Making and selling your own handcrafted goods can be a scary business. With your heart and soul poured into every piece, those few that don’t turn out so well are sure to haunt you. Some are so monstrous that they never see the light of Etsy-day — and shouldn’t! Every arts and crafts fan has a skeleton closet (or trashcan) full of aborted ideas, Frankenstein-ian prototypes, and tangles of abandoned knitting that just won’t die.
With Halloween on the horizon, we asked our Top 50 Etsy Parents, “What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever made — intentionally or not? And how did you fix it?” If you’ve ever experienced a crafting nightmare, rest assured that you’re not alone! — Max Minckler
A Jack-o-Lantern Scarf 1 of 11
The scariest thing I've ever made was a knitted scarf in neon orange. Not only was it blinding to the eyes, but it was uneven and had a big gap in it. I never tried to fix it. My sister-in-law had a strange affection for it and took it. I've never knitted since.
— Ashley, Ashley Pahl
An Oddly Colored Wedding Invitation 2 of 11
We once had a custom client who selected a color combination for a wedding invitation that we were slightly afraid of. But the client ended up loving it, so in the end it worked out great!
— Mara, Dutch Door Press
Zombie Hands 3 of 11
During a weekend visit with our 6-year-old grandson, I became inspired by his imagination. Out of nowhere and totally not on the topic we were discussing, he blurts out, "Nanaw you really need to have some zombie toys." After many attempts at making creepy body parts, all while trying to keep them not too gruesome, zombie hands were born. The best part was he was thrilled, and he told me I did a great job.
— Rebecca, Hopewell Creek
Photo credit: Rebecca Neafus
Spooky Rubber Stamps 4 of 11
They are expensive to produce and need to be ordered in large, hard-to-carry quantities to really make a profit. In the beginning, I had three large wooded boxed sets. Everything was super customized, down to the size of the wood box. I had to hire several different people to order stamps, boxes, labels, and small nuances like linen ribbon. Total headache, even though they were well received at the National Stationery Show in 2009.
— Tara, INK + WIT
Photo credit: Tara, INK + WIT
Dried Fruit Dolls 5 of 11
I once made dolls of dried/shrunken apple heads and dried carrot bodies, and dressed them. They were scary! But they had a lot of character, so I put them in a group show of art dolls in NYC … and sold one for $400!
— Kim, Jikits
Photo credit: Jikits
A Phallic-Looking Tether 6 of 11
We made a Lake Michigan teether that was so phallic that we had to scrap the project.
— Kimber and Nick, Little Sapling Toys
An Urban Chicken Coop Playset 7 of 11
You can't save a chicken gone bad … I won't say any more on the subject.
— David and Adrienne, Manzanita Kids
A Freaky Frida Kahlo Doll Kit 8 of 11
The scariest thing for me was making my last doll kit design, the Frida doll. It was scary because normally I print my doll kits by myself one by one, and if there is a fault in the design I notice it right away. I outsourced the printing and I ordered a whole roll (70 meters) right away. I was nervous for a few weeks until I had the roll of fabric in my hands, and luckily I did not make any big mistakes!
— Erika, Mikodesign
Photo credit: Erika Harberts
Undead Stackables 9 of 11
Our zombie block bots! So spooky!
— Katie and William, Oh Dier
Photo credit: Oh Dier
A Quilt Gone Wrong 10 of 11
A quilt for my boy. I'd never even heard about a quilt before moving to Australia, and even though I consider myself a pretty good sewer, this just scared the hell out of me. With not much of an idea what I was doing, I kept reading online tutorials. I really struggled with the stop and start process, which I guess involves making a quilt. I like finishing my garments within a day, so this really tested my patience. My quilting career is definitely over!
— Kerstin, Paul & Paula
Photo credit: Paul & Paula
An Intimidating Chuppa 11 of 11
The scariest thing I ever made was a Chuppa for my best friend's wedding. It was very large, and he wanted a family tree with all the names of each family member sewn onto the tree. It was scary because I knew that I was making a family heirloom — something that would be photographed a lot — and it was the largest applique project I had ever taken on. Luckily, everyone loved it and it was a really wonderful addition to the wedding, but I was nervous when I showed it to the bride and groom. When they both got misty-eyed, I knew I had done a good job!
— Anna, Anna Joyce
Photo credit: Luluphoto
More from Babble’s Work/Shop Etsy Series: