Do you find yourself a little upset at your sewing machine? Does it keep eating the fabric and points when you start sewing? Or do you get a tangled mess of thread underneath the piece?
Today, I’m going to show you a quick tip that will help you to sew smoothly. It’s using leaders and enders. Some people call them thread savers, others call them starters and stoppers.
For years, I have been using this leader and ender tip to optimize my quilting and sewing workflow. Whether you’re just getting started or are a quilting expert, it’s always a good idea to be looking for tips and tricks to add to your repertoire.
Our Quilting Tips and Tricks page is full of wonderful ideas to make your quilting easier and more precise.
What are fabric leaders and enders in quilting? What is a thread saver?
Fabric leaders and enders (thread savers) are small pieces of folded scrap fabric used under the presser foot to start off sewing on and end off the sewing.
Why the name thread saver?
Normally after sewing, you pull the thread out to remove the work from the sewing machine; leaving a long tail of thread. Using a small piece of scrap fabric at the end of sewing enables you to snip off the finished sewn piece rather than pulling out a bunch of thread. Hence the name, Thread Saver.
Why should you use leaders and enders when sewing?
- Eliminates thread from nesting and tangling on the underside of the seam
- Save thread over time by eliminating long tails of thread that need to be cut off
- Less chance of the fabric being drawn down into the needle hole of the throat plate
- Forces you to clip your thread tails
- Great way to use up scrap fabric
- A time saver by preventing the needle from unthreading
- Less trimming of thread
Now that you know the advantages of leaders and enders, learn how to use them by watching our video along with reading this step-by-step pictorial tutorial.
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WHAT YOU NEED to make leaders and enders:
how to use leaders and enders :
Make a simple thread saver with a small piece of scrap fabric. Grab a small piece of scrap fabric; fold it in half so it's two layers. Insert the fabric leader under the pressure foot.
It's called the leader because it's used when you start sewing.
Begin sewing across the fabric leader to the edge.
Once you get to the end of the leader piece, using the chain piecing technique or any sewing technique, feed the piece of fabric to be sewn under the needle without lifting the presser foot and stitch. Continue feeding subsequent pieces under the presser foot and sew.
When finished sewing the last piece, stitch onto a fabric ender.
Now simply, snip the thread behind the presser foot between the ender and your work. Don't remove the ender. Leave it under the presser foot for the next piecing or sewing section.
The ender becomes a new leader as you start the next line of pieces. You can reuse the same leaders and enders to sew on and off until they are full of thread. Then toss them.
I recently discovered that some quilters use the fabric leaders and enders technique to make leader and ender quilts.
In addition, I discovered Bonnie Hunter Quilting. People refer to Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville as the queen of leaders and enders. She has written books and patterns (links below) using this method. Perhaps someday I will have to try to make a quilt using this technique.
I hope you enjoyed learning about leaders and enders. If you're not already using them, give them a try. I find them extremely helpful when sewing and quilting.
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