Friday, February 22, 2019

10 tips for a perfect jelly roll rug

Hi Everyone! Thanks for dropping by. I recently jumped on the bandwagon (yes, I did) and made the Jelly Roll Rug designed by Roma Lambson of RJ Designs  original pattern © 2017. I've been secretly wanting to make it for a while, and when I saw one made by Andrea, from our local quilt group, I knew it would be on my list to make in the near future.

I asked some of my friends if they wanted to make it along with me, and they were happy to comply, because what is more fun than sewing with your quilty friends!? A big thank you goes out to Katrin, Ines and Andrea for all of your help!

I was given this beautiful collection of Indah Pops (batik) from Hoffman Fabrics. It totally is my style with bright solids, colorful prints and black! I thought It was about time to break it out and use for this project.

If you are reading this post in hopes of not purchasing the pattern and just "winging" it through the information listed here, you will be sadly disappointed. The purpose of this post is to help you make the best possible Jelly Roll (or 2 1/2" strip) Rug with the original pattern. I want to give you some additional tips for you to succeed, because you probably won't be making this a second time.

My first PRE-TIP is for people with allergies. Be really careful with the batting you use. I have allergic asthma and have problems breathing when I work with bamboo batting. I reacted with this batting and my breathing was unfortunately, affected. It may just be a coincidence.

We bought the BLEND batting which does not state what the blend is even though it is "organic." I wrote to the company trying to find out what is mixed in, but they haven't answered my email yet.

These tips are in no particular order.

TIP 1. Fan-fold your never-ending fabric strip!! 

I overlooked this in the pattern and honestly, didn't know what it meant! Just fold the strips on top of each other like an accordion or ribbon flowing in the wind.

If you think it is better to roll them up, you are terrible wrong. But I wouldn't know that, because I just don't do stupid stuff like that! Ha, ha! There was actually so much cuddle-muddle, I blew off steam several times when untangling the ribbon like a Bavarian at a Maibaumtanz. You can also use a meat cleaver or a vertical paper towel holder to hold the batting if you have one.

TIP 2. Encase your strips and batting using a scant 1/8" of an inch seam allowance. 

I used a guided 1/4" presser foot which worked like a dream in this application. I would highly recommend this but find it even better if you use a 1/8" instead if possible. Ines used a 0,5 cm which is still smaller than 1/4".

If you use a 1/4" top stitch, this stitch will be visible when butting the strips together and connecting with a zigzag stitch. Even though I increased the width of the zigzag stitch, it was still visible. Since the fabric is expensive, I would personally prefer to see more fabric instead of thread.

TIP 3 - Use bold and beautiful prints!

Use very pretty and even busy fabric that makes your heart skip a beat. Use the largest prints you can find that you've been avoiding to use for forever. Pull out the Kaffe Fasset fabric hidden deep in your fabric stash. It will work great on this project. Save those solids. If you do use solids, make sure you have a thread that matches the fabric or even invisible (monofil) thread. I wanted to use a variegated thread, but didn't find anything that matched all of the beautiful colors in this strip pack. I decided to be daring and used black. It was very daring! You see everything, especially where I ran out of bobbin thread and backstitched to secure new thread.

TIP 4 - When encasing your batting, work in 5" segments with clips.

Fold towards the center using the batting as a guide and not the fabric strip.

After encasing the first 5" section, go back and clip off in the middle of that section (about every 2 1/2").

Clip off as much of the strip that you can until all of your clips are in use. It makes it more fun to sew when you have large sections clipped and ready to sew. Since the batting will usually be wider (from stretching) than the fabric, use the batting as your guide when quartering and encasing.


TIP 5 - Load up at least 8 bobbins of thread.

If you can do this, then you certainly should. This project using much more thread than you can imagine. I was a little stunned myself, because I already had about four pre-wound bobbins that disappeared quickly.

TIP 6 - Clean out the bobbin area EVERY time you run out of thread.

Otherwise you will have tension problems, because there is so much batting and thread from this project collecting there. Take off the presser plate and clean under there and oil the bobbin case as well.

TIP 7 - Adjust your thread tension.

Make a scrap mini quilt sandwich using scrap pieces of fabric with batting encased, Set your sewing machine to applique zigzag stitch and adjust the tension (less top thread pull) before you start sewing the coil into a rug. You may even need to adjust the bobbin thread tension to get it right.  

This is crucial. When the tension is set correctly, you shouldn't have to constantly iron this monster. I didn't starch the rug at all. I did iron once in the beginning to get around the first two curves. The iron was turned off after that.Yes, you read that right. I DID NOT IRON.


TIP 8 - Use a new 80/12 or 90/14 Top stitch Quilting Needle.

Start with this when you start sewing the strips into a ring. Considering how much you sew on this project and how much wear and tear that needle is getting, you will probably be throwing it away afterwards.

TIP 9 - Use a quilting table/platform and books to keep the rug level as much as possible.
This starts to get bigger quickly and you want to concentrated on sewing together the coil. You do not want to worry about the rug flopping everywhere and you sew off of your seam. When you get a big section of rug in your lap, fold it over slightly onto the quilting table.

TIP 10 - Maneuver the rug with your hand and elbow when rotating in the machine.

Sorry, there is not photo of this; I was heavily concentrated. : ) Do not pull but rather push and guide under the needle while rotating simultaneously. This whole process reminds me of quilting a quilt. You will get an exercise workout and your shoulders will feel a little tight afterwards.

BONUS TIP: After the rug is made, you will have additional strips left over if you use a pre-cut Katahdin On-a-Roll.  You can actually make your rug bigger by adding about eight more 2 1/2" strips to the length. Do this before you start to make your coil. 

I asked my girlfriends what their tips were. Here's their advice:


Katrin's Tip:

Use an even-feed (Obertransport) foot when sewing. Do not pull or shift the fabric.

Ines' Tip:

She has an upcoming blog post in German. You can read it here.



Rug Statistics:

    Time making the entire rug: 18+ hours
    Size: 28" x 46 1/2"
    Fabrics: One Indah Pops (40) different 2 1/2" strip of Me + You by Hoffman Fabrics
    Batting: Bosal Katahdin On-a-Roll, 100% Organic Cotton Blend
    Thread: min. 8 bobbins polyester thread used. Cotton top thread was not counted.
    Cost: ~90 € without sewing time (in Germany)

I am very content with the way the rug turned out. The colors make me smile especially, because they are not in color order! It is a light and colorful rug. It makes a great accent in my sewing room too.

If you would like to make a jelly roll rug, I hope these tips will help you to make that perfect rug with your favorite fabrics. If you have any questions or would like to add your own tips below, we all would be very happy to read them. Thank you. Enjoy your weekend.

-Quilty hugs,

Monday, February 11, 2019

golden galaxy quilt

Hi All! Today, I am very thrilled to share one of my designs featured in the current issue of McCall's Quilting Jan/Feb 2019 named Golden Galaxy. If you haven't purchased this magazine, you will want to because there is all kinds of cool information about sewing with elegant fabrics such as silk dupioni and satin. It just makes you want to start searching for some glam fabrics! Do you have any in your stash?

What I love about this magazine is the instructions for the quilts. Everything is explained in detail with diagrams, quick cutting/assembly instructions as well as coloring diagrams and full-sized templates. The patterns are tested as well!

I bet you are curious to see the quilt, right? Golden Galaxy is pictured below.

Golden Galaxy, Courtesy of McCall's Quilting © 2019 Photography by Matt Graves

This design was made from the beautiful hands of Ruthie Wasmuth and is classified as a challenging sewing level quilt. (I design so many quilts, I hardly have time to sew them all!) There are just three simple blocks, but the outer border uses blocks cut on the bias, which can make it tricky to sew. There are also curves, because curves are essential to enhance a design.

I would like to share with you a couple of different coloring options you could use to make this modern quilt. This is the original color scheme of blue and yellow featured in the magazine. My tip is to use small prints or even solids to really allow the design to shine.


Here, the colors (dark and light values as well) are reversed and black was substituted for the blue fabrics. I think this looks just as stunning. What do you think?

Or you could be a bit daring and choose only to use two colors. Just look at how the curved blocks change up the design. I could really see making this beauty!

Or you could go for something a little hot and spicy like this color combo of tangerines and plums. What do you think?? Hot enough for you?

So, if you are looking for some ideas for a modern quilt that uses some cool techniques, then check out this stellar quilt. I guarantee, you will be a curve master when you finish! You can download a digital copy as well at the Quilting Company if you don't have access to the printed magazine where you live.

I would love to hear your ideas on this design, if you care to share them. Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy your week!

Quilty Hugs,

Friday, February 8, 2019

easypatchwork quilt along

Hi Folks! I am really, really, really excited to share with you the first ever easypatchwork quilt along!! Can you tell I am excited? YES, I AM!

As you may already know, I've been designing quilts and quilt blocks for magazines and my own pattern company for a couple of years now. I thought it was time to share one of my designs with all of you so we can all sew it together! How does that sound? Still a little nervous about what you could be getting yourself into? Don't worry. I'll explain it all here.

First up, what is a quilt along?

A quilt along is group of quilters who sew the same quilt, either individually or together. Instructions are usually provided on how to sew the blocks and the quilt. All participants are encouraged to stay on track, stick to schedule, and share their progress with photos and text. We all should be supportive and comment in a proactive way.


Who can participate?

Anyone can participate! However, the skill level of this quilt will be for intermediate quilters. This is not for newbies. Although most everything will be explained in detail, this quilt has several different elements that can be tricky. We don't want you to get discouraged. If you are new to quilting, we still encourage you to try the blocks but not commit to the entire quilt.

What does the QAL Cost?

Instructions for this quilt along are FREE to participants! Feel free to use the badge below to show your participation in the QAL.

Please remember, these instructions are copyrighted © 2019 Karen Ackva. That means, you are not allowed to copy them and give them to your quilty friends nor are you allowed to distribute the printed material to teach a class on this design. Tell all of your friends where to find the information and let them do with work for themselves.

You are also not allowed to copy photos and other information and post onto your account nor to distribute for your own profit. Please respect copyright laws.

How long will the quilt along take place?

The quilt along will start on Friday, March 1, 2019. Every two weeks, new instructions will be given here on the blog on what to work on for the next two weeks. Share you progress here with hyperlinks if you wish and/or on social media using the hashtag:  #mosaicjigqal

March 1, 2019 Material and Fabric Requirements
March 15, 2019 Preparation and Cutting Instructions
March 29.2019 Center Medallion
April 12, 2019 Border Blocks
April 26, 2019 Mosaic Blocks
May 10,2019 Record Blocks
May 24, 2019 Finishing

What are we going to sew?

I have designed a medallion quilt with a couple different border designs. You can get an idea from the badge above. It is a generous wall hanging or throw quilt size ~ 68" x 68". It is designed with just five fabrics - a light, a dark, a contrast and two medium fabrics. I chose a monochromatic color scheme, but there are mock ups with several other different color combos. I can't wait to share them with you too!

Would you like to see the entire design or would you like it kept a mystery? Please share your opinion below with all of us.

What techniques are going to be used?

This quilt uses curved piecing, diagonal or hoirzontal piecing, appliqué and regular piecing. There is absolutely NO FOUNDATION PAPER PIECING. We will also be using self-made templates.

How big are the blocks? 

The block sizes are 3" x 3", 6" x 6", 6" x 24" and 30" x 30". There is only a little appliqué on that 3" x 3" block which you can decide to completely eliminate and just use a colored patch instead without appliqué. Don't worry, it sounds harder than it really is. : )

Is the QAL endorsed?

This quilt along is solely organized and endorsed by easypatchwork (Karen Ackva). There are no prizes per se, but there is also no tracking and no pesky advertisements either!

We should all be more supportive of each other without an agenda behind the kindness. This is also a great way to use up your stash and maybe even learn something new.

So, what do you say? Are you in for some springtime sewing fun together? I would love to have you join us!

Thanks for dropping by! Enjoy your weekend!

Quilty Hugs,

Friday, February 1, 2019

beginner sampler

Hi everyone! I wanted to share with you the sampler quilt I made for a beginner's patchwork class. I designed it from simple blocks that are essential for skill building.

First, I searched for a nice mix of small, medium and large prints with a variety of values (light, medium and dark) and decided on a monochromatic color scheme of blues/grays/white.

Fabrics from Makower, Moda and Robert Kaufman

I worked on the computer to design a 2 x 3 horizontal layout, sampler quilt using some of the oldest and traditional blocks - Nine Patch, Shoe Fly, Courthouse Steps, Trip Around the World, Old Maid's Puzzle and an Economy Block. I decided to frame most of them to "update" their style. It also makes it easier to unify them in a sampler quilt. All blocks measure 12" after framing and most measure 8" (Finished) before framing (if you want to make your own).

Mock Up Quilt Pattern

The Nine Patch and Shoefly blocks  introduce how to use a consistent seam allowance when sewing as well as how to nest seams. The Courthouse Steps will show how your blocks can tend to bow when adding new strips. The Trip Around the World is another one to show how to nest seams. The Economy block demonstrates that every time you add a new segment, you will have to square up the block again. This is shown in further detail with the Old Maid's Puzzle.

My biggest challenge was sewing an accurate 1/4" seam allowance. I have noticed when sewing a lot of foundation paper piecing (sewing on paper), I tend to forget where my 1/4" mark is on my presser foot is when returning to regular piecing. It also varies when sewing small and large blocks. The more seams you have in a block, the scanter the seam allowance will be when pressing seams to the side. If you are pressing your seams open, it won't matter as much. 

I also had some indiscrepancies in my cutting instructions which allowed me to produce this beautiful smaller sized Trip Around the World block. I think it will make a nice demonstration mini quilt for pressing directions.

Trip Around the World & Other Sampler Blocks

After sewing all of the blocks together and adding the border, I started to think about the quilting. (I have the biggest quilting phobia.) I first thought about a customized quilting, highlighting each block. This is a beginning quilt for quilters, so that idea was scratched. I am also a little disappointed when there is too much pull from the needle which produces puckering in the quilting on domestic machines. I thought of an allover design with simple diamonds. To avoid major visual complications, I decided to start with initial quilting lines that would not disrupt the Old Maid's Puzzle. I drew a quilting line 1 1/2" to the right and to the left of the diagonal line that intersects the four blocks pictured below. If you want a quilting line that goes exactly through the diagonal on most if not all blocks, you will need to space your quilting lines 2 3/4" apart and not 3".

Quilting Line Mock Up in EQ8
I used a different marking pen on this quilt. I chose to use one that disappears with air rather than water (purple Prym Trickmarker). I liked this better, because I hate removing the marks with water afterwards. They always seem to reappear too! I only drew the first initial lines as my starting point. After I drew those, I pin-basted the quilt. My prefered batting is a cotton-polyester 80/20 blend or something that allows the quilt to lay flat. This one is a low-loft batting.

Initial Parallel Quilting Lines to Form a Diamond Pattern

I tried something else, for the first time, which worked out really well. I decided to use electrical tape to mark the follow-up, parallel quilting lines instead of marking them all. This method allowed me to stand up after quilting each line and reposition the electrical tape. This probably wasn'tthe most efficient way, but it was a great workout. :)

Straight Line Quilting Made Simple with Electrical Tape

When quilting on the domestic machine, I first checked my tension by sewing on a test quilt sandwich. I adjusted both the bobbin thread to be looser as well as the top thread. I usually quilt with cotton thread on the top and polyester on the bottom. I find when using cotton in my bobbin, I have too many tension and machine problems. I also like a nice, heavy, punctured line of quilting to show on both sides.

I used a stitch length of 3.5 and 40/3 Superior Threads 999 (light gray) on top. I put a topstitch quilting needle into action as well.

Close-Up of Stitches

I just love a striped and plaid binding and couldn't wait to start cutting this one up. I only needed four strips of 2 1/2" wide fabric for double-folded, continuous binding. I will admit, I just sewed the first strips together at first. Then I stopped myself and re-sewed them. It irritates me when the stripes don't match. To get the repeat to match up, I first ironed the strip (I was adding) on a 45° angle. Then I glued it to the first strip exactly over the striped lines. I pressed with a hot iron and then sewed scantly to the right of the ironed line. I cut off the excess and pressed the seam open.

I connected the binding strips with a 2.0 stitch length, because they would be pressed open to reduce bulk. If your stitch is too long, the seam won't be stable anymore and will have the tendency to rip out.

Perfectly Matched Binding Strips

I applied the binding with a 3/8" seam allowance and a 3.0 stitch length.

When connecting the beginning binding strip to the ending binding strip I usually go back to this method. Overlap your beginning and ending binding strips with about a 10 inch unsewn. Cut off one of strips the length of the width of your binding strips. For instance, if the width of your binding strip is 2 1/2", the overlap with be cut to 2 1/2". If your width of binding is 1 1/2" (single fold binding), you will overlap the binding by 1 1/2". Then butt the ends perpendicular (90°) and sew through the diagonal line (drawn here in red) as you would piecing continuous binding strips.

Preferred Method of Finishing the Binding Tails 
To connect the binding to the back of the quilt, I machine closed by basting the binding strip to the quilt with Clover Clips. I machine stitched in the ditch from the front with matching thread on the front (blue) and back (in gray).

I did not iron the quilt after basting. Sometimes I do iron the binding before sewing it down, but this time I didn't. I am very pleased with the way this sampler quilt turned out.

Beginning Sampler Quilt

If you are new to patchwork and quilting and would like to make this quilt, you can sign up for this class in March at Stoffwelt in Neu-Um, Germany.

Here are the stats of the quilt: Beginner Sampler Quilt 2019 from easypatchwork
  • Dimensions: ~33" x 45"
  • Block Size: (6) - 12"
  • Fabrics: 7 Different Fabrics 
  • Time: ~ 20 Hours of Work
  • Technique: Pieced
  • Batting: Freudenberg 279
  • Binding: 3/8" Wide, Machine

Thank you for joining me today and reading about this sampler quilt. Enjoy your weekend.