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Christmas jelly roll quilt – and lessons learned

christmas jelly rolly quilt

As a blogger, I frequently find myself giving holiday gifts either way in advance (Merry Christmas! I need to publish this, open it before you see it online!) or way late (Merry Christmas in January! I finally finished this after the holiday blog rush was over!). I completed this quilt right before the actual holiday last year, gifted it to my Mom, and then took it back and took some pictures before she could actually use it. As my fourth finished quilt, I felt a little confident when I started and was quickly taken down a peg once I realized the mistake I’d made.

Check out more inspiration here – 30+ modern Christmas quilt patterns!

Christmas jelly roll quilt

Fabric details before I get started sharing about where I went wrong! I started with an Evergreen by Moda jelly roll and the random bars that I added in are Cotton + Steel from the Tinsel line. Binding fabric was a subtle print from Joann.




I started out following the “Jelly Roll Jam” quilt pattern (free) from Fat Quarter Shop but here is the mistake.. I didn’t look at the finished size! Total rookie move. I merrily cut, sewed together, and then finally laid it all out… to realize it was definitely not big enough to snuggle under.

I laid it out. I ignored it for a while. I stepped over that quilt, on my cold basement sewing dungeon floor, for weeks! I didn’t want to buy more fabric, I didn’t want to give up, so I just let it sit there.

Normally I’d ask my mom for advice, but since it was for her, that seemed unwise! I turned to Facebook and asked in a quilting group for ideas. There were lots of great tips, but one sparked an a-ha! moment for me. Why not go asymmetrical?

Here is a full length photo of the quilt – experienced quilters avert your eyes! Precision is not my strong suit (or my goal, to be fair).

I circled all the spots where I had to get creative. First, I used up the remaining jelly roll pieces in improv piecing, found in the top and bottom left. Then, I started fitting in long bars of the C+S print! No tutorial, no rhyme or reason, just laying it out, toggling squares so everything looked right, stepping back, evaluating, adjusting, etc.

I decided to proceed with the style and do a pieced backing fabric as well, tucking in the remainder of the tree print.  

I actually tried to hand quilt this in the beginning, but quickly realized that it didn’t look right with the prints, so I went back to my comfort zone with (not-that) straight line quilting. My mom is a perfectionist, but hopefully that only applies to things she makes herself, because nothing I make is particularly straight or precise when it comes to quilts! But, I think they are well made in a structural sense, and certainly will keep a person warm.

It’s easy to see the crooked stitching, or puckered corners, but I also see the obvious: it was sewn with love, and the subtle: it represents a sewing growth moment for me! I’m proud that I made it work, didn’t rush into a solution, and hope that next time I’ll remember to check the finished size of a tutorial/pattern before I get started.

How would you have fixed this problem? Check out the Christmas quilt that I sewed last year for my Mother-in-law here!

Pin this Christmas jelly roll quilt for later with this photo or link:

Check out this improvised version of a Christmas jelly roll quilt pattern! Simple Christmas quilt to sew, with thoughts on using this free pattern from Fat Quarter Shop.

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Sunday 20th of November 2022

So much more interesting now - what a happy accident! ❤️

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Friday 2nd of December 2022

What a sweet thing to say, thank you for reading and commenting Faith!


Tuesday 22nd of December 2020

Thank you for sharing your process with us. Very 'outside the box'! How large did the quilt end up being?

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Tuesday 4th of July 2023

that's a great question that I am not sure on! It was lap/throw sized-ish though!

Molly Hottinger

Thursday 9th of April 2020

I haven't tried sewing in years but I enjoy seeing all of my sister's quilts. This is really cute and even more special because it is for your Mom and it has a Christmas theme, so every special memory will cling to its coziness year after year. Congrats!

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Sunday 19th of April 2020

Thank you for reading and leaving such a sweet comment Molly!

Michelle Mackay

Thursday 11th of April 2019

Thank you! I am also a quilter that is less interested in professional/precision stitching! My quilts wouldn't win any awards unless they are judged on love and creativity. I think the way you resolved your issue in ingenious. Great job!

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Sunday 11th of August 2019

Thank you for the kind words Michelle!! Wonky quilts are just as warm, right :)

Jeramy L

Saturday 23rd of March 2019

"Precision is not my strong suit (or my goal, to be fair)." ❤ this! I have referred to myself as the Larry The Cable Guy of quilting because my goal is "git'er done". My quilts are all gifts that are prayed over and made with love so I want to get them into the hands of their new owners. While neither my mom or dad quilt both of my grandmothers did. My paternal grandmother made beautiful precise quilts

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Wednesday 27th of March 2019

Haha I like that analogy!! My Mom & Grandma are/very precise, too. Glad you're on team not-perfect with me :)

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