What is a Jelly Roll

Amish facts/history, Quilting Comments: 14

Jelly Rolls, Patterns, and Quilting the Amish Way

11190949So what IS a jelly roll? (Hint–it’s not jelly in a roll.) Today we are continuing our focus on Amish crafts. As we all know, Amish women are wonderful quilters. I very much doubt that they use jelly-rolls, which are pre-cut fabric in long strips. Whenever I’ve seen Amish or Mennonite women in fabric stores or at quilt shows, they are shopping the bargain table for inexpensive fabric. It’s amazing the works of art they are able to make out of fabric that you or I would pass by.

But a jelly roll is FUN to use. The fabric is usually pre-cut into 2-1/2 inch by 42 inch, and the pieces in a package coordinates very well together. You can buy them almost anywhere. Sometimes Walmart will have them. Click on the picture above and it will take you to the JoAnn’s page. Jelly rolls were made famous by Moda Fabrics. Click here to see what they have.

photo-21For a year or so I had a jelly roll in my craft closet. I knew I liked the colors, and I had seen it for sale at JoAnn’s, but I had no idea what to do with it. I ended up giving it away in a contest! After I attended a quilting retreat earlier this month, I saw some women using jelly rolls, and then I really wanted to give it a try. There are a lot of free patterns for jelly rolls. Or you can just do whatever you like with them. Together, one jelly roll with 20 strips will make a nice lap/crib quilt.

For this quilt, I didn’t need a pattern. All I did was cut one inch off each end to cut off the salvage. Then I cut 7 inches off half of the pieces, and 14 inches off the other half. Then I mixed and matched the pieces. It was a LOT of fun, and didn’t require much skill. I can’t wait to quilt this, which I’ll do on my machine. It’s small enough to do so easily.

Quilting with a jelly roll might not be an Amish tradition, but their skill with a needle and thread inspires me, as I’m sure it does a lot of you. If there’s a pattern you enjoy using, I’d love to hear it–leave us a comment!



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14 thoughts on “What is a Jelly Roll

  1. Melissa L.

    I understand how to sew the pieces and all together. But when it comes to the quilting part I think I will need to take a class or something. Not sure how to do the quilting. Love the quilt it is so pretty.

    1. vannettachapman Post author

      I had trouble with that too, Melissa. And I’m just now learning. Basically, what I learned at the retreat, was sew an X or quilt 1/4 inch from the seam (in the ditch or shadow stitch), or if you have a big item you can sew around it to outline it. So on this one, I’m going to outline the owls, X the small squares and sew a shadow on the rest. Does that make sense?

  2. Judy B

    Love this quilt! So beautiful. I don’t quilt but I do admire beauty when I see it. Who knows maybe someday I will buy a sewing machine, take a quilting class and have a blast! (Perhaps when my hubby retires…I definitely will need a hobby!)

    Great post!

    Judy B

    1. vannettachapman Post author

      I went to quite a few quilt shows before I decided to “jump in the water.” When I did, I bought an $89 machine from Walmart. It’s Brothers, which is a good brand. It doesn’t have any fancy stitches, but most of quilting is sewing a straight seam.

  3. Patricia T

    Nice quilt, Vannetta! You have become a quilting “material witness”. Hope making “a perfect square” hasn’t gotten you “falling to pieces”!

  4. Judy Smith

    The instructions I have say to cut off the salvage edges as you did, cut 18 inches off the first strip, sew together as one would for binding (at right angles, fold strip in half and stitch together, clip folded end and repeat until top is complete. Well, I didn’t have a jelly roll but had a box full of 2 1/2″ strips, followed the pattern and now have a pretty top! Now I’d like to find a jelly roll with baby appropriate fabrics and do it again. Fun!

  5. Teri Walker

    Very Nice Vannetta. Cozy Quilt Designs have some amazing patterns that look hard but really are not. 2 1/2″ strips are so popular some quilt shops even have “Strip Clubs” where they only use the strips to make quilts with. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. Lynda Gustavus

    This turned out fabulous. I had a great time at retreat with you. Hope to get to go next year. Hope you will be my table mate again.
    Ill be sewing this weekend!

  7. adonnakay

    Yes, I am quilting this weekend. Designing baby quilts for a craft show the end of September in Oklahoma. My hubby’s great niece wants me to make two baby quilts at week for 21 weeks. She said I should be able to do that. You see, she isn’t married but does work full time and also she and her Mom own a baby quilt shop named Bizzy Bee Quilts. They are awesome folks that can put a quilt, diaper bay,, onsie, cute outfits without any patterns. They also embroidery names on the items at request.So I tease her about all of her spare time in the evenings that she devote to her customers. lol I machine embroidery, applique, and piece quilts for their shop. Loving my retirement. I hope everyone is having a great weekend. Would love to see some ideas for quilts. Blessings to all.

  8. Dora Wagner

    I loved your jelly roll race. It is wonderful. I have enjoyed watching your skills improve. As a quilter, it is always fun to watch others begin and to see their improvement along the way. Hope you continue to enjoy quilting, as much as I do.

  9. Elizabeth Dent

    Hey Vannetta , your quilt is beautiful . I love using jelly rolls .. You can cut them into a lot of different squares , rectangle , sew them together . So many ways you can use them . Another good thing about jelly rolls is the material in the roll all goes together . Love seeing your quilts.