Saturday, July 06, 2024

2024 Leader & Ender Challenge: County Clare!

After spending 2 weeks in Ireland in June - I KNEW - just KNEW that I wanted to do an Irish Chain variation of some kind.

It would make the perfect Leader & Ender challenge - but what?

What would make it fun, leave loads of options for others, and put good use to scraps?

We had the most beautiful weather on our trip - I'm not saying that there wasn't any rain, because there was - but there was enough rain to make us appreciate the abundant sunshine we were graced with.

So many of my photos are blue and green.  More blue and green.  Even more blue and green.

And so I've had just 2 weeks to pull some scraps and get things going so I can show you just how it is going to go.

Inspiration scenery!

Here's a little video of our visit out the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare:

Click to Play:

The Cliffs of Insanity!

These are the blues and greens that inspired me - but don't let that limit you.  Just choose 2 colors and a background and make your own version in your own colorway.

But it's blues & greens and neutrals for me!

Click HERE for printer-friendly PDF.

Things to know:

Leader & Ender challenges are given so that you have "SOMETHING" to stitch in between the lines of stitching other things.

If you have this finished in 2 weeks it doesn't count. Please play along with all of us and make it alongside the projects you are already working on.  It is not a race.  There is not a prize if you finish first. We won't be impressed.  LOL!

I just started this project since returning from Ireland and Scotland and have a handful of blocks made.  It will take me until next spring to get it done, and that's the way it works.

Block quarters finish at 3''.  Blocks finish at 6''.  Change the size if you want, but I am only giving directions for one size.

Make as many or as few blocks as you would like. Choose your own layout. Instructions are for one block.

There are only 3 shapes to cut for the blocks.

Neutral (Background):

Cut 4 squares 1 1/2'' and 8 rectangles 1 1/2'' X 2 1/2'' per block.


Cut 6 squares 1 1/2'' per block.


Cut 2 squares 1 1/2'' and 2 squares 2 1/2'' per block.

I was able to pull the 1 1/2'' and 2 1/2'' squares from my Scrap User's System, and then cut the neutral  rectangles from 1 1/2'' strips I had on hand.

Unit A - Make 2 per block.

Arrange pieces for unit A as shown. Join pieces in each column together, pressing seams toward the LIGHT fabrics.  This will help with joining to the B units later.

Join columns to complete unit A.

Press long seams toward the center column to facilitate nesting with unit B.

Units will measure 3 1/2'' and finish at 3'' in the block.  Make 2 per block.

What pressing looks like on the back.

Unit B - Make 2 per block

Cut pieces ready to sew.

I was assembling these while sewing my new patriotic star on July 4th.  Join units into columns, pressing seams toward the light fabrics.

Leaders and Enders not only save thread, but they keep your chain piecing continuous so there is always something left under the presser foot to save your spot while you go press the chain that you snip off from behind the presser foot.

It also stops birds nests at the beginning of seams, and stops triangles from getting sucked down the needle hole.

The object is to always have some unit of some kind holding your place while you stop the chain to get to the next step.

In this photo, I have sewn the two columns of Unit B together, and my scissors are busy snipping the star units from behind my presser foot.

Press seam out toward the neutral rectangle.

What pressing looks like from the back.

Make 2 unit B per block.  Units will measure 3 1/2'' and finish at 3'' in the block.

Units placed in order!

Units can be joined to each other as Leaders & Enders as well.

Join units into rows.  Press seams toward the green chain units.

Join block halves to complete block.

To facilitate nested seams when joining block-to-block during quilt assembly, spin-press the long seams as shown.

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

I'm finding I am assembling County Clare blocks as fast as I am making my new plaid star blocks - they are working well as I piece them at the same time.

What can you do with these blocks? SO MANY THINGS!

Diagonal Chains!

Set them on point for vertical chains.

Turn them into a Barn Raising layout.

Here is the same layout with sashings and cornerstones.

Without sashings, and some blocks turned.

(I think this one is really cool!)

Round and Round with sashings -

And just another idea in what this could look like in another colorway.

As I said - the ideas are endless.  

I'm excited to be making this quilt.  I love that it has an Irish Chain take to it.  I can't wait to see what you do with it.

I just want to dare you to use it as a Leader & Ender project and not have it finished in 2 weeks, okay?  Kay!

Can you strip piece these units?  Of course.  And if you decide to, you could then just do the assembly of units as Leaders & Enders. It's your project.

Could you use all one  background?  Yep.  But I'm going scrappy because that's how I roll.

Could you do the whole quilt with only 3 fabrics? Of course.

Can you do it rainbow?  Yes!  I can see rainbow in place of the blues, but using one color where the greens are to give it somewhere for eyes to focus.  Red would be good.

See what I mean? Endless!

Quiltville Quote of the Day -

And yes! It's still a long holiday weekend - 

No need to get the zoomies until Tuesday at least!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!



  1. So glad you had a beautiful week in Ireland. When we were there, it rained 20 minutes every day. I thought it was so beneficial to keep Ireland green. It's like the land was watered daily.
    Thank you for the pattern. I love the way you simplify patterns. Last Irish chain I made was in the early 1980's. It didn't seem that easy back then.

  2. Anonymous8:48 AM EDT

    LOVE this block Bonnie!! Love the many ways the blocks can be set together and your colors are beautiful!!

  3. Yay!!! I love it...... NO angles!!!! YES!!!!!

  4. Thank you, Bonnie! I learned the concept is using leaders and enders to make another project from one of your books and have never looked back!! I am currently making Rivanna using this method. It's so exciting to see the blocks grow while I work on other projects!
    I'll add this as my next leader and ended!!

  5. Thanks Bonnie! I love that you gave us so many setting options! My favorites are the last 2. Not sure what color scheme I'm going to do this in. It depends on how my stash calls out to me. Think I might start this while working on Morning Glories, everything is cut out and some of the blocks are partially done. It's been set aside for a while very neatly in a box. It's time to get that out again and add this Irish chain between sets. Thanks again!

  6. Holly in Indiana9:15 AM EDT

    Heathcliff!!!! !

  7. Aby Dolinger9:17 AM EDT

    This Leader Ender challenge will be so much fun to make! Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Anonymous9:24 AM EDT

    What a great idea! I can‘t wait to prepare and start the new Leaders and Enders project. Thank you, Bonnie and take care,
    Best wishes from Germany, Dorle

  9. My blue and green scraps are overflowing their bins. This will be such a great way to use them! Thank you, Bonnie.

  10. Thanks for a great L&E project! I have a big folder full of ideas. Ever since I discovered L&E from you, I’ve been addicted! Can’t ever be without one of these projects. I have a gazillion 1-1/2” squares and am glad for something that will use them - mine will definitely be scrappy and not just two colors. Thanks again!!

  11. Thank you for a new Leader and Ender. I don't know what Zoomies are. I have the laggies. Tired and ache-y from all my moving. Finally got some sliders to go under the legs. Game changer. Enjoy your weekend.

  12. Love all the possibilities. Now to decide my two colors!

  13. Love the Quote--I have the opposite of the Zoomies quite often lol!
    Very cute new Leader & Ender Challenge! I'm in! Not sure of my colorway yet but I'm thinking. :-) Thanks, Bonnie, have a great weekend, Jenny

  14. Ooooo...love that option with sashing! Swoon! Thanks Bonnie!!!

  15. Anonymous10:57 AM EDT

    Absolutely love this block❤️ So many layout options that I wouldn’t have thought about. Thank you Bonnie, you are so generous with your talent !!! Linda D.

  16. Anonymous11:06 AM EDT

    SUCH a fun block! I have a few Leader/Ender projects already underway, but I'm definitely flagging this one for "sometime very soon."

    Thanks for putting these L/E projects out every July!

  17. Great L&E project; thanks for gifting it to us! Your ideas for layouts are lovely and much appreciated.

  18. Anonymous11:25 AM EDT

    Thank you so much Bonnie for another inspiring pattern. Love that this will use my tiniest leftovers. I love the blues and greens but may let my scraps determine my pallette for this one. Possibly different colors per block.

  19. Thank you for sharing this lovely pattern Bonnie. For those of us who do not like to travel the experiences that you share are wonderful. I have followed you for many years and you never disappoint. Enjoy the journey!

  20. Oh! Thank you, Bonnie! This is a fun one!!! I'm on it!

  21. Thank you for this pattern. I love it and I surely will have lots of fun!
    Ilona from Germany.

  22. Linda Sell Wright12:49 PM EDT

    This is exciting. I was on the Ireland/ Scotland trip and it couldn't have been better except for the cold I caught near the end of the trip! I have my fabrics picked out already, but it won't really be scrappy. Looking forward to Kenya!! 💕

  23. I just pulled blues to teals, greens, and neutrals yesterday for my personal bed quilt. Have been struggling with a pattern. I think this one may work wonderfully! Thinking about putting the greens as the background and neutrals as the green chain. I’m so excited! Thanks so much for the new LE challlenge!

  24. Anonymous2:10 PM EDT

    Love the patterns, Thank you so much. I am off to start pulling some scraps

  25. Anonymous2:30 PM EDT

    Thank you for generosity sharing your talents with all of us. I’ve recently finished Oopsie Daisy and am ready for another L & E project.
    I think I’m going with the blue & green theme.
    Can’t wait to get it all organized.
    Barb K

  26. Anonymous3:28 PM EDT

    love this! As soon as I finish Triple Treat, I will start this one. No worries about me finishing in 2 weeks! LOL - Jane Sayler

  27. Anonymous4:30 PM EDT

    Thanks so much Bonnie. This will be so fun and I love all the different settings!

  28. Another great leader/ender challenge......how do you keep doing it for us I'll never know! Thanks for a lovely block......gotta go cut now :0)

  29. I'm so glad that you put in there that this "IS NOT A RACE!!" It never ceases to amaze me how fast people get these done! I am still working on Triple Treat blocks, & then I have some plans for an Oopsie Daisy project as well. There are going to be 4 new beds in my Dad's new house... perfect places for them to go! HA!! Thank you for always sharing your inspiration of how you come up with these projects! As an added bonus, no 1/2 square triangles!! YAY! Have a wonderful weekend!

  30. Lynn Walker4:35 AM EDT


  31. YES! Another amazing Leader/Ender. I started doing this with you a while back and now I just can't NOT do it. I always have something under the needle! But true confessions my Triple Treat from last year is not complete yet as I started a black quilt project so didn't want to sew my triple treat with black thread... so I need to pull that one back out too and put it back up on the wall now that the black thing is done. Thank you SO much for always providing us with great inspiration!

  32. Anonymous11:18 AM EDT

    I am on a Medeterranien cruise ri now. I hope the instruction are going to be on your website, Bonnie, so I can start on it after I get back home


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