Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Easy Breezy Leader & Ender Challenge!

It’s July!

And you know what that means!

It’s time to kick off our next Leader & Ender challenge!

Our year-long challenge runs from July of 2020 to July of 2021.  It’s not a race – it’s a challenge.  The main purpose is to sew up your scraps into something cute without really thinking about it.  Cut some pieces ahead, leave them next to your machine.  And as you are chain-piecing away, use pairs of pieces as your “sew betweens” instead of that folded-over-thread-covered mess of scrap that always ends up in the trash anyway.

If you are new to Leaders & Enders, please click the Tips & Techniques tab at the top of the blog and scroll down to L for Leaders & Enders.

I also have two books on the subject, Adventures with Leaders & Enders, and MORE Adventures with Leaders & Enders both available in the Quiltville Store at greatly discounted prices. All of the quilts made in these books were created in between the lines of sewing other things.

Quilters LOVE to multi task – and this is multitasking at its best!

Click HERE for Printer-Friendly PDF.

View my Easy Breezy quilt finish HERE.

20 on the design wall.

These were made while I was assembling my most recent finish, Shoo Fly Shoo, Variation II from our previous Leader & Ender challenge.  

Once you get used to sewing with a purpose, instead of sewing to throw away, it becomes difficult to ever end a seam without a Leader & Ender at the end of your chain, holding place under your presser foot, ready for the next round to begin.

Lola, getting in on some cutting and kitting up!

I am giving the cutting instructions for TWO sizes of blocks.

For the 4’’ finished block cut:
4 rectangles 2 1/2’’ x 1 1/2’’ background (Mine are neutrals)
2 colored rectangles 6 1/2’’ x 1 1/2’’ (Minimum length – they can start out longer, but this is the smallest you can get by with.)

Place the 2 colored rectangles with right sides together and make 4 subcuts at 1 1/2’’ yielding 4 pairs of matched squares.

2 pairs will become the center four-patch, the other two pairs will be the cornerstones.

Blocks will measure 4 1/2'' unfinished and finish at 4'' in the quilt.

For the 6’’ finished block cut:
4 rectangles 2’’ x 3 1/2’’ background
2 colored rectangles 2’’ x 8 1/2’’ (minimum length – can be longer.)

Place the 2 colored rectangles with right sides together and make 4 subcuts at 2’’, yielding 4 pairs of matched squares.

2 pairs will become the center four-patch, the other two pairs will be the cornerstones.

Blocks will measure 6 1/2'' unfinished and finish at 6'' in the quilt.

Block construction is simple.

To begin – at the end of a chain of piecing when it is time for a Leader & Ender, sew the four-patch pairs through – both of them, to keep them together.

Let those pairs stay under your presser foot as you clip your patchwork chain from behind, cut apart, go press – whatever you are doing.

When you come back to sew again, the four-patch pairs you left under the presser foot now assume the role of LEADER where they ended the previous chain as ENDER.

Snip the four-patch pairs off of the chain you are piecing.  Press seams to oppose in the center.  Clip chaining thread.  Stitch this pair at the end of the next chain to complete your four-patch.

Webbing the Easy Breezy block at the end of a chain.

It has been an easy quick  clean up of my sewing table to just cut the scraps I’m already working with in another project to the sizes I need for this Leader & Ender challenge.

I tend to cut about 10 blocks ahead, and when they run out I cut more.  It doesn’t take much time really, and I can often get my chain pieces from my 1 1/2’’ strip bin, and cut the backgrounds from my 2 1/2’’ neutral strips.

You can take as long as you want to build your blocks, but I like to keep things together.

Here I am following up my project block by sewing columns 1 & 2 of the Leader & Ender block all at the same time.  I’ll leave the chaining threads in place to keep things organized.

You can also see that I have spun the seams on the center four-patch.  You’ll find info on spinning four-patch seams under the Tips & Techniques tab at the top of the blog as well.

Chaining threads in place! 
Ready to add column 3!

Pressing:  Press the top and bottom rows toward the sashing piece (Yes, to the light.) Press the center row toward the sashing pieces away from the four-patch.

The last two seams will be sewn one at a time as Enders for whatever else is going on under my machine.

I wish I could show you – but I was working on my 2021 Quiltmaker Addicted to Scraps column blocks and those need to stay secret for now!

Block building as Leaders & Enders.


As with all Leader & Ender challenges, no complete quilt pattern is given.

It is up to you as to how many blocks you make, in whatever size you make them and what you decide to make with your blocks – be it a table topper or runner, wall quilt, baby quilt, bed runner, pillow or up to a full sized quilt.

My focus with these Leader & Ender quilts has been turning them into scrap quilts that I can put on the guest beds at Quiltville Inn.  I generally shoot for a size somewhere around 70 X 90 that covers a twin with a long enough drop to cover the box springs and side rails.

This would be a great block set on point with an alternate block – can you envision that?

Have fun with your scraps.  Smile each time you add another block to your growing pile.  Pin them in sets of 10 so it is easy to keep count!

I will also be adding this challenge to the free patterns tab at the top of the blog where you will be able to find it along with our other Leader & Ender challenges from previous years.

And while you are here - Did you know?

The Love Your Creative Space book tour last day!

I have enjoyed visiting each stop in the tour and seeing what others are sharing about their studio spaces as well as what they are gleaning from Love your Creative Space.

Click to the ORIGINAL POST, get your entry in on my gift-away (Open to ALL as this is a PDF gift!) and click the links to visit those in the tour.

I am also accepting what I am calling “PRE ORDERS” for Love Your Creative Space as they are on their way, but not in house yet. I expect arrival to me in Virginia in about a weeks’ time. We can be well on our way to organizing  all the things – TOGETHER!

You'll find it in the New & Books categories of the Quiltville Store.

I will be drawing for our lucky winner TOMORROW! So HURRY!

Quiltville Quote of the Day -

As we welcome in July – our eyes are our hearts are upon our northern neighbors in wishing our Canadian Friends Happy Canada Day!

Stay safe, everyone -


  1. Thanks, Bonnie, this is great! I have tons of 2'' strips to use.

  2. I love this and will try to find time to make my first one today! THANK YOU, BONNIE!!!

  3. Thank you Bonnie! This one looks like it's right down my alley as I am just starting to get organized enough with my scraps to do a leader ender challenge! Yay!

  4. Thank you! I'm going to love this one. I love a quilt with diagonal lines running through it!

  5. Thanks for this new challenge. I can see many possibilities with arranging these blocks. Just finished quilting the hour glass leader/ender from several years ago.😊

  6. Thank you so much for the new challenge. Between finishing Unity and this, it helps keep my mind occupied during this crazy time. You're the best.

  7. yay! I have been saving 2" squares for years - now I can put them to good use! Thank you, Bonnie. You are the best! Happy July!

  8. Even before I opened today's blog all the way, I saw the title and immediately was going, "oh boy oh boy oh boy!" in my head.

    My 2-1/2" scraps drawer is getting full, so that's what I'm diving into for this year's L&E challenge. (Last year's Shoo Fly Shoo top is patiently awaiting its turn in the Flimsy-to-Quilt queue.)

    Thank you!

  9. Thanks for a fun in between project. Thanks, too, for the nod to us in Canada. very wet today in B.C.

  10. Oh, just in time! The grand daughter (Lynzee) will be finishing her quilt the next time she comes over. This will keep her sewing (her favorite part). Thank you Bonnie.

  11. Yea!! No HST's!!! I just might get in on this one! Thank You!

  12. looking forward to working on this one. I have a shoe box of two inch strips ready to go....so I am making the big size....now...do I want to do truly scrappy or controlled scrappy? I have been thinking about picking two color families of scraps or maybe just dividing scraps into warms and cools and putting one warm and one cool in each block...ummm...gotta think some more and the dig in...

  13. These blocks are SO cute! I have been working on your Hunter's Star pattern as a L&E project--a quick way to make the eleventy-two million HST you need for that quilt.

  14. Bonnie, I'm so excited to join in my first quilt sewing WITH you. Learned about you and your blog a couple years ago from a Quilt Guild friend with a wonderful On Ringo Lake in our Guild Show. I have been a fan ever since. I was lucky to hear you speak in PA during a lunch at a show. Thanks for all the sharing and posting. Looking forward to joining this Leaders-Enders journey!!! I will check the books that I bought from you at the show, but I am wondering what method you use to keep the kits together? Maybe I will layer them in a plastic tub by my machine. Love your happy bright blocks.

  15. This is so great! Thanks, Bonnie!

  16. I like this L & E project.....i am on my way to my sewing room to start cutting...Thanks for another fun project.

  17. I really like this block - interesting, but not too complicated. Thank you, Bonnie, for sharing and for inspiring!

  18. Thanks Eh! Love from London, Ontario

  19. I just love your L&E concept and have used it a lot. Thanks for this great design, I'll be joining in too! Goodness knows I have plenty of strips all pushed intonation big bag!

  20. This is just what I needed. I will be joining!

  21. Super cute little block! I have a bunch of scraps already cut that may end up in some of the 6" version.... Fun!

  22. I'm thinking I'll be able to join the Leader Ender Challenge starting in September. We're moving later this month so much of August will be taken up with settling in and unpacking. My sewing has been packed away for most of the past couple years, so I'm looking forward to 'starting up' again... in my dedicated sewing room! Am thinking that I might make both sizes of blocks and then see how I want to put them together next year. Fun Fun Fun!

  23. So do you recommend completing each block before you chain piece say all the four patches?

  24. Just wondering what you are using on the bed of your sewing machine to the right of the edge of the block? I am assuming it is to give you the correct seam allowance.

  25. This will be a fun L&E. I have SO many 1.5" strips! Thanks, Bonnie!

  26. All my cuts are in 2 1/2" because I have a little ruler for that size which makes it easy. So, I think I will try this challenge but use the blocks I have already cut which I think will give me an 8" block. I hope that's okay. :)

  27. Thank You Bonnie: I finally had time to stop and breathe; and go look for this years "Leader and Ender Challenge". I found it, and will print it, so I can work on it through out the year. I have a couplt of blocks that I am thinking of using these in, to increase border size and quilt sizes in general! This will be the first Leader and Ender I have actually been able to take time and participate in. I use leadeers and enders all the time, have taught many about them, but have never taken time to actually take part in an actual yearly challenge.

    Thank You for all yoou do for the Quilting Community, and others as well!

    Kasilof, AK


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