Leaders And Enders

Why didn’t I think of this? Two projects at the SAME time! And I’ve been throwing all those pieces away!!



Below is a preview of what leaders & enders are and how I work with them, and you can see a few of the book projects in stages.

The book contains 12 large project quilts, and lots of information on working with scraps that you won’t want to miss!

I love continuous chain piecing. I think it is one of the methods that really saves a ton of time and a ton of thread ends…..

I learned a long time ago to use a folded scrap to sew on and off of at the beginning/ending of a line of chain piecing…you would get to the end of your chaining, and sew onto this scrap, leaving it under the needle of the machine, and snip the threads between it and your piecing behind the presser foot. This always leaves SOMETHING under the foot so you dont start the next line of piecing with long threads that get tangled and get sucked down the needle hole pulling your fabric pieces with it, or worse, have to trim all those, trying to get them in the trash, but finding them ending up more on the floor, and clogging the wheels of your wheelie chair at your sewing machine as you roll over them or around the vacuum beater bar!

When you get to the end of the next chain of piecing, you put another fabric scrap though the machine and trim behind it…then you would go up to the top of the piecing you just trimmed off, removing the fabric scrap (sometimes called a ‘thread bunny’ by those who use this method) and have it ready for ending the next line of piecing.) I typically had two thread bunnies going at any given time, one would be under the foot as the ‘leader’ to start the piecing with, the next one would be the ‘ender’ as I ended. The ‘ender’ becomes the new ‘leader’ as you start the next line of piecing.

I would continue to use the same scraps to sew on and off of until they were clogged with thread, then that would STILL end up in the trash…and I would start with new ones until they were too full of thread to use anymore.

Then a lightbulb went off. I took a bin of scrap 2″ squares that had been accumulating from trimming scraps down, and started using those as leaders/enders instead of a wadded up thread covered scrap. I would sew a light square to a dark square, trim off behind it…..and eventually have a stack of these little “two squares” that I would also use as leader/enders to sew into 4 patches….

The first pic shows trimming the other chain piecing I was working on BEHIND the two leader/ender squares that I just fed through the machine..I am using little spring thread snips that I keep at my machine for reaching behind and snipping. It’s easier than trying to get back there with big 8″ sewing scissors. The second pic shows two pairs of ‘leader/enders’ being sewn into a 4 patch at the ending of a line of chain piecing:

Irish Chain

She made this quilt this way!!

via Leaders And Enders.



Filed under postaday2011, quilt, quilter

6 responses to “Leaders And Enders

  1. I’m all about the Linus blanket starters and just in the last few weeks have decided I need to figure out a leaders & enders quilt. Then I cut up a bunch of scraps, add in new ones as they come, and get something DONE with them!!

    Great post! 🙂


  2. Thanks.. I was amazed by this idea! I threw away so many spiders and I could have made quilts!


  3. I started doing this awhile ago – I’m just making a big quilt with 2.5″ squares. Real scrappy – real cute. I want it big so I still have another 5 or 6 – 18″ blocks to make and I will still have a little left over of my box to use for a smaller version to give away.


  4. Once you start piecing via leaders/enders it will drive you crazy if you don’t have that second piecing project going at the same time. Believe me. I tried for about the first two weeks of January and then had to stop and find something to piece as my leader/ender project. Since my 2 x 3 1/2″ brick box was overflowing, I found Fun with Bricks. It’s a free pattern on Bonnie’s site. You have checked out her site haven’t you? If not, stop reading this comment and go over there right now!


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