There is some psychology behind the reasons why people do not finish projects. We’ve all been there and the reasons are too numerous to list. Things happen and tasks get put on the back burner, sometimes to stay. But, what about people that pick up and finish other’s projects? Say what? Today I want to share a wonderful lady that specializes in finishing other’s projects just for the sheer joy of seeing that they’re completed. Seems unreal, but yes, Turisa exists and she’s putting in the work.

I met Turisa at Sew Dayton in 2014 and quickly grew fond of how personable and friendly she was. She liked to take on so many different kinds of sewing projects that I was amazed at all of her project diversity. Over the years Turisa came regularly to our Dayton Garment Designer Meet Up’s and would bring things that she made to share. In 2017 she started sharing projects she finished that others started and we were in awe.

Q: When did you start noticing a drive to finish sewing projects that other people started?

After my mom passed away I found many quilts and squares unfinished. That was 2001. It felt good to finish her things and pass on to the grands.

Q: Where do you find the unfinished projects?

Other sewing friends usually give me projects they’ve started and antique stores also.

Q: How many projects do you think you have finished for others? Are there any projects you have abandoned?

After High School I met a friend and she had started projects galore, she gave me many to finish for her and to keep the rest for myself. The only project I can think that I abandoned was a Bicentennial Eagle quilt mom started. The blue she used was not attractive and its still in the box from 1976!?

Q: Why do you think people do not finish their projects? 

I think folks don’t realize how complicated patterns are or they decide they don’t like it, either way I get great things to make.

Q: What makes it so exciting for you?

I enjoy the creative aspect of not knowing what the original owner had in mind but then expounding my idea to keep something from going to a landfill.

Q: What was your favorite project to finish and why?

In 1977 my father became ill and spent several months in the hospital. My mom started a Magic Star quilt. She sewed by hand all the pieces. About 3/4 of it was finished then my dad passed away. The quilt was packed up until 1999 and I took an older family friend to visit my mom. She began pulling all these unfinished quilt tops from box after box, I said, “finish the corner, and I’ll quilt it.” That’s my favorite piece.

This is the Magic Star Quilt that was more than 20 years in the making.

Q: I know you teach and volunteer with the Dayton Sewing Collaborative, can you tell us more about that?

The volunteering at the DSC has been sewing projects as needed. Last year we were invited to redress the Rike’s Window Display Elves. This year after the Memorial Day tornado, we sewed 250 tote bags for food banks affected by the storm. We also made 100 pair of uniform pants for grades K-3, for Trotwood and Kiser Elementary. These were for children that lost their uniforms in the storm.

Myself at the DSC with up cycled blue jean purse.

Q: You also up-cycle, can you tell us about that?

I have recycled textiles since I was quite a young girl. My grandmother, mother, sister and I wove rag rugs from discarded clothing. It’s a lost art, weaving rag rugs.

Turisa doesn’t currently have a public social media page or website to follow her but she does a lot with DSC and if you would like to follow her it would be amazing. The community outreach is very tremendous.

I would like to thank Turisa for taking the time to share with us. You are amazing!

Behind the scenes~

There is still space in my sewing machine basics class December 3rd.

Thank you for reading,

Tracy McElfresh

Dream it! Sew it!

Tracy McElfresh
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