Finishing the Unfinished

by | Mar 19, 2010 | Sewing, Tutorials | 60 comments

I’m not good at decorating marathons.  I’m much more of a sprinter.  I like projects that I can complete in a couple of hours, maybe days.  I don’t do months or years.  I want instant gratification, which is why I’m a painter, not a quilter.  So when I found a couple of unfinished needlepoints in my grandparent’s attic, I knew they were destined to a life where they would be rolled up in a closet, only to be stared at with good intentions every few months. 

I received some huge 24″x24″ down pillows for Christmas that also remained unfinished due to my indecision about where to use them and how to cover them. 
During my most recent session of staring at the needlepoints, I realized they were the perfect size for the pillows.  Could it work?  Does it matter that they’re unfinished?  The fabric was very stiff, smelly and dusty, so they had to be washed before I could use them for anything.
One of my rules about vintage and antique linens is it has to be washable.  I never spend a lot of money on them, so if they fall apart in the wash I haven’t lost a fortune.  These were free and doomed to a life of not being used, so it was worth a shot.  I washed them in the machine on gentle and pinned them on the line to dry.  The wash shrunk the fabric just enough to make the weave tight and soft.  It also was clean and smelled nice.
I used a vintage linen table cloth to back the needle points as well as for piping and the pillow back. 
I don’t even mind the areas where the fabric is frayed a little bit.
Can you believe these are unfinished needle points?  I think I like them better this way.  They are more neutral and casual. 
Finished needlepoints can be very expensive.  I think this small blue one was about $25.00.  Unfinished ones can be found for practically nothing.
So, next time you’re looking at something that you know you’ll never finish, think about ways it can be used with a quick fix.  You may like the result even better.
I also had to share how excited I am to see strawberries on sale in the grocery store.  I ate about a dozen just standing over the sink.  Spring is here.
Miss Mustard Seed

60 Comments

  1. Amy@TheLemonCottage

    Your blog is always a pleasure to visit.
    And can I just say… I'm waiting for the announcement that you have opened your own photography studio! Seriously, your pictures are amazing. I wanted to pluck a strawberry right off the computer screen and pop it into my mouth… and I DON'T even like strawberries! 🙂
    ~Amy

    Reply
  2. Teri

    These pillows are gorgeous! I'm so glad you decided to give them a shot. I'm inspired to take another look at those unfinished pieces my mother has lying around! 🙂 Enjoy your weekend!

    Reply
  3. Dreamy Whites

    Marian,
    These pillows are gorgeous. WOW. I learned how to do cross stitching, very time consuming! I love how you turned them into pillow cases. You are the best!
    Take Care,
    Maria
    p.s. Thank you for the emails, you are so kind. I am sending you one tonight.

    Reply
  4. Funky Junk Interiors

    Oh my… what a brilliant idea! The pillows are gorgeous!

    I'm so with you on quick projects. Anything much over a day and I lose interest pretty quick. Same goes for firetruck stripes. 🙂

    Donna

    Reply
  5. SueAnn

    Love the pillows!! Totally fab!
    And the strawberries. Yum!!!!
    Hugs
    SueAnn

    Reply
  6. Tina

    Wow Marian! As a really keen embroiderer and cross-stitcher, I love these so much! You have done a wonderful job and I love the frayed bits too:) Even more special that they came from your grandparents' attic. Hope you have a wonderful weekend ~ Tina x

    Reply
  7. Marianne@Songbird

    How funny, I did something similar last summer. Doing an Ikea Knockoff with an unfinished embroidered table linen. I got four pillows out of it and still have some small embroideries left for projects.

    Reply
  8. The Decorating Diaries

    I've pasted by unfinished needlepoint before. Now I'm really mad at myself. I won't make that mistake again. Thanks.

    Janet

    Reply
  9. Razmataz

    I think I like needlepoint with the background unfinished better! I would never have thought to use them unfinished, but they look great. The background is sort of burlapy (is that a word?). I think it makes them more contemporary!

    Reply
  10. Jan

    You've created some real treasures from the goodies in your grandparents attic! This one's another keeper! Great job!

    Reply
  11. KimW

    I like the color in the room – the red definitely adds some contrast to the blues and whites. The photos are gorgeous – Proud of you. See you tonight in Orlando -Mom

    Reply
  12. Linda (Nina's Nest)

    Now I DO love needlepoint. I absolutely love that you were able to wash them and use them unfinished. I like the textured look you got out of them. Just perfect! Linda

    Reply
  13. Wendy

    They are beautiful and so sweet! I'll never look at a piece of unfinished needlepoint the same! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂
    Wendy

    Reply
  14. Jane

    The pillows look wonderful. I would never have guessed they were unfinished. I am sure your grandmother would be very pleased to see they are being displayed in your home.
    Jane

    Reply
  15. Kerin

    What a lucky girl you are, to have found such a treasure!
    I think you did a beautiful job finishing the pillows.
    Have a great day!

    Reply
  16. T's Daily Treasures

    Fabulous! The pillows are gorgeous and how wonderful that those lovely embroidered pieces are now viewed on a daily basis rather than getting all musty in some hiding place. Have a great weekend. 🙂 Tammy

    Reply
  17. Heather@PixieDust

    i wouldn't even know they were unfinished – it seems they were destined to be pillows.

    Reply
  18. Paddywack Designs

    I agree I like the needlepoints better unfinished. Great look.

    Reply
  19. * The Design Confidential

    These are absolutely stunning Hope you will join the party at my site by sending your links via email rayanturner@gmail.com. I will be including them in my PROJECT: LIBRARY. It's a 24/7/365 tutorial party. See you soon..

    Reply
  20. Anna

    the pillows are beautiful, and you defintely can't tell the needlepoints are unfinshed

    Reply
  21. Stella

    I am so glad you gave the needlepoints a new life. I always thing about how much labor and love someone has already put into them. Great job.

    Reply
  22. Mommy of Monkeyshines

    Adorable, adorable, adorable! I adored your images and the pillows!! Thanks for capturing the essense of spring so perfectly.

    Reply
  23. Tales From My Empty Nest

    Your needlepoint pillows are so beautiful!! Seeing those yummy strawberries makes me know that spring is just around the corner.
    Love & blessings from NC!

    Reply
  24. a little bit of everything

    How nice to give a new life to what could be considered a family heirloom. The pillows came out great. And I too purchased strawberries just the other day and spring is definitely in the air here in New England today!

    Reply
  25. Anna See

    Beatiful! I'm so glad they will be used and enjoyed now.

    Reply
  26. Sylvia (at) Lily's Pad and Petals

    The pillows are gorgeous. I don't know anything about needlepoint but they looked finished to me. I'm so glad you gave them a new life- well worth it.

    Reply
  27. Stacey @ The Blessed Nest

    How beautiful! I agree, I like the unfinished ones too :). How special that you are able to have family memories surrounding you!
    Blessings,
    Stacey

    Reply
  28. Katie@LeBeauPaonVictorien

    Great idea!!!! They look lovely, even unfinished.
    My great-aunt bought an un-finished needlepoint at a rummage sale; it still had the thread and pattern with it, so she finished it and then gave it to me. It's meant to be a cover for a piano bench seat. Now I just need to find the perfect bench! (We have an antique harmonium with no seat to sit at!)

    Reply
  29. Victoria

    Oh that is so funny, I just this very second put a blog post up about my cross stitching that I need to finish and have been neglecting then I went down my sidebar and saw this! I figured if I blogged about mine it would make me feel more accountable and force me to finish it.
    Those are beautiful needlepoints! Even unfinished they look perfect:)

    Reply
  30. Jean

    I think a little bird is telling me to get out an old needlepoint I did years ago and make something out of it. I LOVE needlepoint pillows!

    Reply
  31. Connie

    My Mom & Grandmother were big needlepointers but the art was lost past them … I just don't have the patience. I un-covered my strawberry patch and can't wait to see the flowers appear! Mmmm!

    Reply
  32. Leah

    Those are really very beautiful!. I have a soft spot for vintage needlepoint;I recently picked up a few volumes of mid century needlepoint encyclopedias that are breathtaking.

    Reply
  33. TheVirginiaHouse

    That turned out so beautiful! The strawberries look awesome!

    Reply
  34. Christine

    The pillows are gorgeous!!!

    Reply
  35. Kim

    I ADORE needlepoint pillows Marian. Yours are beautiful AND sentimental – the perfect combination!
    xoxo,
    Kim

    Reply
  36. Lamp Tramp

    Beautiful pillows, they looked finished to me. What else should hev been done in needlepoint?

    Reply
  37. Remodelaholic

    I am loving this! What a fun thing to have, I would smile every time I saw them!

    p.s. I need a line to dry clothes outside, it reminds me of my childhood and pulling off crisp jeans that are so stiff they don't bend at all… lol!

    Reply
  38. Under the Willow

    Well look at that ~ I see some line drying going on! Love this especially because you are the winner of some Whispering Willow Natural Laundry Soap, and linen spray! I've emailed you!

    Reply
  39. Corn in my Coffee-Pot

    Gorgeous pillows and needlework.

    I bet your grandmother would be proud.
    I like the way they look on the slipcovered sofa.

    nice job!

    Reply
  40. angie

    I love the needlepoint, especially on your little sofa.

    Reply
  41. kris@thebigboat

    me aomo a ti! I'm an LTSG grad who is between calls and crating her way to reality! I love your blog. It is a blast frrom the past, and a grounding in history that MSP does not have! tHANKS!

    Reply
  42. Brenda

    The pillows are gorgeous- whoever did them did a wonderful job – and you made them your own – wonderful job and a great dedication to that other talented person!!!

    Reply
  43. Cindy

    Those pillows are lovely and your photo captures their beauty so well. I'll have a strawberry, now. Suddenly I want some really bad!

    Reply
  44. Agneta

    Your blog ….. it's amazing and soooo inspiring. Nice to find you!

    A small footprint from Agneta & Sweden

    Ps. I have an ongoing jewelry contest on my blog. Welcome! Ds

    Reply
  45. Sophie

    I love them, and I am not a fan of needlepoint.

    Reply
  46. Bird

    Marian,

    What a Gorgeous use of the unfinished work! 🙂

    The strawbs are making me hungry! Hurray for spring!!!

    I'm having an Easter link party on Monday, I'd love it if you could make it?!

    Happy Sunday!
    Love,
    bird

    Reply
  47. Grace @ Ruby Moon Designs

    Marian,

    Those are just beautiful! I love how you made them into pillows, and I am sure that you are enjoying having them out and displayed now!

    Also, those strawberries look divine! We have been enjoying them here too…my son LOVES them, and we go through a pint in no time!

    Blessings, Grace

    Reply
  48. Kim @ Cheap Chic Home

    Clever once again! I have one of these that I purchased with the intent of finishing. I'm going to find it and see if this is doable.

    Reply
  49. Blue Creek Home

    You are a wise one, indeed!!! I like them better unfinished too!

    I'm lovin' it!
    Rhonda

    Reply
  50. Anna

    love.love.love.

    I'm on the hunt now for unfinished work…:)

    Reply
  51. Kolein

    I would never have known those were "unfinished" if you didn't mention it. They are lovely!

    So, how do you close a pillow cover if you don't sew zippers???

    Agreed about your photography…I wanted to grab one of those strawberries, too!

    Reply
  52. kanishk

    hose are just beautiful! I love how you made them into pillows, and I am sure that you are enjoying having them out and displayed now!
    free internet jobs

    Reply
  53. Angela (Cottage Magpie)

    I just adore needlepoint pillows, and I like them better when they have just that center motif — I had no idea that meant they were unfinished! Learn something every day.

    I wanted you to know that your "Resetting A Room" post inspired me and I mentioned it (and linked to it) on my latest post. Thank you for being so awesome.

    Also — you had told me about how you painted that gorgey settee, but I forgot to ask what sheen of paint you use when you're going to distress! Someone told me that if you use any sheen at all (i.e. not flat) that the distressing won't work because you'll scuff up the parts you don't want to be scuffed… that's probably not making sense. BUT, if you have time to share I'd love to hear what you do! OH yes, and the paint color on the settee — was it the "Creamy" or something else, if you don't mind sharing.

    THANKS!

    ~Angela 🙂

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. What I kept... - Miss Mustard Seed - […] I kept was a pair of needlepoint pillows.  I made these years ago (actually blogged about them HERE) and…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hello!

Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

facebookPinterestYouTubeinstagramfeedfacebookemail

Subscribe today

and receive a FREE e-version of my planning sheets!

Categories

Articles by Date

 

our sponsors


Bliss and Tell Branding Company