This One’s for Muggs – The Jellyroll Race

This One’s for Muggs – The Jellyroll Race

Jellyroll from Moda

A friend of mine, Muggs, asked for an easy quilt to make so I wanted to show her the Jellyroll Race. I mentioned jellyrolls in my first post. It is a genius marketing idea where the entire fabric line is cut into 2 1/2″ strips and rolled up together.

For the Jellyroll Race, cut off the selvage of the strips (the ends that sometimes have writing on them or little holes) and then just start sewing, right sides together end to end. This is a great time for chain piecing. If you are unfamiliar with this term it means sewing piece after piece without cutting the thread on your sewing machine. Finish sewing one of the pairs together, lift up the presser foot on the sewing machine, grab the free end of the last piece added and place the next piece right sides together and keep going. You end up with loops of fabric connected by thread that you have to clip but after that you have a very long continuous 2 1/2″ wide string of fabric.

strips sewn end to end
Jellyroll Strips Sewn End to End

Next, you need to find both ends of this long string of strips.I didn’t have anyone around to help me so I tied one end to my fence and stretched it all out. You wouldn’t have to do that but it is a lot of fabric to handle. If you have the time and inclination, you can press all the seams open before you put it together. ** You need to cut off ~ 20″ of one end of the long strip. ** This makes the rest of the piecing look staggered. You don’t want the seams to line up when you sew it together.

Once you have done that, put the two strips right sides together and start sewing. Your fabric strip is only 1/2 as long as it was originally but it is still a lot of sewing. As you near the end, cut the loop that is forming from the two strips being sewn together and stitch all the way to the end. Press open the two piece strip set and once again, find the end and make another loop, sewing along the long edge.

Quilt top
Full Size Quilt Sewn from Jellyroll

Keep doing this until you get the width you want. As the quilt top gets heavier, I like to pin the area I’m sewing. I stopped when the top measured 52″ X 62″. This is a nice size for a throw size quilt. If you want to make it bigger, you could add borders. I’m not sure where this quilt is going so I will just live with it for awhile on my design wall.



fabric selections
Collections of Yummy Fabric

Any time you start a new obsession (I mean hobby) you have to familiarize yourself with the new lingo. Every group comes up with their own shortcuts and quilting has a few funny sounding ones that might throw you if you aren’t in the know.

  1. WOF – often when you start a project the directions will instruct you to cut strips “WOF”.  This means Width of Fabric.  Most fabric comes off the bolt at 42″- 44″ so by cutting the WOF, you have one long strip.  You can substitute smaller increments if you have to but often, that’s more trouble.
  2. Fat Quarter – this one usually gets a chuckle but it is really a 1/2 yard of fabric cut in half again .  It turns out to be 18″ X 22″.  Often you will see a box or bin of fat quarters at a fabric store and there are numerous books that have patterns using only fat quarters.  It’s a very nice way to get a lot of variety of fabrics into a quilt.
  3. Charm Pack – one of my favorite things! When a fabric company introduces a line of fabric, they make one or two main designs and then other complimentary designs that go with them.  When you buy a charm pack you get 5″ or 6″ squares of all the fabrics in a new line.  Once again, there are several books that give directions in terms of how many charm packs you need.  You usually get around 42 squares and there are duplicates.
  4. Jelly Roll – this is the same principle as the Charm Pack but the fabric line is cut up into 2 1/2″ strips and wound together to resemble a jellyroll.  So many things can be done with these and they can be combined with Charm Packs also. You usually get around 40 strips in each roll and there are duplicates.
  5. Layer Cakes – just a bigger charm pack where each square is 10″.  There are usually 42 squares in each pack and there are duplicates.
  6. Conversation Prints – fun fabrics with a novelty theme.  They are very popular in kids’ quilts but not exclusively.  There is an amazing varieties of fabrics from garden gnomes to mathematical equations and they all fall in the Conversation Print category.

Quilting normally uses 100% cotton.  There are specialty quilts that use wools or silks but for this blog, we will stick to cotton.  It is generally 42″-44″ like I mentioned but there is a special category of backing fabric that is 106″ wide. We will talk about that more when we get to backing our quilt top.

Quality is very important with fabric.  If you buy cheap fabric from a discount store, you will get an inferior quilt and probably regret it. You want to have a quilt that will stand the test of time and not have the colors run or show defects in the printing.  You also want to have it feel good.  I don’t pre-wash my fabrics so I don’t like fabric that has so much sizing in it that it can stand up on it’s own.  You want it to feel good while you are handling it and when the project is done.

fabric samples
Fun Conversation Prints

An important consideration is who will receive the quilt and where will it be used.  Is it an heirloom or a picnic quilt? Baby quilt or going to a dorm? Maybe it’s a wallhanging and will never be used in the traditional sense.  All these things are important when you are picking out a pattern and deciding how much to spend on fabric.

Next time we will talk about contrast and color value…..