Declutter Abandoned Craft Projects {15 Minute Mission}

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Today's decluttering mission is to declutter abandoned and unfinished craft projects. And if you love to craft, even a little, you probably have at least one of these lurking types of projects around somewhere.

Craft Organization Challenge
This mission is designed to be done during the Craft Organization Challenge, which is part of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge.

Crafting is a creative and time intensive endeavor, so if you run out of one or both of these things, creativity or time, while doing a project you might eventually abandon it.

The reasons are varied though for why you might not have finished the project, but at a certain point it isn't just put off to later, but it has become abandoned.

Today's the day to face facts, and admit to yourself you're just not going to finish ___________ (you fill in the blank) and just let yourself move on.

What Is Keeping You From Getting Rid Of Some Of These Craft Projects?

I have found when this mission rolls around each year on the Declutter 365 calendar that it often sparks a strong reaction from people.

Sometimes this reaction is positive, but often the larger reactions to this mission are negative. I've heard words like, "no," "never," and even, "you'll not pry this craft project out of my cold dead hands!"

The question I always ask when a mission strikes such a nerve is, "why?"

I have been thinking about it, and my conclusion is that often these reactions are caused by one of several emotions.

The first possible emotion is guilt.

You spent good money for the supplies for that project, and you also spent a good amount of time on it before abandoning it, so now to get rid of it makes you feel guilty.

The thing is, crafts are supposed to be fun and relaxing. If you don't feel that way about the project anymore and you have no desire to do it, letting go of the guilt can set you free.

In fact, I've heard this exact sentiment when people have done this mission, and they use words like feeling "lighter," and breathing a sigh of relief. That makes me believe that as they physically get rid of that project they're also emotionally letting go of the guilt associated with it.

Similar emotions that can cause someone not to want to let go of these projects include that it has sentimental value, and/or that it symbolizes letting go of a dream.

I've written an entire article on some of the major emotions that can cause someone to hold onto clutter here, so go check it out for tips and strategies to help you recognize the emotions that make you feel this way about this mission so you can confront them, and then get rid of this clutter in your home.

Get Rid Of The Project Or Make A Commitment To Finish It, With A Deadline

Sometimes as you declutter a lot of stuff in your home you eventually find yourself with more time and energy, because clutter sucks up both.

Once you've got some of that time and energy back you may discover some of these long lost projects that you hadn't thought about in years and suddenly you may find yourself excited to begin them again.

Good, then go for it! I certainly don't want you to declutter something that you still love and have room for. BUT if you are going to keep some of these unfinished projects this is a slippery slope, so I want you to make a commitment to actually finish it, and give yourself a deadline.

Even better, make a schedule for yourself of when you'll work on it, such as each weekend while watching your favorite television show, for example.

The point is that you have already abandoned it once, so to earn its place in your home you've got to get even more serious about doing the project or out it should go.

How To Avoid Unfinished Craft Projects In The Future

Finally, it is best to avoid unfinished craft projects in the future by making a rule for yourself that you will not start another project until the one you've already begun is complete.

BUT don't get so caught up in this rule that if you've tried something new, and it just isn't making you happy and scratching that crafting itch for you that you can't abandon it.

The thing is, you CAN have unfinished craft projects because I certainly don't advocate finishing something that is supposed to be done for fun when it is not actually fun for you.

But the difference you need to make is being up front with yourself, right away, that you're quitting it, and then disposing of it in some fashion, quickly. Soon after you've made the decision.

Clutter is often the result of delayed decisions, so make your decision and then get it out of your home.

What you don't want to happen is to stash the unfinished project somewhere in your house where it becomes clutter and makes you feel guilty.

It is especially easy to declutter projects that are so old you have no idea where to even restart it, or you no longer have all the supplies or tools necessary to finish it even if you wanted to.

But if you do have all the parts and instructions, but just don't have the joy or desire to finish the project anymore, it can be tough figuring out what to do with these supplies. I'm discussing that a bit more below.

Photo courtesy of Mary T Moore

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Photos Of Decluttered Unfinished Projects

Photos from a #Declutter365 mission participant, who decluttered unfinished craft projects from her home {on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Hearing from others who've already done this mission can be inspiring, and help you get motivated to tackle this task yourself.

Above are several photos from a reader, Holly, who got rid of some of her unfinished projects. She said, "Went through fabrics and found this gem: half made maternity shirt. The "baby" is now 20 years old. Hubby's comment: you could finish it and sell it on swipswap. 😂"

She also showed photos of both the small pieces of fabric she planned to give away, as well as fabric trash, all of which she was getting out of her home.

Way to go Holly! And yeah, I'd say a 20 year late half finished maternity shirt is something you can safely part with! :)

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What To Do With Unfinished Craft Projects When Decluttering

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Now that you've made the decision to get rid of these unfinished projects the question is, what should you do with them?

I will be the first to admit this is a tough question to answer. It is hard to give away, much less sell, something that is already started, but not yet completed.

After all, there are far fewer people that are interested in finishing someone else's craft project than doing their own from start to completion.

On the other hand, here's the guilt again, which says you hate to just throw stuff like this in the trash. Surely someone would like to use it, plus it is good to reuse stuff instead of just filling up landfills.

So here's a couple of ideas, but I am definitely wanting more suggestions below, so please tell me your ideas in the comments below!

1. Donate the "parts" of the project, instead of having someone complete the project, as is.

For example, if you have a partially completed cross-stitch, especially if you can't find the pattern for it anymore so it would be very difficult for anyone to complete it, you could at least donate the floss so someone else could do a different project.

2. Find places that will accept donations of partially completed projects.

The suggestion put forth by lots of readers in the past when we've worked on this mission include senior citizen centers, churches (think crafting clubs that meet weekly), and teen centers.

But I caution you to first call and find out if such donations would be appreciated. (And only donate if you can find the instructions and all parts of the uncompleted project, otherwise it will be frustrating for the recipient.)

Don't forget to give me your suggestions below of what you'd do with these unfinished projects.

Are You Ready To Declutter Your Home?

declutter 365
I hope this mission has inspired you to declutter your craft supplies and projects.

When you begin to declutter the feeling you get is contagious, so if you're loving the results you're getting I would encourage you to keep going.

I've got a whole series of 15 minute decluttering missions (eventually 365 of them!) that you can do.

Just pick and choose the ones you want to do, that will make a big impact in your home. But if you want someone else to tell you the order you can also grab the 15 minute daily decluttering mission calendars and follow along as we all get our homes clutter free together!

Photo courtesy of hello-julie

Related Pages You May Enjoy

Getting Clutter Free 15 Minutes At A Time Hall Of Fame

Getting Rid Of Craft Clutter Hall Of Fame

Go From Declutter Abandoned Craft Projects Mission To Home Page

Comments for What To Do With Unfinished Craft Projects When Decluttering

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Craft treasures.
by: Denise

As a newly retired preschool teacher we love yarn, buttons, felt, ribbons and other craft treasures. If the teacher is playing flower shop think of what the kids can use. Holidays kids can pretend to wrap boxes. Writing center stationary and envelopes. Your old stamps (for stamping cards) can be used in story telling, making books. Ask at a school near you.

Guess I'm unusual
by: Anonymous

I actually AM one of those people who eventually gets around to finishing abandoned projects, even if several years lapses. So I do need to store it all. Sadly, I'm stuck with loads of art and craft clutter as I love doing a myriad of things and often have several on the go. I have no space to put stuff that is in progress; it seems to take up so much less space if it's simply tools or supplies, and once in progress it expands... lol. I have no storage room/cupboard etc and live in a mousehole. What do I do?

Finishing Projects
by: Linda B

I just recently finished 2 afghans I took from my Mom when she passed away 10 years ago. They were almost done. I just finished them. Plan on giving them to my sisters at Christmastime.

Grandma's finished projects
by: De'Anna

When my grandma passed away, she left many unfinished projects behind. Of those I ended up with 2, one was an owl latch hook, and the other was a partially finished afghan. I ended up working the afghan into something around a table runner size and use it to cover the top of my hope chest, which is a family heirloom, so this was a nice addition to have something of my grandma on it. As for the latch hook, it took (I believe) 12 years before I got around to finishing it. This is one of the few projects I loved working on (when I finally got to it) not because I was excited to see the end result or to give it to someone special, but because she had worked on it so there was a piece of her in it. Since it has hung in my closet and I'm trying to decide who in the family will get the most enjoyment from the finished work.

On the other hand, I have a project that I've had since I was a kid that I never finished. It's probably 25-30 years old... I swear I'll finish it some day!!!

Unfinished projects
by: Anonymous

For several years I have been knitting for a premature baby group and also for African orphanages. I dislike having more than one project on the go. However I have a drawer stuffed with material from the time I ventured into quilting, I've since lost the desire to do it anymore. I have pieces cut out ready for a cushion cover which was for my son and girlfriend. They have now split up and I can't face finishing it. I also have loads of patterns and knitting yarn which I am thinking of donating. I'm going to tackle this today!

Hundreds of craft "heirlooms"
by: Anonymous

I'm struggling with what I can do to help my mother. In addition to her own hundreds of unfinished craft projects, after grandma passed away she inherited all of HER unfinished craft projects, some dating back 40 years and some even falling apart. Her craft room is stacked to the ceiling, even after 2 attempts to clear things out. She just won't give things up, because they're "mom's".

There's no way she'll finish them all, and has made no attempts to. It's impossible to find anything in there, or to get work done. What should I do?


Why I have unfinished projects
by: Anonymous

I have a huge box of half finished projects and here are the reasons I don't get rid of them

The hours that went into them

I still would like to finish them, but just don't have the time

I only abandoned them because I have too many things in my head I want to make so I start on lots of things at the same time but there's no time really to do them all

I often start a new project before I finish an old one because my mind works faster than my fingers and I am keen to start on something new when the last one is about 3/4 finished. I have proved my point that |I can do it, the end is in sight and I imagine I can drop it to start the new project and still find time to finish in between sometime. the problem is, by then there is another one in my head. I love them all and would really like to finish them but there's so much more to look forward to!

I feel your pain...
by: Jill

It is reassuring to hear that there are many other people having difficulty with unfinished projects that they have inherited from others, which pose the problem of what to do with them.
My mother in law was a talented needle woman When she passed away we inherited her collection of complete, framed tapestries. To get them home we removed them from their (dated and ugly) frames but now have no idea what to do with them. There is no doubt that they are well done, but the visual effect of them is unsuitable for our house. I am at a loss as to how to honour the effort that went in to them and her memory without creating a cringeworthy "shrine" of mismatched images.
Has anyone else come up with a clever use of tapestries?

Storage for unfinished projects
by: Amy

I have unfinished craft projects like everyone else! But my solution is to treat them like all other crafting supplies, I have a location for my stuff and when that location is full, nothing can go in until something comes out. It’s the value of the space. So for the unfinished projects, I have one small chest with three drawers but only two for unfinished projects. It stays in the house, but out of everyone’s way. Right now I have been completing some items, so I only have one drawer full. If I fill them, then nothing else can be saved until something comes out...either to be finished that week or to be donated. I use about two hours on Wednesday mornings (anti-procrastination day) to work on the unfinished crafts.

by: Anonymous

I have the same problem as many other commenters: startitis. The excitement of starting a new project lures me to move on before the previous one is finished. I found a way around this by making a project list and sticking to it. I used to plan what I was going to work on by day, now I just have a monthly schedule. It's not perfect, and occasionally I do interrupt the schedule for something new, but it has really helped me to knock out some projects I bought supplies for or started years ago.

Unfinished embroidery/quilt project
by: Barbara

I had a 20 year old, partially finished project that I admitted to myself I was no longer interested enough in to fcompkete. To my surprise, I did find a fellow quilter who loved my project and wanted to finish it. (That was about five years ago; I have not heard from her whether she has finished it yet). I felt much better after I found a home for my UFO (unfinished object)!

Saved for later
by: Stacey

I have a lot of unfinished cross stitch, embroidery, etc. But for a good reason. Those are the projects I'll be working on later on, when the boys are grown and out the door, and I don't have a million places to be running out to every week. That day is coming sooner than I'd like, but I'm prepared for when it does. Plus the nice thing is, all of my projects are portable, so if we go camping or whatever, I can take something with to work on. Very relaxing!

Have somebody else finish them
by: Val K

Someone I know inherited a half-finished quilt from a beloved aunt, and rather than toss it (or keep it as clutter), paid someone to finish it for her. And I know knitters that get stuck and have a friend get them past the rough spot. An idea, if you absolutely can't part with an unfinished project.

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