, seen all the unfinished, unwanted projects in the basket, lost all interest in crafting, and then turned around and sat down with the computer instead. When ever I do get around to cleaning out the old projects I always feel a fresh brust of energy and creativity come over me.

  4. Thanks for sharing and the reminder. It would have even better a flowchart diagram represented whole letting go process draw from a flowchart tool .


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