Inspiration or Instigation?

When I receive an email like the one below, it makes all this blogging even more worth it. To really find that someone gets value from my work is fantastic!

I got an email with the gist of the information below last week. It came from my dear, dear friend, Mrs. K. and made my heart sing.


My morning ritual includes reading your blog. I have loved the charity quilts. Then you shared about leaders and enders. I had the book, but hadn’t applied the lesson. So I started with Kona Snow and a bunch of mostly blue 2-1/2 inch squares. I was amazed how fast the pairs and then the quartets got sewn! I really had not noted how many starts and stops happen when sewing… like shortening pants and mending, and bag making.

Leaders and Enders Block
Leaders and Enders Block

I finally decided I’d better get them sewn into blocks to see what I had. Well, I had enough for 34 blocks!

I like sashing between the blocks so I auditioned a bunch of things. Under your influence, I have been collecting some nice grays and I liked how they looked.

Then I went to my LQS (for something unrelated). I was the only one there and had a chat with the quilter/associate there. As I was leaving I had to walk past a large wall covered in all kinds of rulers (uh-oh). I mentioned that I am something of a ruler fanatic and the lady got all excited. OHHHH! you must try THIS one… The Cutting Corners Ruler.

She had a notebook with her from a class she had taken from the author. She showed me what she was doing and it is pretty clever. So, of course, I bought it for several reasons. I wanted to practice setting the blocks on point. And I loved the idea of the stars in the sashing. With her instructions and the ruler, it was easy to fashion the stars.

Also, the author shows how to do the setting triangles in a more interesting way…not just a big plain triangle, but with it divided into sections…

So I thought I’d give it a try. The problem for me, as it always is, was choosing the fabrics. I had wanted to continue incorporating some of the Kona Snow, but it was too bright. So I got the grand idea of making checkered fabric by cutting up the extra blue and white squares. I began working with 1-1/4 inch squares.

Top in Process
Top in Process

The Ruler author has a very clever way of figuring the math of the setting triangles and cutting the corners on the pieces. But it didn’t work for me because of the ‘elasticity’ of my checkerboard strip. But I managed it differently.

<Photo right shows the setting triangles in place.>

Later I made the corner triangles. It is clever how the author divides the triangle into two so the design makes a square corner. It was only as I was sewing them onto the quilt top that I figured out a better way to have done the checkerboard stripe. I will consider redoing that tomorrow…. or maybe leave them.

Next I need to sew on the last border. This is the one that, I hope, will make the design ‘float’.

Top Mostly Complete
Top Mostly Complete

Here it is on the design wall with pieces pinned. I like it.

So there you have my current project. It has been fun to make something to learn new skills. No deadlines, no focus on anything buy enjoying the process. I might even keep this one!…of course I still have the back and then the quilting to do.

Thanks for your inspiration!


This makes my heart sing.

One thing about leaders and enders, to which Mrs. K alludes, is how much thread goes in garbage when you start and stop (not using leaders and enders method**). I was testing my machine last night and found at least 6″ worth of thread between the needle and the thread cutter as I was working. That thread could have been holding squares together to make pairs that would have ended up in a charity quilt if I were using leaders and enders. I know that a few inches of thread isn’t that expensive, but in a quilt such as one of the FOTY quilts, I can’t do a lot of chain piecing. I need something in between each set of FOTY shapes so that I can keep them in order unless I just want to cut the thread after each pair are sewn. That adds up to a lot of thread.

Mrs. K’s blocks look really bright in the closeup, but the whole quilt looks cohesive when we are shown the whole quilt.

I haven’t tried the ruler, but I am very interested in it. I have a couple of setting rulers and it takes me forever to figure out how to use them. Perhaps this Cutting Corners ruler would work for me?



**Nota Bene: I didn’t think up this technique. I am just a huge fan of the leaders and enders method. I first heard about the leaders & enders method from another quiltmaker who referred me to Bonnie Hunter’s website. She also has a whole section on her blog on Leaders and Enders, which includes detailed how-tos, photos of quilts made using this method and books, such as Adventures in Leaders & Enders and More Adventures with Leaders and Enders, on the topic.

Author: Jaye

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.

6 thoughts on “Inspiration or Instigation?”

  1. I like leaders and Enders and have good intentions but find I don’t do enough piecing. It would take me forever to get enough to sew up a wonderful quilt like Susan’s.

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