Focus, focus, focus – Observations about Finishing PIGS | McCall’s Quilting Blog

PIGS = Projects in Grocery Sacks. Most of us have them. You may call them UFOs (Unfinished Objects) or WIPs (Works in Progress) but chances are good that you have a few or maybe more than a few stuffed in a drawer somewhere.

My personal goal is to finish one PIG a month but I’ve come to realize that I take more than one partially done project home from work each month so if I am ever going to catch up, I need to do more than one PIG a month. To be brutally honest, I’d have to do eight a month to finish the ones on my PIGS inventory. And the first item on that inventory is Orphan Blocks. I have no idea how many orphan blocks I have.

I told you I finished five orphan blocks last week but then I stalled. I want to talk about that a little bit. Maybe by talking it through, it will help you and me to get a handle on our PIGS.

Here are some random thoughts about why I think I stalled. It’s all about focus and I failed to stay focused.

  1. It’s summer and instead of staying in the house this weekend, we went for a drive in the mountains, we went swimming and we had a picnic with some of the family.
  2. When I was working on the orphan blocks last week, I kept saying that I didn’t know what they were but they were pretty and they were done.
  3. I failed to plan what I wanted to do next so when I was ready for the next project (finishing a machine embroidered quilt), I was missing the embroidery files.
  4. I think this final one may be the most important one. My sewing room was a mess. Not just a little messy but a huge, colossal MESS. Small childen and pets could have gotten lost in there.

And the remedies:

  1. It’s okay to play once in a while but it’s also good to have a plan and a purpose. Several of us at work were talking and most of us try to sew every single day. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Only ten minutes a day translates to over an hour per week of sewing time. If you don’t have a dedicated sewing space, this won’t work very well but if you do have a sewing room or studio, try for those ten minutes every day. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you accomplish.
  2. Again, a plan and a purpose are a good thing. I’ve decided that all those small orphan blocks can be potholders. On her blog for Quilting Daily, my friend Brenna Gates said, “…let’s face it: who doesn’t need a potholder? Mine look like they’ve been through a nuclear disaster…” Potholders are small and quick to sew. I have lots of Insul-Bright by The Warm Company. It’s a batting specifically intended for potholders, oven mitts and that sort of thing with a built-in layer of insulation. So I’m going to spend another few evenings making potholders.
  3. And yet again, a plan and a purpose are a good thing. I’ve spent the last couple of days thinking about what is important to me to finish. I have two bed-size quilts that I really want to finish because they take up so much room. So while I am working on the next handful of potholders, I’ll be getting the embroidery files located and loaded onto my machine.
  4. I cleaned. I sorted. I packed and mailed one box to my daughter-in-law and two boxes to my sister. My daughter-in-law is a beginning quilter and my sister makes wonderful crocheted rugs. They both benefitted from my cleaning.

Now listen to the next part of this saga. It’s so funny! Remember, I really am trying to focus. And I have a plan now. I’m going to make potholders.

The first thing that happened is that I put all the appliqued orphan blocks on my wall and EEK – I don’t want to make potholders or table toppers from these beautiful blocks. This would be a super fun small quilt with just a little bit of work.

I have to come up with a plan to make all the sizes of blocks fit together. I think I’m going to add size where needed with scrappy greens. Does that sound like a good idea? I’m still letting the ideas for this project percolate.

Potholders 300x241 PIGS: Focus, focus, focus – Observations about Finishing PIGSMeanwhile, I went back to the orphan blocks a second time and found some that will be good potholders. There are 26 pieced blocks that will finish at about 9-9½”. I think that is a good size for a potholder. And I just did the math. If I give four potholders to each of my children and grandchildren who live on their own, I have a place for every one of those potholders. I’ll be trying some more of the quilting ideas from Modern Machine Quilting by Catherine Redford. I talked about her book in last week’s blog. Her book is available in hard copy or digital format at

Now what can I do with the larger pieced blocks? There are many 10” and 12” blocks and several other sizes as well. Do you have ideas for those larger blocks? I think I’ll just leave them in the box until I finish all the potholders and the applique sampler quilt. I need to focus!

Did any of that help you come up with a plan for your PIGS? I hope so.

Happy quilting!




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