Ask Jo: Threads and Patterns

Every so often I get questions from blog readers that I think other blog readers would like the answer to as well.  When that happens, I answer the questions here on the blog.  Today is one of those days.

After I showed my “H” quilt and the progress I made on it, I had a couple of readers ask me for specifics of the pattern.  They wanted measurements and wanted to know sizes of the pieces.  Read about the quilt here if you missed it.


I love being helpful to people but I won’t do it at the expense of someone else.  The “H” quilt is a pattern done by Bonnie Hunter.  She is selling the pattern.  You can purchase it here as a digital download.  All of the instructions that you need including the measurements to cut are in the pattern.  I am modifying the original pattern to suit my needs but the pattern that I used to make the “H” blocks is Bonnie’s.

I not will give those cutting instructions or the construction instructions out.

Authors such as Bonnie work to make patterns.  Their income comes from selling books and patterns.  Her pattern is not mine to give.  I wouldn’t walk into a friend’s closet and give away their clothes.  Giving away the pattern instructions is same.

It’s very important to me to support authors so they can make a living creating patterns for me to enjoy.  If they can’t make a living at it, they will quit doing creating and giving me an opportunity to enjoy their wonderful patterns.

Carol C also left a comment on the same blog post.  She writes, Lovely H quilt Jo. Can I say that about a boys quilt? Would you tell us how you clean up thread tails before quilting? Trimming all those threads is what I dread most!!!”

I too am not a fan of clipping threads that have made their way to the front of my quilt.

I am going to say this though.  The amount of threads that I have to clip has changed dramatically since I started using the leader and ender method.  Bonnie Hunter started leader and enders for me.  Her premise is to sew two separate quilts at once.  I do that sometimes but often I sew the blocks and borders at the same time using them as leaders and enders.  If you want to read more about how I do leaders and enders you can read a previous post that I wrote about the topic here.

Essentially I never have thread tales anymore.  That means that thread tales don’t come to the front of the quilt so very few threads have to be clipped for the front of a quilt top anymore.  Yes, I still have some but it is nothing compared to what I used to have.

I never really realized this before until Kelli brought a quilt over that she wanted me to quilt.  Kelli does not use the leader and ender method (yes I’ve tried to convince her but her “organizational self” can’t handle another project sitting next to the machine).  Anyway Kelli’s quilt tops are loaded with thread.  I’ve gotten to the point that I require to press the tops and clean the threads before I quilt them for her.

As I iron the quilt top, I trim threads.  I trim again as I machine quilt just in case something was missed but for the most part, most are clipped when I iron the top.  It’s easiest to see them as they are on the ironing board and I’m only looking at a small segment of the quilt at a time.

So my suggestion if you want less threads…use the leader and ender method of sewing AND if there are threads clip as you iron.  Clip a section, then iron.  Advance the top, clip, then iron and so on.

I hope that answers today’s questions.  If you have others leave them in the comment section or email me at

12 thoughts on “Ask Jo: Threads and Patterns”

  1. I could not agree with you more on the topic of supporting your inspirational pattern writers. I don’t need most patterns as I can draft my own but I still frequently buy patterns for the inspiration the picture gives me. I shop local too because if I don’t support local pretty soon there is no local to shop. ;)

  2. Love the analogy about not giving away clothes in someone else’s closet. Your H quilt is beautiful. I liked it when Bonnie was making it too but I just CAN’T start another one. How many is too many to have started? That’s probably how many I have. :-)

  3. I agree with you about not sharing the pattern. I hate doing the math and figure it’s worth it to me to pay for the pattern. I’ll know how much fabric to buy and I won’t have to figure it all out!

  4. I had not thought of it before, but you are right: I do have to clip fewer threads now that I use leader/ender all the time! In fact, I almost never clip threads on the front and if I do, it is from raveling fabrics, not my threads!

  5. You H quilt is looking wonderful. I agree with you that we need to support authors and designers. It’s not easy to support yourself in this business. So it’s important that we continue to buy from these designers. I can design most patterns just by looking at the picture. But I buy books and patterns for all the tips and tricks. Plus the beautiful photos., and to keep supporting people like Bonnie. I love love her patterns and books.

  6. I use the leader ender way but use a scrap piece of fabric instead of a unit for another project. Use way less thread and a neater project.

  7. so glad to see the rights of designers supported. We all love Bonnie, and am glad that you support her as well. I love what you do as well, and bought your book a few months ago. Can’t wait to have time to get into it a sew up a quilt!

  8. I agree Jo. Support the designers and buy the patterns or books. I have been know to have two or three projects going at the same time using the leaders and enders. And no they don’t get mixed up. My secret, baskets.

  9. I use three scrap pieces of fabric in rotation to stick under the needle at the end of the sewing line. I simply cannot bring myself to have another project cut out to use as leaders and enders. My mind works with only one project at a time. But since I started using the scrap pieces, I have a much cleaner work area, and fewer thread tails!

  10. Good for you! If a person wants the pattern/book they can purchase it the same way we did. It’s right for the person who created the pattern and it was fine for me to buy it so it also must be right if the “friend” wants to buy her own copy. Their money spends as good as mine does.

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