Friday, December 30, 2011

Tutorial - 1600 quilt

*Warning this is a VERY picture heavy tutorial. 52 pictures to be exact. Sorry if it is slow to load. 
The original 1600 quilt can be found here, at Heirloom Creations. I took a minor creative liberty with mine because I don't like the diagonal seams.  The quilt finishes at about 48" x 64".

For this quilt you will need:
  • ONE Jelly Roll OR Forty 2 1/2" x Width of Fabric strips. (Great selection of Jelly Rolls found here or here, on Etsy, or your local quilt shop, though I would not recommend Walmart or Joann's Jelly is up to you though, I am a Moda snob.)
  • Backing, about 2 2/3 - 3 yards
  • Binding 1/2 yard
  • And of course batting, which can be purchased in pre-cut packages or off the roll at Joann's or a quilt shop. My favorite is Warm and White or Warm and Natural. (If my quilt has white in it I go with the white option.) 
Now let's get started. 

Unroll your jelly roll OR cut your forty 2 1/2" strips. 
(If you opt to cut your own strips that is no problem, but you will want a lot of variety. On my Spiffing Stripes quilt, I purchased a selection of fabrics and cut my own strips. It was queen size, and I used quite a few repeats of each strip, but the size of the quilt allowed for that. If you are interested, a queen size 1600 quilt takes about 4 jelly rolls, if I remember correction, it may have only been 3... As you can see on the Spiffing Stripes quilt it was a bit oversized for a queen sized quilt, and I had extra to use both as my borders and in the backing.
Jean the Jelly Roll Queen has some great videos on youtube, including THIS ONE talking about the math to make a larger 1600 Quilt, so go check her out!) 
 Mix up your strips so the colors are not concentrated.
 Now select two pieces.
 Place them right sides together, along a short end...
 And stitch them together. Do not worry about the selvage edge, just make sure that your stitching is inside the selvage edge and the little holes on the fabric.
Do not cut this off your thread, you are going to chain stitch saving yourself A LOT of time and A LOT of thread.

Fold the end of your top fabric over so that it is now right side up and will be the bottom fabric on your next set.
 Select another strip, place it on top of the second strip, right sides together, along the short side and stitch together.
 This is my 1/4" foot, not very helpful when leaving the selvage edge on, but it comes in handy later. You can also see that I do kind of overlap those holes, but they will be in my seam allowance so that is okay.
 Fold the end of this piece back so it is right side up and select another strip and continue this process.
 Here is what your chain of strips will look like along the stitch end:
 This is what the other end of your chain of strips will look like:
 Just keep on going with this, folding strips over, sewing end to end.
 Find a cute little helper to hand you strips if your pile is still on the floor like mine was.
 After you have sewn all your strips together trim the stitches holding them together.
 Find one end.
 And now you will iron those seams. Start by pressing the seam flat (I should have photographed the top of this, oops!)
 And then iron your seam open. This is personal preference and typically I do not, but I did for this project because I did not want the seams to be bulky.
 This is going to take awhile, esp when you discover that nasty pile of 1600" long strip is all twisted up now. =) So while you are every so patiently ironing your seams, why not stack the ironed portion up nicely so you don't have to work that out later on.

 Now take that end strip and cut off half of it. Yeah, that is right, cut it off. If you don't your quilt will not get that beautiful staggered look.
 Now grab both ends of you 1600" long strip.
 Place them right sides together...
 And this time, rather than stitching the short side, you will start stitching the looooooooo...oong side together. Make sure your bobbin is full. Don't worry you'll likely have to stop and refill it along the way. =)
And this is where I LOVE my 1/4" foot, because I don't have to pay attention to my seam allowance.

 This is me stitching over the open seam allowance, go slowly so you don't bunch up the front end of the allowance.
 I split my huge pile of strip into 2, one on each thigh so that the ends could feed to where I was sewing.
 This is my new little pile of strip landing on the floor.
 And just keep on sewing. This is the longest, and most tedious part. Thankfully with each new round of sewing the distance is cut in half.
 And keep going.
 Maybe turn on a show to ease your boredom (I was watching Army Wives).
 Ahh, finally the end. I sewed to the end. Trim the end with scissors, so that it is squared up, and to cut off where your fabric is folded over.
 Open it up and admire your work.
 Now find that other end again. You can restack your long strip if you wish. I didn't this time, and I probably should'll see why.
Look at how the fabric layout with look so that you make sure you are still staggering nicely (ie make sure the 2 portions you place next to each other are not the same length, mine has a short piece and a long piece), maybe you'll have more color variation then I ended up with right here.
 Match your ends together again...
 ....and start sewing down that edge again. Don't forget to check your bobbin!
 And keep stitching.
 Cute little pile.
 And this is what I ran into when I got to the end. My strip had twisted.
 So I pulled the bottom layer flat, and tried to even up the lengths of my strips.
 Then I cut the top and bottom apart
 Lined them up and finished sewing.
 Find both ends again, match them up and start sewing. Check your bobbin!
 Yay no twist at the bottom this time! Cut apart along the fold.
 Lookin good! Finish sewing.
 Find ends, match up again. If you have a couple of strips that are longer than the rest, let them extend past the rest of the strips, don't worry about trimming them at this point.
 Sew some more. Check your bobbin!
When you get to a 16 strip segment sew your ends together one last time, and cut apart at the bottom..
 Then check out your awesome quilt top!
I did not take any photos of pressing, it is kind of a pain in the butt but pretty self explanatory. Just press all the seams one direction. I started at the bottom, ironing on the front trying to tackle on seam at a time. Then I flipped it over to the back to make sure that each seam allowance was laying the right direction.

Don't worry about squaring up your edges at this point unless they are way off. I waited until after I quilted to do this.

Keep an eye out for my tutorial on basting and quilting to come in the next few days.

1/3/12 - I threw together another 1600 quilt today with a Shangri-La by 3 Sisters for Moda Jelly Roll. I found in my stash. I decided to cut a lot of the strips into random smaller sizes to add more variety to the quilt, I like how it turned out. Sorry crappy phone pic...


  1. Great post! I linked your tutorial on my blog.

  2. Love this and will try it soon! :) Thanks.

  3. Loved this...I will try this when Im brave enough...Im new to quilting....

  4. Louisa- can't wait to try this! Looks like a lot of fun

  5. Thank you for your helpful tutorial! I linked you on the Glitter Blog!

  6. I used to read about jelly roll races and wondered how in the world they could finish a top in under half an hour. Now that I see the process, I am inspired! One of these might be made for charity this week...perhaps even today, if I can find enough strips to cut.

  7. I, also, sub-cut my jelly roll strips into random lengths for variety in the layout. Then I shake them in a bag to really mix them up! 3 Sisters is a fab fabric design group, I love all of their collections.

  8. I wanted to thank you for your great tutorial for this strip quilt using a jelly roll. I'm just starting my first one and your helpful hints are great. I especially needed the advice about the bobbins. ( I got 4 ready before I started) and I would have been having a heart attack at the end of my first loooong row of sewing when it ended up twisted....but I didn't panic because of your advice. Lots of picture help me also. Back to sewing....Marilyn

  9. oh that is cool! Must remember this one!

  10. I started and finished one of these today for my daughter. Love it love it love it! It's actually the first quilt I've ever completed, though only the second I've started. I kind of wish I'd thought of this for MY quilt! Lol. Oh well. Thanks a bunch for the tutorial!

  11. I wasn't interested in making one until I saw yours and your wonderful tutorial. It is very detailed. Thank you for sharing with us. Now I am off to order a jelly roll!

  12. Ginnye-Feb 12-2013---I just made one from the strips I already had Did not see your tutorial before but saw several others and none of them told how to cut the strips after sewing the strips together. I did it because I didn't see how else to do it. BUT your tutorial was the best and I will refer it to the rest of my Guild. Thanks

  13. Sorry Jenny, from the "Show Me State"! This version of the 1600 Quilt directions is much better for this novice quilter. The zippy presentation may be fine for someone who quilts often and has amazing sewing skills. After repeated viewing of her Youtube presentation, resulting in seam ripping practice--I found your version! This I have copied for my quilt manual and will treasure it with the antique patterns from my grandma. Thanks to "the Bird" you have made me a "Happy quilter" with a top and looking for binding. Nancy in Michigan.

  14. Just a question... how did you go about quilting your finished quilt? Lines, diagonal, etc? I don't have a long arm so will have to just use a walking foot and pick a simple design, I was just wondering how you approached that. Thanks.

    1. I just used my walking foot and did straight line quilting. I butted up the edge of the walking foot with the seam and did a line down both sides of the seam.

  15. Love the tutorial...Thank You. I was wondering if you cut the pieces shorter would you get more variety and when I scrolled down to the end you had even answered that question!

  16. This is the best tutorial!! Thank you for all of the pictures! I'm going to attempt this over the holiday and weekend!

  17. Great tutorial! I *like* all the pictures. Just made a Christmas one for my daughter who was born on Dec 26th. I used "In From the Cold" by Kate Spain. I saved the strips with the cups of hot chocolate design and did a one strip border around the edges. Love it!

  18. Great tutorial! I wish I'd seen yours before I went to the trouble of mitering my strips together at the ends. That process took just as long as sewing the quilt top did! I thought I'd like the look of the diagonal lines on the quilt, but your straight lines look great! I'll do my next one your way. Thanks for posting this!

  19. Well I have just done one of these! Randomly decided at dinner time to do it so have spent the evening sewing, sewing, sewing. But it's done & I am one Jelly Roll busted from the stash! Yay! I will blog it tomorrow I reckon. Come & see! Next time - & there will be a next time, I will cut down a couple more strips to get more stagger effect. It wasn't much at first on this one but was better once I got going further. No one will look that closely. It's funny how as random as you select your strips in the first step, how they end up quite close to others like them down the track. This one isn't for those that need something so sorted & ordered. It's very random & what is certainly IS! Fun one & a mindless one. Thanks!

  20. Great tutorial. I think I'll do the random lengths technic. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Love the pictures. Makes understanding the 1600 race much easier. Our quilt group is doing one at the end of May. Now I know what to do. Great tutorial.


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