Jelly Roll Thoughts

Merry & Bright Jelly Roll
Merry & Bright Jelly Roll

I needed a fast project, some quilt sorbet for when the Sorbet quilt wasn’t working.

I have had a Sandy Gervais Merry and Bright Jelly Roll for a long time. This past weekend, I decided it was time to take the fabric strips and make the It’s a Wrap quilt. I had some other things to do, but I spent a lot of time just sewing and learning.

It was a somewhat strange experience. First, someone said they couldn’t believe I was using a Jelly Roll. I was hesitant to tell them about the pattern. I did tell her for shock value and I thought she would keel over. Sometimes, I think, by limiting choices, a quiltmaker can focus on other elements of the process. That is what I was doing, even though I didn’t start out with that intent.

Merry & Bright Jelly Roll
Merry & Bright Jelly Roll

One thing I learned is that there is value in trying things out: different fiber content, different construction techniques, different tools, etc. Having a pattern and the fabric choices taken care of gave me fewer decisions and I could focus on learning the pros and cons of the Jelly Roll.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Moda Bakeshop offerings are a brilliant marketing scheme. My biggest confusion with the one Jelly Roll I had was that many of the pieces were cut off grain. Nadine Ruggles mentioned this in one of her blog posts, but I got to experience it first hand. This means that my strips weren’t straight, but bowed – tending towards Cs and Ls rather than Is. This phenomenon was frustrating, but I also learned a lot about strip cutting and grain. I know that I need to line up the selvedges and trim the sides to make a straight cut. Seeing the bow in the the Jelly Roll strips made me understand (in an embedded in my mind sort of way) what cutting off grain does to strips.

I don’t have a Jelly Roll book, but I would like to know if they address that problem in the directions of the various projects. Nothing was said on my pattern.

Unrolled Jelly Roll
Unrolled Jelly Roll

The things I liked about the Jelly Roll:

  • I got a little taste of a number of different fabrics. I could do this by cutting a strip off of fabrics that I buy (on grain, of course)  and saving them for a future project.
  • I like working with full lines of fabric just to see how the designers patterns work together. A whole line of fabric is like a complete painting to me. I get a lot of joy out of working with a designer’s creation.
  • The strips were already cut, so I could take my small cutting mat down to the coffee table and cut and watch TV. If I cut a bunch of strips on ‘spec, I could do this as well.
  • I didn’t have to decide how many yards of each to buy.
  • I had a limited palette to work with.
  • I like the fabric and a Jelly Roll was just enough to satisfy me, especially since the only reason I buy Christmas fabrics is to make gift bags.

I saw this quilt on a blog called Sister’s Choice Quilts. She also used the Merry and Bright fabric line. I have always loved the Chinese Coins pattern and the combination of Chinese coins and 4patches make this a winner. I love seeing the same fabrics in different patterns and similar patterns in different fabrics. That concept is one of the things I really like about quiltmaking.