Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Strip Quilts

If you're reading this in hopes of some titillating pictures or prose, you're on the wrong blog. Strip Quilts are made from strips of fabric and have nada to do with the art of undressing. Now go someplace else! All you quilters, gather round. I want your opinion on this subject.

Ready-made packages of strips of fabric, often marketed under the title "jelly rolls," are very popular right now. Quilters have been making quilts from strips, as this tattered Log Cabin quilt attests, for ages. But now there's a formula for designing quilts based on the jelly roll concept. A typical jelly roll contains forty or so 2.5" wide strips (roughly three yards of fabric). Lots of patterns are being designed for using jelly rolls. Do you think this is a good idea?

Are you buying jelly rolls? Do you think they're a good value? Any down-side? To encourage comment on this subject, I'm offering a prize for comments to this blog. if you'll write and post a comment on this subject, I'll put all names (email addresses) in a hat and pull one. You have from today's date (September 23) until the end of the month (September 30) to post.

The winner gets-tada!-a jelly roll of fabrics! That's 40 strips all pre-cut. But get this: I'll custom-cut a jelly roll for you! Got a favorite color? Like strange wild-n-crazy stuff? We can accommodate you!

So give me your thoughts on jelly roll fabrics and post them here. If you don't like jelly rolls but are the winner, will you accept some home-made jelly? I just made kiwi-strawberry jam and it's getting rave reviews.


Patti said...

I have bought a few jelly rolls, though I still haven't used any of them. Why did I buy them? Well - as someone whose stash is overflowing all available storage, I'm always looking for a way to get all the fabrics in a collection without spending a fortune or creating more storage problems. Jelly rolls are a very versatile solution. You can make strip quilts - or you can use speciality rulers to cut trianges from the strips - both half and quarter square. I love scrap quilts, and always mix lots of fabrics from lots of collections in my quilts. So I won't use these to make a "cookie cutter" quilt all from one collection - I'll use them to supplement all the other fabrics in my stash. In the meantime I'm satisfying my "need to own every fabric in the world" obsession.

Anonymous said...

I haven't bought a jelly roll yet. I'm happy buying fat quarters, and since I hand piece a lot, fat quarters are a more versatile cut of fabric.

I wouldn't want to feel limited by someone else's fabric selections anyway.


Unknown said...

I've never bought a jelly role- but if I did "get" one I would want one that when put together looked primitive. ( browns, greens ,blues, dark reds, etc)

Anonymous said...

Well I will try to post my comment again. Not sure how this works.

I have seen these rolls, but did not know how to use them. Sounds like a good idea. How long are the typical strips or they varying lengths?


Pepper Cory said...

The typical jelly role package is about 40 strips, all cut 2.5 inches wide. They tend to be cut across the width of a fabric (42-44" long) and drawn from the same coordinated line of prints or in the same colorway.

Vicki Lane said...

Hey, Pepper -- Writing has kept me away from fabric stores for some time so this is a new concept for me. I'm intrigued -- could imagine having lots of fun with a jelly roll package -- either in darks and lights for log cabin squares or in nifty deep jewel tones to play around with in some other way. Fun for a challenge!


Anonymous said...

I look at the jelly rolls and then I see the price tag and put ém down again. I have made it a habit thru the years to cut myself 1 1/2" and 1" strips for Log Cabins when slicing fabric for other projects. I have two boxes bursting at the seams with strips. Waste not, want not.
If I felt the urge to get a jelly roll I most likely would have to buy yardage quantities, too, as I wouldn't be satisfied to have just 2 1/2 " strips of fabric I like.
My motto is "when in doubt, buy three yards" :-)
Buckeye Bev

Unknown said...

I have never bought a jelly roll and probably will not do so unless it is for a specific project... and then I would also probably have to buy yardage for borders, etc. SO I prefer buying yardage and fat quarters. Besides I love having some fabric left over for miniature quilts and scrap quilts.

Julia, in Virginia said...

Hi Pepper,
I've only bought one jelly roll, and that was for a challenge within a group of friends - each of us received a roll of 16 fabrics (cut 4" wide) within a color family, and then had to create a quilted object with the 16fabrics and one other fabric. Other than that I have stayed away from the "fad" of jelly rolls. I see the rolls as a marketing scheme, probably overpriced, and somewhat boring. My humble opinion is that strip and scrap quilts are much more interesting if all sorts of fabrics are used rather than fabrics from one design line. Kiwi-strawberry jam sounds really yummy! -- Julia

Anonymous said...

I think the attraction of jelly rolls is the visual "fabric appetite" they seem to satisfy, but their practical value escapes me. They seem expensive (even considering the labor that goes into creating them); most of them aren't truly appealing when you see what's actually in them; and thin strips are notoriously difficult to cut accurately, so what are you actually buying? Even so, I've always wanted to replicate a truly ugly quilt, the only survivor from one great-great grandmother, a scrap log cabin that could win at a Gee's Bend exhibit. A Pepper Jelly roll could get me started.

Debby said...

I have sewn several quilts for publication using the Jelly Rolls. Many traditional quilt patterns fit very nicely with these pre-cut strip packs. I would be happy to send you photos of the quilts I've done. The centers usually work up to about a 50" square; put on a good sized border and you have a great lap or child's quilt

Anonymous said...

I love any kind of 'stripping', but as often as I've looked at the jelly rolls, I've never purchased any...not with all the stash I have in my closet.

Garnet said...

Love jelly rolls when they are an assortment of fabric styles, it is a great way to collect a wide variety of fabrics without adding on another room :)

I am still at the collecting phase of this fad, waiting for inspiration to strike before using any of them.

Don't you all agree that fabric needs to age a while before being used to achieve the best results?


Ruth said...

Hi Pepper! This might not qualify for your contest, but I bought and used something similar to a jelly roll. I needed an assortment of small pieces of many different yellow batiks to applique flowers on a wedding quilt that my cousins and I are making for our cousin Rachel. Rachel's favorite color is purple and her fiance's favorite color is yellow, so we decided to make the quilt top out of purple batiks with several small yellow flowers appliqued randomly. Yellow batiks are hard to find, and it would have been expensive to buy fat quarters to get the variety needed. I was able to find a roll of small pieces (maybe quarter-quarter yards) that worked perfectly. Here's a photo of the quilt top with the flowers appliqued. http://rdukelow.blogspot.com/2008/09/quilt-top-completed.html. The pattern is Sonata from Hancock's of Paducah.
-Ruth Dukelow

Anonymous said...

Hi Pepper -

I agree that the main appeal of jelly rolls is probably the visual, the packaging, the "sizzle". For those who find the precut strips too limiting, but want the variety of a jelly roll, Marcus Fabrics has a new concept called STRIP IT that gives you more creative options than the pre-cut strips.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pepper --- greetings from Lansing --- sre you coming here anytime soon? Ruth's quilt is a fine example of use of "bits" of fabric. So far, I have resisted the jelly rolls --- feel like I am paying someone else to do some cutting for me --- and lord knows, I have plenty of fabric to cut strips from! I think all of these pre-cut pieces are a marketing tool and fill a niche for some quilters --- particularly, if you don't have a "stash". I would be more likely to purchase the 10" square collections.
I enjoy reading your blog --- and, sometimes, envy you your weather!
Carol Sc

Linda said...

I think jelly rolls are a visual marketing ploy and something to get sewers who want to make something quickly and from a pattern. The rolls are so "cutsey" in my opinion. I also wonder about the accuracy of them as they have been handled and the edges are rough.

But then again, I like the odd, wierd and unusual.

I was given a jelly roll as a gift....and there is sits.

Another comment from Lansing!!!

Carol Helmlinger said...

Pepper, Jelly Rolls are the greatest innovation since chocolate! As an 11 year quilter I don't always have the time to buy, cut and piece a quick quilt when I need one. The Jelly Rolls provide me with a beautiful aray of fabrics (I don't own!) and with a pattern a fast way to piece a beautiful quilt. For newbees what a treasure to buy so many coordinated fabrics and simply pattern to put together! I have been buying jelly roll's for two years and love them, throw in a tablespoon of peanut butter and I'm hooked!

Jeanne said...

Pepper, I love the "look" of the jelly rolls, but haven't bought any. I'm tempted to cut my own from older fabrics in my stash, hoping that will make them appealing again. *s*
Value-wise, the price is reasonable as the cutting is done for you and the variety of fabrics is good. I do have a layer cake and am excited about the new turnovers and sweet rolls debuting at Market next month.

Anonymous said...

I confess to having bought quite a few jelly rolls and even using them to make quilts. It is fun to have every fabric in a collection - and with my local shops only selling 1/4 yards or more (no 1/8 yard cuts) the cost adds up really fast. I prefer the straight cut edges to the serrated edge strips - easier to find 1/4" seams. I've only had one strip cut off grain and unfold like a chevron.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pepper,
Good seeing you this morning! If I win, I'd like some of your handmade jelly - I already have too much fabric... :o)

KHart said...

Hi, Pepper
I am new to jelly rolls. I bought a kit six months ago that has jelly rolls as the basics - I have not taken it out of the package - not sure why - maybe I am not used to beginning with those itsy bitsy pieces. Anyway price wise I think they are probably more expensive but save time - time is money!!!

Shasta Matova said...

I love jelly rolls - they give you a chance to get lots of different fabrics without having to wait at the cutting counter, and without having to have all those unstraight edges. I haven't made jelly roll quilts, although I do think that those books and patterns are a good idea. So far I have used my fabric in different scrap projects. I did make a couple of jelly roll-type quilts, but I came up with my own arrangement.

Shasta Matova said...

P.S. Jelly rolls are made by one company, Bali is getting into the act by making a similar product in batiks and calling it Bali Pop. Can't remember offhand, but they come in flavors, kiwiberry is a flavor, and strawberry is another.

Becky B said...

I won a book that provides ideas for jelly roll fabrics but didn't find it compelling enough to buy or create my own. I'd prefer to use strips from my own collection.

The jelly sounds yummy.

Carole said...

I have never, so far, bought a Jelly roll. For one thing, I have a difficult thinking about a fabric if I have less than 1/4 yard! lol Besides, fondly strips/jelly rolls is not as satisfying as fondling a FQ or more! I mean, it frays etc.... lol I remember reading an article in Quilter's home (Mark Lipinski) about jelly rolls perhaps impairing a quilter's creativity by having everything pre-determined from fabric to pattern. I suppose this quilting era will be know are the jelly roll period! Have fun!

Anonymous said...

I have not bought a jelly roll but they look so tempting. I thought I could use it as a paper weight untill I figured out what to do with it. Beaufort, NC

Anonymous said...

I am not a fan of jelly rolls. Not enough of one fabric to entice me, especially the larger prints in a collection. I actually think they may do a disservice to a quilt shop. They are selling the rolls, cakes and charm packs and not carrying any of the line. You buy the jelly roll and have no choices for borders or sashings or whatever you may need. Then you hit all the local stores looking for it and end up having to find it and buy it on line. This doesn't seem to stimulate the local economy.
Besides I am too picky to purchase fabrics pre-chosen for me.
I guess it's your wonderful kiwi strawberry jelly for me, DARN!

Pepper Cory said...

What I'm hearing so far is interesting. Some comments are a little vague, but it breaks down approximately to the following:
Yes! I love jelly rolls: 4 people.
No! It's a silly idea: 8 people.
Yes, well, I've bought 'em but haven't used yet: 5 people.
Yes, still collecting: 1
No, but I might: 3 people.
I'm gonna go call Mark Lipinski and see about that article on jelly rolls.

Anonymous said...

As a quilter I have resisted jelly rolls because I cannot stand to follow the herd or making something like everyone else. As a shop owner, though, I am finding that my own made strips and charms sell well. I think it has to do with people wanting to sample a store that they like. Large Fat quarter bundles can be too expensive, but strips and charms range from $5 to $35. It is kind of like going into a new candy store, you are more apt to buy the variety pack then just one piece so you can sample many.

Sherry said...

Hi Pepper, I have purchased the patterns for using the jelly rolls but I use my own fabrics --- mainly because I like putting my own colors together.

I could be one of those "strange birds" that can't stand things that are too "matchy matchy" and I very rarely purchase an entire collection of any fabric.

Also, since I like scrappy quilts I find FQ cuts are much more useful for me.

Just MHO,


Unknown said...

Hi Pepper
I don't like the idea of someone else preselecting my fabrics. It defies the early idea of using scaps of left overs. Jelly rolls are pretty,preselected, prescribed strips for masses . I don't want my quilts to be duplicated by others. It stifles creativity and is for those who look for a quilt in a day! The end result is neither a replica of early quilts,i.e. a log cabin; nor an art quilt. For me, the whole quilting process includes my own creative selection of fabrics. Sometimes the result is a little chaotic(like my life at the time)but always ME.

Anonymous said...

As a firm believer in pre-washing all my fabric before use, I find it hard to get excited about jelly rolls. I also agree with the comment made about the pinked edges versus straight. And you do have to wonder if the strips will be "straight" or "v'd" at the fold. I also prefer not to make something that will look like everyone else's. All the smaller cuts are a wonderful marketing tool, however. That's my two-cents worth! Thanks for listening!

Penny said...

I personaly love them but I recently was a vendor at the New Hampshire show and very few of them were sold. I was very suprised that I had over 20 people ask me what they were and are there patterns for them (tons!). The lint is way to much for me and I am rethinking them for the next show. I usually don't wash my fabric so that does not bother me about them or charm packs. However I do agree with some of the other comments about your own creativity. The vendor across from me had someone tell her she has her own mind and does not like the rolls of fat quarters or jelly rolls (even the lovely civil war fabrics she had from her own cuttings!). I had seen you at breakfast a few times but did not want to bother you, I was hopeing you had stopped by the booth. I was trying out all your suggestions from the FabSopChat and I was rewarded with tons of great comments. Thanks so much for the great advice!

Penny D, Chesapeake

Sue Way said...

I am amazed at the continual invention of new techniques and ideas in the quilting world. Jelly rolls-way to go!

I do like the "Jelly Roll" concept. While shopping for quilting fabric, it is enjoyable to see what fabric colors and designs others will group together. When these groupings are in a package together, I save time and money. I don't have to buy a lot of fabric and I don't have to spend a great deal of time selecting them.

To continue to attract new and old quilters, the quilting industry needs to offer new and attractive fabrics and techniques. We are still hooked!!

Marge said...


"Jelly Rolls" don't entice me because the fabrics in them go together too well! I use many, many fabrics in my quilts as I am influenced by antique quilts from the 1800s. Since I can't afford to buy many antique quilts, I save pictures of them for inspiration. I need to use quirky fabrics or fabrics that shouldn't go together to make my quilts sparkle. I can't do this with jelly rolls. The closest that I came to them was this year when I wanted to make a quick quilt for my mother who is in a nursing home. I bought a pack of half yard fabrics that were packaged from one collection. I knew that my mother would like a quilt with these controlled fabrics. It was so difficult for me to work with the limited collection, but my mother did love the quilt!

Joyce said...

I buy lots of jelly rolls. I have yet to use any in any project, but, I like them as resourses. Perhaps they should be considered collectibles? I think this is just one of those 'faddish' things that will fade away with time. However, it is a great way to get a beginner involved in the quilting process without them having to 'sweat' over fabric selection.

dungeonquilter said...

I find the jelly rolls an easy and convenient way to collect all the fabrics in a collection. I supplement them with layer cakes for versatility

Vicky F said...

Hi Pepper,
I have not purchased a jelly roll. I generally don't go for the whole line of any fabric; I prefer to pick and choose via fat quarters or yardage.
If I won a jelly roll I'm sure I could find a project for it; I would prefer it in bold jewel toned colors.
Thanks for asking
Vicky F
A fan from GR, Mich

Avon said...

I have looked at jelly rolls but most of the quilts I make use wider than 2 1/2 inches but I might try finding a pattern that would work if I won the prize. I have used the 5 inch squares and loved the fact that I could get that much variety. More than you could afford if you were buying 1/4 yards. I am excited to hear about the new strips that are 5 1/2 or 6 inches wide as they would work for a larger variety of patterns. I hope I win I might really love the jelly rolls.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I haven't purchased any jelly rolls because I prefer to always prewash my fabrics and can't imagine the nightmare of trying to press out the strips after being washed.
DianeH, Caledon, ON

Anonymous said...

I haven't purchased a jelly roll...yet!... but I view using a jelly roll as a challenge. I am going on a long car trip in November and that would be a good idea to take along to snip and hand stitch and see what happens.

Dee said...

I think jelly rolls are pretty to display and to pet - practical, probably not, but yummmmm. I know, I know, day late and a dollar short, but love your blog and had to comment and read the comments. Especially love the jelly rolls in tins to display - oh yea, and just plain love jelly.
Dee - jessibir@hickorytech.net

Anonymous said...

It's way past Sept. 30th so WHOSE email address got picked???
Inquiring minds want to know....

Buckeye Bev

Katie said...

I know I'm way behind here but I have to comment. My experience with jelly rolls is that first of all I can't wash the fabric, second, they shed all over the place, and third, the quality of the fabric in the one I've used so far was much poorer than the matching yardage. It was course and rough and more loosely woven. Not nice to work with. I have another jelly roll waiting but I'm not in a rush to use it!