Sunday, January 22, 2023

Do You Jelly Roll???

Let's start out by saying I'm not a quilter.  Even though I've made several "quilting" projects, they're not my top must sews.  However, I love jelly rolls.  The thought of them, how the fabrics play so well together, how they can become so many different things.  

Whenever I see one, the possibilities of what the new yardage can be inspires me.  Especially black & white jelly rolls.  So while I'm not a quilter, I was inspired to buy several jelly rolls and make two yards of fabric from them to create a top.

Supplies used ~

2 packages of black & white Ankara strips purchased from Cultured Expressions.  Each package had 20 strips.

1 yard of solid black cotton fabric from StyleMaker Fabrics for the strips, sleeves and back insert.

7 3/4" buttons purchased several years ago from Pacific Trimmings

1/2" black bias binding also purchased from Pacific Trimmings

First let's discuss making the fabric ~

Honestly, this was the most tedious part of the sew and took me about 4 days to complete. I whined through this part because not only was each seam sewn but they were pressed open, then flat, and serge finished.


Here's how I made it ~

1.  Sorted the strips into piles.

2.  Determined how I wanted the layout of the strips to look.

3.  Sewed the strips together using a 1/4" seam. My sewing machine has a 1/4" foot with guide and one without a guide.  Using the one with the guide was SOOOOOOO helpful!

4.  After 11 strips were sewn together, I added a black strip cut in the same dimensions (2.5" x 45") to differentiate the sections.

5.  When each section was sewn, I pressed the strips to the left side.  Then each strip was serge finished. I did this because my yardage will be used for a garment and needs a cleanly finished inside.

6.  Continued this for 3 sections to get the yardage I desired.

You can see I made this yardage during my Christmas break!

Once you decide how much yardage you need - I needed 2 yards to make the top front, back, front facings and sleeve bands - then you can start your garment's construction process.

Since I had all of those seams, I chose a pattern that didn't have a lot of pattern pieces. I didn't want to cut apart the fabric I'd just sewn together. So I started with Anna Allen Clothing's Anthea Blouse.

Design/Construction Changes ~

I need you to know that while this pattern goes up to a size 22, in my opinion, it's not size inclusive. The hip measurement on a size 22 is 51" way below the amount of space I need for a flowy hemline.

I made some simple pattern adjustments to get the top to fit me.

  • I'm bigger on the bottom than the top.  So the shoulders and bustline on the size 22 fit with no problem.  My challenge is my abdomen and waist.
  • I also had no challenges with the sleeves since the design is for very wide sleeves.
  • On the front pattern piece I did a slice and spread from the abdomen to the hemline - spreading the pattern 1" at the hemline.
  • To add width to the back, I went with a design technique to get the necessary width. Especially since I needed to go from 51" to 65" at the hemline (this includes ease for wearing). 
  • I added an 8" insert to the back that when opened, gave me more than enough space in the abdomen and hip area.
  • The back pattern piece says to cut on fold. I cut them as single pieces adding 1/2" seam allowance to both. 
  • Then the insert was sewn to either side of the back pieces using a 1/4" seam allowance. 
  • I chose a point about 6" down the back and stitched the original two back pattern pieces together using a 1/4" seam allowance. 
  • Press flat and open and walah, extra width and cool design feature.
  • The last design feature was to cut the sleeves from the solid black fabric and the sleeve bands from the jelly roll fabric. 

A few more things ~

- I did lengthen the blouse by 3" because my comfort level is that everything adequately covers my abdomen and backside.

- I didn't want topstitching to show on my blouse front.  So I hand stitched the bias binding down and didn't include topstitching on the front facings.

- The pattern tells you to double roll the hem and topstitch it down. I used a bias binding to finish the hemline because the bulk in double rolling the hemline would have distracted from the finished look.

I have this thing about "corralling" patterns so your eye has a place to rest. I think it makes the finished garment more appealing to the eye. That is why I used the black sleeves, black strips, and black back insert.

Here are a few pictures ~

I did make a few design decisions that affected the end result but everything was done to highlight the beautiful fabric made from the jelly rolls. This was the only thing I made during my Christmas break.  Making the fabric took 4 days alone, then construction took another 2. I was fine with this project taking up the bulk of my sewing time.

Especially since this is my last post as a Janome Maker.  I've been a Janome Maker for almost three years and it's been a privilege and an honor to rep one of the best sewing machine companies out there. I'd like to thank everyone who worked with me at Janome to make this one of the best experiences ever! always more later!


  1. This top is BRILLIANT. I think it is the most favorite garment I have seen on you. Just wonderful. And the black/white theme, wow. Thank you for the tutorial, and design balance tips. I have been attracted to jelly rolls, but not bothered because I too am not a quilter. But this piece is so inspiring! I recently bought a basket pattern using jelly rolls, but now I will think about how to use them a little more broadly. Robin

    1. Robin - there are so many and they've always piqued my interest. I just decided to start with black & white because that always is an easier combination for me. You should definitely try some!

  2. Yours is a handsome and flattering top. All your work on it was certainly worth it.

  3. Best looking top ever! I love it and I love the creativity. Its my favorite of all the things you've posted in the last year. You have ended your Janome posts with WOW!

  4. One would never know that you pieced all those strips to get your fabric. You have a great eye for design.

  5. I have never seen such a brilliant sew with Jelly Rolls. Your Anthea blouse is gorgeous, and thank you for sharing all your tips. I have noticed how popular this pattern is, but it is usually shown on tiny people in small sizes and I wondered if I could wear it. Wonder no more, I will try an Anthea. Possibly not with a jelly roll though. I have made a couple of quilts with them, and soon lost interest because it is a lot of work. Happy Sewing in 2023!

    1. Patricia - I love the design details on this top and understand why its been so popular. I knew when I bought it that I would have to do some pattern alterations to make it work. I'm glad I was able to incorporate a design that gave me the extra space I needed and enhanced the blouse. However, I'm not sure, what I should do to make another one! :)

  6. Ingenious and a lot of work. It's well worth it for a beautiful top like this.

  7. What a great project. It is art in a garment.

    1. It is Art in a Garment and it's the direction I really want my sewing to go this year. I don't want to just sew things, I want to create amazing, beautiful garments.

  8. Beautiful result on beautiful You. Such clever use of the jelly rolls to make a shirt that is gorgeous. And super thanks for the link to the pattern too. I have lymphoedema in one arm so the puffed sleeve finishing on a cuff is good. And so are the pattern's great range of sizes and the details you kindly share of your own alterations. The back pleat will be so incredibly useful as I have a sway spine and narrow back width in the centre bit. Carolyn - you've done it again, and you look so stunning in your incredible top. Wow! Michelle C in Wellington, New Zealand

    1. Michelle - I'm loving these large puffy sleeves so am happy the pattern will work for you!

  9. As a quilter and a garment sewer, I must comment this is truly and inspired garment---just stunning! Debby

  10. It's beautiful and the insert is brilliant.

  11. Sneakers - this is so incredibly creative and gorgeous. I will look at jelly rolls completely differently going forward.

  12. Love both your creativity and how this blouse turned out.

  13. Love it! The use of the jelly rolls to make your own fabric is amazing.

  14. So very creative and so lovely on you. I love that style sleeve for you. I have often drooled over those jelly rolls and sighed "but I am not a quilter" and walked away. I am going to look at them a little differently now, Carolyn.

    1. Bunny - the quilt store has so many wonderful fabrications in it and they always stimulate me so I've looked for alternative ways to use them in clothing. I'm thrilled this worked and I will be looking for more jelly rolls!

  15. Well done on the top! I do have a couple of jelly rolls, but the fabrics are not my style for clothing.

  16. This is a complete and total success. It looks awesome!

  17. Wow, this turned out great! The idea of a resting point for a garment is something I hadn’t consciously thought about, and now I will always consider it, so thank you!

  18. I love the finished project and am boggled that you thought up such a perfect garment for those rolls. I always look at them and think "nice, but what?". I'm horrified though that you followed directions for processing each seam 3 times. I'd probably have pinked rather than serged to reduce bulk (and nothing is more stable than quilting cotton/ankara) and for sure not pressed twice, because you will be washing this regularly (a lot, as I'm sure you will be living in it!). Likewise, I'd have used the solid black for the facing to 1)save time 2)save bulk, especially as it doesn't show (although I'd probably have run out of fabric myself, so that's theory). You did very well too on the creativity of putting more of a shape into that boxy pattern, thank you for the multi-inspiration..

  19. Google ate my comment again!! Twice in a row. Grrrr

    What a creative way to use jelly rolls! This opens up lots of possibilities for fabric design. Happy belated new year. May this year bring you peace, joy, good health, and happiness.

  20. What a fantastic use of a jelly roll! I've not been a fan of using quilting cotton for garments, this has definitely given me an idea of how to use the ones I have in stash.

  21. I'm incredibly impressed with your use of the jelly roll to create a really neat fabric. I think this may be my favorite of all the garments you've made and posted. I'm going to try this myself.


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