Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Scratching a Needlework Project at the Halfway Point!


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I knew it. I knew this would happen! But I can’t help it, and I think it’s Much Better this way. I’ve gotten to the half-way point on a project, and, after much serious contemplation, I have made the decision to scrap it and start over!

You probably know how it is: you’ve set out on a needlework venture, excited to get going and see how the project works out, but unfortunately unhappy with your materials, or color choices, or threads…. Something is Not Quite Right, but you’re determined to get going on the project, because you’re excited about it!

And you know what happens, don’t you? You stitch with slight misgivings, never Quite Comfortable with the project, but still pushing to a point where you can at least see it – that point where you know, for sure, that you were right and no matter how much optimism to try to pour into it, you aren’t going to like it, and it just isn’t going to work! You realize, at that point, that it isn’t worth putting in the time and effort on the other half of the project.

I arrived at that point this weekend with the baby booties. I pushed to finish one booty, so I could sew it up and see for myself.

Hand Embroidered Baby Booties

In fact, I didn’t even “finish” the bootie. I just quickly stitched the seams (and did a rather poor job on the easing around the toe) so I could see it put together. On the turned-down sides, I did not do the buttonholing to finish the edges, and I didn’t put the eyelets in for the little cord and bow.

I like the concept of the embroidery (though perhaps I’d modify the abundance).

I like the shape of the shoe. In fact, I can safely say I love the shape of the shoe – I think it’s cute, and it looks so darling on Adele’s foot.

I like the accents – the eyelets and the buttonholing on the edge.

Hand Embroidered Baby Booties

But I just can’t stomach the color problem.

Or the overkill. If I had stuck with straight pink, I’d be in Baby-Bootie-Maker’s Heaven right now. But oh good golly, Miss Molly. The mismatched color, the polka dots, all the embroidery – on something barely 2.5 inches long? No, no. It won’t do. It suffers from OMSS. Overabundant, Mismatched Sugar Shock.

Hand Embroidered Baby Booties

But in concept, it’s a sweet little bootie. So I’m going to start completely over and fulfill my Bootie-Making-Dreams before Adele decides to sprout farther.

This is what I’ve learned:

1. If I’m going to line it, I’m going to line it after I’ve done the embroidery, and in either the same color or a very subtle color, with no print on it, that I can easily match to available thread colors.

2. I’ll use a larger awl for piercing the front eyelets.

3. Floche is perfect for embroidering on flannel like this. I like it a lot.

4. Before stitching the shoe up on the machine, baste the toe ease, then set the stitch length on the machine for very small stitches, and pivot every few stitches to get a smooth curve on the toe. In any case, take time with the sewing part!

Please understand I’m not crying over this!!! I’m glad I got to this point so I could see it, so I would know whether or not I wanted to put effort into the second bootie, or just start over. I’ll just start afresh! And I’m a lot happier about that!

When you’re in a similar situation (do you ever find yourself in such stitching situations?), how do you handle it? At what point do you scrap it? Or do you never scrap it, persevering to the end? Any pointers you want to share on this?

Happy Monday!


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(9) Comments

  1. If I’m not “feeling it” early on in a project, I scrap it. I know this means that I potentially give up too early on projects that could ultimately turn out well, but I know myself well enough by now to know that if there is no joy in it, I won’t work on it, so it won’t get done anyway! I primarily craft for fun and to make gifts, so this approach is fine for me. If I were trying to earn an income, it would be a whole ‘nother matter entirely!

  2. I usually don’t abandon a project. If it gets to a point where I’m not happy with it I set it aside and let it “marinate.” Lately I’ve started pulling out some older projects and been reworking them. The bootie would be adorable sitting on a dresser with a couple pair of baby socks in it. It would be a great decoration.

  3. well i cant see the polka dots on my screen – so it doesnt look that busy really – they look quite sweet. I wonder if you could make the lining as a separate piece to fit into the bootie after construction to hide the seams (much the way some handbags are made).

    i am at the ditching point mark 2 of one embroidery project. I started it and due to technical difficulties got half way and started again. Sorted out the techincal stuff but now i am *almost* finished I realise that it isnt going to work – the size is too small to add the details i want, but too big to leave them out. My vision for the piece has not been realised. its been a good learning experience, but oh what a waste of time and silk thread 🙂

  4. I like the flowers on the small booty but slightly abundant as you said…
    Projects like these are a real problem for me.When I cant stand a project I (obviously) cant work further on it. I am also too greedy to let go of all the thread, fabric and effort used on it so I just hold on to it(onto eternity) until i find some use for it…its painful and constantly stays at the back of my mind like a sore spot.
    Also, I quickly go and get material to start a new one with a very different colour combination.
    All the very best to you.

  5. I absolutely love the embroidery, but it simply doesn’t tie in with the lining material; spots aren’t flowers and flowers aren’t spots. The purples are just different enough to not be harmonious; they jar the eyes. In order to correct this problem and still use both the lining material and the purple embroidery thread you’ve chosen, there needs to be more definition between the uppers and the lining to delineate between the two. Perhaps using green rather than white to do the buttonhole stitching around the edges might do the trick. Also, some sort of chording in the same green along the seam between the sole and the upper, again to delineate between the two. The eyes persist in trying to tie all the colors together because the white is not a strong enough color to stop the eyes from traveling between the upper and the lining or the sole. The green would act as a buffer to direct the eyes back to the flowers on the upper and keep them focused there. Not sure I’m making myself clear, but I hope you get what I’m saying.

    By the way, if you don’t want the bootie, I would love to have it! I think it would make a fabulous pincushion.

    You were right in the beginning of the project when you realized the two purples weren’t harmonious colors; they clash just enough to really cause a problem. And purple can be a hard color to match.

    I’m anxious to see the next bootie to see how you resolve the problem. I really like how meticulous you are, and I am amazed by your attention to all the small details. I believe this is what makes your work really stand out.

    Lori N.

  6. Thanks for your replies and input! I admire those of you who don’t abandon a project. I TRY not to, but there are some projects I have abandoned completely. 🙁

    Lori, thanks for your input. I know what you mean by placing colors to break up the pieces, like piping around the sole or something, in green, to separate the colors. My sister suggested piping…

    My niece took the bootie home with her last night. She said she’s going to “save it in case she ever needs it.” I can only imagine she means when one of her dolls loses a leg or something????

    Thanks again, all!


  7. Mary,
    If it’s too much embroidery for a baby bootie, what about making a cute pincushion out of it? That would at least save all that work. I really like most of it… just don’t like the polka-dot lining. I’d have done it in another solid… same pink or if it has to be “different”, probably just white. Linings shouldn’t compete with the outside for attention.

  8. Mary, you haven’t abandoned your project. You’ve already told us that you are going to finish making the booties. For me, this experience would be my practice cloth. I use a LOT of practice cloths, and I save them all for future reference.

    My philosophy is that I can’t fail. For me, there is no such thing as failure. There are only learning opportunities. I’ll bet you think the same way.

  9. It is the lining. The purple is bluish-purple like lavender not lilac. All the other colors go well and look great. But the polka-dots & florals – nah! Scratch it Mary!

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