Monday, October 5, 2015

Design Wall Monday and Leaders & Enders

By special request, today's "Design Wall Monday" also includes a bit of a tutorial on using Leaders & Enders.

Bonnie Hunter of popularized this clever method of making a second quilt while chain piecing. Many quilters stitch off onto a scrap of fabric, sometimes called a "spider," to avoid having to hold the threads at the beginning of the next row of stitching. Bonnie took the idea and made it productive -- why not use pre-cut squares, rather than a scrap of fabric that you will throw away?

She calls her method "Leaders & Enders." Leaders, because you sew from the small squares onto your quilt piece. Enders, because you stitch from the quilt piece onto the smaller square.

And the Leaders & Enders don't have to be squares. Each summer, Bonnie proposes a different quilt block design as the year's "Leaders & Enders" challenge. This year, it's tumblers. I cut up a lot of scraps into light and dark tumblers and stacked them in a plastic shoe box:

The note on the side of the box reminds me how many tumblers I need to make each row, and how many rows to make a lap-size quilt. 

Each morning when I sit down to sew, I stitch a light and dark tumbler piece together. 

When I've stitched across the tumbler, I place the first block of the day's project under the presser foot, and off I sew! 

It is amazing how quickly these little "Leaders & Enders" become a whole quilt! Storm is lurking in the doorway, nervous because she knows I don't like dogs in the bedroom!

I'm also using the cut-off triangles from a Flying Geese project to make tiny half square triangles.  When I get them all stitched, I'll square them up using my littlest Bloc-Loc ruler to make 1" HSTs. Then I'll stitch them together to make a little bag.

I just a week, I've collected quite a few HSTs!

The "A Quilt Block a Day" Facebook group is making "Birds in Flight" blocks this season. October 2 was the 10th day of Autumn, so I'm right on target with my block count. I haven't decided which layout I like better -- but it's early days, yet!

This diagonal set will require setting triangles, but it will also make a larger quilt.

Which layout do you like?

From the desk of your auntmartisignature


  1. Leaders & Enders help us optimize our time. I like most the diagonal setting, all birds flying in the same directions. Have a great week.

  2. Hmmm...Right now I like your straight set version. But as you add more blocks, I may end up liking the diagonal set.

  3. Thankyou Marti, I was wondering how this worked! I am trying to get into the habit of putting the "ender" under my needle and not using the automatic thread cutter once I've finished my blocks.

  4. I prefer on point for this particular set of blocks. Setting triangles remains on my list of skills to learn.

    Leader-enders are the best. I wind up w strips of coins that become design elements in other projects: potholders, mug rugs, trivets, doll blankets. Small projects with fabrics I may not see again !~!

  5. Thank you so much for introducing me to "leaders and enders"! I have been quilting for quite a few years but had never heard of "spiders" or "leaders and enders." All these years I have just been leaving incredibly long threads so that I wouldn't have to hold them to keep the thread from pulling out of the needle. It also gives me the perfect way to go ahead and start on the Christmas quilt I have been wanting to make for myself, completely guilt free! I was so excited to get started on this after I read your post last week that I neglected to comment. Sorry about that.

    I like the straight set better.

  6. I'm going to vote for the straight set. I love the motion it creates!

  7. I really really like your birds in flight blocks!!

  8. I think I like the version on point slightly more. No idea why.


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