Sunday, February 24, 2019

Rockin' Rectangles - Small Town!

Hi, all!

Today I have another junior jelly roll quilt to share with you, which used up my last junior jelly roll, I'm happy to say!  But now that I have a few easy quilt ideas that use one, I may find myself looking for them in the future.  Let's get started!

I'm calling this quilt "Small Town" because it reminds me of farm areas in the midwest where the houses are surrounded by fields of crops.  From the air, it kind of looks like this quilt - plus I just love John Mellencamp's song of the same name! (PS Who gives up a cool middle name like Cougar?)

Quilt Size:  61" square

Fabric Requirements:

From a junior jelly roll, select 16 2.5" strips OR 16 2.5" x width of fabric (WOF) strips from your stash

40" of block background fabric

40" of center, sashing and border fabric

1/2 yard of binding fabric

First Cutting Instructions:

Cut your block background fabric into 16 2.5" x WOF strips.

 Block Assembly:

Pairing a print strip with a block background strip, sew them together along the long edge.  Be careful not to stretch the strips as you sew them!  Repeat for all sixteen pairs of strips.  Press the seams toward the print strips.

Now you will cross-cut your strip set into 10.5" sections.  TIP:  If you have a 10.5" ruler, use it to do this.  All you will need to do is place one edge of the ruler against the end of the strip (trim the strip first, please) and cut against the opposite edge.  No measuring required, which is really handy if you are also talking at the same time (don't ask me how I know this...)  After cutting all 16 strips, you should have 64 2-strip sets.

Next step is to lay out the sets of 10.5" strips next to your sewing machine.  I stacked mine up with all the same prints in a stack.  

Time to chain piece!  Choose two different strip sets and sew them together along the long edge, matching a background strip to a print strip.  Repeat for all the sets.  Press seams toward the print strip. You should have 32 4-strip sets now.

At this point, you may want to take a few minutes to intentionally pair these 4-strip sets together.  The 8-strip sets will be the building blocks for the large blocks of this quilt.  Once you have them paired, sew two 4-strips sets together, matching a print strip to a background strip.  Press seams toward the print strip.  You should have sixteen 8-strip sets.

Second Cutting Instructions:

From your center, sashing and border fabric, cut a 6.5" x WOF strip.  From that strip, cut 4 6.5" squares for the center of your blocks.

Block Construction:

The first step is to lay out four of your 8-strip sets around a center 6.5" square.  Don't be fooled by my one-color strip sets - that's just EQ7 and I was being lazy!  You may want to lay out all four blocks so you can be sure you are happy with how they will all look.  Otherwise you might end up with one at the end that has too many repeats in it!  

To create these blocks, you will need to use a technique called a "partial seam".  It looks complicated, but really isn't.  Place an 8-strip set in front of you with a background strip at the top.   Lay a center square on top of it, matching the top and left edges. Flip it over and stitch a quarter-inch seam about halfway down the length of the center square.    Press the seam towards the strip set just up at the top for now.

Now lay another strip set next to the seamed side of the strip set/center unit.  Match the ends, pin if needed, and stitch the entire seam.  Press the seam towards the strip set.  Repeat for the third side, attaching the strip set to the one you just added and the center block.  For the final side, attach it to the center block and the third strip set. Be sure not to catch the un-sewn portion of the first strip set in your stitching.  Now finish the first seam, attaching the first strip set to the top of the final strip set.  Not as hard as it sounds - just give it a try!  Remember you are going around the center square counter-clockwise.  Repeat to make four of the large blocks.

Third Cutting Instructions:

Using your sashing and border material, cut 9 3.5" x WOF strips.  Sew the strips end to end, then from that strip, cut the following:

1   3.5" square for the center
4   3.5" x 26.5" for sashing (or your finished block's measurement)
2   3.5" x 55" for side borders (or whatever your quilt measures)
2   3.5" x 61.5" for top and bottom border (or whatever your quilt measures)

Quilt Top Construction:

Lay out your four blocks in a way that pleases your eye.  Don't sweat it too much - you're much more critical that anyone else will be.

Now we'll be adding the sashing strips.  Take the top two blocks and sew them on either side of a sashing strip, matching the top and bottom of each block to the same on the sashing strip and easing to fit. Pins are your friend here!  Repeat for the bottom two blocks.

At this point, you may be wondering why I cut a small center square and two more sashing strips, rather than one long strip.  I find that placing that small center square (also known as a cornerstone) in the middle, my blocks ALWAYS line up - and that makes it totally worth the extra time!  You can make it a different color if you want - I wanted the look of a solid strip, but also wanted my blocks to line up, so I put it in.

Take your two remaining sashing strips and the center square and join them together. Pin the top row of blocks to the long sashing strip, matching the ends and the sashing seams at the center, easing the fabrics.  Stitch.  Pin the bottom row of blocks to that strip and repeat.

Now it's time to add your borders.  Start with the side borders, matching the ends of the border and the quilt top and pinning to ease the fabrics together.  Stitch.  Press seams toward the borders.  Repeat with the top and bottom borders. 

And voila!  You have a finished quilt top!  But don't stop there - quilt that puppy!  Someone out there needs that quilt!  

I chose to do a random meander on mine, but you could do something more interesting in the centers and borders to make it really stand out.  But remember - finished is better than perfect, and someone in need of a quilt won't be thinking about whether your stitch length is spot-on, they'll be gratified that someone cared enough to make them a quilt!

And let's have a little rock-and-roll homage now - here's Small Town by John Mellencamp...

And I'm going to do something I don't often do, and that's give a shout-out to a store.  See that beautiful backing there?  I found that at Hobby Lobby, in their clearance bin, for $3/yard - and there were ten yards left on the bolt!  Needless to say, I bought all of it - so I have a lovely big piece to play with.  But it wasn't the only one in the clearance bin - I found several with 8-10 yards on them.  It's certainly worth checking out if you have a Hobby Lobby nearby and can use some large pieces of fabric to stash away for backs. Their fabric is good quality, and much of it is around $6-7 a yard, and 30% off that!

Speaking of giving away your finished product, this quilt is a good size for Quilty Hugs for Happy Chemo, or Mercyful Quilts.  And if you wanted to make a baby quilt for Jack's Basket (or four!) you could use one block with a 5" border to reach their preferred 36" square size.

Come back next week to see the very last quilt in the series - I think you'll like it!  And it's a serious scrap-buster.  We all need that, don't we?  You can get a head start on it by pressing your strings and cutting them into 8.5" lengths. 



**If you'd like to save or print the tutorial for this quilt, here's the easiest way to do it.  Scroll to the bottom of this post and look for this little green box:

Don't see the green "Print PDF" box?  That's easy to fix. Go to the top of the post, and click on the post title (in this case, "Rockin' Rectangles Begins! Place Your Bet...").  That will open up this post with the comments, and you will see this between the body of the post and the beginning of the comments.

Click on the green button, and a printer-friendly page will open so you can print and save the tutorial!  Voila! And the best part?  It won't print out page after page of comments and sidebar stuff.  Hooray!

Don't want to print it out?  This tutorial will remain here as long as the internet is alive, so you could just bookmark the post and create a group in your bookmarks for Tutorials!  That way you can find it any time.


  1. Great tutorial! I was looking for a good jelly roll pattern for a quilt of Valor. This is perfect. Thanks!

  2. Totally doable with a jelly roll or with your own scrap strips! Very nice layout!

  3. Lovely design. It's true that it looks like small towns in fields. Thanks for the inspiration! ;^)

  4. What a cute quilt. It would be great in farm themed fabric!

  5. Oh I love this one! At first glance I thought it was small but 61" is a darn good size :-)
    I just finished my Place Your Bets which is 69" x 89". I think Jean (Layers of Hope) has someone from the Paradise community for me to send it to.
    I hope your time at Quilt Con has been fun!
    lorismills at charter dot net

  6. Lovely stripes, and the turquoise, great colour there. Fabric bargains, wish they were as good as that down here.

  7. Great bargain on that backing fabric, Sarah!! Works well with your quilt top, too. Paired, they made a lovely donation-ready quilt!

  8. 'Love it. Those fabrics you chose are adorable.

  9. That print PDF is a neat feature! Thanks! I also noticed a button on the side of your blog called "I took the FOR KEEPS pledge" What is that? I clicked on it but it didn't take me anywhere.

  10. Super cute pattern, Sarah! It would work great with small panels for the center squares, too. Thanks for all the work you put into this :)

  11. Another great tutorial. Very nice pattern.


Comments make me smile!! If you want a PDF of a pattern, PLEASE leave your email address in your comment, or email me directly at salliesue57 (at) gmail (dot) com!