I just returned from the NJ Quilt Festival in Somerset, NJ. Jelly rolls were everywhere. Almost every vendor booth had some type of Jelly Rolls to sell, big rolls, little rolls, medium rolls. I think they have become almost as common as the fat quarters.
Do you use Jelly Rolls or Strip Sets in your quilt making? Do you enjoy piecing them together and then cutting them apart and sewing them into block for finished quilt? Do you find them convenient since they are pre-cut? Do you cut your own?
I personally love Jelly Rolls. I started out buying my first one years back, which I have actually never used and it sits in my sewing studio, still rolled up with the Moda ribbon holding it intact.
I quickly graduated to Bali Pops, another form of strip sets, that are packaged flat instead of rolled into a coil. I very much enjoy making things with Bali pops and have had quite good luck teaching a "Stripper's Club" series of quilting classes locally. I also find myself cutting up the leftovers from my quilts, the borders and other pieces like backs and edges into 2.5" wide strips to be used in my quilts.
I have always enjoyed piecing more than applique and I believe that Jelly Rolls offer a wide variety of choices to the piece makers of the quilting world. I think the accuracy and convenience of having the colors, fabrics and cutting done for you, also adds to their appeal.
I did not understand until just last week, why anyone would want a Jelly Roll of all white, or all off white or black strips. However, after purchasing and reading through some new books on Modern Quilts, the light bulb inside my head came on and I realized that these strips sets are designed with the Modern Quilt Guild quilters in mind. Many of the modern quilts use negative space in their clean designs and those spaces are often white, off-white, creams, greys or blacks. I had my AH HA! moment and realized I needed to get a few of these monochromatic Jelly Rolls to make a few of the modern quilts I have on my wish list. So I looked for them at the show, and was disappointed to find only one vendor with two sets of them, but not in the colors I needed!
I have even been lucky to find cheap jelly rolls at some discount stores recently. I buy them when I see them and make charity quilts for fun. The fabrics in these discount store JRs are not what I would typically buy to make quilts for myself, but they are bright, cheery and work well in twin sized quilts that will end up brightening up some one's day for awhile. At $7 a pop, why not? Recently, I admit I venturing into the big national chain fabric store, looking for jewelry findings and non-quilting items. I walked by one of their wall displays and found jelly rolls, marked clearance for $.97. What? Less than $1, I grabbed all of them. Clearly they were mis-marked, but they gave them to me at that price and I felt like I had hit the lottery! Actually, I left one there for someone else to find and get for 97 cents...no need to not share the bargain find with the next lucky customer, right?
I do not use my Accuquilt to cut strips. I have found that I am able to cut my strips out quicker and more accurately, using my rotary cutter, ruler and mat myself. I know that many people have purchased their Accu quilt system for this very reason. I often will substitute or add in additional strips cut from my stash to a quilt top I am constructing from pre-cut strip sets. I have seen some of my students do this as well. Do you substitute or add fabrics of your choice to your Jelly Rolls or not? I think this allows you to make your quilt unique.
And I can't close this blog today without mentioning Jelly Roll Races...Do you participate in Jelly Roll Races? Do you know what these are? You take the Jelly rolls and sew them end to end into one long contiguous strip. You have the option to sew them straight end to end, add 2.5" squares of other fabric in between the strips, or piece them together on the diagonal at the ends so there are angles in the rows where the strips meet. I personally enjoy adding the little squares in between, it gives the quilt a random touch of color and makes the jelly roll quilt different than the other two versions.
We have done these twice now, getting a group of gals together and racing to see who can complete the quilt top in the shortest amount of time possible. You take the contiguous strips, sew the ends together until you've sewn the entire length, cut and repeat until you have a nice sized quilt top at the end. You can finish it without borders, add borders if you wish and layer it, quilt it and you are done.
The race is to see who can complete their top from the sewn together strips first. First place is another Jelly roll awarded to the winner!