Jelly roll baby quilt

I often hear people say “I can’t make a quilt its too complicated,” so I wanted to use this blog to show how simple it can be. This quilt uses 2.5 inch strips.

I had a work friend who had just given birth to a baby girl and I wanted to make them a baby quilt/play mat as something special to keep and use. I had asked her if she would want such a present so I knew my gift would be well received (she is also a crafter.)

I had a lovely safari jelly roll from Moda (my preferred brand of fabric) that I knew would be perfect. However you could choose your own fabric and cut 2.5” strips from it.

I decided to do a simple pattern, sewing strips together, cutting them into squares and then adding borders which is called sashing.

I started by picking out 5 strips which I liked as a combination. I then sewed them all together side by side into a strip.

The important thing when sewing quilts is to make sure you use a consistent seam allowance. Standard quilters seam allowance is ¼ inch and your machine will have a marking for this on the foot plate but I use a ¼ inch foot as it makes life easier.  

When you sew 5 x 2.5” strips together you get a finished width of 10.5” so I knew my squares would need to be 10.5”.

One thing you will have seen at group meets and retreats is the quilters pressing their fabrics a lot. Pressing (not ironing) sets the stitches and also makes sure the fabric is flat and the seams are flat.  

I spend a lot of time pressing as I learned my lesson earlier in my quilting journey and things were out of shape and it affected how everything fitted together.

Once my groups of strips were pressed I cut into 10.5” squares. I have a special ruler to help with it but a simple quilting ruler will do the trick.

I then started to sew the sashing (borders) onto my square blocks. My sashing is also 2.5” strips.

Sashing frames the blocks and can really change the effect of the quilt.

I personally prefer the effect of lighter sashing and I has some beautiful cream fabric with brown crosses from the same range as the jelly roll so I used that for my sashing.

I also alternated the direction of my squares to change the effect.

The key to sashing working and you not having to unpick is making sure the strip lengths fit your block. Personally I sew on with a little extra and then trim as it work better for me. If they don’t quite fit you will see rippling.

I did the between pieces first and then the lengths (hopefully you see what I mean in the picture, it’s a bit like a ladder.)

I planned for my quilt to be a 9×9 block quilt so I sewed together two more strips and sewed them all together to make the top of the quilt.

I am always really careful to line blocks up and I do this my putting them right-side together and checking that the seams line up and putting pins in to hold in place while I sew.

I always feel a great sense of satisfaction when I finish a quilt top and can step back and finally see the whole thing together.

I used a total of 15 2.5” strips (of the width of the fabric – WOF) and got 3 blocks from each set of 5 strips. I used one of each blocks on a row and changed the placement and rotation on each row.

I am not someone who focusses too hard on whether fabrics are close to each other as this as I like the random effect.

However, this is not the end of the quilt. I needed to sandwich the quilt with wadding and backing. I used a cotton wadding as I prefer how it feels, but you can either use a poly-cotton blend, bamboo or just polyester. Each as their own quality and people have their preferences.

My machine (Janome Atelier 6) has preset quilting stitches and I am loving a wavy one at the moment. It is very forgiving and means I don’t have to be completely straight in my quilting. I use a walking foot and quilting gloves to assist with the quilting and making sure the layers feed through evenly.

I also use a quilting bar (the metal thing sticking out my foot) to make sure the rows of stitching are evenly spaced.

I also use variegated thread as it has a really lovely effect of changing colours, my personal preference for thread is Gutermann.

Once the whole thing was quilted, I squared it up to trim the edges off and make it straight.

I then bound using a lovely brown with crosses fabric from the same Moda range. I prefer to make my own binding, using a 2.5” strip (see told you it was made just using 2.5” strips) folded in half and then the raw edges are sewn to the edge of the quilt with a ¼” seam allowance and then folded over and stitched down. Sometimes I finish the binding by hand but because this was for a baby and therefore likely to get more washing I machine stitched as it is more secure.

There is something really satisfying about the last stitch and finishing something. Yes there are flaws to the quilt, some of the stitching will not be perfect; but it is made with love and it is handmade.

My friend loved the quilt and her partner commented that he could not believe it was handmade.

Hopefully, this shows that whilst there is a lot of steps to making a quilt, you can take something as simple as 2.5” strips and get something that looks really effective and beautiful. So if you have been thinking about wanting to make a quilt but put it off as too hard… why not start with 15 strips and see where it takes you, you may be surprised.

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