Monday, August 20, 2012

Spoolin’ Around Leader/Ender Challenge!

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Many of us have finished our bow-tie leader/ender challenge from 2011.

Here we are more than a month past the Sister’s Quilt Show and I didn’t post anything new for us to focus on for the coming Leader/Ender year!

Through the course of the past week, and fun times with QuiltCam several of us thought it would be fun to sew up scrappy little spool blocks as Leaders & Enders in between the lines of quilt piecing we are already doing.


Of course there is an ONLY, right?!

Only ---we want to do them the same size as the bow-tie blocks because, DANG IT! 3” Spool blocks are just a heck of a lot cuter than 4.5” Spool blocks, you know?!

Do you want to play along?

They are So So so easy, and so cute!

This will take some time to think ahead and kit up your block parts BEFORE You sit down to sew anything else. There's a bit more cutting than for the bow ties, but not by much. I suggest taking the time to cut out and kit up 8 bow-ties at a time ---and when you run out, kit up some more. I find I get REALLY LAZY if I don’t have something ready to use sitting by my machine. That’s when I’m likely to go back into the bad habit of just grabbing a folded-over-throw-away scrap to use that is going to be quickly just tossed away and wasted. Or worse. Find myself just pulling my work out of the machine leaving long thread tails everywhere. UGH! I’m SO ASHAMED!

So kitting up is my friend, and this is what you need for each little spool:

spools 005

(2) 1.5” X 3.5” rectangles from background fabrics.

(1) 1.5” X 3.5” rectangle from spool fabric

(4) 1.5” squares.

spools 006

I have this down to a system ---At the end of a line of piecing, place a square on the end of each of the background rectangles and sew across the diagonal. The left edge of the tape is there to help me guide the fabric straight. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t! HA!

Then snip your work from behind the needle, leaving these two units there under the presser foot. Press your “other” work, and come sew some more. Remove these rectangles from the front of your line of chain piecing. Test to make sure your diagonal seams are where you want them to be, and that your corner flips up right and matches the edges of your base rectangles. Snip excess fabric 1/4” from seam. Press.

spools 007

At the end of your NEXT line of chain piecing, put the remaining two squares on top of the base rectangles with right sides together and stitch with the angle going in the opposite direction, corner to corner. Leave them there, under the needle. Remove your line of piecing from behind the presser foot. Go press, come sew some more --- remove these rectangles and test to make sure your diagonal seams are where you want them to be. Snip Excess fabric 1/4” from seam. Press.

You got this, right? All of this is done IN BETWEEN THE LINES OF CHAIN PIECING YOUR MAIN PROJECT!

spools 008

Here are the 3 block sections ready to be sewn together. Two more times under the presser foot and this baby will be together!

spools 009

Sew the center rectangle to one of the side units at the end of one line of chain piecing. Leave it under the presser foot, removing the work from behind this unit to go press…come sew some more! Next time around, add the last section to the block.

It takes FOUR times through the machine for each spool block to come together. You can DO THIS!

Who wants to join in?

You need at least a 1.5” X 7” strip to get the background rectangles needed from one 1.5” strip.

You need at least a 1.5” X 9.5” strip to get the spool pieces you need from one 1.5” strip.

We can clear out a whole mess of 1.5” strips this way……

Remember, it’s not a race. And this is meant to be a leader/ender project, so anyone who finishes it NEXT WEEK is disqualified…LOL!

Have a great time while I’m away, everyone! My flight to LAX leaves about 5:45pm this evening Eastern time.

I’m Bali Bound!


My finished Spoolin' Around quilt!

The full pattern for my Spoolin' Around quilt is found in my book MORE Adventures with Leaders & Enders, available in the Quiltville Store.


  1. I'm about convinced that you don't sleep....ever. Can't wait to see Bali posts upon your return. You are gonna have a grand time...Enjoy! Relax! And sleep a little bit for heaven's sake! :^) Safe travels friend.....

    1. I agree Jen!!! She quiltcams until 11:00PM...and then goes to Facebook to check in with everyone. And MUST be up early to have this 'post' at 7:56AM after writing it all....
      Amazing gal for sure!

    2. Anonymous9:31 AM EDT

      Most blogging programs let you write a blog post and schedule a time for publication. It looks like the leader and ender post was written earlier and set to publish this morning.

      IIRC, Bonnie has indicated she has written other posts and set them to publish while she is in Bali. She hopes that she will be able to publish some blog posts while she is there, too.

  2. Bonnie, thank you for the new challenge . This is right up my alley. Have a wonderful trip to Bali. Looking forward to your photos.
    Lynne in MB

  3. You are SO appreciated Bonnie! I just finished up my leader-ender project yesterday during my marathon sewing day (13 hours!!!! OMGoodness! Heaven!). I can't wait to prep up a bunch of these :)

    I will be thinking of you in beautiful Bali! I certainly hope you enjoy the amazing sights and are able to put your feet up to ENJOY the time with your posse of 16! (Oh...so greeeeeen here) :-)

  4. I have TONS of 1.5 in. strips! I'm IN for this! What dies do you use most on your Accuquilt Studio, Bonnie? I'm thinking of getting the "Go" one. Have fun in Bali!

  5. Hi... I may be missing something but when you are doing the leader-ender pieces.... don't you have long strings on them.
    I love the little spools and look forward to making them. have a great time in Bali, can't wait to hear how you made out on the elephant safari!

    1. You just leave the leader/ender piece under the foot of your machine and continue chain piecing whatever else you're working on. You don't ever pull the piece and trim thread trails, you just keep chain piecing, the leader/ender is your piece between sections of chaining. I don't know if that made any sense... I'm sure someone else can explain better.

  6. You are such a temptress!!!!! Now I'm thinking I know what to do with my 1.5" strip drawers

  7. cute, cute, cute...and i see doris has a paper clip design in gold...godspeed and great fun friend bonnie!

  8. I was wondering how to do these blocks as leader/enders and you've posted the answer. You must have been reading my mind. I'll pull out my 1 1/2" strip box this evening and start kitting up some spools. Thanks!

  9. I think I'm going to have to use up my box of 2" squares and make mine a little bigger because I am surely NOT going to cut them all down to 1.5"!! I guess mine will be the big sister spools... LOL!

    Have a super time in Bali, Bonnie.

  10. Have fun in Bali! My husband has promised me a quilt-centered vacation in the future (he even said HE would have fun on a trip like Bali!). I'm going to try these spools, since usually my leader/ender projects are random and directionless, or they become more fun than what I meant to work on!

  11. Bonnie - have a wonderful, safe trip! Can't wait to start stripping up my kits for the Bow-Ties. May print up these directions and give them to my quilt group for a little Challenge. See how many blocks we can get made in a month. Could be Fun thanks for the idea.

    Faith in Maine

  12. You definitely don't have a life away from quilting! Good luck today. When do you FINALLY get to Bali?

  13. I have started doing Great Granny Squares (Bee in her Bonnet blog) as my leaders and enders but I am going to sneak these darling little spools in also.

    1. Great idea Debbie! I want to do this quilt too ( have 2 blocks done) but want to use scraps from a quilt i am making in a class that starts tomrrow. So glad i read your post as it offers the perfect solution for making progress on both twin quilts at the same time! Yeah!

  14. they are adorable at this size.

  15. These are very cute, but I am using all of the HST and QST of my unfinished Orca Bay as my current leader/enders. Gotta get that puppy finished!
    Safe travels to you, Bonnie!

  16. Can't wait to get started on Leaders and Enders Spools! Just wanted to let you know that there is a typo. You wrote to kit up 8 bow ties instead of spools. LOL!!
    Have a wonderful trip!!!

  17. Bonnie, I have admired these quilts for so long. Because of you, I see myself doing so many quilts that I would NEVER had done. Thank you so much for ALLLLLL that you do. Will be saying a prayer for you that you have an uneventful flight and a wonderful , much deserved , FUN time !!!
    I want to go to Alaska with ya'll, just need to find a room mate. So, if you know of another "lone traveler", keep me in mind. Going to be so much fun catching up when you get back!

    1. Hi Sandra, I think I might be a lone traveller, need to check cost and finances, before I can say for sure. If you are interested?! Quilters are great! Sight unseen I'm emailing...it would be a great trip. I'm from Surrey BC
      9155cathyralph at gmail dot com
      if you are interested?!

  18. Anonymous12:18 PM EDT

    Bonnie, have a great time in Bali, and get some rest. We do pray for a safe trip for you and all the attendees. Thank you for all you do. Quick question, what kind of tape is that on the bed of your machine?

    Karen in San Diego

  19. Thank you for a wonderful leader ender project!

  20. Hi Bonnie. I hope that you have a wonderful time in Bali. Can't wait to see some pictures.
    I've already made one of those cute spools. Need to start kitting.
    I've so enjoyed watching you on web-cam. My husband has been sneaking peeks as well. He can't get over how similar you and I are and that we need to meet. Maybe a future trip.
    My son has just loaned me his laptop so that I can sew when your on web-cam. Looks like I'll be getting more done. Yeah!

  21. I'm still playing with my Bow-ties but these spools look fun too. I'll use just one background this time for the continuity. I missed the Web Cam session that you talked about them. I like your 9 bow tie sets that you showed us. Safe travels to Bali. Is 'Doris' going along?

  22. Love the webcam sessions. I'm in on the Leader and Ender Challenge, and it will help me get rid of some of my Christmas stash. It seems like no matter how much Christmas fabric I use the pile doesn't go down, I think it is multiplying instead. HA! HA!
    Have a great time in Bali. See you on the webcam when you get back.

  23. Anonymous8:33 PM EDT

    Hi Bonnie
    Safe journey to Bali. I am in with the spooly challenge, I will start kitting tomorrow on my lunch hour, I have a travel bag full of scraps, my Olaf portable cutting/pressing board, my ruler and rotary cutter. I never wast my lunch hour, I set up, visit with my coworkers, and sometimes even get them to iron!!!!!
    Love the webcam,
    Take care

  24. Bon Voyage Bonnie! Have a great time. I'm looking forward to hearing about it and see some pics when you return. Love your L&E project idea. I think these are called klosjes in Dutch and seem to be a big fad in Europe now. I've wanted to make a klosje quilt but they're traditionally done by hand on Saturdays so your idea of an L&E project fits in better with my schedule, ha, ha.

    Gail :)

  25. I was worried that you would be exhausted this morning after working last night and talking to all of us. Now I see your flight didn't leave until 5:45, so you had time to pack and get a good night's rest. That's why you weren't packed last night.

    Did you have to bring your sewing machine with you on this trip? IF so, hope it travels safely.

    Have a safe trip and a wonderful time in Bali!

  26. Have a great trip to Bali! This may be my next Leader/Ender. Still working on a previous one! By the Way, Leaders/Enders rock! This is the best idea I've gotten online to help my sewing progress.

  27. This looks great, I am going to give it a go!

  28. So I wasn't around for the bow tie leader/ender challenge, but I'm sure gonna try this one.

    I don't have a big stash as I've been quilting for just a couple of years. However early on I did discover Missouri Star Quilt Co. and their daily deal on precuts. I thought this was a way to get a little of a lot of different fabrics. So I've been cutting up charm squares to do the spools as I chain piece. I have 12 done so far.

  29. Just realized I can use up a lot of 5" charm squares. One charm square cut up gets me the spool fabric for one block. Cut down charm into two 1.5" strips and subcut into required pieces. Even have an extra 2"x5" strip for extra (future) project. I have hundreds of charm squares, but few 1.5" strips, this works great for me. Might help others, who also collected charms for years.

  30. Bonnie,
    On your featherweight, you have a piece of tape adhered to create the sewing line. What kind of tape did you use? I usually use painter's tape on my regular machine but have been told that painter's tape will lift the gold leaf design off of a featherweight.


  31. Bonnie I have made wedge cushions that both my DH and I sit on in the pick-up. (we have traveled about 12000 miles exploring the west in the past year) I could post pictures for you on facebook. It makes such a difference not to have your tush in the hole of a car seat. PS joining you from Lake Havasu AZ but home is Salem Oregon.

  32. What a treat to discover this really novel and useful trick / project/ idea! Call it what you may and I shall call it marvelous!!!

  33. hi bonnie my name is melissa im from abilene texas and i quilt im still learning but i love your quilt cam i watch it all the time im trying to find a quilt to made from all the fat quaters i won last night 36 of them from a quilt class i go to love it and i was looking a tthe spool quilt all the fabrics i have that would ok just wondering if the spools can be any color but i love watching you great teacher i learn more from you then the class i go to


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