Several years ago, I started to set annual quilting goals motivated by the volume of unfinished projects and fabric that I own (owning a quilt shop for 26 years will do that to you).
This year, I want to create a new quilt top each month from one of my shelves of fabric. The quilt tops will be used as donation quilts to the various causes that I support. Since I store the bulk of my fabric by color groups, that means it will be a year of (generally) monochromatic quilts.
Happily, once I got the idea, an inspiration perfectly suited to January appeared!! Winter here in Northeast Ohio (USA) is a brown and (if we are lucky) white time of the year.
The cardinals that come to my feeder are a reliable spot of color in the bland landscape. This series of photos I took gave me the idea! The males are a striking red but the females have a subtle beauty that I admire.
We keep a small pump going all winter in our little garden pond and on this 21 degree (F) morning, it provided just enough open water for her to get a drink and take a bath.
And so the color scheme idea was born -- lots of background fabrics with sparks of golden brown and red.
The pattern? 2 1/2" strips cut from "all" the fabrics on that shelf and worked into a Jelly Roll 1600 roll quilt -- quick to stitch and easy to quilt plus it will be a relaxing break from all my hexagon piecing work!
I spent some time every evening before the annual January sewing retreat with my quilting friends cutting the strips and tidying up the background shelf. It provided a good opportunity to sort out the small pieces (under 1/4 yard) for quick access next time I need a scrappy assortment of backgrounds and to get the duplicate cuts of a print back together (why do we do that -- buy the same print two or three times?). The shelf looks very tidy!!
Once I arrived at the retreat, I laid out my stack of strips and stack of squares and used them as leaders and enders while adding the background hexies to my "masterpiece".
During the evenings, when my eyes were tired, I stitched the strips end to end so there is a square of color between every strip.
I did some calculations to make a larger quilt than is typical with a jelly roll -- my goal was a twin size and I had about 2500 inches of length when I got everything stitched together.
Pressing is not nearly so tedious when you are at a retreat -- there is always someone available to distract you with some goofy conversation! My sidekick here couldn't resist indulging in an opportunity to ham it up for the group with an improv "info-mmercial" about one of my upcoming workshops!
Here's a quick tip on minimizing the twisting that can occur when stitching a seam that is 1250 inches long. I accordion pleat the strip into a tidy stack.
The end of the strip is on the left side of this picture.
I split the stack in half and bring the bottom half of the stack over to my left with the other end of the strip on top of that half of the stack.
Now I lay these two stacks on the floor under my sewing machine table.
I bring the two ends up and merge them together as I stitch down the seam. The strip feeds up smoothly with no twisting. I can even leave and come back without a problem. Of course, I'm doing this away from my (helpful) cats!!
You'll notice that I pressed the seam once I have stitched the first pass but after that I don't press again until I have the piece finished.
As I progressed from a band of two strips to four strips to eight strips to sixteen strips, each seam gets shorter. Fortunately I realized at sixteen strips that to continue the doubling would not get the results I wanted. If I doubled to thirty-two and then doubled that to sixty-four, my quilt top would have been too narrow and too long.
So when I had sixteen strips sewn together, I divided it into three equal sections. I stitched those three sections together for a top that is 66" by 96". Most of my strips were approximately 40" long, but there were shorter strips. That helped achieve the staggered placement of the squares of color. I'm very pleased with the result and it used up over 5 yards of fabric from my hoard!!
As I folded the top in half to pack it up for the trip home, I thought to myself this is going to be hard to give away?! So I might unstitch the center seam and finish it as two laprobes (48" by 66") -- one to donate and one for me?
If you've never done a Jelly Roll 1600 quilt, you can go HERE to watch a video on how to make one. If you are on Pinterest, do a search for "Jelly Roll 1600" ideas to get inspired. Then give it a try with that Jelly Roll that is taking up space on your shelves or better yet, cut your own 2 1/2" strips from your stash of fabric and thin out a bit!!
That gives me another idea -- my 2 1/2" strip box is overflowing -- I could clear it out with a scrappy strippy quilt top!!
If you are visiting from the GROW YOUR BLOG link, thanks for taking the time to stop by! Be sure to read my post from 1/25 (HERE) and enter my giveaway by leaving a comment at the end of that post!
To the studio!!