Monday, January 30, 2012

My First Jelly Roll

quilt for baby Kutemeier
Two years ago this March, Erica's had a super awesome sale where everything in the store was a certain %-off depending on what time you shop.  The earlier you arrived, the better the deal, the better the selection.  I was there at 5 a.m. and scored 30% off a mountain of fabric ..!! Most of which I used for a friend's baby quilt - so gorgeous!  But on this day, I also bought my first Jelly Roll and pattern book (Jelly Roll Inspirations)!  Once I finished that stunning baby quilt (from this book - Happy Hour), I dug into my Jelly Roll.
not my jelly roll .. just "a" jelly roll

What is a Jelly Roll?  It is a roll of fabric, beautifully bound together, containing any number of fabric strips (typically 40-45) that are 2 1/2" x 44" in size.  The appeal to me was the fact that they were all perfectly matched.  I have a hard time picking out and matching fabrics sometimes, and I prefer to shop in "fabric families," because, like any family, they were meant to be put together ..!  Another appeal? You have significantly less fabric to cut, something I don't necessarily LOVE doing ... especially when dealing with all of the fabrics found in the jelly roll.  A lot of the tedious work is done for you!  I was so excited to get started, that I popped it open right when I got home ...
And I was disappointed.  Something wild must've happened when the fabric was cut into it's beautiful roll ... because the strips were not cut beautifully.  There were about a half a dozen of the 40-45 strips that were uneven - randomly wide at points, cut off too thin in the middle or on the ends - such a disappointment.  If it weren't months after I made my purchase, I probably would have taken it back. =(  Disappointment aside, I found a pattern that would "work" with my usable fabric, and I thought my jelly roll would look fabulous as this pattern - double bonus! ... so I began to match my strips into pairs, working around the "damaged" strips.  I sewed all 19 sets together, draping them carefully over an unused table leaf so they wouldn't wrinkle ... and they stayed there for almost 2 years.

Until last Wednesday afternoon!  While Thomas napped, I began cutting each of my 19 sets into 16 strips to be pieced together into 4-patch squares.  Even when Thomas woke up, he was content playing on the floor of the bedroom, mostly rolling toward Otto... his new BFF and laugh-factory... or grabbing at the long strips of fabric awaiting their turn on my new self-healing rotary mat that fits perfectly on my table..!!

Given the business of the days to follow - trips to the mall of walking + window shopping, mom's group knitting, play date at a friend's house, mom's night "in" at a friend's house, errands out to the market and grocery with "Dad," family movie night with our mom's group ... the little strips sat awaiting my return to my freshly cleaned and tuned-up sewing machine!

Today, all 304 little strips were sewn together into their 4-patch squares!  All 152 squares are in a heap on my sewing table, though, taking a little break ... they are (almost) all attached too ... hahah  I love the convenience of being able to just buzz them thru the machine with out cutting them apart!  If it weren't for a run-in with an empty bobbin, they'd be all stuck together.  It might be time to invest in one of these little do-hickies to make separating them a bit easier ... ;-)

Tomorrow?  I shop for border fabric and separate the squares .. pressing them out!

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