Finishing Embroidery: Visions Unfulfilled

Vicki made this comment after the Finish It stitchinar:

Some ornaments are challenging to me…they never seem to turn out as I envision them.

Who here can’t relate to that? I think every crafter and artist experiences this, and while I know it can be frustrating and disappointing, I think it’s inevitable—dare I say necessary?—and even good in the long run.

Cross stitch bookmark

Becca’s (deliberately) wonky bookmark finish from the Bookmarks 101 finishing class.

Our Nutty friend, Becca, created this bookmark in the Bookmarks 101: Simple, Smart, and Swanky Finishes class. She chose to try a wonky finish, scrunching her rolled hem and stitching in a non-linear, non-counted way.

She wasn’t especially pleased with the result.

I, however, was. Right off the bat. I think it works wonderfully!

First, Becca painted the fabric. An experiment with new fabric spray paints. I love the portion she chose to stitch and how the gold comes off the dragon’s back, giving it a magical, sparkly glow. The wonky, wavy hem was also an experiment. She was trying something new, throwing caution to the wind.

The wavy hem suggests a dream to me. You know how in movies when a character has a flashback or is dreaming, it’s indicated by a watery, wavy transition to the new scene? I think this border has a similar effect. It suggests a mythical, dream-like scene, which is perfect for a glittery dragon, don’t you think?

Seeing the piece through my eyes gave Becca a new perspective, and the bookmark worked its magic, endearing itself to her. She grew to like it. If she hadn’t grown to like it, she was supposed to send it to me, and I don’t have it, so she must like it.

Clearly, the bookmark wasn’t what she envisioned, if she envisioned anything. But was the finish bad? Not at all, in this case.

If your finish isn’t what you envisioned, try to look at it objectively. So it wasn’t what you had in mind, is it nice in its own right? Any chance it’s even better than what you envisioned? Give it a chance before writing it off as a failure.

Cross stitch wild life pillow

The Wild Life Rejects pillow. These four blocks didn’t make the cut and were re-designed and re-stitched.

Now, experiments don’t always work out as well as Becca’s did. If I had my stash on hand, I could demonstrate that with numerous models; I rarely throw things away, even my “failures.” When I was working out the Bracelet Basics pattern, it went through several iterations before becoming something worthy of publishing.

The caribou that finally made it into the Portraits of the Wild Life pattern was the fourth try. I have three fully stitched but ultimately rejected caribou blocks. (The antlers were a bear!) This pillow is made up of other Wild Life rejects.

Sometimes it takes practice or figuring to develop a great method or design. We must be willing to practice. We shouldn’t expect to be perfect right out of the starting gate.

In trying new stitchy finishes (and pretty much everything new), we have to be willing to trust the process and see what happens. If the end product isn’t what we envisioned, that’s okay. Is it something great in its own right? Did we learn something that will make the next one better? When all is said and done, I think both of those are good outcomes.

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Want to learn to frame your own embroidery? Take the D-I-Y Framing class in February!

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