I Made a Jelly-Roll Rug

May 13, 2020

Written by Anna White

I’ve been sewing ever since I was a child and I have always loved it. Most of my projects are from patterns bought in the store or more recently online as I never had the desire to create my own designs as I never felt I was talented enough to do that. I have sewn everything from baby doll clothes, to baby clothes, to prom dresses and pretty much everything in between. I even attempted to make a quilt some 20 years ago that I wish I had kept and finished, but for some reason never thought I would even get close to finishing a quilt like my Granny use to do. Oh man, she could make some quilts. The first time I got married she made me one as a wedding present and for as long as she lived I believe that is what she give each grandchild when they got married. I only know of one of my mom’s sisters, Aunt Betty, ever making quilts like Granny did. I don’t think the other two sisters done much sewing. My Mom was the one who taught me as she use to sew all my clothes when I was a little girl, then she would give the scraps to my Granny to make quilts from and some of those fabrics were used in that quilt I got on my wedding day. I could even remember what dress was made out of which fabric. That quilt seen a lot of miles over the years with all my moves, but unfortunately it is no longer with me and neither is my Granny. She’s been gone for 30 years now come June. 

A couple years back I kept seeing people making jelly-roll rugs, which is basically a rug made out of 2.5″ strips that are first sewn together like binding and then attached in either an oval shape, slice, rectangle or whatever shape you want your rug to be. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to try one of these myself, although I will say the oval shape I attempted on my first go round about whipped my ass. I purchased the pattern and fabric back in February. The pattern was easy to find as many people on YouTube share how to do the jelly-rolls rugs and all reference the same person, RJ Designs, who created pattern. I have yet to see anyone give away her directions. Instead they skip the part about how long to make the beginning strip, instead directing you to the pattern for that information. Below is a picture of the cover of the pattern which you can find by doing a google search and purchase like all the rest of us sewers.

Jelly Roll Rug Pattern

Jelly Roll Rug Pattern

I’ll be honest I was very intimidated to start this project after watching all the videos and seeing how easy it looked to do as i thought there was no way I was going to complete this, but then I would tell myself if you could make so and so and you made so and so, then you can do this to. I mean really, how hard can it be? Well let me tell you, “IT’S HARD!”  I ended up having to rip out the entire thing after my first go round as it was so wavy it looked like it belonged in a swimming pool. It would take several days before I got up enough nerve to try again and that was after watching even more YouTube videos for tips and tricks on how to get the damn thing to lay flat. Here are the tips I used:

  • Use a new heavy duty needle (I used a 16 the first time, I went to an 18 the second time)
  • Remove from sewing machine after 3-4 rows and steam press with an iron using spray starch (I didn’t do this at all the first go round)
  • Sew on a flat surface (I made a make shift sewing area by my bed so it would lay flat)

I purchased my fabric from Missouri Star Quilt Co. on February 14th. I picked Blue Byrd 2.5″ strips by Williamsburg for Windham Fabrics. As of the writing of this post, they are sold out of this color forever.

The first step was to 1) decide how i wanted to assemble the strips (I put the dark colors at the end to be on the outside edge and left the rest pretty much the way they came in the roll); and 2) connect the strips together by sewing on a diagonal, trim the excess and iron the seam. YouTube videos will be your best way in learning how to assemble the strips.

Once they were all assembled they pretty much looked like this:

The next step is to add the batting, which also comes in a roll that is 2.5″ wide. I purchased mine from Joann Fabrics when they had a 50% off sale and needed 2 rolls. It is called Bosal Katahdin On-A-Roll Cotton Blend Batting. I got the 25 yard package.

Once you have the batting laying on the fabric you fold the fabric in half and then fold each side in to meet in the middle.  Not sure if that sounds right, but you’re making what looks like double sided binding. I done this for several feet using binder clips to hold together and then sewed a straight stitch about 1/4″ from the edge. This must be done for the full length of the strips.

When you’re all done, you will end up with a pile that looks something like this.

In order to manage the enormous length of the fabric strip, it is best to roll into a ball. You can put the ball into a bowl or box to keep it from rolling all over the floor as you sew the strips into whatever size rug you are wanting to make.

The next few pics show the first few rows being sewn together. As a reminder, you can find the complete instructions in the pattern from RJ Designs referenced above.

The 3 pics above were from my first go round. I did not take a pic of my disaster finish as I did not want picture proof of how bad I messed up.

Once I restarted my project this past weekend, I sewed at my usual sewing spot until I had gotten to the following point at which time I moved everything to my bedroom so I would have a bigger surface to work with. 

Setting up on the bed made this so much easier to maneuver and help to stay flat. I continued to steam press after every 3-4 rows adding starch on both the front and back. This one tip I learned from watching YouTube videos was a life savor.

The FINISHED PRODUCT!!!!

My only regret in doing this project is that I didn’t do it sooner. I am looking forward to starting the next one, but this time it will either be a slice or rectangle shape as the oval is definitely not for me as once is enough for this shape.  Please share if you have taken on such a project and what you learned in the process.

Happy Sewing!

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