Leaders and Enders
I learned a wonderful trick years ago reading Bonnie Hunter’s web site, Quiltville, about using prepared cut fabrics to use as sew offs between blocks instead of using one scrap piece of fabric over and over. She dubbed these leaders/enders and set aside her slowly accumulating sewn together bits until she had enough to make a quilt with. Those lovely little bits become blocks and become the current project to sew into a quilt top and another set of prepared scraps becomes the leader/ender project.
Over the years I have netted many “free” quilts which result in that little bit of stitching that is done after one block is done and I don’t want threads hanging from my sewing machine that I would have to hang onto to sew the next block together.
My current leader and ender project was not one I had been attracted to, but my friend, Pattie, wanted to do a project together and she fell in love with the Bow-Dacious! bow tie quilt in Bonnie’s Adventures with Leaders & Enders book. I looked at this quilt many times before and rejected it out of hand because so many 1” squares are used and I don’t really want to sew stuff from squares that tiny. When Pattie desired to make it, I had to think of a way that would seem easier for me to tackle it. I do have bags and bags of sorted strips of fabric that are 1 ½” wide which I use in scrappy strip piecing blocks. With my thinking cap on, I figured out a way to make using them work without having to cut a gazillion squares.
So the sorting and prepping begins. I have to take a break while I’m qulting and instead of sitting at the computer playing games or reading blogs, I can choose to go to my sewing machine and sew for the 10 minutes I need to sit. I learned years ago when I had to wait for Emily’s bus to show morning and afternoon, that I could get an unbelievable amount of sewing done in 15/20 minute increments twice a day. Sometimes back then those were the only minutes I had to spare to sew. I got a lot of quilts done those two years the kids lived here in the early part of this decade. They live here permanently now and I utilize their free time to my advantage doing various sorting and prepping when possible!
|Laura sorting for the next step|
Just for inspiration I have sewn ONE red bow tie together to encourage me to keep at this project. Sewing the red as leaders/enders between setting triangles on the sides of a column quilt, I have completed almost all of the red four patch blocks in a weekend for the first part of my Bowdacious Bow Tie quilt.
|4" sets sewn and pressed|
|4" pressed sets ready to be trimmed|
|sets trimmed into pairs of 2 block units|
|green units to be sewn into 4 patch units|
I will keep you updated on its progress over the next however many months it takes to complete. If you want to learn how to utilize your scraps to their fullest potential I recommend you take a look at Bonnie’s website for her ideas. She provides a lot of free patterns as well as an opportunity to purchase her many books.