Ninetta cleverly encapsulates the ending threads to create stems. I like her tassel, but it probably won't work for a food cover. I'm thinking of snipping the encapsulated threads and then securing the outside thread onto the fabric.
For the second batch of leaves I made, I used Stephanie's suggestion for starting CTM. I fully wound one shuttle and then wound off enough for one leaf onto the second shuttle for each successive leaf. It worked like a charm. Thanks Stephanie!