Quilt top in an afternoon, the classic Jelly Roll race!

Quilt top in an afternoon, the classic Jelly Roll race!

I have been sewing all through the holidays but I realized it's been a bit since I did a classic quilt top.  I browsed through my fabric stash (an overabundance of one) and came across some half Batiks Jelly Rolls that I fell in love with….so here we go,  an easy to follow quilt tutorial to make a quick quilt top using some classic techniques.

First let’s start with the basics.  A standard Jelly Roll is a bundle of fabric that consists of 40 strips of fabric measuring 2.5” x 44”.  This one Jelly Roll will create 1600 inches of stitched fabric in less than an hour.  A Jelly Roll quilt is a great choice for a beginner or any time you need a quick project for a gift.                                           


A classic Jelly Roll is usually done with guilds and is where the “race” term holds true.  Quilters will race to see who can finish the quilt top first. Stitch as fast as you can in a straight line.  Believe it or not sometimes, sewing in a straight line is the hardest thing to do.

1. Unwrap your Jelly Roll  and unroll the strips.  You are going to sew each strip together end to end.  You are going to sew on the bias connecting each end.  Remember to sew, right sides together and start your stitch from the outside corner.  Sewing the seam on the bias helps with unnecessary bulk and gives the quilt a classic look.  For a more modern take on the quilt top you can sew each strip together with a straight stitch.  The seam allowance for this entire quilt top will be ¼ inch.  Using the markings on your sewing machine will help to keep your seams consistent if you are just starting out.  I  still have to use mine all the time..lol



      2. You can chain piece your strips so you are sewing in a continuous manner without cutting in between new pieces.  This helps save on thread in the long run.  Don’t worry if you don't chain pieces right away you will get there.  As you add in each new strip to connect, make sure you are sewing the right sides together. Bring in the new pierce and turn over the strip that is connected to the machine.  Make sure to keep this pattern going. Once you get to the end you will have a nice long 1600 inches of stitched fabric! See images below.


       3. To start the next step, lay one end in front of you and cut off about 12-18 inches of the first strip and set aside.  (I never say throw away as I am a fabric miser, I keep everything.  I will have another tutorial on what I made with the scraps from this quilt).  Go through your quilt strip and snip each strip connecting piece that was left from chain piecing.  If you did not chain piece you don’t have to worry about this.  Next just just beyond your ¼ “ seam line at each connection point.  You should be snipping off two small half triangles…set aside, something great to be made later.





          4. Once you have cut off all the excess at the seams you are ready to start “racing”! Find both of the loose ends and place them right sides together.  Sew in a straight line using ¼” seam allowance all the way down all 1600 inches of fabric.  As you near the end you will need to cut the folded piece of fabric to create one long strip again.  Now you will have 800 inches of fabric of double strips.


        5. Continue this pattern of joining the loose ends and sewing the length, right sides together.  Each time doubling the amount of connect strips.  For each round as you get to the end, clip the fold.  This process will repeat based on the size of the quilt you want.  For the standard using one Jelly Roll, you should do this six times; 1600 doubled down to 800, doubled down to 400, then to 200”, 100” and finally 50”wide.  Always remember to clip the fold at the end.







      There you have it, a beautiful finished quilt top! Next I am going to add a side sash… Look out for that tutorial.  Coming soon I will also show what I made with the scraps from this quilt process!  Happy quilting!


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