While I’ve been thinking about making an Advent calendar for years, it’s taken a lot for me to actually start on it. My vision of what it will look like when it’s done is rather intimidating. Making a board of inspirational images definitely helped, but the other trick that really worked was starting with something simple.

I intend to make quite complicated ornaments for this project, things like birds, wild animals, flowers, and musical instruments. While I have embroidered and beaded before, I’ve never made felt ornaments like the beautiful ones I envision. In order to get started, I lowered the bar. My first ornament needed to be a simple shape, so I chose a star.

My Advent calendar supplies, in an easy to store tote (I have to put things away because cats).

I grabbed a star-shaped cookie cutter from the kitchen and traced it onto my felt. Then I looked at my inspiration board and my stitch samplers for ideas. I made a quick sketch and started embroidering.

Almost immediately, I realized the benefits of starting with such a simple design. While the symmetrical shape made my lack of skill obvious, I feel like the my results, though a tad wonky, are still very pleasing. I was able to layer stitching and beads easily to build up the rich sort of look I’m going for.

The satisfaction I got from making the stars has me itching to move on and try my hand at birds. While I worry that my first birds may not be all that great, this project is perfect for experimenting and making messes. I know I’m making this up as I go, so I’m giving myself permission to practice. I’m free to discard anything I am unsatisfied with.

Will it take me all year to complete twenty-five ornaments? I just made three in one week, but it may be a while before I am generating exactly what I want. Fortunately, I’m finding the process of making these ornaments really fun. While I look forward to the day this project is completed, I can tell that the journey I will take to get there is going to be a satisfying one.

How do you get started on an intimidating project?

4 thoughts on “Advent Calendar Project: My Trick for Getting Started”

  1. Sometimes I learn so much from my messes! (Not that I’d call any of your photographed stars messes … and if they’re not perfectly symmetrical – not that my eye sees that — doesn’t that just add to their charm?) Frankly, this year, my follow-through on any of my craft projects has been glacially slow. And yet I know that setting some arbitrary schedule in the hopes of “getting back on track” is the wrong approach to this year. What I think I DO want to commit to is just “work on SOME knitting” for 5 minutes a day. It may not be on the sweater-still-with-no-sleeves nor either long-term-sock-blanket-effort .. but some knitting is good rest for my brain and good coordination work for my hands.

    1. I’m trying to embrace the mess more. I’m always trying to do impromptu projects and make things up as I go, but the nature of the things I like (complex) tends to work better with planning and order. So I’m thinking this is my way around it. Try things and don’t worry about the ones that don’t work. I’ll find my way to what does. I also think little goals are good. I’ve switched to a knitting project I want to finish, but I’ll be back to making more of these soon.

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