The Great Jelly Roll Race

I was able to work on my challenge quilt while I was at the cabin last week. I thought long and hard about the design for this challenge. This was very difficult for me, since we had to use neutral fabrics with a “pop” of one color and we had to incorporate a nine patch in the design. I don’t usually stick with one color hence the difficulty!

But eventually I came up with something. I decided to try doing a jelly roll race, but I would add small nine patch blocks to each strip. For those who haven’t heard of a jelly roll race here’s an explanation:

Jelly Rolls are pre-cut bundles of strips which are 2 1/2″ by the width of fabric. There are usually 40 strips in a roll. The race is when a group get together to see how quickly they can each sew a jelly roll into a quilt top.

I didn’t race with anyone, since I was there alone, but I did keep track of my time.

Step 1 – make the nine patch blocks.

These took some brain power on my part because they had to be 2 1/2″ square to be able to match with the jelly roll strips. Eventually I was able to use my negligible math skills to figure out that I needed to cut four strips of red at 1 1/4″, one strip of red at 1″, two strips of neutral at 1″ and two strips of neutral at 1 1/4″. Then, after sewing them all together WRONG, and having to UNSEW ALL OF THEM, I was able to get the strip sets sewn together, sub-cut them correctly and then sew them into nine patches. PHEW!!

Step 2 – sew a nine patch onto the end of each jelly roll strip. BTW< I didn't purchase a jelly roll – I just cut 2 1/2" strips from 40 of the neutral fabrics I already had in my stash. I had used my pinking blade to cut the strips because I had read that there can be a lot of fraying if you have strips with straight edges. As I sewed I could see how that could happen, so I was glad that I used the pinking blade.

Step 3 – Get everything set up and ready. Be sure to have extra bobbins wound, because you will go through a lot of thread.

Step 4 – Get ready, Get set, GO!!! Sew all 40 strips together end to end. I started at 11:00 to see how long the race would take.

Step 5 – Once all the strips are sewn into one humongously long strip, take the two opposite ends and match them right sides together. Sew along the long edge. When you get to the end cut through the fold of fabric. I thought that I would wind up with a lot of twists in my strip as I got close to the end, but there wasn’t any. It was just a straight fold. I don’t know if that is typical of if I was just lucky.

Step 6 – Again, match the opposite ends and sew along the long side until you get to the end. Cut the fold.

Step 7 – Once more, match ends, sew, cut fold.

Step 8 – You know what to do!

Step 9 – Again!!! The seams are getting shorter, so they are going much faster.

Step 10 – This is it! You’ve made it to the end of the race. Please note the time. That is how long it took me to sew this top and I wasn’t really going fast. Especially because I was stopping at the end of each step to take pictures. Plus, I stopped to grab some crackers and a drink cause I was getting hungry.

Here is the finished jelly roll top. This isn’t a finished flimsy yet, because I have some borders I want to add to this. But this is a wonderful size for a donation quilt so I will probably try to use up more of my stash with this method to complete my New Year resolution of making one donation quilt per month in 2012.


2 thoughts on “The Great Jelly Roll Race

  1. WOW! That is sooo cool. I love the addition of the 9-patches. I’m going to make this our suggested pattern for our guild’s charity quilts. Although quilters can make any pattern they want, I think they will find this lots of fun and quick. And I can refer them to your blog for instructions!


  2. Great tutorial! The picture of the finished top just doesn’t show how beautiful the neutrals and red nine patches look “in person”. I bet this version of the jelly roll race catches on fast. It’s much more interesting than just the strips.
    Had SUCH a good time at the cabin on Sunday. Even an afternoon there can relax and rejuvenate. I told Kevin how your quilting group booked a retreat after hearing us rave about ours. He wanted to know how much you charge for nights at the Savage Cabin. I told him Mary Koval charges $75.00 a night at her retreat house in Bedford. I could easily see that as a word of mouth business for you, but it would take the fun out of it too.


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