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  1. large-jelly-roll-3I love a jelly roll* because it offers a way to make a super-fast quilt top and I’m often surprised by the pattern combinations that happen. In this blog I’m going to celebrate creating my vintage jelly rolls by explaining two really easy ways to use the strips to make a quilt top – so easy, you could have one finished in an afternoon – really.

    Jelly Roll Quilt One - Take the Long Way

    Unroll your strips and take the first one off the top, take the second strip and lay it right sides together on top of the first. Now machine the long edge with a ¼” seam allowance. We are being speedy here so don't pin, just hold the fabrics together as they feed through your machine.

    jelly-roll-quilt-tutorial-1 jelly-roll-quilt-tutorial-2 jelly-roll-quilt-tutorial-3

    Once done, open out the two strips, take the third strip from the pile and place it face down on your second strip. Stich the long side again. And repeat for the remaining 17 or 37 strips in your roll. Once done, open out your beautiful quilt top and iron the seams flat on the back of the quilt. That’s it! You could add a border, you could cut it down for cushion covers or a bag... the choices are endless. By simply adding each strip as it comes you take the stress out of deciding what goes where and just crack on with the sewing. However, if this is really too random for you feel free to create any sequence you like!


    Jelly Roll Quilt Two - The Short End

    This is slightly – but not much – more complicated technique which will give you a more random pattern. This time we are going to be joining ALL the strips by their short ends to create one long strip of fabric (1,760" long in fact).

    So, take your first strip, lay the second strip on top right sides together and sew the short end.  Take the third strip from the pile and repeat the process, adding it to the second strip. Keep going until you have used all the strips in your roll. There's no need to double sew the ends, they will be oversewn in the next step. Once you have your super long thin strip choose one of the end pieces and cut about 19” off it – discard the cut piece.

    jelly-roll-quilt-tutorial-5 jelly-roll-quilt-tutorial-6 jelly-roll-quilt-tutorial-7

    Now, take the two ends of your long strip and bring them together, right sides facing. Make sure they aren’t twisted. Stitch one of the long sides together with a ¼” seam allowance. Once done, you will have a double width strip that is half the original length. One end will have a fold, just trim it to open out the ends.

    jelly-roll-quilt-tutorial-8 jelly-roll-quilt-tutorial-9 jelly-roll-quilt-tutorial-11

    Repeat the process; open out the double strips and bring the two ends together as before and again, stitch one of the long sides. You will now have a strip that if 4 strips wide and half the length again. Trim the fold, open out and repeat. Keep going until you have 32 rows.

    jelly-roll-quilt-tutorial-12 jelly-roll-quilt-tutorial-13 jelly-roll-quilt-tutorial-14

    Because we trimmed one of the first strips at the beginning, the joins between the strips are no longer lined up and will start to create a random sequence across the quilt. Again, once it's done simply iron the seams flat at the back and add a border.

    There you go, one afternoon = one quilt! Both these techniques are perfect for beginners or anyone who wants to whip up a throw quick smart! Jelly Rolls are available in the shop.

    Happy Sewing :)


    *A jellyroll is a roll of fabric strips – each one usually 2.5” wide x 44” long. In a full-size roll there are 40 strips, in a half roll there are 20. Using all 40 strips will make a quilt top of roughly 80 inches x 40 inches but you can use them in any combination to create a piece of fabric to any size.

  2. I’m often asked where I find my fabrics and how I know what they are. I find them...everywhere. Auctions, markets, attics, lovely people who email and ask if I want to buy them, family members turning out airing cupboards, other dealers…


    The answer to the second question is more complicated. Sometimes it’s straightforward, so if I have some Noddy fabric and it has a printed selvedge then I follow the trail. Let’s say it’s a Fothergay print, I can research Fothergay – when were they operating? What licenses did they have? Which Blyton artist was illustrating Noddy at that time and have they done the illustrations? You get the idea. It can be time consuming but it's often rewarding. Occasionally though, I get stuck and then the fabric becomes a bit of an enigma.


    I bought some vintage linen a while ago because I loved it (see previous entries – this happens often). The fabric is glorious and slightly odd, but it was the marks on the selvedge that really intrigued me.

    “Prentedoek – RAINBOW CHILDREN - design – PIET WORM – adoption – JOSEPHINE BAKER”

    The print shows children of various nationalities climbing ladders. Looking at the design there are 25 different images of children shown as a repeating pattern, but only 11 children’s names – intriguing.


    I start with trying to pin down where it's come from, Prentedoek and the name Piet Worm sounded like words from the Netherlands to me and so it proves. Google translate helpfully offers “princess cloth” or “printed cloth” for Prentedoek and I plump for the latter. Piet Worm was a well-known Dutch illustrator of childrens’ books including one, which comes up again and again, called The Rainbow Children ("tribu arc-en-ciel") written by Josephine Baker. Now I'm even more intrigued...is it really the Josephine Baker? What is she doing with her name on some children's fabric?

    Louis_Gaudin_-_Casino_de_Paris_-_Josephine_Baker_1930 (picture credit: Louis Gaudin - Casino de Paris - Josephine Baker - 1930)

    This sends me into a whole new world of interest because, although I knew that Josephine Baker was a celebrated dancer, singer and Cheetah owner, amongst many other things, I had no idea that she also adopted 12 children from around the world. She housed them in her castle in the Dordogne, the Chateau Milandes, and named them, The Rainbow Children. Baker's work with the Civil Rights movement in the 1950's started her idea for a family that she called the Rainbow Tribe. She wanted to prove that, "children of different ethnicities and religions could still be brothers." The outcome of her plan was to be complex and not without flaws but it makes fascinating reading.


    And so we have the answer to the design. These are the children depicted on the ladders, with their names and the costumes that tie them to their countries of origin. Some are shown twice, in different outfits so that accounts for the fact that there are 25. But Josephine adopted 12 children in all and there are only 11 here. My best guess is that this was printed before Stellina, the final child to be adopted, was added to the family in the mid-sixties. Since the penultimate adoption happened in 1959/60, this means I can date the fabric to between 1960 – 1965. So far, so good.


    My next question is who printed it and why? Is it a spin-off from the book? Was it made for commercial use or just for the chateau? So far it’s a blank. I’ve asked the Textile Museum of the Netherlands and they have no record of it and no knowledge. I’ve found similar prints by another well-known Dutch illustrator of the time produced by a firm called Dehnert & Jansen, but they are long gone so I’ve no way of checking. Google searches only bring up the book, never fabric and I can’t find any other records of this design. I’ve hit a wall.

    The hunt goes on…

    Needless to say, if you know anything about this fabric please get in touch!