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Do You Sew With a Rat?

I do, but it’s not the kind that eats cheese.  Other people have different names for these things.  I’ve heard them called leaders & enders.  I think Bonnie Hunter does that.  I just call them “rats”.

I’ve always got several laying around waiting to be put into use….usually when I can’t find the one I know I just had.

I always try to start my stitching with  a rat before my chain of patches or whatever I’m sewing.  It keeps me from having that little rat’s nest underneath.  I guess that’s why I call it a rat…..because it’s the rat instead of my quilting patch.

Starting a line of stitching from my “rat”

I do a lot of chain sewing so I use the rat at the beginning of the chain and at the end.  I also use a rat to begin & end single patch stitching.

Sewing off the end of a row of stitching onto the “rat”.


After I sew off onto the rat, I’m ready to start a new line of stitching.  My rat is already in place.

The machine I’m sewing on is of my Singer 301’s.  It’s a mocha and came in a nice table.  I love this machine.  It’s the one I use almost 100% of the time even though I have several others to choose from.  I love this one!

So, do you sew with a rat?  Or do you call it something else?  If you don’t sew with one at all, you should try it.  It’s quick & easy and it saves thread because you don’t have to pull extra out to hold onto when you start stitching.



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  1. I usually have an ender/leader project going ala Bonnie Hunter, but there have been times I used your “rat” (I know it as a “spider”) when I went somewhere and forgot to take my ender/leader project with me. Keeps me from wasting thread and I’m creating 2 quilts at the same time!

  2. Betty

     /  October 10, 2012

    I call mine a “buddy” & it definitely saves on thread & forever having to snip long tails of thread. Thanks for all the info & free quilt designs. Your blog is the only one I follow.

  3. Ravonda

     /  October 10, 2012

    I’ve always called mine a tail. It helps with starting without my thread jamming up on me. when it jams it jams the bobbin up too. so with my tail things go alot smoother and faster.Of course after one is used up i make sure the larger ones get the thread trimmed and put that in the snitch pile. It gives my fur baby something to feel like she has snitched. She is 16 so she just likes to knock it on the ground and then sit looking innocent with a look that says “gee mom who did that,” just so i can pick it up. at least she doesn’t mess with anything else. after spending over 2 hours threading the first serger I had I came home and found one fur baby loved to unthread it all over the room. LOL. After that always had to make sure everything was covered and safe.

  4. susiloci

     /  October 10, 2012

    Yo también utilizo un “retal” al principio y al final de la costura, pero nunca le he llamado rata.

  5. Gail Branner

     /  October 10, 2012

    I actually start with one, but I never thought to end with one. I’m going to have to remember to do that cause I can see why that would be a help. Thanks for the tip. I also didn’t name it anything, just used a scrap piece of fabric or paper from paper piecing.

  6. I have just begun using leader-ender pieces, and I’m excited at how fast they build up! I counted up the pieces last week and I have sewn 344 of those “two-patches” that will eventually make it into an Irish Chain quilt.

  7. i also use a tail(rat) and love my 301’s, my two tone is my favorite. happy quilting. hope your Mama is doing well.

  8. quiltincat

     /  October 10, 2012

    I’ve been using “rats” for years. Great way to use little scraps and save on thread.

  9. Yes – I always sew with this technique. I have always called them “crumbs” because I tend to use the small crumbs of fabric I have left that are too smal for my scrap bin. This is a real time saver – and helps save little triangle corners from getting eaten by the machine.

  10. I use the Bonnie Hunter method, as I like to make 2 things at once and I don’t like the tediousness of sewing a million of the same units for a scrap quilt! Right now I’m doing the cute 3.5 inch spools as leader/enders, while working on my CTS and Crab Apple Tree quilts!

  11. Sheryl — thank you! I’ve never tried a rat — I will give it a try!

  12. Ruthie Peterburg

     /  October 11, 2012

    Hi Sheryl,
    Yes, I most definitely sew with a rat – LOL. Starting a seam and ending a seam those little rats soon pile up and can be made into something else.
    Thought I was the only one doing that – LOL, seems that I’m in good company.
    Warm hugs,

  13. I use also the Bonnie Hunter Mehod and made this way a very nice Quilt. I gave it for a wedding! You can see it here:


    now I work on an other one.

    Greeting Guilitta

  14. My sisters got me started quilting and the first thing they taught me to use was a “hairy”. And a comment on your two previous post as well. I too love Judy’s blog – maybe because I grew up on a farm or maybe because she seems like a real down-to-earth treasure. And I love the CTS blocks and I have found it a fun thing to visit your blogs and pick up the patterns. I look at them as a gift for each of the days they are presented.

  15. Scarlett

     /  October 11, 2012

    Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I need to get used to using a “rat” or a leader/ender and have bonus quilt! Thanks for the reminder!!

  16. Lynn Fitzgerald

     /  October 12, 2012

    I sometimes have a rat. Other times I put the needle down in the fabric before I put the foot down. That seems to help. Have a great day. Lynn

    The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese

    Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2012 05:13:43 +0000 To: lynndianne55@hotmail.com


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