So I started the draft post of this on Thursday… two Thursdays ago. Apparently I haven’t been very talky lately! Anyway, I hardly had anything written in that original draft (and it referenced Friday Finish, which I’ve now missed twice because I keep on not finishing this entry).
You might have already seen it because I put pictures on Instagram and in one of my Talk to Me Tuesday videos, but I finished a baby quilt using Fat Quarter Shop‘s Jelly Roll Jam II pattern:
This pattern requires just 20 strips of fabric from a jelly roll for the top. I used 15 strips from a Kona cotton design roll – I think it was either the Rainbow palette or the New Colours (but the old new colours, not the current new colours, I’ve had that design roll sitting around for a while) – and added 5 strips of assorted prints. Three of the prints are polka dots, I think from Riley Blake, one is a Denyse Schmidt plaid (the orange one), and the navy chain link one… I don’t really know who that is. But I liked it enough to use it for the binding! I don’t have too much of it left now and no selvedge, so I don’t guess I’m going to figure it out! I forgot to photograph the back, but it’s backed in a navy blue flannel with while polka dots. Just a bit of random fabric I had in my stash. Actually, everything in this quilt came out of the stash – I didn’t have to buy thread or batting or anything for it! Go me! (It’s rare I don’t take the excuse to buy new things…)
This was the first project I sewed – beginning to end (minus hand-sewing the binding) – on my new-to-me Juki TL98E when it came back to me from the repair shop.
By and large it’s been really wonderful to sew on. It sews really smoothly and has really beautiful stitches and it goes SO FAST. I keep saying that switching to this from my old Kenmore machine is like going from a moped to a Ferrari and it really kind of is – just basically no comparison between the machines, except that they both eventually get you where you were going. I love the needle down function (so love it!) and it’s smoother sounding and it makes nicer stitches. (Though I did take my old machine in to get serviced too … first time ever and it’s ten years old! Maybe it’ll make nicer stitches again now too.)
But I ran into problems almost immediately with the 1/4″ foot, which actually makes a slightly larger than 1/4″ seam, leaving me with an entire quilt worth of too small units! The thing is, I actually measured that first seam to see if it was the right size and it really did seem to be, but I think they were all just one or two threads too big and with five seams across a block, it was enough to eat up some width.
Because of the way the quilt is constructed (the blocks are not squares but rectangles), it didn’t actually matter so I just made the quilt slightly smaller in the width than it was meant to be. I didn’t want to pick out all those seams and start over again! So those strips are all supposed to be 2″ finished width, but are slightly closer to 1.75″ when they’re placed vertically. The horizontal strips are actually 2″ because I hadn’t sewn them yet when I discovered the error and I was able to stitch them up properly.
I did a lot (a lot!) of practise stitching with some different ideas for quilting, but I wound up defaulting to a basic all-over stipple. This was the first time I ever did stippling on a non-practise piece. On the old machine I’d always wind up with super tight and tiny little stipples because there was no room for my hands – I had to hold the quilt underneath in the harp space because there wasn’t room for my hand to sit flat atop the quilt and on the left because otherwise it would hang off the edge of the machine – but this Juki has a table and a lot more harp space, so there’s room for two flat hands, which meant I was able to get nice big curves without much difficulty.
Not that it was perfect. I’m having a lot of difficulty keeping a steady speed on this machine. It’s just go so much power and then I wind up going too fast, start to panic, pull my foot off the peddle and then drop down to no speed. Which means there’s a whole lot of variation in my stitch length. But even the largest stitches here are less than a quarter inch in length, so I didn’t pick out any of my stitching. I decided to just let it go because eventually I will sort out the speed issue and as long as my quilts are usable, there’s no point in wasting time and getting really frustrated picking out things that aren’t perfect, but also aren’t that bad.
My other issue was the occasional bit of jerking around and making corners where there should have been curves (or little jumped stitches, where I suddenly veered an eighth of an inch to the left or right before continuing the original line – I do have photos of that, but I’m NOT going to fill this entire post with pictures of my little mistakes…). I did the quilt in kind of two passes – half of it on a Thursday and half of it on a Friday – and in the middle of that, I fell down a (short) flight of stairs and strained my back pretty badly in a couple places. Which I tell you because my second half of quilting was a fair bit worse than the first! I was so stiff that I would try to make a motion for a curve, twinge something in my back and wind up jerking around in pain and leaving evidence of it on the quilt top. So there are quite a few of those, and that’s maybe even what happened here. Sometimes, though, it was because I’d forget to stop before moving my hands or I’d try to keep quilting even though I was running out of hand space at all.
In any case, I really enjoyed working on this. I’ve always defaulted to straight line quilting in the past because I’ve been so intimidated by free motion quilting (I did do rows of loopy lines on one previous quilt), but getting this one thing under my belt makes the rest of it seem a little more possible. I just need to keep practising (and get that whole speed control issue figured out).
5 thoughts on “Jelly Roll Jam II”
I think this is a great pattern for using up random strips, the alternating horizontal and vertical lines make it a little more interesting. I have a similar pattern with my quarter inch foot, I find keeping the fabric just inside the edge of the foot works for me. Like everything, it takes practice! Hope you mend up soon.
It’s a cute little quilt. I forgot to measure it, but it’s quite tiny though! I was pretty tempted to double up the number of each block type and just lengthen it out so it wouldn’t be quite so small. I agree though, I think I’d almost rather make one to finish up spare strips, rather than breaking into a new jelly roll like I did. (Because now I’ve got another 20 left from the roll!)
I’m finding it easier to sew the quarter inch just using the line on the machine, rather than trying to use the foot. Oh well… I lived without a quarter inch foot for 10 years, I can probably keep on managing without one 😀
Thanks! I’m definitely feeling better. It was when we had our surprise early September snow (and my front steps were coated in a thin, but kind of deadly layer of ice) so I’ve had most of the month to get over it since then.
Hi there from Saskatoon! i just found your blog tonite via Citric Sugar, and it was fun to see you used to live here. Enjoyed scrolling back and reading previous posts.. had to laugh when I saw you had a couple of stacks of Saturday Surprise blocks. i must admit that I have a couple of those too. but you did a good job sewing those thousand flower blocks. michelle
Hi back! I sometimes still miss Saskatoon – I hate the winters there, but Calgary has never felt like home and Saskatchewan just is (I swear, when I fly in, I breathe a little easier when we fly in to land and all you can see is farmland and open skies for miles). Oh well, maybe one day I’ll move back!
Those Thousand Flower blocks were HARD, that was such an education for a not-very-educated sewist, which is what I was at the time. There were a few that I bought more than one block because I’d messed up the first one so badly and then I started buying FQs of the fabric so that I could make my own kit if I messed it up too much. I really should get that sewed up into a quilt, it might not be my exact taste in fabrics these days, but I would be ridiculously proud of myself every time I looked at it, so it’s probably worth doing 😀
[…] doing anything with it. And then I got bit by the free motion quilting bug because I was working on that baby quilt I just posted about the other day and I started watching Craftsy videos about free motion quilting […]