Tag Archives: Leader-Ender project

Bear Paw and Border

Scrap Happy Day has rolled around again. While I used only 12 squares of red scraps on the border, I did finish a scrap block as a leader/ender. The block is ancient history. The brown fabric is left over from a housecoat I had made around 50 years ago, I guess that makes it vintage fabric? Twenty-five or so years ago, I had looked at the scraps I’d been gathering for a long time and decided it was time to begin to use them. It was long before I’d ever read a Bonnie Hunter post and maybe even before the internet. My concept of scrap control was to select fabrics and see what block I had enough fabric to make. Needless to say, that was less than efficient. In fact I made up only one kit. It traveled with me to many quilt guild retreats as a back up project just in case I finished everything else I had wanted to accomplish. I was out of leader/ender items, so decided to try making a block. (I don’t recommend it for leaders/enders–too much thinking required..)

Bear Paw: 7-inch and 14-inch

I have no idea what I will do with them. Maybe take them to the guild free table when we meet in person again and let someone else play. If you want to see some more scrap work, visit Kate’s blog (here) where she posts and lists links to folks who play with scraps.

On to the second border of the guild medallion quilt (first border here) The directions called for a 2-inch resting border, but because I’d modified the first border and had a row of one-inch squares, I felt the need for more one-inchness and made two one inch “resting” borders to maintain the measurements. Then (gasp!) ripped out the cornerstones and replaced them with red.

The left photo is the first try. After I added the cornerstones I realized that the effect I’d wanted required the two one-inch pieces to be sewn as one border and a four-patch used for a cornerstone. While pondering if I could live with what I had created, I got another idea. I’d been wondering how to keep bits of red as accent without overpowering–how about red cornerstones? Yep, I liked it.

I put off the next step for a while because I thought it was going to be difficult to attach the triangles in a straight row. Seems I’d tried it once before and ended up with a crooked mess. But with the help of a tri-rec ruler it was a breeze.

On the right is the way the ruler is meant to work. See the notch? It guides the placement so that the triangle with two “wings” makes a square block. Well, I was hoping to save a seam and just alternate triangles, and it worked.

So here is the second border.

42x 42 at this point

And I added the first half of the next “resting” border. I decided to keep the one-inch with red cornerstone thing going. I had decided to consider the offered instructions, and if I liked them, use them. This one is as directed (except without the seams in the yellow triangles). I’ll be following the directions for the next two as well. The third is square in a square which echoes the same in the center block. I’d been thinking about the fourth and thought I wanted one inch squares in it somewhere, and they offered a good idea.

I’m not sure I’ll use the idea of moving from small to large in a border again. It sorta looks like ‘I got tired and wanted to hurry and finish.’ We’ll see if drawing it back to one inch squares works to overcome that effect.



Filed under Uncategorized

Return to Improv and Scraps

Back in the day (here) I started an improv for the Academy of Quilting class with Elizabeth Barton. I chose this exercise because it sounded the fastest. Wrong. I think  spent more time on it than on the two small color studies I recently finished! A piece would look flat after pressing. Then when a new piece was added, it bulged in an old seam, not the new one. I haven’t figured that one out yet. It meant lots of corrective seams and darts.

Anyway, the top is finished now. (Some very pretty curved seams will disappear into “hidden” seams. Oh well . . .

4-patch top finished

38 x 43 inches

Once the top was finished, some fabric turned into scraps.  So I decided the back should be a big four patch.

4-patch back

I hadn’t started out to make the corners not meet; however, the orange piece was all I had, so I decided it was fitting to be unmatched since the front was purposely unmatched. (The light green wasn’t big enough either, but I did have enough to piece it.)

I still had more scraps so I made a scrappy binding (before they got mixed in with outer scraps).

4-patch binding

I carefully laid it out along the quilt to see how the colors worked with the top and to be sure I didn’t have a seam at the corners. However, I laid it out on the front, and I will be sewing it onto the back. The corners will still work.  I’ll just wait and be surprised at how the front looks when it is finished.

Do you make scrappy bindings? If so, how much do you plan them. I’ve been saving left overs from binding quilts, planning on a more random scrappy binding someday instead of a color coordinated one. Someday I’ll have a quilt that that will be appropriate for. Oh, while stitching pieces together, I learned that each join takes up 2 inches.

On a more scrappy note yet, I tackled some leaders/enders. I was running out of 2-inch squares to attach so needed something new. The pile looked big enough to do “something” with.

I have no idea what the plan was when I started these. I pondered between making 4- or 16- or 20-patch blocks. Four-patch blocks sounded easier, so I went with that. I have 80 sets pinned and ready to be Leaders-and-enders.

A baby quilt (36 x 36) would take 72, so that is the current plan. I’ll alternate a 4-patch with a plain square. If I have enough coordinating 3 1/2-inch squares, I’ll continue scrappy; if not it will be a half-scrap project. The left over 8 will become something else.

Although a leader-ender project feels like it happens by magic, there are moments of preparation needed, like this one.

Check in with Kate of Tall Tales from Chiconia to see other Scrap Happy folks’ accomplishments.


Filed under quilting

Irish Star #2

Finishing up the instant-gratification Irish Star (here) put me in the mood to get back to the “real” one. And now that I am finished with projects that had deadlines, I can. So I got out what I had sewn so far and pressed seams.

irish star 25-blocks

I thought I had finished all the pieces I could for the 25-square blocks but was disappointed to learn I had only half of the two-square pieces sewn. So there is more leader/ender work to do (and plenty of scrap squares).

You may wonder why the blocks are not finished. Well, I made a design decision at the beginning that creates a SLOW process; I decided each star would have its own background neutral.  Sounded good in the abstract. Then I realized that meant I had to wait till I saw where the stars would be to know which neutral to put where. And of course, arranging the stars will be the first design decision I’ll be making in the layout of the whole quilt. So all I can do now is have the strips readied since every strip touches a background square.

After I make the stars, I’ll get out the design wall, place the stars, then start placing the strips and finish the blocks. Before I get to that, I have to finish cutting the star pieces. I cut four sets, but then I ran out of background scraps.  I’ve come to some more in my scrap pressing, so I hope I have enough for the 13 blocks needed.  I have plenty of solid and read-as-solid scraps.

I think it would be too confusing to make the stars as leaders/enders so I’ll set aside a couple days to work on them, and I’ll make up the missing 34 pairs as leader/enders. Shouldn’t take too long. I’m planning a 50 x 70 inch quilt.

Monday is Scrap Happy day (here), and I’ll be linking with Oh Scrap! tomorrow and maybe with  I May Have a Scrap Problem Wednesday. Links to follow.



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Leader-and-Ender Flowers

People on the Leader/Ender linky  haven’t heard from me for a while. Not because I haven’t been happily stitching squares and triangles together, but because I didn’t have a project for them.

Here’s proof of labor.

L-E squares and triangles

Raw pieces on the left and stitched on the right.  The squares are at a stand still because I am out of light ones and I don’t know whether the pairs I have made will become 4- or 9- patch blocks, so they await a plan. The triangles are mostly bonus triangles from making flying geese. There are more tucked away far under some other boxed projects. One day I’ll dig deep then look them over and see what I can make.

Meanwhile, there is this inspiration from Quilting is More Fun Than Housework. My problem is that my second color is not always the same, so whether I can work that out into a similar top remains to be seen.

Now, about the flowers. I have been quilting on Skyline (top here) and have two more tops planned from the “Utopia” fabric. The current top doesn’t make use of the flowers in the print, but one of the three planned quilts will. Here is a detail of the fabric.

L-E flower print

And here is the block it inspired.

Flower block

9 x 9

I will admit to having seen the block idea somewhere, but I have no clue where. The quilt will be mostly improv, but I will include several of these flowers somehow. The boring triangles are a perfect thing for leaders and enders while working on other projects. And yes, the small cut-aways will become leaders and enders for a someday mini. I might even be able to work some of the improv Floating Squares (Sherri Lynn Wood, Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters) in as leaders and enders. So the relevant pieces are in the drawer above the squares and triangles.

L-E set up

How do you like that set up? Having that four-drawer on my right has really improved my Leader/Ender production line.  A place for raw material, a place for sewn pieces, top drawer. Second drawer is storage for pieces in waiting–and eventually I’ll gather all in one place, which will be another improvement. The bottom two drawers are deeper and also good for other storage. And wheels so the drawers can be handy when sewing and otherwise out of the way.

Linking up with A Quilting Chick’s Leader and Ender Challenge.


Filed under quilting

Infant Quilt for Toy and Joy

I have finished the last quilt for the Toy and Joy project this year.  Before I show you the quilted version, let me tell you about a design decision, made using precise artistic principles, not.

I had debated whether to add a border or not. It measured about 33 inches square, so would have been big enough. But did I want the pieced sashing/border to be eaten by the binding process? Decision made by a toss, not the toss of a die.

infant scrap border fabric

I had just pressed some fabric that was to be a border on another WIP, and the infant quilt got tossed on top of it while I pondered quilting design. I really liked the darkening of the colors that were in the center strip of the border and knew I had enough to add an inch.  I don’t do forced random, but I will accept random after auditioning. (I once had a semiotics professor who pondered if her books had an effect on each other…maybe I should ponder the same about my fabrics.)

So, here’s the bordered and quilted top (and bound, since I did envelope style finishing).

Quilt top

~34 x 34

What was meant to be an inch border became more like 3/4 inch after trimming and stitching. So it almost looks like a binding.

For those who haven’t seen prior posts, here is the link to Mishka‘s tutorial for the block. And for those interested in the history of this leader and ender project, here is the post of the first finish with all the links.This is the second from the blocks of this pattern, and there is one more in the works.

Now for the quilting, a front detail so you can see how the quilting relates to the patchwork.

infant scrap detail

My first plan had been flower in the center of each block , filling it, and something else in the sashing and border. But when I reread Lori Kennedy’s tutorial and saw it could be used as an allover design, I decided to try it. Here is the back view for the allover look.

Quilt back--Flower Power

Quilting pattern “Flower power” by Lori Kennedy of Inbox Jaunt

It is fun to quilt this design, and it goes about as quickly as meandering.

So my contribution is eleven doll quilts and two infant quilts. If at guild they announce the total, I’ll come back and edit it in.

ETA: At guild they announced they had given 1100 doll and infant quilts! And because it is Thursday, linking with Needle and Thread Thursday, button in sidebar.

Linking with Oh Scrap!, Free Motion Mavericks, and eventually with Let’s Make Baby Quilts and Leader/Ender Challenge. Buttons in Sidebar.




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Friday Night Sew In (FNSI) and Leaders and Enders’ Demise

It happened. The Leaders and Enders became their own project (almost). Somehow anything larger than a 2-inch seam feels too long to do between steps of a different project. So it became my Friday Night Sew In project for the first time that I joined it. Mostly it takes remembering.

I said “almost” because there are 32 blocks-in-progress that need rectangle pieces, the 1-inch squares sewn to the 1x 3 rectangles. They have to be made yet. So that is 64 leaders and enders till I put a square on each end. They are cut and ready to go. Only one got sewn tonight–chain piecing doesn’t pile up the L and E pieces very quickly.

Three-side pile

32 of these need the fourth rectangle

So these 32 will be in process yet a while. No work on them tonight. Meanwhile, these got their fourth side sewn.

4 sides

17 of these

And pressed.  I pinned them last night.  Since random isn’t my thing, I did some playing with combinations. I’d wanted all four neutrals to be different; however, there are a couple where I decided the corner color mattered more. I have a range of very old fabric from my great aunt’s scrap bag and some very new and modern. I think in the total product, the mix will work.

And some got a pair of triangles.

With two triangles

12 of these

I need to cut more triangles before I continue with these.

Tomorrow you can check out what others accomplished on FNSI and maybe next month you can play too. And If I don’t work any more on this project, I’ll link with Leaders and Enders next week, and on Sunday I’ll link with Oh Scrap! (Buttons for the last two in the sidebar.)

Here is the source of the block and what mine may look like when the blocks grow up–and a tutorial. Here is the first time I linked with Leaders and Enders, and here is a second link up with the same project. I have made some progress, slow though it be.


Filed under quilting

Back in the Quiltmaking Groove–Waking up Butterfly Outtakes and Leaders-and-Enders

2/9/16 Reviving this post for Val’s Tuesday Archives. It is indirectly related to the Butterfly theme. The top is made from “bonus” triangles left over from the butterfly blocks a friend was making. It’s still not finished. Needing a pieced backing put it back on the back burner. (Tuesday Archives button in the sidebar.)

It takes a while to shift from vacation mode to ordinary life mode and on to quilting mode. What easier way to do the latter than to grab a project that is almost finished. Butterfly Outtake is a true example of “out of sight, out of mind.” It has been dormant since 2012-13. I don’t even remember why I put it away when it was so close to finished. (Previous posts: started here , progress here and here.)

I will admit to getting a push from Le Challenge, where the month’s theme was “single.” My first thought was “Single Girl”; I chuckle every time I see that comment on Double Wedding Ring. But I knew I didn’t have time to do a whole top. So I went for a single shape, right triangles. So linking with Le Challenge.

I thought I had had a plan, one more border to add and the top would be finished. So it wasn’t indecision that put it away. Maybe company. Or a project with a due date. At any rate, I’m glad I’d not finished it.  I no longer liked the border plan. I auditioned multiple fabrics before deciding on the two inner borders. I should have taken photos along the way, but I was too busy pulling, looking, and pulling some more. And I knew I didn’t have time to ask for and wait for advice.

So here is the finished top. The block is called Flock of Geese. The small HSTs are 1 1/4 inch.

Finished top

43 x 43

The pattern section ended up 21 x 21, and I want a baby quilt or lap quilt 42 x 42. I’d been concerned that a 10 inch border would overpower the 21 inch pattern part. I think that was why I’d not considered accent inner borders earlier. But the quilt seemed to want them.  All the fabrics had some bit of cranberry in the prints, so that one was easy. But what next?

I tried pinks and blues and greens that looked good with the Flock of Geese blocks; however, the overall look wasn’t right. I need to work on color theory–I can usually tell when something is not working, but don’t know enough to know what it needs to make it work. At any rate, I found the almost-tan batik, auditioned it and liked it. The paisley had been in the plan all along. I’m thinking the paisley reads more tan than I had realized, and that is why this combination works. The aqua in the upper left corner is what I’ll use for binding. I’ll need to piece a backing–fabric is only 42 inches wide, and some is lost in selvedge.

The HSTs were leaders and enders way back when. But I have current ones going too. However, sewing borders doesn’t make the pile grow much; here is all I produced this week.

Short stack of leaders and enders

Over the last couple of months, the pile has seen one more round, and most are pressed.


Those on the left have their fourth side sewn, need pressed; the middle stack needs the fourth side, and the right hand stack is pinned and waiting for the third side to be sewn. I am resisting a quick finish because if I did, I’d have to prepare a new leader and ender project. And for this one, once I get all four sides sewn, I’ll still need to be cutting triangles for each side. So this project will keep me out of trouble for quite a while. (Backward history begins here.) (I link back both for new viewers who may be interested in beginnings and for myself so I can find the various stage posts when I need them.)

Linking with Leaders and Enders on Tuesday. Check up on others’ progress.


Filed under design, quilting

Leaders and Enders Update

Time to see where I am with the 50+ starter blocks shown here.  I have pressed what then was sewn (the 9-patch to two of the rectangles) and needed pressed.


And I have sewn a bunch of 1 1/2-inch squares to 1 1/2- x 3 1/2-inch rectangles to get ready to add to the other two sides of the 9-patch.

Sashing sewn

It looks like a fairly big pile. I don’t think I cut more rectangles than I can use, but it seemed good to press and check. I counted 45 as I pressed them and sorted them into dark, medium and  bright.


Actually I was living dangerously, attaching squares without a 9-patch to mate with it.  For the most part, I chose two that had some detail in common. Occasionally it was a color relationship, like opposites. And I tried to avoid repeating a neutral in the four sashings on a single block. Because I don’t like to do random, I took the time to choose which 9- patch to mate with which sashing+square and pin them.

Assembled one sideAgain, I chose a piece with squares that somehow related to the 9-patch, usually echoing a color in one or two of the patches, but sometimes a bright because a 9-patch was dull or a dark pair for a 9-patch that was made up of light squares.

As big as that pile looked, it didn’t finish the job. These eight remained.  These have some rather dark neutrals–I doubt I’ll rip them out. But they do require more careful combining.

8 awaiting sashing

They will probably get custom selected cornerstones. The goal is for all to look like this:

3 partially finished

And then to cut  triangles from 4 1/2-inch squares to add to set them on point. There are lots of leader-ender opportunities in this project. On the one hand it is nice to have a long, ongoing project; on the other hand, I may get impatient and just finish it up someday. After a few other projects are finished.

The blocks will be 7 x 7 finished. No harm in starting to sketch settings.

Linking with Leader and Ender Tuesday and Oh Scrap. Buttons to the right in the sidebar.


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Leaders and Enders Progress

Leaders and Enders projects are not a source of instant gratification. As you might imagine, they can last a long time, especially when I find ways to make the primary project be its own leader/ender.

But even chain piecing and leap frogging have ends, so yes,I have a continuing “real” leader/ender project. This one started a couple years ago when I saw this on Quilters Gallery. This project was perfect for several reasons, the most important being that I liked it. Secondly, I had 1 1/2-inch pieces already. (Although I thought I had used up all my 1 1/2-inch squares and made more to finish Fading Charms, I found another box of samples.) Thirdly, it took few light neutrals.

Now I love quilts where there are equal pieces of light neutrals and darker prints. However, I never seem to have that many light neutral scraps–or new yardage, for that matter. Until I take on Bonnie Hunter’s quest of used shirts for fabric, I need something mostly dark.

A Quilting Chick is starting a linky to encourage leaders and enders–and she explains the concept, so if it is new to you, check the button on the sidebar. I’ll be playing–how about you? If you do leaders and enders, add your say on the third ThursdayTuesday of each month. I  decided to take inventory for starters.

3 finishedI just had to see the finished look, so did these three one day long ago. One upper right rectangle had a redo–needed some color to contrast with the triangle. Here’s what I have to show for a couple years.

A pile of squares, rectangles and triangles. Forty-two 9-patch blocks waiting to have their 2 rectangles pressed along with five that have been pressed. Nine in the next round along with five-sashing-plus-cornerstone, both waiting to be pressed. One with triangle attached.  As you can see, leaders and enders require patience and preparation.

The first round for this pattern is easy: sew a light and dark 1 1/2-inch square together. I can do that without preplanning, need only a little digging–once the squares were sorted light, medium and dark, but they are hopelessly mixed now. Then comes a choice. Random 9-patches or light and dark pattern?  I go with pattern, so a little planning is needed. When I have a pile of threes to combine, I pause a while to plan and pin them so they are at the ready in the stand beside my sewing machine where I keep the project in a drawer. Or I can attach the first two neutral rectangles to a 9-patch mindlessly, then later plan and pin the ones with squares for the corners. Likewise I plan the triangles.

Of course  scraps have to be cut, and even leaders and enders have to be pressed and sometimes trimmed. Sometimes the primary project doesn’t allow the luxury of that extra time, so I do the mindless steps.

When I do have extra time I press. Or I cut more 1 1/2 x 3 1/2-rectangles and corner triangles. I keep meaning to spend 15 minutes each day cutting scraps so that they are always ready, but that has gone where most of my good intentions go.

I suppose the size of this leader-and-ender quilt will be determined either by my scraps running out (slim chance) or by my attention shifting to another project.

I know some of my readers have a leader-ender style of working; I hope you will join the linky (button in sidebar) this ThursdayTuesday and share your leader and ender projects too. I’m eager to see them.

ETA: Today is the first Leaders and Enders Link up–come see!

And about a month later, linking with Let’s Bee Social, button to the right.


Filed under quilting