Re- Learning. Is that a word?

Just a SHOUT OUT to everyone that has sent in
their block for the JUST ONE STAR project. I had the honor to start sewing some of the blocks together into quilt tops.

I joined the blocks into rows of 6 chain piecing them as I went along.

I have been quilt for 30 years and I continue to learn or RE-LEARN things. I recently attended a quilt guild meeting where Bonnie Hunter was the speaker. It was so good I went to another guild meeting 2 nights later. Bonnie has won the award for making the most fantastic quilts from scraps, leftovers and recycled, re purposed fabrics. Bonnie’s blog, Quiltville is a must read.

Bonnie’s book, Leaders and Enders, published by Kansas City Star is amazing.

This is the part where I re-learned.

Bonnie wrote an entire book that utilizes Leaders and Enders. The picture above shows what a leader is. Basically a piece of fabric to begin sewing on, before you start chain piecing your blocks together.
The leader does a couple of things.
1. It keeps your needle from coming un threaded.
2. It makes you not have those long pieces of thread to trim away.
The bonus thing it does is you can actually sew an entire separate project just by using leaders and enders.
You may remember my candy bar post from 2 days ago. I am making the dresden plate sections as my leaders and enders while I assemble Just One Star quilt tops.

Here is my ender (another dresden plate fan section) To make an ENDER sew half way and stop. Cut off the sections that you have chain pieced. Your ENDER now becomes your LEADER and you are ready to start chain piecing the next section. I love my auriful thread and using the LEADERS and ENDERS saves thread.
I never thought I needed to use a leader or ender. I didn’t have much trouble with my needle coming un threaded BUT I did hate trimming those excess threads. The back of my projects looks so much neater.
Did I forget to mention that I got Bonnie to autograph 2 of the books while she was in town?
AND I am giving them away here.
Leave a comment with a sewing TIP or something you have RE-LEARNED
and I will randomly draw for 2 books
and post the winners on April 7th.
(1 book per person)


  1. mblittle5 says:

    I like to place a pad of about 5-6 Post-It notes along the bed of my sewing machin at the 1/4" mark. It's like making a barrier to slide my fabric along giving me a more accurate seam allowance. The other day it just would not stick, soooo, blue painter's tape to the rescue. I used it to tape my pad of Post-Its and voila – a perfect seam allowance.

  2. Becky says:

    My tips is to listen to Podcasts or audio books when I'm sewing. I often listen to an audio book that I've already read. I hear parts of the story that I missed. I also already know the plot so it doesn't matter if I really concentrate on my sewing. Reading all the comments has been wonderful!

  3. Beth says:

    Pressing seams open – I always pressed seams open for clothes, and to one side for quilting. I just finished a quilt where I pressed the seams open – I was surprised at what a difference this made. Thank you "fun quilts" for sharing that tip.

  4. Terri says:

    I re-learned this week that marking a quilt ahead of machine-quilting it is not a time-waster; it saves you not having to use the seam ripper too often (ask me how I know ;o) Thanks for the opportunity, Terri in BC

  5. quiltmom says:

    I learned the hard way to measure the body of the quilt to determine the correct length of the borders. If you just apply the borders without measuring you are going to find you have wavy borders.
    Thanks for the opportunity to win one of Bonnie's books. I have been a fan of Quiltville for a long time and appreciated her generosity with other quilters.

  6. klccreations says:

    I would love a copy of Bonnie's book! My tip is don't sew when tired or you do more ripping than sewing and to keep good notes. My memory isn't what it once was and when I go back to make something again I forget what I did the first time. I now keep all notes on all projects in a spiral notebook for quick reference.

  7. Robert says:

    Sometimes when you sew 2 pieces of fabric together, one fabric will slip a centimeter or two – just enough that it throws the block off. I've learned a pin put in horizontal sometimes is not just enough. Line up your fabric and put pins in vertical at the top and at the bottom also. It hold them in place perfect.

    Another thing is just to take your time measuring, measuring again, cutting, pinning, sewing, pressing (not ironing), measuring, squaring up and trimming — will do amazing things for your quilt.

    Thanks for the opportunity, Robert in northern Iowa.

  8. Dori says:

    A tip I learned recently – Harbor Freight carpet blades fit a 45 mm OLFA cutter! Would love to win a copy of Bonnie's book. Thanks for the giveaway.

  9. dot says:

    I really like Bonnie's patterns. They are intensive with the pieces but well worth the work.

    I learned to always check my trimming when paper piecing. I can't tell you how many times I have cut into a seam while trimming. Check twice, cut once.

  10. regan says:

    I love Bonnie Hunter, and have been doing leader/enders for a couple years now! Amazing how fast quilts can be cranked out! Yippee!

    My tip is: save all those old file folders from your office and use them to keep your arranged blocks together before sewing. (Be frugal and 'green'…use old folders!) When I'm arranging the different pieces of a block, I do it on top of a file folder….get all the pieces in they're proper place, then put another folder on top of it. Arrange a new block on that one….keep going, and you have a stack of blocks between folders….ready to sew. And the folders are sturdy enough to not collapse when moving them around. This is also an easy way to get your blocks from the design wall, to the sewing machine, without flipping or turning pieces around by mistake.

    Thanks for having this give away….I've read through all the tips…..they are really great!

  11. Nancy says:

    I've been very amateur-quilting for a while. I'm still an amateur but am learning lots. I love Bonnie's two sites and have devoured so much in the past few weeks. One of the things I've relearned is that the seams should be pressed to one side (the darker side). It makes it so much easier to align the seams when I do that. I was also thrilled to learn about leaders and enders. I always tried to not waste thread by cutting it as short as possible but more than half the time I had to rethread the needle and pull the thread longer. What a savings – and how easy – to use leaders and enders! Thanks for offering her two books.

  12. bistry says:

    I keep an old pill bottle beside the machine and use it to put used needles in for disposal. When it starts to fill, I just lock on the lid and dispose of it in the trash. The larger ones will even hold smaller rotary cutter blades. I have two of Bonnie's books, and would love to win the most recent one.

  13. Maryella says:

    I have just switched to using Aurifil thread and love how my piecing is coming out. I did the RRCB mystery quilt of Bonnie Hunters and learned sew! many new tricks from her. Just for instance, to save time after you have chained pieced, do not cut them apart until after you press each one. You can press a whole string of them and then snip them apart while they're still on the ironing board.
    Keep up the good work gals.

  14. Mary says:

    TONIGHT I learned not to "temporarily" stick my hand sewing needle in a couch pillow "just for second". I leaned over it without thinking, accidentally pushed the needle ALL the way in and had to open the pillow up, take the stuffing out, restuff and resew. SO, needles go IN PINCUSHIONS!

  15. qltmom9 says:

    From doing Bonnie's roll roll cotton boll, I learned it can be helpful to put even a small simple border around a quilt with a complex border, so that the binding doesn't cut off points and so that it helps tie up the bias edges and bits and pieces.

  16. Leeann says:

    I have always used a tape measure, to measure the centres of my quilt tops before cutting the border fabric. Then I would carefully measure the fabric and cut it to match. Now I lay the border strips over the centre of my quilt top, slip my cutting board underneath the overlapping ends of border fabric and trim it to match the quilt. Same as measuring, but quicker.

  17. Marcia Burt says:

    I learned that it is a smart move to cut up all your scraps right away after completing a quilting project. Cut left over scraps into 5", 3" and 2 1/2" squares since these are easy sizes to incorporate into a quilt. Then you already have some pre-cut squares ready for another project. This controls your scraps and keeps them organized!

  18. Lisa says:

    Hi Lissa, I like to mark my quilts with washable crayons. So easy to see because there are many colors to choose from and in my experience they always wash out (pretesting is ideal). Thank you for your work on the Just One Star project, our guild is sewing up a storm. ~~Lisa

  19. Hi Lissa,
    I'm a new quilter, so my tip may not be new to you. I learned to recognize the 'clicking' sound of my needle in the machine. So now I now I'll be needing to put in a new needle and not damage my work by continuing to work with an old needle.
    Love from the Netherlands!

  20. Michelle says:

    Thanks for a great giveaway! I love using leaders and enders and the biggest tip I can share is when working on a new project, cut up your excess fabric right away into usable sizes…don't let it go in the scrap bin! This also means fun "new" fabrics are going into my leader/ender projects right away!

  21. Thanks for the chance to win one of Bonnie's great books. I have 2 tips, keep a scrap of batting next to your iron and when you snip off threads and bunny ears, put them on the batting. The threads stick to the batting and when it is full of thread and snips, toss in the garbage…you won't have threads all over! Also, I keep a reminder next to my machine about tension – if the bobbin thread shows on top, loosen the tension, and if the top thread shows on the bottom, tighten the tension. I had to look it up to make sure I typed it correctly – it's hard to remember.

  22. harleywife57 says:

    I have relearned what my mom taught me decades ago : your wrong side of your project should look as nice as your right side (aka : take your time and don't be sloppy ! I have learned not to try to wipe the 'fuzz' off of your rotary cutter blade , no matter how 'straight' you think you keep your finger ! thanks for the chance to win the books ; I mailed 4 star blocks in last week ; thanks for doing this fabulous project !

  23. Wow! Would love to win one of Bonnie's books! I learned my favorite tip at my first ever retreat. When laying out the pieces of a block to sew them together, I use 2 pieces of flannel-backed tablecloth cut to 18" squares. Lay the first square down with the flannel side facing up and arrange the block pieces on it. No worries about the pieces getting knocked askew or blown away by a fan etc. Plus, if you have to stop piecing in the middle of the block, simply cover it with the 2nd square, putting the shiny side down, next to the pieces so they don't stick to it. This works really well at a sit-n-sew… you can fold up the squares with your block still neatly arranged inside, and then unfold and pick up where you left off at the next sit-n-sew!

  24. Janice says:

    I'm a new quilter so I haven't relearned a lot yet, just trying to process ALL the info and tips I have been given by my quilting friends…one of my favorite tips is to use a dab of glue stick instead of pinnning seams…I could never get my seams to match using pins and the glue stick works like a charm!

  25. Vicki says:

    I have learned the value of chain piecing recently and found it to be wonderful. thanks for the opportunity to win a book from a great lady.

  26. Carol Sc says:

    I use a kabob stick/bamboo stick to help feed my fabric through (especially at the end, when pieces tend to swerve). It is easily and inexpensively replaced and does not put a burr on the sewing machine needle, if you happen to hit it. …and you don't have a heart attack, if you lose it or misplace it, like you do with the expensive brass stiletto.

  27. Kris says:

    I roll or wind my binding on an empty toilet paper core, slip a string or ribbon thru the middle, and hang it around my neck while I sew on the binding. It doesn't tangle and it feeds thru the machine without twisting or falling on the floor- hands free.

  28. Cathi says:

    I've sewn garments for years & years. When I learned quilting, I leaned you don't press the seams open, but to one side or the other. One of Bonnie's books would be a wonderful addition to my quilting library.

  29. Leah D says:

    I just learned (Thanks to Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville site) to clean up from a project by cutting up all those leftover pieces into usable sizes – the stash users system. Of course I have to play 'catch-up' first for those 10 years of not doing this. So I began organizing my fabrics (which were loosely organized by color). I am making mini bolts for all fabric 1/2 yard or greater. Storing fat quarters together. All other pieces I am cutting up into 2 in. 2 1/2 in. or 3.5 inch strips (if 12 inhes or longer). Anything smaller I am cutting into squares or bricks. I have finished organizing my blue bin and I am about 1/2 way through cutting up the odd shaped pieces from that bin.

  30. Jennifer says:

    My little tip that I picked up somewhere is using the little table that comes in the middle of a pizza to hold bobbins that are already wound for a project. It's great because you wind a bunch at the begining of the project and then they are all right there and when my quilt inspector jumps up to see what I and doing they don't go flying everywhere!

  31. I'd love to win Bonnie's Leaders and Enders book. I taught this method to a new quilter last night at guild. We call it string piecing. Something else I 're-learned' last night was drawing a line for my 1/4" seam when someone doesn't have a 1/4" foot on their machine. I hadn't done that in a long time. It's fun teaching and learning at the same time.

  32. Cbar says:

    Bonnie Hunter is real force of nature in the quilting world! I do a lot of paper piecing and the tip I use to help remove the paper is to score the seam line with a dressmaker's tracing wheel first. The paper pull away in one piece.

  33. Deb says:

    I like to use a camera to snap a shot of my 'top' before sewing it all together, this helps to see that all the colors are playing nicely together. I love Bonnie's books and tips!

  34. Lisa says:

    I recently learned that "quilting" and "sharps" sewing machine needles work better for straight and accurate piecing than other needles.

  35. Chris says:

    Hi, I have just had a wonderful time reading all the tips. Every time I thought of a tip I could add, it would pop up in the next post or two!
    Here's one, hope it helps: I keep all the fabric for my next project in a big plastic shoe box with the pattern. Then I put a bunch of the pieces that I want to use for leader enders in a smaller box next to my machine. It makes it easy to keep track.
    I would love to win the new Bonnie book, I already have her first two.