Monday, July 02, 2018

2018 Leader & Ender Challenge: Jewel Box Stars!

Click HERE for Printer-Friendly PDF!

Did you think I forgot?

No, No No!  NEVER!  But with the arrival of the Quiltville Quilter’s Date Keepers and Quilty Pencils, and the fact that I had a planned trip to Raleigh yesterday, not to mention that what is on my design wall at the Cabin is at the CABIN, and I didn’t have photos of it on my phone (Horrors!) I needed to shift the release of this fun fun project a day or so.

Or in other words…June was short-sheeted and July crept up on me while I was busy!

Guess what we are making this go-round as our Leader & Ender project?

9/16/2019 Finish!

It took a while and even though the top was finished before July rolled around for our next Leader & Ender Challenge, Shoo fly Shoo - my longarm was out of commission until July when we moved it to the Quiltville Post Office in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia.  

It finally made it's way up the quilting queue, and binding was finished just recently.

Nitty gritty on my finished project:

I made 192 6'' blocks.  I stitched sets of 4 blocks into Stars measuring 12'' finished.  I set the blocks 6 x 8 for a quilt that measures 72'' x 96''. 

This leader & Ender challenge was inspired by:


April’s Antiquing with Mona on our way to Asheville!

Remember this quilt top?

“What IS it?” Mona asked.  "Well, it’s kind of a Jewel Box Quilt, but the triangles are turned inside out and it kind of makes stars.” was my reply.

“Jewel Box Quilt?  What’s a Jewel Box Quilt?”  Check my Jewel Box Quilt Category on Pinterest for some ideas!

The truth is, I tried to do an image search on THIS vintage variation – one I had also made as a baby quilt for my nephew Mike when he was born right at the turn of the year 2000 (Yes, it has Millennium fabric in it – and can you believe he graduated high school this year?) but I was unable to find any other photos of this inside out Jewel Box for sharing here!


Yeah, thanks Google.  This IS Patchwork! LOL!


Take a look at these fabrics!

1950s maybe?

When deciding what will be fun for any Leader & Ender Challenge, I take a good long look at areas of my stash that have not been moving.  You know what stumps me?  BIG FLORALS.  I don’t use a lot of them because my usual piecing is fairly small, and the big scale prints over-run the size of the patches.

Also – CHARM SQUARES.  I don’t personally cut and save charm squares – because they often have to then be cut down to other sizes to use them  - so it is double the cutting, double the work.  I prefer to simply work from my strip widths in my Scrap User’s System .

But into every quilter’s life some Charm Squares of dubious prints will fall, right? 


I know this is blurry – but look at the scale!

Yes, those shoes are mine – it was an accidental photo.

An idea was born, and I was off and running as soon as my own Checkerboard Rails quilt from last year’s challenge was completed.  No time to waste – on to the next thing!

I've been working on my blocks for our new Jewel Box Stars Challenge over the past couple of months.


Jewel Box Star Block!

*NOTE*  I am making my blocks with 3’’ finished half-square triangles, and four-patches made from 2’’ squares from my 2’’ squares box for a Jewel Box Star block that finishes at 12’’.

You may resize this block BIGGER to use the full size of the charm square by making your half-square triangles 4 1/2'' unfinished to finish at 4’’, and making your four-patches out of 2 1/2’’ squares for an 8’’ finished block quarter. 

Your big block will measure 16’’.  Your quilt, your choice!


See how easily this block comes together?

We start by making individual four-patches and half-square triangle units, stitching them into block quarters, and then the 4 block quarters are sewn together into the “Big Block.”

You may use any triangle method you wish to make the half-square triangles.  I am using some 3 1/2’’ strips and my Essential Triangle Tool, and also some charm squares, cutting 3 1/2’’ strips from the charm squares with the neutral and the color already matched right sides together, and then using the tool to cut my triangle pairs.  That little bit of trimming from the charm square left over goes right into my string bin for more fun  It also enables me to get rid of ALL the pinking at the edges of the charm square before cutting my triangles.

Yes, I really detest pinked edges!  In fact, if you are making the larger 4'' finished half-square triangles, simply place your charm squares with right sides together, cut on the diagonal and sew your pairs with a SCANT seam so you can trim all pinking off when you trim them to 4 1/2'' to finish at 4'' in the big block.

Take a good look at these blocks – do you see that the two triangles in each block quarter are MATCHING?  That is what I found so charming about the antique quilt.  And I’m following suit.  Before I’ve mixed everything completely scrappy, but these matched triangles remind me of butterflies – and I like it.


Cutting triangle Pairs!

This Girl Scout Cookie fabric was just gifted to me while in Mississippi, and I set right in to include it in this quilt! (Yes, big novelty prints are fun mixed in with the florals – anything and everything goes!)

Place colored strip and neutral strip with right sides together.


Square off one end by placing any line at the top of the strip set. Then move the newly trimmed end to the far left as shown below:


Making the first cut.

Right handed cutting…lefties will work in mirror image cutting from the right end of the strip set.

Place the 3’’ finished red line at the top left of the strip set and make first diagonal cut. 

I find it helpful to leave my hand in place on the ruler, and move the remaining strip set a bit to my right to give a little bit of daylight between the two.  This ensures that I got through all of the fabric before moving the ruler.


Pivot the ruler, placing the 3’’ line on the BOTTOM of the strip set.

The second cut will square off the end of the strip set.  Working in a pivot motion, continue to cut triangles out of your strip set – remember each block takes TWO matching pairs if you are working the way I am.


I’ve got enough for 2 block quarters!

If I’m lucky, I can get a 1 1/2’’ square out of that remaining scrap of cookie fabric – I trim scraps all the way down as I go.  No scrap left untrimmed in the process!


This should keep me busy for a while!


Triangle Pairs as Leaders & Enders!

The whole Leader & Ender concept is simple.  Cut enough pairs (Either triangles or squares) ahead to keep you busy while you sew on whatever other project you are working on.

Instead of grabbing a folded-over-thread-covered garbage scrap, sew a pair of pieces instead.  Set them aside.  When you have enough build block quarters.  When you have enough, build blocks.  When you have enough, build a quilt!  It takes no time at all and it grows in between your other projects all throughout the year.

**This is where my usual disclaimer comes in!**  If you finish this quilt in 2 weeks,  quilted, bound and labeled, I will consider it cheating and you will have to start another Leader & Ender project as penance!

This project is to GROW SLOWLY in between the lines of chain piecing other things.  Don’t rush through it.  Enjoy the process!


Press and measure, trim as needed.

Mine measure 3 1/2’’ with little trimming more than dog ears.  Adjust your seam allowance to give you the correct unit size.


Four-patches as Leaders & Enders!

As always - seam test, seam test!  Two 2'' squares sewn right sides together and pressed should measure 3 1/2'' on the ruler.  Adjust seam allowance to achieve unit size before continuing.  Because four-patches have MORE SEAMS than half-square triangles, they have a tendency to shrink more if your seam is too wide.  ADJUST ADJUST ADJUST for UNIT SIZE, not seam allowance width.  Measure the unit. Not the seam.

Pressing is important with this block.  When sewing your four-patch pairs together at the end of piecing (Diamond Tile block in progress!) Make SURE that your dark square on the top layer goes under the presser foot first, and that your top seam allowance is pointing up toward the needle (Pressed to the dark.)  This will ensure that all of your four-patches will spin the same way.

Spinning is important in the assembly of this quilt, and we will be doing it in a couple of different places.  Four-patch units will be joined with other four-patch units and we don’t want seams that fight.


Hold the four-patch this way – center seam side ways.


Hold the right side of that center seam DOWN.

Lift the left side of that center seam UP!

You are not pressing the seams OPEN…you are reverse pressing the left side of the unit.  See the 4 patch in the middle?  You should not have to pick out any stitches.  No seam ripper or scissors required…just hold down the right side with your thumb and lift both layers of the left and feel those couple of stitches in the center just open.  Then press!

*ANOTHER NOTE*  If you were chain sewing your 4 patch pairs, and your pairs are still connected to each other with chaining stitches, you will need to clip the chaining stitches so that the seam allowances have room to move.


Traditional Jewel Box Placement.

Dark triangles to the corners.


Jewel Box Stars placement.

Dark Triangles to the Center as a “butterfly!”


Spin these seams too!


The cabin design wall is looking quite colorful!

Can you see that I’ve used big and splashy neutrals for the backgrounds of the half-square triangles, too??  These were prints that I usually have a hard time finding a place for when units are small.  but they are FUN here!

Because I am spinning my seams all in the same direction on each block quarter, these will nest together nicely.  So be consistent with how you sew – make sure you make every block in the same rotation.



This is 35 12’’ blocks set 5 X 7.  I made my quilt 8 x 10 and didn't need to add borders.

I have 12 retreat beds to cover with twin quilts.  I am up to the challenge!

However you decide to make your quilts – be it table runner, wall hanging, up to king bed size – the choice is up to you.  Just cut enough pieces to get started.  Build these on the side while working on other things.  And watch it grow over the coming year.

After the post office closes today, I’m up to the cabin for our family 4th of July fun.

July 02, 2018 at 07_54AM

Quiltville Quote of the Day!

Better words were never spoken!

My life is much more full and definitely happier because of this fabric, needle and thread passion!

Thanks for sharing the journey with me!

Have a wonderful Monday, folks.


  1. Looks great--thanks, Bonnie.

  2. Yay! This is awesome!

  3. Oh, Bonnie ....it's so pretty! The original with the plain muslin is striking as well. This will be my first Leaders & Enders quilt and thankfully I have the Essential TT and you have given excellent pics and directions !!! Thank you,thank you!

  4. Jewel Box is on my bucket list...but after eyeing my stash of large, multicolor prints, Jewel Box Stars will be perfect!

  5. ok, i can do this! she said in amazement... waiting for a printable step by step, please, but gathering and making the 4 patches will work just fine to start me off.... and that's the trick right? just begin!!! no dithering, make 4 patches w/starter enders method and wait for Bonnie to post the whole thing... happy 4th, have a great family time. I was about to order pencils and notebook, and having a challenge with the web site, while working out THAT challenge you sold out of pencils... i want to order them together!!! maybe when you get your next bunch! sending my usual thanks and love, Cats from Carlsbad CA

  6. This is wonderful! Have been holding off on sorting my jumbled scraps tub. Now I have an end goal for all my wonderful scraps!! Thank you for this fun gift!

  7. Finally something to use my 3.5 inch strips in. Greay idea!!!

  8. Yay! Perfect timing. I’ve been seeing my 2” squares into four patches for a few months now as my leader/ender with no plan as to how to use them. Now I’ve got a plan. Thanks Bonnie!

  9. Like this quilt and I already have a ton of 4 patches and tri-squares made from left over projects that I got carried away with in the past! Maybe get those pulled out today or not...it's too hot to do too much. Happy Early July 4th, Everyone.

  10. Yay! I can use some more of my 3,400+ four patches for this, just have to make the HSTs. Will pull stash fabric to make those today and cut tomorrow.

  11. Thank you Bonnie!
    I’m so excited, this will be my first leader Ender Challenge. I have a ton of 5” and 2.5” squares that I cut years ago!
    Time to dust off the boxes and get busy!
    Thanks for all you do for quilters!

  12. I just love Jewel box blocks and am making a quilt right now of the same size blocks as your stars! Google won’t let me add a photo but they are set in barn raising fashion. Pattern by your friend Jo, on Moda Bakeshop, Jewels in the Curio.

  13. What a cool leader ended project, love the butterflies. Hope you and your family have a wonderful 4th of July
    Quilty hugs
    Anne xxx

  14. This is definitely one I want to try. Thank you Bonnie!

  15. woohoo!!!! Can't wait to start.

  16. Yea for using up those saved Charm squares. Lucky quilters will be sleeping under your quilts at the Quiltville Inn. I love that!!

  17. I want to try this! I am thinking patriotic! It's my first year long leader ender challenge. I do leader enders all the time. Looks like one might have to go to the front of the list while I do this!

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Thank you, Bonnie - I am so excited to start this Leader-Ender challenge, rather than using the "spider" patch. I have been working to organize my stash into usable pieces and this will allow me to use what I have, rather than needing to go buy more fabric! A win-win for me! Thanks again.

  20. This will make a very scrappy, beautiful quilt. Another of your patterns I may just have to make. I have been looking at this block over and over again, thinking I have seen this pattern before and finally realized why. This pattern is very similar to your pattern "Star Chain", which I was working on last year, just done more scrappy instead of the colors being controlled. Just goes to show you what can happen once colors and design are changed and mixed up.

  21. ❤️❤️❤️✂️❤️❤️❤️😊

  22. Yummy! A great way to continue using my 2.5" candy charms that I'm addicted to. And I'd been thinking just last week that as I start cleaning up the big fabric pieces leftover from last couple projects I should cut into 5" squares and create HSTs. So I'll be making the bigger blocks; I can get rid of more stash that way and the only fabric I should need to buy (after awhile) would be more neutral.

  23. Wow looks awesome. So many colors. I really like this quilt

  24. Yes! I REALLY like your version and I may already have some four patch and hsts ready! This is so do-able with my two favorite little blocks. This will make a gorgeous scrappy quilt! I may finally make a truly scrappy quilt after all !! Thanks Bonnie!

  25. I love this and will get started very soon. Thank you for another leader and ender using the 3.5" strips. This will be a great pattern for prayer quilts for my church. Thanks again.

  26. Bonnie, you must get rid of Number 15 comment!! It is spam and has nothing to do with quilting!!!

  27. Sorry, the one below it is spam. Fred Ewan

  28. I'm still making Rail Fence Blocks, but that one may need to get promoted to the main project soon in order to start this one!

  29. Love this! I think I have some HSTs already done!

  30. Thank You, Bonnie!
    What a Wonderful Birthday Present, I say!
    I have finally learned to practice your concept of leaders and enders this past year, and explain them to others. But, this will be the first actual project I will put it to use (working on the challenge). I have been using "En Provence" as my leader/ender project while completing other small projects.

    Thank You for teaching us so much, and giving us two specific projects to work on a year (The mystery and the Leader/Ender project).

    Have a Happy 4th of July and Summer!

    Kasilof, AK
    Where we are having summer this week!

  31. Thanks for the birthday present! Looks like fun.

  32. Can't find the printer friendly version.

  33. Do you have a PDF of this Bonnie, it would be so much easier to print!


  34. Too funny!!! Just read this before I dug into 2 huge boxes of scraps I brought home from my MIL this weekend. Didn’t know one box was already cut into 2.5” strips and several different size squares...from 3.5” to 6.5 “. I never cut scraps into squares, so I will be using hers. What fun! She also sent her featherweight home with me cause she said she never uses it...yippee!!!

  35. I love this! I think I’ll join you.

  36. Thank you, Bonnie. This looks like a great leader ender project. Enjoy your family and have a great holiday.

  37. Love this! I have so many HST's that don't have a place and this will be perfect! Just need to verify size now.

  38. This will be a great leader ender project. I'm going to pace myself to do it as the leader ender. Happy 4th to you and your family

  39. I am still working on the diamond tile and loving it! Looking forward to starting this leader and ender as well! Thanks for all you do!

  40. Thanks for giving the size variation for using whole charm squares. I recently won a basket of 1,043 charm squares so I'm set for those.

  41. I am game this year. I spent yesterday going through my 2" squares box. I have some hst already put together that someone gave me. So I will be using them and a lot of green squares to go with them. So excited to get started. I feel guilty sewing without leaders and enders since I began using them!!

    1. it's an addictive habit, this starter/ender thing!

  42. Happy Healthy and Safe Fourth of July to you and your family. Looking forward to this project. Blessings.

  43. I didn't really like all the white in the original quilt picture, but love the more colourful version you have come up with. Well done!

  44. This is going to be such fun. I am looking forward to using the leader/ender process to build a Jewel Box. Enjoy your family time.

  45. This is a wonderful project, I want to participate.
    Always use mices for leaders and enders, to silly when you can saw a quilt as well ;-)

  46. Hi, Thank you, Bonnie. This looks like a great leader ender project. Enjoy your family and have a great holiday.


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