Thursday, July 04, 2019

2019 Leader & Ender Challenge–Shoo, Fly, Shoo!

Are you ready for a new challenge?

*Click HERE for Printer-Friendly Version*

We’ve been running a yearly Leader & Ender Challenge since July, 2011! 

And oh, how wonderfully varied the quilts that came from this year-long adventure have been.

We keep the rules loose – you can make as many (or as few) blocks as you like – you can turn them into whatever you want.

The whole idea is to use these pieces to keep your chain piecing of other things continuous, eliminating the need for a “sew between” or a “thread spider” made from a folded over piece of junk fabric that gets thrown away after use. 

If we cut pieces ahead of time – we can build more BLOCKS instead of covering throw away pieces of fabric with thread, or even worse – leave long thread tails on our work, or the floor, or wherever they land.

And they help us use scraps, giving us a FREE quilt over the course of the year.

Every year, as I wind down my last year’s Leader & Ender quilt (My Jewel Box Stars is ready to quilt – SOON!) my mind starts racing trying to figure out something fun for us to do for the next year.

When we finished our Checkerboard Rails challenge 2 years ago, I was left with BUNCHES of 1 1/2’’  x 6 1/2’’ strips from the rail part and I really wanted a way to use those up.

I also wanted a way to introduce a WEBBING CHALLENGE into the mix.  And stitch these blocks in a way that will keep sets together – I get a completed Shoo Fly block in only 5 leader & ender runs!

I also have an overflowing box of 2 1/2’’ scrap squares!

Cut some triangles with the Essential Triangle Tool -
Cut some background rectangles.
Throw in a center square and voila!

This little Shoo Fly block is so easy to sew while working on other things – and I love it in this 4’’ finished size!

Are you worried about this block being too small for you?  No worry – I’m giving you directions for a 6” finished block as well:

4’’ and 6’’!

Pick your favorite size!

(6’’ size directions at bottom of post.)

Place 2 triangle fabrics right sides together.

The gray in this one is my “neutral.”

Use the red 1’’ finished line on the Essential Triangle Tool to cut 4 pairs of matched triangles ready to sew.

Cutting triangle pair #4 – with just a smidge left over!

If I can – I’ll trim 1 1/2’’ squares from the end of strip and save those for later -

Maybe NEXT year’s Leader & Ender Challenge Project?

From either a 1 1/2’’ strip or a 2 1/2’’ strip

Cut 4 rectangles 1 1/2’’ x 2 1/2’’.

Using a 2 1/2’’ strip here.

All cut and ready to roll!

4 triangles pairs 
4 rectangles 1 1/2'' x 2 1/2''
1 center square 2 1/2''

The project I am currently working on is under the needle.

I’ve gone as far as I can go on it, and it is time to LEADER & ENDER!

Pass #1: Feed ALL FOUR TRIANGLE PAIRS through the machine -

Leave all 4 triangles in the machine, but snip off the block work above the leader & ender triangles.  Press those – cut them apart, do what you have to do to get ready for the next run. Feed block pieces through the machine.  When ready for the next Leader & Ender run – snip the 4 triangles off from the end of the chain.  Press, remove dog ears and trim as needed.

Triangles should measure 1 1/2’’ unfinished and finish at 1’’ in the block.

Lay out the block and let the webbing begin!

Look carefully!

Column number 2 goes right sides together with column number 1 underneath.

Turn the second column over the first – it’s as easy as “Turning the page.”

At the end of the project chain, feed all three sets together as Leader & Ender.


Snip the main block parts off the back of the chain, leaving the Leader & Ender units under the presser foot, still connected to each other.  This is important.  DO NOT SNIP THEM APART.  Just let them hang out there.

Press the main blocks, cut their chain apart, and feed the next batch of project parts through the machine.  Snip the 3 rows of Shoo Fly block from the chain.  But do not snip them apart.

See the chaining threads in place?


These little chaining threads actually help in keeping short seams from popping open.  They are doing you a favor.  The only time I would snip them is AFTER sewing my “across” rows, and then only if I were spinning seams, or pressing seams open.  We are doing neither.

Bringing column 3 over column 2.

Feeding all three rows through at the end of a block chain.

Again – DO NOT cut rows apart!

After feeding the next round of block parts through the machine,

Snip the Shoo Fly block off from the chain.


Press the top and bottom rows in toward the rectangles.

Press the center row out toward the rectangles.

Seams will nest when cross seaming.

Continuing on my block assembly -

And following by sewing one cross seam on the Shoo Fly block.

My main project block is nearly complete – and so is my Shoo Fly!

Too Stinking Cute!

Press both long seams toward the center.

For the larger 6’’ block:

Match a 2’’ strip of neutral and a 2’’ strip of color with right sides together.

Use the red 1 1/2’’ finished line on the Essential Triangle Tool to cut 4 pairs of matched triangles ready to sew.  Units will measure 2’’ unfinished when sewn, and finish at 1 1/2’’ in the block.

Cut 4 rectangles 2’’ x 3 1/2’’ for block background.

Units will finish at 1 1/2’’ X 3’’ in the block.

Also cut a 3 1/2’’ square of color for the center.

Follow the steps for the 4’’ finished block above -
Using these pieces as Leaders & Enders while sewing other things!

Remember to:

Pass #1: Sew all 4 triangles at the same time.


Pass #2:  Column number 2 OVER column number 1
(Always TURN the page!)
Sew all three pairs in a chain, keeping them together with chaining threads.

Pass #3: Add column 3 to column 2 in one long chain.
(Press seams toward rectangles!)

Pass #4: Sew one long cross seam.

Pass #5: Sew second long cross seam.
(Press seams toward the center row.)

Watch your stack of Shoo Fly blocks reach the sky!

These blocks are so fun to make, and they go so fast since I am completing a block every 5 passes through the machine.  I find myself spending an hour or so to pre-cut more blocks so I have plenty on hand before the day’s round of machine piecing begins.  

Start with 10 blocks cut out and kitted up.  Then later on cut some more.

I have no plans on how many I will make over the course of the year.  I haven’t thought that far. 

But I might set them on point – or straight!  I might set them with sashing – colored or neutral?  I might set them with an alternate block.  String pieced?  Or plain?  Or maybe 4’’ finished half square triangles in light/dark in a barn raising fashion?  The ideas are endless!

But for now I know that all I need to do is keep on making the blocks – and the quilt will come!

Update:  In the aftermath of this challenge I was able to make TWO quilts from my Shoo Fly blocks.

This one set straight with 1'' finished sashings and cornerstones:

Shoo Fly Shoo Quilt #1

Shoo Fly Shoo quilt #2!

And this one with the shoo fly blocks set on point, alternated with four-patches made from 2 1/2'' cut squares for a 4'' finished four-patch.

These little blocks were the scrappy gift that kept on giving!

Quiltville Quote of the Day
(Vintage Red & White Shoo Fly!)

However you spend the long holiday weekend ahead – take a moment to thank those who put in motion making the dream of freedom for our nation a reality oh so long ago, and also thank those who keep this freedom we share alive and well and accessible to us every day.

Happy Independence Day, USA!


  1. Just stopping by to see if this was up. Now I am even more excited to have 4 days off with no plans! Thanks Bonnie, you rockšŸ„³

  2. Can't wait to start working on the Shop Fly blocks. What a great idea. Love that you have 2 different sized blocks. It's going to be fun. Thank you so much for doing it again this year. I look forward to it. Happy Independence Day �� to you and your family.

  3. So cute! I love how you show us the best way to keep both projects going at the same time. Whenever I watch a demonstration from someone else it drives me nuts when they run one set thru the machine and then cut the thread. Lol Happy Fourth !

  4. This is going to be such a fun block! Thank you Bonnie - and happy 4th!

  5. Happy July 4th!
    Such a fun LE block! I adore the small size and look forward to sewing some!

  6. WoooHoo!!!! I just finished cutting up the pieces for your Garden Party block!!! How providential, that your Shoo Fly Leader/Ender uses the same size strips!!! YAY!!! Thank you for all you do - you are such an inspiration :-)!

  7. Was hoping our 4th would start with a bang !! Thanks for the LE of Shoo Fly, my favorite pieced block!! Have a great day, pretty lady.

  8. I have always loved this block. Rooting through my (your) Scrap Saver drawers now. Thanks for keeping me engaged as I navigate my new way in the world.

  9. Happy 4th of July to you and your family. Thanks for the new LE . I always use them and some times I finish 2tops at the same time .

  10. They are cute...first going to make one of each size....and think about them as I finish quilting current project.....then full steam ahead to cut 10 sets for leader and ender to stitch with ufo that "needs" completing...brings back the excitement !

  11. FUN! I love these blocks! I'm passing all my little newsprint string blocks for my Emerald City through the machine today and then I'm starting on the HST's. Will have to conjure up the plan to make some Shoo Fly blocks though. I like the webbing challenge part! Happy 4th, Bonnie :-)

  12. Thank you so much Bonnie for inspiring us to use up those scraps!!!

  13. A fun block. Now to decide on which size to make. It's cute Scrappu! Happy 4th of July. I would have wanted to take a ride in that pretty Red car too.

  14. I think I'll make mine 6" but whatever size you make, these will be stinking cute!

  15. Hmmm, have an idea already. Need to sketch it out to see if it will work or appear too busy. Thanks for the two size options. Have spent the week cutting up scraps so I am off and running. Enjoy your holiday weekend, Bonnie!

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  17. One of my favorite blocks! Love the size as my 1 1/2 inch bin is overflowing! Thank you for the wonderful webbing tutorial. I'm thinking string blocks ala roll roll cotton boll to set the shoe fly blocks. Such fun!

  18. Oh, Bonnie, I had to laugh when I saw your Leader & Ender Challenge Shoo Fly Shoo. Being from south central PA...PA Dutch country...I made a shoo fly pie yesterday for the 4th of July. You know that I've got to join in. I'm not sure which size I will make though. I've got to check my scraps. Have an awesome 4th!

  19. What fun. I'll start pulling strings and blocks together. Glad to have a L&E project sitting on the side. Sometimes at night or early in the morning, I like to have something cut and ready that doesn't require too much thinking. This will be perfect. I even have a cute little box to keep all the kits handy. Thanks, Bonnie.

  20. Fun, Fun, Fun. Thanks Bonnie. I love how you include many finishing ideas. Adds a spark to my rusty imagination engine! The 4" block is just too cute. Thanks!

  21. Thank you, Bonnie! I'm delighted, as always. Love you!!!!

  22. Oh WOW this is going to be SO much fun! Thank you so much, Bonnie! Excited for you to be in the "post office" now!

  23. This will be fun. It is one of my faverite blocks. Thank you, Bonnie.

  24. Thank you Bonnie for yet another L&E challenge. I've started on a few, but never made anything with the blocks! Maybe this year I'll be lucky, but if not I'll add them to my orphan blocks box and make a lovely pot-luck kind of quilt!

  25. Thank you! Absolutely, love it. Such a cute block. Happy 4th of July weekend to you and your family.

  26. I was so tickled to see your post with the new Leader & Ender Challenge! I have always wanted to make a quilt with this block. Thank you for all your inspiration Bonnie!

  27. Shoo Fly is one of my favorite blocks! I have never been successful with webbing, so I am anxious to try it with instructions. I seem to always “second guess” and then I get them mixed up.
    Happy 4th to you!

  28. Happy 4th of July! Love the shoe fly block!

  29. This looks like fun! The 4" blocks are so cute and a perfect way to use up(some) my stash of 1 1/2" novelty strips.

  30. Thanks Bonnie, I’ve been wanting to try webbing and this is just the way to start! 4” blocks for me

  31. How fun! I'd been thinking of Shoo Fly for ages - I'd seen one on point and loved it! Hah! Now to play . . . thank you for the prod to get going! It'll be great here - surrounded by farms, there are a few flies (although not as bad as I had anticipated) and I keep shooing them out - constant patchwork block reminder! LOL!

  32. Thank you for the instructions and the on going inspiration. You are a beautiful person. Thanks for being you and sharing.

  33. You are definitely my kind of quilting gal. Thanks for leading this parade.

  34. What a great leader and ender for so many of my scraps! Thanks for this inspiration as always!!

  35. This challenge has inspired me to make it as a Quilt of Valor, and a quilting friend just gifted me a huge bag of R,W, & B scraps. Sounds like a "meant to be" to me. Thanks for the daily inspirations (and not just the quilty kind).

  36. Super excited - this will be my first challenge! Your love of the craft and fellow quilters is contagious!

  37. I made a copy of the pattern. When I next meet with my quilting group in Sept. I thought it would be fun to see if they would like to start making blocks for this quilt. I love little blocks and I think but I think it's nice to have a choice in block size. I hope my friends will want to join in.


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