Jelly Roll Race Day

I have always liked jelly roll race quilts, so I was thrilled when my local guild announced that they would be doing jelly roll races at this month’s sew-in.  If you have never seen a jelly roll race quilt, this video shows the entire process, as well as several completed tops.

We didn’t have much advance notice about the jelly roll race, so as soon as I found out, I hurried to find the perfect jelly roll.  I really want a Christmas quilt, so that’s the direction I decided to go.  I searched around quite a bit, and I discovered that Missouri Star Quilt Company has an incredibly large selection of jelly rolls, and their prices are better than any others I found.  I will definitely be ordering from them again.  The only downside was that it took them three days to process and ship my order.  It was my first time ordering from them, so I don’t know if that lag is normal, but it is something I will keep in mind the next time I need something fast.  In my experience, Fat Quarter Shop and Connecting Threads both ship the next day.

Between the short notice for the race, the time it took for my jelly roll to ship, and the fact that everything takes longer to get to Montana, I was pretty nervous that I wouldn’t get it on time.  The race was on Saturday, so I was very relieved when I got my jelly roll on Friday.

cherry christmas jelly roll race 1

Isn’t it pretty?  I love how all the colors swirl together.  I used Cherry Christmas by Aneela Hoey.  This was my first time using any precuts, and I think I’m hooked.  There was something magical about unwinding the jelly roll and instantly having 40 beautiful strips of fabric ready to play with.

The first step to make a jelly roll race is to mix up the fabrics and sew all of the strips end-to-end.  I laid out my strips in piles by color, and semi-randomly sewed them together.  I never sewed the same color to itself, and I only sewed the same print together once.  The construction method mixes everything up, so you don’t have much control over how the fabrics fall in the finished quilt.  So, I just tried to go for a fairly even mix.

cherry christmas jelly roll race 2

I personally think jelly roll race quilts are more interesting when the strips are joined at an angle rather than a straight seam, so that’s how I joined mine.  At first I tried to eyeball it, but that didn’t work out so well.  When I opened the strips, they didn’t line up with each other at all.  So I went the slow way and carefully pinned the fabrics and drew the sewing lines.

cherry christmas jelly roll race 3

This method worked wonderfully.  It was really slow going, but my strips opened up perfectly when I was done.  The result was well worth the extra time that it took to make it precise.  Here is what the join looks like after it has been pressed.

cherry christmas jelly roll race 4

Once all of my strips were sewn and pressed, I was left with one giant strip.  I carefully got all of the twists out of the strip, folded it in half right sides together, and went to the sew-in.  This is the point where the actual race starts.  Everyone already has their long strip folded in half and ready to go, and you all start sewing the strip together along the long side.  When you get to the fold at the end, you snip it, then bring your two new ends together and start again.  I didn’t take any pictures, because I was busy racing!  Check out the video if you’re curious about how this works.

I had barely started my second seam when the first person finished her top.  It only took her 46 minutes!  We had several more ladies come in under an hour.  It took me 96 minutes to get my top together.  I was one of the last few to finish.

cherry christmas jelly roll race 5

I really love how it turned out!  The randomness is so much fun.  The finished top is about 50X64.  I want it to be bigger than that, so I’m trying to decide what to do for borders.  I can’t wait to curl up under this one.  Maybe it will be ready for binding by Christmas.

I really enjoyed the process of putting this together.  And the fact that we did it as a group made it even more fun.  It’s crazy how loud it is with 15-20 people all sewing at full speed!  And the silence was astounding the couple of times that all of the machines happened to be stopped at the same time.  This is definitely something I would like to do again.  I may suggest that the guild make this an annual tradition.

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3 Responses to Jelly Roll Race Day

  1. dezertsuz says:

    I like the way yours turned out. Even 96 minutes is a pretty fast quilt top, and if you add the initial time to it, it’s STILL a pretty fast top.

  2. dezertsuz says:

    Also, you might check out pre-cuts at Green Fairy Quilts. They have amazing prices every day.

  3. Bonita D Rankey says:

    I love your page….just getting into serious quilting now at 60 years of age. A friend got me into the Bay County Quilters Guild in Michigan last year.

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