Thursday, March 15, 2012

Jelly Roll Race - Tips From a Winner!

OK first I have to admit I did have a slight advantage to winning my first Jelly Roll Race.....I use a Janome 1600P-DB for piecing quilts. The 1600 stands for 1600 stitches per minute! I finished the race in under 27 minutes and the second place finisher took about 5 minutes more. Kudos to her, she even had to change a broken needle!!

What is this Jelly Roll Race, you ask! Oh my gosh it is so much fun you won't believe. You take one jelly roll or Bali Pop or whatever they call a set of 40 strips of fabric cut 2-1/2" wide x the width of fabric. Generally these sets are each from one fabric collection and each fabric company has their own name for them.  Sometimes, but not always, some of the fabrics in a collection are duplicated in the set.  

Preparing for the Race
I was at a guild retreat for my race. There is some prep work required before the race.
  1. Take all the strips from the jelly roll and stitch them together end-to-end to make one long strip of fabric that is about 1600 inches long. You have several choices to stitch the ends together. You can use a straight seam, diagonal seam or stitch squares of fabric between the strips. I chose to stitch diagonal seams.
  2. Press the seams to one side.
  3. From one end (doesn't matter which end) cut off about 18" of fabric. This prevents the seams from lining up as you stitch.
  4. Take the two ends and put them right sides together. Essentially you are folding this long strip in half. You will be stitching the two layers together down the ENTIRE length which is about 800 inches now. Don't worry if the strip gets twisted. You will take care of that as you reach the fold and the end of the first round of stitching.
Roll It Up
  1. As I matched the edges together for the first round, I wrapped the layers over a large rotary cutting ruler, starting with the open ends and ending with the fold. Pin the fold to the wrapped fabric to hold it in place.
  2. Now slide the roll off the ruler until the race is about to start.
The Race
When it is time to get ready to race you are allowed to put your fabric under your presser foot with the needle down. This next step tells you how I prepared for the first round.
  1. Remove the pin from your wrapped fabric and start unwrapping it into a pile on the floor in front of your sewing machine. The fold will be on the floor and all the rest of the fabric is unwrapped on top.
  2. End with the open ends under your presser foot.
  3. As you stitch the first round the fabric will always be coming off from the top of the pile.
Note: Several people in our group rolled the fabric onto a small cardboard or tube. This turned out to be a disaster because as the fabric was unrolled, the roll itself rolled and bounced around, making a large tangled mess.

Round One
This round took the longest time and was fairly easy. You need to concentrate on keeping the sewing edge aligned and keeping track of your 1/4" seam allowance. I moved back away from my machine and held the bottom fabric in my right hand and the top fabric in my left. I was able to match layers and align seam allowance with very little movement and hardly no stopping.

When you are nearing the fold at the end, stop stitching. The fold will probably be twisted. Use your scissors to clip the fold as close to the end as you can. I slipped one of the scissors blades into the loop to get as close as I could. Don't worry if the edge is jagged. It will be trimmed later. Finish stitching to the end.

Round Two
When you finish round one, the sewn strip will be in a pile in front of your machine. You will take the end you have in your hand (the fold you just clipped) and match it to the beginning of the strip that's at the bottom of the pile in front.

This round is the hardest to stitch because you must open the top layer and the bottom layer then match the edges to stitch. Sometime during this round I ran out of bobbin. This was the only bobbin change I needed.

When you reach the end it will probably be twisted as well so use the same method to clip the fold.

Rounds Three, Four and Five
Each of these rounds gets easier because it starts to lie flat and it's easier to match the edges. It is better if you can try to match the edges without twisting the entire thing because your edges might be very ragged. When you get to the end of each of these rounds and if it is not twisted, stitch all the way off. Lay the fold flat and use your scissors to cut the fold.

It's Finished!
After round five and after trimming, my quilt was about 48" x 65". Here is a picture:

I will put a small yellow border then a larger I-don't-know-what-color border.

Happy Quilting!
Carol Thelen

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this tutorial! I have watched video after video over and over and your explanation is the only thing that has made sense to me.Your instructions made it so easy for a beginner. Thank you!