“Adventures with Leaders & Enders” by Bonnie K. Hunter

Thursday, December 08, 2011

 One thing about quilters that is nearly universally true – they all produce scraps and they all sew pieces of fabric together. If you fall into that category – I know I do – this is the book for you. Bonnie Hunter is known to many for her Addicted to Scraps feature in Quiltmaker magazine. She has also written two previous and popular books, “Scraps and Shirttails” and “Scraps and Shirttails II”. By now you have probably deduced that this most recent book is also about scrap quilts. Hunter suggests using the “leaders and enders”, those small pieces of folded fabric that we use to sew on and off at the beginning and end of chain piecing, as building blocks for quilts. This requires a bit of planning so that you always have a small basket of pre-cut pieces at hand for this purpose. Instead of using random bits of fabrics as leaders and enders, filling them with thread until tossed into the trash, use pre-cut pieces Without any extra effort you will slowly but surely build up enough pieced units for another quilt.

The units need not be squares; rectangles, triangles, diamonds, or strips will also do. Hunter has a number of tips for organizing scraps, cutting them up, and finding time to do both. The book has a dozen projects to use up the units you make. They are all quite lovely and interesting, and you could, of course, just dive in to your scrap pile and make only one of them as a primary project in their own right. If you are one of those that already organizes their scraps by size and value, you are ready to roll!

Hunter’s philosophy ignores any “quilt police” ideas about mixing color, pattern, and style of fabric. Anything goes! The only guidelines are regarding value and color (if making a two-color quilt, for example). Otherwise any and all scraps are grist for her sewing mill, including recycled fabric from clothing. Novelty prints and outdated calicoes from the 1960s and ‘70s only add additional interest to the projects in the book.

I have added this book to my small but steadily growing collection of scrap and string quilt publications. Hunter points out that scraps cost the same per yard as new fabric - $10 per yard and rising daily. Why throw out this valuable resource, not to mention the cost of our time, thread and energy, when something beautiful and useful could be made from it? Here is your blueprint for doing so.