Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Leaders and Enders - Some Scrap Management

It is no secret - I am one to have several projects going at once all at various stages. This allows me to choose a project based on time availability, particular interest at the time, or to truthfully succumb to my attention span issues.  But no matter what project I choose to work on, I am always working on a scrap project using the leaders and enders concept.

So you want to know what Leaders and Enders are?

It is a great way to avoid the long, tangly threads requiring trimming from your blocks and to eliminate having your needle come unthreaded when you start sewing on your machine. 

...because you essentially never lift your presser foot.

Basically you keep a few scraps of fabric by your machine. When you are done chain sewing some of your adorable quilting blocks (or whatever it may be) you grab one of these scraps and feed it under your needle and stop with that fabric scrap under the presser foot. Then just use your scissors to snip the little bit of thread running between the block you are working on and leave the scrap (or ENDER) under the needle.  Then the next time you start to sew, you sew off that scrap of fabric and continue on into the blocks you are really working on.  The process is repeated usually using the same scrap of fabric as the ender until it is entirely filled with stitches.  Then you just start using a new scrap of fabric.

While I liked the concept of saving time and thread, it always annoyed me to sew across that little piece of fabric.  My manufacturing background just saw it as waste.

Well, I quickly realized I could use this process to gradually sew those pesky scraps together and make various blocks to be made into quilt tops.

String blocks are a favorite of mine to work this way as I always seem to have bins full of strings and any necessary cutting is minimal.  So instead of using a small piece of scrap fabric, I just sew a string onto a foundation block.

I just finished this big twin size sting quilt.  It was made entirely using the leaders and enders process. 

Another block I make using this method is to pair up and strip sew leftover binding pieces together and make these fun 16 patches.  I just pile them up until I have a big stack of blocks and a creative mood to play around with a layout.

If you have lots of scraps, I hope you try this process.  There are tons of blocks you can make and it is a very painless way to keep on top of those pesky scraps.  You will be surprised how quickly a quilt top comes together!

 I will be linking up with Freshly Pieced and My Quilt Infatuation.  
Can't wait to see what others are up to.


  1. Love the red string quilt... and very grateful for the enders advice. At a recent Sew Day I saw a couple of people use the scraps but I was never sure what they were doing. I now do.

  2. Holy cow that's an amazing idea!

  3. I can't believe how excited I am about this idea. I'm starting immediately. Thanks!

  4. Neat! Very cool tip. I love to chain stuff and usually use a leader for that. :)

  5. I do use a scrap for a leader/ender. I am impressed that you sewed up that whole big beautiful quilt using that method! It is gorgeous! Thanks for sharing, Cynthia.

  6. Your string quilt is awesome! I really like the idea of having a couple or more scrap quilts going on at the same time to keep the scrap basket to a minimum. Hmmm! you have my gears working! The 16 block is one that is part of our guild's block swap that is taking place this evening. I hope to find time to make a couple today. I use leaders and enders too. Learn that little technique via the scrap queen (though you are becoming one too!) Bonnie Hunter. I really like how you save on thread.

  7. Love this idea! Maybe now I can get that string quilt done I started a couple years ago!

  8. I love leaders and enders. They're the perfect thing for scrap quilters.
    That string quilt is beautiful!

  9. What a great idea!
    I love your 16 patches. Maybe I'll start some of those :)

  10. Such encouragement to use up those scraps! The fact that you have SO many scraps in the same color range is telling...!!! Love it!

  11. Lovely string quilt - great colours together!

  12. you are the scrap using queen! I love that red string quilt!

    Thank you so much for linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday!

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

  13. A very clever idea and productive at the same time.

  14. absolutely love the string quilt, i also have an issue with my attention span and am always starting new stuff b4 ive finished other projects i think i may use my scraps the same way as you to make more blocks ,thanx for the idea


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