One of the problems with my Singer and my Bernina sewing machines is that they can "eat" small patches of fabric right at the start of the stitching of them. The wide slot in the throat plate, that allows for the zig-zag stitch on these machines, is a great place for the old needle to stuff all kinds of little quilt patches when it doesn't easily pierce the stuff on the first stitch. Consequently, I have always used "starters and stoppers" when chain-piecing and sewing small pieces.
What are "Starters and Stoppers", or, S&S's?
They can be any small scrap of any shape which you use, doubled, to make a smooth transition between one piece and another. I have often used any old piece of fabric lying around and stitched over it again and again, then, thrown it away. Then, my friend, Joyce, told me she was using her S&S's to make a quilt, while making a quilt. I bet you're more confused than ever, now.
Joyce showed me how she rotary-cut 2 1/2" squares of light and dark fabric from scraps, and stacked them, alternating colors and shades, beside her machine when she was quilting. When making a series of units for a block, she would, first, sew onto a pair of the 2 1/2" squares (right sides together), 1/4" from the edge, ending about 1/2" from the corner of the side. Then, she would lay the first patches to be pieced in front of the presser foot, start the machine, sew off of the S&S and right onto the patch; and continue on, chain piecing the patches. At the end, she would sew off on another, new pair of S&S's, stop the machine near the edge and snip the patches out from behind the presser foot. The presser foot would remain down on the S&S, ready to begin a new chain. In the course of sewing just 12 blocks for a quilt, Joyce could produce quite a stack of S&S's.
When she had quite a few of them, she made them into Four Patch blocks.
When she had quite a few of the Four Patch blocks, she added sashings and borders and VOILA! A quilt!
So, I started using the 2 1/2" S&S's a couple of years ago. As a matter of habit, I just kept cutting up my scraps and using them as I pieced quilts. Last winter, I noticed I had quite a few of them, so put together a little quilt for my grandson, Cole:
A "Starters and Stoppers" Quilt made for my grandson, Cole.
After I made the quilt, I noticed I still had a lot of S&S's, so I made a quilt as a donation for our local women's shelter. And I still had quite a few left. So I made two more quilts for grandsons, Dylan and Carsen. I literally had enough of the little blocks to make four single-bed quilts! Easy as pie, too, and the boys love them.
You can do this, too. It becomes a habit that can garner some real benefits. Hugs for your children and grandchildren and all your loved ones can be given with quilts. Life is grand.
Sunbonnet Sue is alive and well at Prairie Cottage Corner. Please visit and see our new quilt patterns and selections. There's a SALE going on now, too, in our catalog store. Visit often, please, and tell us about your latest adventures in quilting with Sunbonnet Sue, quilting, applique and other needle adventures.