Sunday, May 22, 2011

PM/GC Skill Builders Series Part 7 - Leader/Ender Projects

Look familiar?

I use these all the time... Threads get tangled under the sewing plate or right at the beginning of the fabric, created snarls that make us snarl.

Just a little scrap of fabric, zipped under the sewing foot right before I start sewing patches together. Keeps everything nice and neat, and I'm not making like a frog more often than I need to be.

So, what's my point, right?

You might have read about Leader/Ender projects on other blogs. I have to admit, I don't use them as much I as could. I've got a ton of scraps, but I haven't really started making use of them in a while - Zebediah likes to use them to play in. He likes Momma to bury him in scraps.

Anyway... Leader/Ender projects are a great way to use scraps, OR to make blocks comprised of lots of small pieces. Typically, you see a lot of postage stamp quilts done this way, but really, anything could be done as a Leader/Ender projects.

The theory is that you just start off sewing patches together in pairs, starting off your piecing with a Leader, and sewing what you've set out to sew, and then ending with, well, an Ender. The trick is to leave that Ender under the needle without cutting the thread, so that you can just get right to it next time you sit down at your machine.

It just takes a little preparation.  Cut a bunch of your pieces and have them ready to go whenever you are. It's totally up to you what size and shape patches. Some projects that I think would make awesome Leader/Ender projects: anything scrappy, Double Wedding Rings, Postage Stamps Quilts, Stacked Coins...

The sky's the limit. I recommend selecting a project that you think you'd never have the patience to do otherwise. You'll build progress long before you realize it, and it's really confidence building to suddenly look and realize that you've got a good chunk of a quilt top ready to go with some chain piecing. That's why I mentioned the Double Wedding Ring. A lot of us have a lot of fear over some patterns. Leader/Ender projects are a great way to break something down into manageable chunks.

Check out for some excellent and diverse examples. There is a book out there too: Adventures With Leaders & Enders. Again, the sky is limit. Just get adventurous with them.

I have to admit - I've never really used Leaders and Enders, but I really should. It's such a useful way of getting something done without getting bogged down in the "will I ever finish this?" or the "why did I start this?"


Glapha Cox said...

Thanks. I do have problems with the thread tangling when I am piecing. I usually forgot to use a leader for it. I never thought of doing a whole project that way.

Wandering Minstrel said...

HOLY FRIJOLE, that is an excellent idea, and one I'd never considered! AWESOME. :)

Jess @ Scrappy n Happy said...

I have looked into leaders and enders but for some reason (okay to lazy to cut up my scraps) just never got around to doing it. I really should, it is a great idea.

Anonymous said...

It's a great idea! I tend to overthink a project when I really want it to look random and scrappy. I think doing it in small chunks will help really mixing up the colors and patterns.

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