September 16, 2009

On Craft Clutter (and the Pillow Covers I Am Finally Going to Sew)


eiffel tower fabric at reprodepot

Did you know that something like 98.9% of clutter is from projects you intended to tackle, but didn’t? I mean, haven’t yet. I believe it, because I’m embarrassed to admit what’s coming up in this next sentence, but I’m nothing if not brave (insofar as confessing things on the internet is a sign of bravery):

I bought pillow inserts two years ago with the intention of finding the perfect fabric, covering them, and placing them proudly at each end of the couch. Since then, they have been moved from room to room, closet to closet, and finally, perhaps most embarrassingly, placed at either end of the sofa, uncovered. A year ago.

As long as I’m confessing things, I should probably also share that I bought a chandelier on the street for $20 about three years ago that has been carried into — count ’em — three apartments but never rewired, painted, or installed the way I originally intended. It was to my great horror when recently, after dessert with some friends, my otherwise kind-hearted man pulled the brass behemoth out of my closet and into the living room, holding it before everyone’s eyes as my crowning failure of follow-through, the ultimate embodiment of my clutter. He, understandably, wanted to let go of the past and gain some storage space. But I had plans for that chandelier.

There is some cold comfort in knowing that other people do this. Our intentions are good, our hearts in the right place, our creative juices flowing. It’s just that our powers of seeing-things-through have perhaps atrophied. This, I understand, is common. It’s one reason we have so much clutter. And maybe this would be fine in rambling farmhouses or homes with entire rooms devoted to craft projects. But in small apartments, where it is so hard to hide things away, your unfinished projects are largely on display.


red rick rack fabric at purl patchwork

But look! I have found the fabric that is just right for these pillows. And furthermore, I have the fabric that is right for two additional pillows that made their way into my life in the past several months ago. They have sat, hideously blue, on either end of the couch, smaller companions to the naked white pillow forms. But change is afoot. I feel a strong crafting breeze coming in, and the pillows will soon find themselves swathed in Eiffel Towers and red rick rack. Sometimes you need time to sit with a project, to think about it, in an unhurried way, until your vision comes together. Good things, after all, are worth waiting for. My betrothed, who claims he pined for me for eight years, should know that more than anyone.

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  • Sarah: Nice! You inspired me to organize my box of yarn that is simply out-of-control and multiplying somehow. Since you confessed to things here, I shall also confess: the box is large enough for a person to fit into. I know this because I tripped and fell into it last week. I might just tackle my plethora of collage clippings, too, once the yarn is in hand.

    By the way, this is a beautifully written post. One could enjoy reading it for that reason alone! 🙂8 years ago

  • Sarah, That bit about your coffin-sized box of yarn really made me laugh out loud. And I really needed it. Thanks for that. 🙂8 years ago

  • Julia (Color Me Green): i had a painting half finished that i hadn’t worked on for a year and a half before i finally tossed it. i’d lost the mojo on that one.8 years ago

  • The Single Gal: Too funny – I ,too, had a flea market chandelier that I moved around for years! But I bought a house last year & finally had the wiring checked, the chain replaced and installed it myself (with close supervision!)… and it’s my favorite piece now. Every time I turn it on, I get unreasonably giddy at my accomplishment – even though it took me awhile!8 years ago

  • Lisa (dinner party): Uh, yeah, I feel you on this. Stupid wedding album that haunts my dreams, I will conquer you! Someday…8 years ago

  • EB: I love reprodepot! I always get fabric from them for my kitchen curtains. I love the fabric you chose. Worth the wait 🙂

    I also had my very own chandelier taking up my limited storage space. A mid-century marvel from my grandmothers old house. When I finally got around to installing it (2 years after I acquired it)… the wiring was all wrong and it ended up getting donated anyhoo.8 years ago

  • Bernie: I find that most of my clutter occurs from things I bought and used before realizing I already had what I needed. So now I have four sets of magic markers, two packs of glitter glue, more thank you cards than I can count, and a whole host of other things bought with the best of intentions. I can’t bring myself to throw them away.8 years ago

  • Kristina: Eight years? Wow, that guy’s got patience. He should know better than to kvetch about a chandelier hogging the closet, now, really.

    I didn’t intend to give relationship advice. All I intended to say was: the strong crafting breeze is blowing here, too. Must be autumn.8 years ago

  • I love all these confessions of hoarded chandeliers! It’s the wiring and installation, isnt it? It all just seems like such a giant pain, especially in rental spaces.

    Kristina, Your comment cracked me up. Which I needed desperately. Thank you. 🙂8 years ago

  • anne: Can’t wait to see the after photos!8 years ago

  • Sarah: Ah, so familiar – my usually patient husband has instituted a strict “one item in, one item out” policy in our home because my collection of antiques and secondhand treasures waiting to be refurbished started to get a little out of control.

    I did, however, finagle a craft/sewing room all to myself in our smallish townhouse (and even painted it pink!)

    Thanks for the inspiration and affirmation!8 years ago

  • stephanie: The best way i know to get organized is to have company over as my craft room is the guest room and so in order to find the bed i must clean and get rid of things or sort. I finally sorted my material in colors and currently have 3 pairs of pjs for my son waiting for attention along with the apron i started 3 months ago or the socks i started 2 years ago or was it three? i made one though! Crafting breeds clutter unless you have elves to help. 😉8 years ago

  • Avril Lobo: Hey Sarah! Gosh I’ve been thinking of finishing up some craft projects meself! This is really good timing. I have glass bottles that have been cleaned and waiting to be painted. Wax that was meant to be transformed into cinnamon-scented candles. Yarn that was s’posed to be so many things. But today TODAY is the to take one tiny baby step and get started on something! Thanks for an inspiring & extremely well worded post! Avril8 years ago

  • Karen: I have quite a few unfinished (and never started) crafts tucked away around the house. Yes, I do have good intentions, but somehow I get sidetracked.
    Good luck on your pillow project. Can’t wait to see the finished results.8 years ago

  • kat: I have a table I was going to refinish. Took me 6 years, 3 moves (including to and from england),and paying someone else to sand it. But on Labor Day I put the first 2 coats of varnish on it. It really needs a 3rd coat- so I’m optimistic by Christmas it will be finished!

    Tables are a bit easier (and usable) in their unfinished state than chandeliers though.
    I’m sure you’ll get to it though.8 years ago

  • Nikki: Wow, that French fabric is the cutest.8 years ago

  • Christine H.: True story: My mother has a incomplete, unfinished baby quilt/blanket that was going to be a gift for a friend that she started in 1979. Let me type that again: 1979. It’s been through at least 8 moves and the baby it was intended for is 30 years old and probably having babies of his own now. So don’t feel too bad about 3 years & 3 moves.

    And now that I think about all the traits I’ve inherited from my mother, I feel very motivated and am determined to finish all my half-completed projects before this year comes to an end. As the internet as my witness, my little nephew is going to get those Spaceboy & Robot plushes before he turns 30! 😀8 years ago

  • Lorili: I have a multi-pane door frame, purchased 8 years ago, intended to be a giant picture frame. I see potential, forgetting about the time and/or money and/or talent that will need to be expended to realize that potential…

    This is still my year to “finish”.8 years ago

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