Monday, February 1, 2010

Leader Ender Spool Blocks

Here is a quick tutorial on how I'm piecing my spool blocks. Bonnie Hunter wrote the book, literally, on leader/enders. I am constantly amazed that some piecers have no idea what these are. I've made most of my quilts in the past year using this method. While I'm purposely making something else, I piece large portions of my units for my next quilt. While I'm finishing that one up, I start my next leader/ender. Lather, rinse, repeat, LOL!

Here is the way I do it. Your mileage may vary.

The most important part is having block pieces near the sewing machine. Every time you finish an assembly line of piecing, you put two more pieces together.

Each of my spool blocks (see one finished in the back of the pic) has a print 2" x 5" rectangle, four 2" squares of the same print, and 2 cream 2" x 5" strips.

I have been doing the first step as a set of two so I make sure I have the same background print. You could do it one at a time. I have lots of small pieces around my machine. No sense confusing myself!

I drew a line on my machine base and sewing table with a Sharpie. I need to reapply it often. It is used like an Angler so I don't have to mark my fabric for the HST seams.

After sewing the diagonal seam, trim and press open. (see the last spool block in the background). My ironing board is to the left of my machine. I use a swiveling office chair as my sewing chair. It gives great support and makes it easy to spin towards the ironing board. Yes--I do that one seam and put it back next to my sewing machine.

When I need another leader/ender, I pick up that same piece and add the other corner. If the squares were bigger, I'd double sew them and have a stack of small HSTs to iron open for a future quilt. But these are very small, so I'm just tossing the trimmings.

Trim and press open. Then the next step is adding the center print fabric.

Repeat that last step with the other side of the spool block, and voila'!! Another spool block finished. Another thing that surprises a lot of quilters is that I use pins as little as possible. Saves a ton of time.



Audrey said...

As you know, I'm working on a "Leaders and Enders" project, but it was (I confess) not purpose-pieced to use L&Es.
What I want to know is: With what do you lead into the Leader???? I mean, at some stage you must have to "needle-down" on a raw edge.
It's a bit like: "Which came first - The chicken or the egg?"

Kerri said...

I love your sharpie idea! No bumps or plastic template thing to get in the way, or marking the block with a line, yeh. I am doing 2" four patch blocks as my leader/ender presently, but your spool blocks look so fantastic, I am ready to switch or at least switch off. I can't get over how cute your spool quilt is. It is such a treat to look at. Thanks for sharing it on your blog

audrey said...

I have finished and presented my L&E, and was going to offer a photo to Bonnie, for her collection. Today I went looking for the place where I had seen other photos but they SEEM to have dissolved (they WERE so sweet!)

Any clues?

I wonder if she's still collecting other people's photos.