I’m dreaming of …

a vacation instead of a staycation. My new quilt in gorgeous cool,breezy, water-tone teal batiks is called “V is for Vacation: Caribbean Cruise.” Easy breezy to make, too, because it’s done with packs of jelly rolls, those wonderful pre-cut 2 1/2″ strips, all color coordinated and ready to go. Honestly, the cutting is the hardest part of this simple quilt, which has just 2 seams on each row! Obviously, you can pick whatever color rings your chimes, but these teals spoke to me of tropical climes and sea breezes….ahhh. Pass me a pineapple cocktail or a cocktail in a pineapple–I’m not picky!

To see the whole quilt and buy the pattern ($3.50 throughout Apr), click here.

“V is for Vacation: Caribbean Cruise”cc2317 by LJ Christensen

I’ll share a secret. Old-style quilters will insist the backing has to be cotton and the thread has to be cotton. Yeah, yeah, supposedly it all ages the same–but they often use polyester batting and frankly, the best quilting machine thread has polyester in it because it’s stronger. So I decided to use a poly batting instead of the heavier Warm-n-Natural cotton I generally use. Then I used a cheap (Big Lots) silky microfiber polyester sheet for the backing. Oh, my, it’s silky and lightweight. However, I DID pre-wash it and found it bled a lot! So be careful.

I also pre-washed the batik, but I thought it might be a pain to do in strips. So I pieced it first, then soaked it with suds and vinegar, changing the water until it ran clear. I didn’t want it to wrinkle , so I rolled it in towels overnight and pressed it while still damp. The soaking should have gotten the excess dye out and the pressing got the shrinkage out. (I hope!) I was nervous about the quilting, but I used a lightweight poly thread (Omni by Superior Threads), and it worked just fine. The quilt’s light and airy. I love it! So when people tell you you have to use this or that, just nod sagely and go your own way.

As for the “jelly rolls”–those are pre-cut strips, always 2 1/2″ and rolled up, all the same brand of fabric coordinating colors or prints. Some realities–they are wonderfully quick and easy to use for many patterns. However, if you need a larger cut, you may be out of luck. They’re also a lot more expensive than buying the yardage because you pay for the convenience. (Sometimes they go on sale, thoughthat’s when I look at them!!)

Something I just found out today is that Joann’s now has a variety of special thick plastic rotary-cutting rulers made just for these strips. I found square, triangle, right triangle, Dresden, crazy quilt, diamond, and hexagon among the 16 “Jelly Roll rulers”! Wouldn’t our grandmothers be surprised? Heck, I was surprised!

One caution is that the name “jelly roll” can be deceptive. I’ve found 20-28 strips in a packet, so do read the fine print. Don’t get a “honey bun” by mistake because though it’s also rolled, it’s 1 1/2″ instead of 2 1/2″! (unless you get the pastry, which is delicious!) Try some jelly rolls–they are the latest rage, available in every quilting store. (I also like the raspberry ones with coconut on top!)

In case you’re not in the mood to make a quilt at the moment, try my “Jelly Roll Tote“–I used jelly roll strips for the inside, outside, handle and pockets. It’s on sale this month as well: “Jelly Roll Pieced Tote“–click here. Make it to take with you on that cruise!

“Jelly Roll Pieced Tote”cc2205 by LJ Christensen

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