Jelly Roll “It’s Not a Race” Quilt
I love the look of jelly roll race quilts, and the Missouri Star Quilt Co.’s video tutorial is so fun. I’ve helped kids make the large size in 4-H, but I wanted a doll quilt size to teach in my kid’s quilting classes and summer quilt camps. For the past few days, I’ve tried to make one. Just a simple quilt, right? Um, no. This isn’t as easy as it seemed. After several attempts, 2 very large “Duh” moments, and an Ah-ha moment, I finally have a doll sized quilt that I’m happy with–and one I think the students will like making.
So I estimated and sewed–just like all the tutorials tell you. I ended up with a quilt that was too long and the rows were mostly 1 fabric, even though I started with a partial strip as directed.
Well, duh (#1). If I’m making a quilt that is 20” wide, and you use 42” strips, then you will end up with a lot of single fabric rows. So I start to figure out how many shorter strips I should use for a smaller quilt. And I decided that I need to cut the strips at least in half to achieve the same look.
Yay for google searches! I found this calculator on a blog that allows you to enter the desired finished dimensions and width of the strips and it will spit out a number of strips needed for that quilt. Cool, right? Wrong. It ended up with either a 15” long X 30″” wide quilt, or fold, sew and cut one more time for a 30” long X 15” wide quilt.
Not exactly what I wanted. [sigh] Then I started doing some old-fashioned math. Crunching numbers made me realize the fact that the constant is 2” rows. To achieve a 24” quilt with 2” rows, one must have 12 rows. DUH! (#2) The calculations must revolve around that constant.
So I reverse engineered the quilt instead. The finished rows must be 12, so the final fold and sew step must have 6 rows. But with Jelly Roll Race quilts that’s not possible (which is why it was not going to work with that calculator tool). You start with 2 rows, then 4, and keep doubling it. 2-4-8-16-32 etc.
Using 2 1/2” jelly roll strips and have a finished quilt that measures 20” wide and 24” long, you must end up with 4 rows that are 40” wide. Ah-ha!
After much number crunching, I made 1 more and it worked just fine. [though the fabrics don’t work well for this design] Here’s what I did and what I will be teaching the kids. The key is to start with a 160″ long strip. Then make 2 more strips (each about 40″ long) and add these 2 strips when your long strip has been sewn and cut into 4 rows.
I’m still playing around with what the best length of strips to start with, in order to have the seams close to the middle of the quilt when it’s finished. And to possibly get 2 kits out of each set of strips. Here is one way:
What you’ll need:
16 strips from a jelly roll (this design does look best when you use 16 different fabrics)
What you do:
Cut 1 strip to 9” long.
Cut 15 strips to 21” long. Set 6 of these strips aside (until step 5).
Cut off selvedges.
Start the quilt assembly by sewing the 9” strip to a 21” strip, end to end, on the 45̊ diagonal and right sides together. Add another 21” strip to the other end of the 1st 21” strip, on the 45̊ diagonal and right sides together.
Keep adding strips, end to end on the diagonal and right sides together, until you’ve sewn 9 strips and 9 inch strip together to make one long strip 2 1/2” wide, making sure the 9” strip is on one end. You will have one large strip approximately 165″ long, depending how much length was lost in sewing the diagonal seams.
Trim the extra fabric at the seams to 1/4” seam allowance. Press seam allowances to one side.
Fold the long strip in half width wise, placing the ends even and right sides together. Sew together along the length with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, starting at the cut ends and ending at the fold.
Cut the folded fabric along the end to the stitching line. Do not cut the seam. Open it up and you will have 2 rows now.
Fold the fabric again, putting end to end. With right sides together, sew along the length with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Begin sewing at the cut end and end sewing at the fold.
Cut the folded end to the stitching, but don’t cut the seam at the top.
Now you should have 4 rows, about 40” or so.
Sew the remaining 6 strips together in the same way as in step 2 to make 2 strips, each with 3 of the fabric pieces. Cut off some from each end, so the length of the strips equal the width of the 4 row piece (about 40″ or so) and the seams are not too close to the sides.
[pretend there is a pretty picture here]
Sew the strips to the 4 row piece, right sides together and 1/4” seam.
Trim sides if needed.
Fold the fabric in half, bringing the ends together. With right sides together, sew along the length with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Cut along the fold to the stitching, but don’t cut into the seam.
Press all the seams.
I raced through another one. For this one, I used some pieces that were slightly smaller, about 17-19″ each. I think it worked a bit better because they were all different sizes. I sewed them all together and measured the very long strip and added another small piece so it measured 160″. Added 2 more rows and made it into 12 rows.
I don’t really like these fabrics either. But it worked and now I can use some prettier fabric for an example to show the kids in class. I’m going to make more and make sure I like the look and it’s a good project for class.
When choosing jelly rolls for this quilt, consider the value of the fabrics. My daughter doesn’t like this quilt; she says it doesn’t have enough dark, or high volume. I agree. It could have a better balance. [though the picture shows the colors a bit darker than in real life]
In sewing class, I have to remind some kids that it’s not a race. Hence the title of the post and I think I’ll need to come up with a different name for the quilt 😉