Hello! Welcome to the Sew Your Stash 2019 | 3 post. I have so many ideas on this subject! And…it’s been really helping me to sit down and get all of my ideas better organized. I’ve actually been following through on things and have made a lot of good progress this week.
Sew Your Stash 2019 | 3
This week’s post is all about getting more things done in the sewing room. While I’ve already shared some of my tips in the earlier posts in this series, I feel like today’s tips are especially important.
1. First, always have something ready to sew.
I can’t remember when I started doing this, but I know it’s been several years. And it’s honestly one of the best things I started doing to help productivity. About 15-30 minutes before I’m going to stop sewing for the day I get something ready for the next time I get to sew. Sometimes I leave blocks ready to sew on my sewing table. Other times I have left-overs ready to be sewn into half-square triangles lined up on a project board. Sometimes I just pull fabrics to have them ready to cut for a block or projects. By having something always ready to go, I’m able to walk right in and start working the next day. I also keep some hand work ready to go at all times: I can always work on English Paper Pieced hexagons or bind a quilt.
2. Utilize the “leaders and enders” method to get more sewing accomplished.
The “leaders and enders” method is a technique that helps quilters save thread, save time, utilize scraps or small pieces of fabric, and create extra blocks or block pieces while sewing other projects. The basic idea is to keep pieces of fabric near your machine that are ready to sew together without much thinking.
I utilize extra triangles to sew together into half-square triangles most often for this (I trim them later to the size needed, so the initial seam is pretty much mindless sewing). I’ve also sewn 2 ½″ squares together into 4-patch or 9-patch units using this method. And, I’m currently sewing flying geese units for the roof sections in my Village quilt as “leaders and enders.”
How to Sew with Leaders and Enders
When you are finishing sewing what you’re working on, simply begin to sew something from your “leaders and enders” group, leaving that item under the presser foot when you stop. Cut the threads from your main project, leaving the “leaders and enders” project on the machine. The next time you begin to sew, that “leaders and enders” project will be the first thing finished, saving thread since you won’t have any long tails at the beginning or end of your projects.
Always leave a “leaders and enders” project on the machine, and you’ll be surprised how quickly the extra sewn units add up and will be able to be used for another project. I first learned about this idea from my grandmother; however, Bonnie Hunter has been writing and teaching this method for years. She has a terrific explanation on her blog here if you’d like more details on this method.
3. Quilt or sew something every day.
Even if you have just five minutes…sew for five minutes. I know this sounds a little crazy…but if you’ve faithfully left something ready to go as suggested in step one…you can always get a little accomplished. If I absolutely can’t sew, I’ll at least try to get in an organize something, clear something, or look over my list of “to-do’s.” And most days I really am able to sew if even for a short time.
More Posts You Might Find Helpful
- Thoughts on Getting More Done
- 10 Tips for Increasing Productivity and Creativity
- Time Management for Quilters
- Keeping Caught Up
Thanks so much for reading along the Sew Your Stash 2019 | 3 post! Remember, you can access all of the previous posts in this series here (or to find them easily, click on the “Tips & More” tab at the top of the page and then the “Sew Your Stash” tab beneath it. Happy quilting, and thanks so much for stopping by!
Anita Jackson says
I like the ‘leader and enders’ tip. I do this occasionally and actually got back to this technique again this week. I brought a small box of 2.5″ squares in red and white to my camp with me and awaiting enough of those sewn together to create something Valentine 🙂
I’m curious about your file cabinets. Do you file by project name? By type of project (mini quilt, pillow, etc.)? I’m never sure which will make it easier for me!
Love your ideas! I plan to use more scraps this year (really my bin is overflowing) and a leaders/enders project sounds like a great idea!
Juddaca Heater says
I just LOVE this series you’re writing for us!! As it turns out, a couple of times you’ve mentioned methods that I have done, but not done purposefully. I hadn’t seen them as really good repeatable, useful, and sustainable methods for productivity! Your articles are helping me see that more clearly. And secondly, I have a built-in wooden filing cabinet that I have considered to be nothing but a dinosaur in the house (going paperless these days). Why have I never seen it as an excellent place to keep patterns rather than in baskets taking up valuable realestate around my sewing room?!? And, perhaps in the 2nd drawer keep fat quarters wrapped around hanging files like I’ve seen others online do? Brilliant!! The photo of your cutting table with filing cabinets below somehow triggered in my brain that I have had an awesome organizing opportunity ready & waiting and didn’t know it! Duh! ?. Your articles have been inspiring & “fog-clearing” for me! Thank you!
Robby H. says
I like the idea of sewing every day and having something ready to go. However, my sewing room is my dining table that we eat on at least twice a day. Suggestions for how to make this work without leaving my family feeling like they’re eating in a sewing room? It’s bad enough that my sewing machine sits in our great room/dining room all the time, even if it’s covered. This is a great series for sparking other ideas.
I think I can work the ‘leaders and enders’ from one of my future UFO’s into my sewing schedule. And my sewing machine is on my dining table as well!
Pam Landolt says
How very clever to incorporat a second project as leaders and Enders while working on something else. I think you Grandma must have been a wonderfulquilter and teacher. Lucky you! Also wanted to say that I love your fabric lines! Thank you
Janet Wells says
Love this post. Just thought you’d like to know the download for the rectangle pillow no longer works. Your link goes back fine. It nothing happens on her site when you click to download.
Daisy Dianne Bromlow says
Love your Valentine’s fabrics.
Love the “leaders and Enders” idea. I am always looking for ways to increase my quilting productivity. Keep these great ideas coming!
What pattern did you use for heart basket? Really cute
Very nice and inspirational post. Unfortunately I can’t sew every day. I am glad if I can sew over the weekend, but this is my problem. Like your ideas and quilts.
Monica Kostak says
This was a good post! I’d like to make the pillows and it’s on my list (as are other things!) 🙂 . i need to pull out my triangle scraps and use as leaders/enders- NEVER thought of that. I’ve CONSIDERED spending 15 min a day to sew-but that is at 8 am when I’m in the office and after 9 hours of work and exercise class my body doesn’t move to the sewing room. Andddd i did go through patterns 3 times already-deciding to keep what i paid for, and utilized more of what i want to do in my journal, for future planning. This also helped reduced killing trees….. I’m glad it’s a 3 day weekend with Monday’s holiday–more sewing. Thanks so much for this post.
My local quilt shop owner told me about leaders and enders and I love it. I bought Bonnie Hunter’s book also. I have a bunch of 9 patches almost ready to be made into a quilt top and it doesn’t even feel like I was working on a quilt. Do my leftover 1/2 sq triangle scraps that way too. I really enjoy reading thru your posts. My goal for this year is to try EPP and make your hexagon quilt.
Kay Welch says
I am really enjoying your Sew Your Stash posts, as this is one of my goals for 2019 (albeit I made sure to add to it before the end of 2018- lol). Before I learned of Leaders/Enders. I use bits for chaining. Now I am much more productive by using the Leaders/Enders faithfully. I have at least 3 quilt tops ready for community service quilts using this method. Thanks for these useful posts.
Debbie sipp says
I really enjoyed this post. In your sewing room photo where did you get the stack of drawers with the mesh sides? Looks like a great way to organize!
sherri McConnell says
They are from Container Store and are the Elfa brand. They are all 30% off this month!
Patti McGarry says
I love your tips to sew your stash! I guess I’d better get it organized a little first. Last year I took your advice and bought two of the Elfa units and they hold a large amount of my stash. I’d like to get 2 more and I think I’ll be set! I’m curious about the long wooden board with holes drilled into that sits on the back of your cutting table and holds scissors, awls, pens, etc. I have a long table too and I feel like I have a ton of stuff on the back edge- baskets for scraps, jars for basting pins and dishes for wonder clips, bobbins and such. A board like that might be a good idea and I can put the jars and things on my shelves!
sherri McConnell says
Thank you…I ordered it from Magnolia and absolutely love it! I’ve had it for about a year now I think, so I’m not sure if they still have them. Happy quilting!