Saturday, July 02, 2022

Leader & Ender Challenge 1! Triple Treat!

It's TIME!

It's finally time to pull out ALL the stops and issue our next Leader & Ender challenge - Triple Treat!

Did you know this is our 12th Leader & Ender challenge?

Yes!  We've been doing it that long.  Our first one was in 2012 with Cheddar Bow Ties, and all of our previous challenges are still found under the Free Patterns Tab at the top of the blog.

I get just this much giddy when I think of all of the beautiful quilts that have been made in between the lines of chain piecing other things, simply by using pre-cut pieces and making simple blocks, instead of sewing over and over and over that same folded piece of garbage scrap and then throwing all of that time (and thread) away.

Click HERE for Printer-Friendly PDF Version.

I LOVE having a Leader & Ender project under way, and I can't wait to see what you do with this one!

For the newbies amongst us - here's a visit to the post I wrote about Leaders & Enders back in 2005!

(Yes, the internet is forever!)

Fabric styles and tastes may have changed, but the basics are still the basics.

For those who are wondering - here is our line-up:

2011 Cheddar Bow ties
2012 Spoolin' Around
2013 Split 9 Patch
2014 Lozenges
2015 Tumbler
2016 Hourglass
2017 Checkerboard Rails
2018 Jewel Box Stars
2019 Shoo Fly Shoo
2020 Easy Breezy
2021 Fish School
2022 Triple Treat

This challenge runs from July 2022 to July 2023. It is not a race. (And you are cheating if you have this done by next week. Seriously.  It's a Leader & Ender project!)

As with ALL Leader & Ender projects, there are no rules as to how many you must make, or the size of quilt/project you make from them.

What you do with your blocks is up to you.  Make as many or as few as you like.  Turn them into runners, pillows, wall hangings, baby quilts, or fit whatever size bed you envision.

My job is just to give you the block idea, show you how I put it together with pressing directions so everything nests, and let you go for it.

Because of all of this - NO YARDAGE INFO is given.  Capeesh?

I was able to pull everything out of scraps sizes from my own Scrap User's System.

It all starts with 4-patches!

My 1 1/2'' scrap squares drawer was very full and needed some sewing up - so I started here.

At the end of any line of chain piecing on the project you are currently working on - Instead of ending your stitching by ripping your work out of the machine leaving long thread tails, or sewing on a discarded piece of fabric to use as a "thread bunny" or "sew-between" or "spider" (these things have many names, don't they?) simply sew a 1 1/2'' square of neutral to a 1 1/2'' square of color using your regular 1/4'' seam allowance. 

Leave that pair under your presser foot and continue with the next line of chain piecing for your current project. Your "Ender" just became a "Leader!"

Press seam toward the colored square. 

2 squares are now a pair! Your pair should measure 1 1/2'' X 2 1/2''.  If it doesn't - adjust your seam allowance NOW before you get too far down the road or problems may compound.

 When there are two pairs of squares, sew the two pairs into a four-patch the next time the need for a Leader & Ender comes along.

Oh goodness, it's time to clean the fuzz from my needle bar!

(It's been crazy busy and productive here - no shame.)

For seams to play nicely - position four patch pairs under the needle with "colored square leading" and the seam allowance pointing UP toward the needle as you sew.  

This will help the feed dogs work with you, instead of against you as you sew, keeping that center nested seam area tight together.

Make ALL of your four-patches the same way with that seam allowance pointing UP so that the seams on the back side of the unit will all spin the same direction to facilitate nesting of blocks when they are rotated and joined when setting the quilt together.

Spin those four-patch seams!

If you are new to seam spinning, visit my tutorial HERE.

Again, it's important to have all seems going around in the same direction - so that seams will not fight each other when blocks are joined to each other.

Square four-patches as needed to 2 1/2''.

Each block quarter requires 3 four-patches.

Along with the 3 four-patches cut:

1 rectangle 2 1/2'' X 4 1/2'' and 1 square 2 1/2'' from both fabric A and B.

Arrange block quarter pieces as shown, with neutrals chaining from bottom left to upper right through the block.  Place ALL blocks in this orientation, so seams will play nicely when rotating block quarters into the BIG blocks shown below. Keep all block construction THE SAME.

Join units into rows, pressing seams away from four-patch units.  Join rows to complete block quarters, pressing seams away from the center row.

Block quarter units will measure 6 1/2'' square and finish at 6'' in the quilt.

Honest Cutting Table!

With every Leader & Ender Challenge comes the desire to comb through the most overlooked areas of my scrap stash and determine what can be sewn up rather than thrown away.

In this case - I found a WHOLE bin of leftover charm squares and 2 1/2'' X 4 1/2'' rectangles that I could happily sew up into Triple Treat.

If there were 2 matching rectangles I could easily trim one of them to 2 1/2'' square (with a 2'' square left over for the 2''' squares box) to use in these block quarters.

A 5'' charm square could yield a 2 1/2'' X 4 1/2'' rectangle and a matching 2 1/2'' square with an extra 2 1/2'' square to go to the 2 1/2'' scrap squares box.

Of course, I can cut matching rectangles and squares from 2 1/2'' strips when I've sewn my way through the above and am completely confident that no Fat-Quarters or yardage will be harmed in the making of Triple Treat.  LOL!

Dig into the depths, pull forward what you can use.  It will be GREAT!

Joining block quarters to big blocks.

Big blocks measure 12 1/2'' and will finish at 12'' in the quilt.

Four block quarters rotated and sewn together as a four-patch will make the large block. Notice that there are no seams lining up in the center L-shaped areas - seam fall in the center of the rectangles.  Nice!

And if you spin your four-patch seams all the same direction as above, and press your block quarter rows away from the center row, these seams will all nest as well.  Oh happy day!

Make as many blocks as you wish.  Here is a sample layout in Grayscale so you can see what things may look like with a 7 X 8 layout without borders.

Simply fun, no borders needed!

84'' X 96''

I have a feeling this quilt will go fast - My own stack of block quarters is growing quickly.  I am waiting until I have enough variety to start sewing the block quarters into big blocks.

While I am going completely scrappy, Triple Treat would work great in any color plan you desire.

Here I've shown it in Red White & Blue.

What other color plans can you see it worked up in?

I'm really excited to see your progress over the next year.  If you are on Instagram or Facebook please use tags #leadersandenders and #tripletreatquilt so I can find your posts and follow your progress!

Okay!  Now go attack those scraps and have fun!

Just a few days left to save!

With the upcoming Independence Day holiday,  I've marked Solidarity (including the Hearts of Hope quilt as a Bonus) at 25% off through 7/4/22 

Unity and Courthouse Square are also discounted 25% – no coupon code needed.

Patterns are available in both the Quiltville Store and the Quiltville Etsy Pattern Shop.

Quiltville Quote of the Day -

I've been holding my tongue on quite a bit lately. Loved ones don't always agree on everything and we may find we are not on the same page.
This is where counting my gratitudes come in.
There is still much to be grateful for. Always.
Vintage 9-patch quilt found in Kentucky.. I really love the soft muted colors and how everyday ordinary scraps became something so beautiful.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!



  1. Oh thank you so much for this L/E pattern.
    I fini Oklahoma Back roads yesterday....trying to pick a new project for the L E challenge..

  2. This is a wonderful pattern! I made a quilt from this design 25 years ago and had forgotten about it. I will definitely be joining in this sew along, no HST's!

    1. My inspiration came from a vintage quilt - a photo I have saved on my "some day" list - and there is no better time than now to make it a Leader & Ender project!

  3. Looks like fun, thank you

  4. Bonnie, this reminded me of a question I’ve had for years. Apparently many years now. Since Mary Jo’s is closed do you have a substitute for Prairie Cloth that you recommended back during the Cheddar Bow Tie days? I used it, loved it and it has held up well over the years. I ordered many a yard of Prairie Cloth from them. Wish that store had survived. Best customer service ever

    1. I did a bit of research for you. Prairie Cloth is still being manufactured by PBS Fabrics. There are some vendors on e-bay and (perhaps Etsy).
      You might be able to locate quilt shops by going to the PBS Fabrics website
      and see if they offer a list of their retailers, or check with on-line quilt shops using PBS Fabrics and prairie cloth as keywords.

    2. Thank you so much. You should open a shop called Mary Jo’s Prairie Cloth. Lol.

  5. L/E are so much fun and very therapeutic. In all the chaos, it's healing to feel that I'm accomplishing something positive. Last month, I needed a L/E project so I scanned your free patterns, and ordered a Tumbler die from Accuquilt. My niece was visiting and was bored so I sat her down with a pile of fabrics and within 3 hours, she filled a tote with blocks. Sewing them together is quite addicting. I'm looking forward to starting a new L/E. Thanks for all you do and your inspirations.

    1. I really don't have anywhere to recommend. For years I've been trying to sew up my accumulated stash, and other than neutrals I have added very little to what I've already got on hand.

  6. Ha - your word of wisdom is similar to my oldest son's. "Just smile and nod, Mom, smile and nod."

    1. Sarah Buller Fenton, my kids tell my husband that all the time... especially when it has to do with a decision that has already been made. lol

  7. thank you for this!!!! Will sew along!!! Thinking about MAYBE a controlled scrappy color theme!! THANK YOU!

  8. It is hard to make a smile when lips are tightly "sewn shut," but now that my hearing is limited it's becoming easier. Thanks for the LE Challenge, it's a perfect project, would make a nice border around a quilt as well.

  9. Sewing last year's leader/ender together, I added eyes and arranged them as fish. Going into the "gift for a child" gift box. Thank you Bonnie

  10. How timely!! Just finishing Tulip Time with a boat load of 1.5" squares. Thanks Bonnie!

  11. Thank you for this pattern, Bonnie. I'm going to use up some of the small vintage fabric scraps I've been collecting over the years.

    It's wonderful that we still live in a country that we can have different viewpoints and most of us still get along. We all need to respect other people's opinions and yes I hold my tongue, especially if I'm on the receiving end of rude comments.

  12. Love the leader/ender projects. Thanks. I have hundred of the fish school blocks. Have you posted what you did with yours?

  13. This is great! Just finished going through 125 yards of donated fabric and have a bunch of scraps. I finished two tops using this method this year and I love it.
    Thank you Bonnie!

  14. Thank you, Bonnie!!! I love leader and ender projects and this is a great one! I'm grateful for so many things, and one is like-minded loved ones and no zipping of the lips. I commend you for your wisdom and restraint for doing that when you need to.

  15. Bonnie, do you have a group signed up for Aug 24-29 led/hosted by Jessica M Smith Vaughn? I signed up via facebook and want to make sure it is legit before I send the rest of my money. Thanks

    1. Yes we do. But perhaps emailing me would be better than asking this kind of question in a comments section? Feel free to contact me Quiltville@gmail.com

  16. What a great LE quilt!! Thank you for your generosity over all these years!

  17. This comment is in reply to Laurier. Almost the same thing happened to me. I was looking for a leader/ender project under the free patterns tab. The tumblers looked good to me so I too bought the Accuquilt die. Most of my scraps are in wild shapes. I just kept slapping odd shapes on the die and running them through. Very therapeutic. Finally I thought I should count them. 1800 tumblers. Enough for two good size throws. I LOVE leader ender projects!

  18. I did that Cheddar Bow tie L/E. Mine was scrappy and more I spy with the fabrics from my Quilt Buddy and my Scrap bins. She shared. I love having pieces ready to stitch together between the seams. THANKS SEW MUCH! I hate biting my tongue, it doesn't taste too good. Just keep scrolling is my motto.

  19. I have a bunch of wonky 4 patches I have saved (either oops blocks or leader and enders when I didn't have anything in mind) and now I am going to square them up and add to them to make this block. Now they have a purpose. Thanks for another No Triangle L&E!

  20. Thank you for this fun project! I have a lot of scraps to cut, so this came just in time!

  21. Thank you for this new L an E project, I have lots of scraps, you always keep me inspired!!

  22. Thank you, Bonnie, for another great L/E project. I have a small bin full of 1-1/2" squares and have been sewing 2 as leaders/enders for the past year or so. I now have a jar full of sewn 2 patches so I'm ready! I have saved all of your L/E patterns and appreciate your generosity in providing them as free patterns. But I counted 12 total, including this one, which means this is really the 12th L/E project. Am I counting 1 too many? I love all your patterns!

  23. You must have been peeking into my sewing room...........I have been making 4 patches as leader enders and already have 360 ready to go!

  24. Thank You! This pattern is going to be fun to make!

  25. That seems like a good pattern. I will definitely make that one next.

  26. Saw a quilt made with this block. Love it! In 2023, this will be my take-along project. Scrappy strips for the 4-patches and now gathered, tested and bagged - ready to go! Liz in Houstotn

  27. Hi Bonnie, love all the L&E patterns, love all the patterns - just letting you know that yes I am naughty because I actually use my next in line to be my L&E until I'm finished the current, then the quilts move up a spot. The old L&E becomes my WIP and a new quilt becomes L&E. So your L&Es don't necessarily always be L&Es. Sorrrrry!!!


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