Monday, July 14, 2014

"cinched" - a pattern in the making, part one

i was quite content to work on that wip list of mine and not feeling the need to start anything new. but then my birthday rolled around and while everyone else spent a few hours watching the world cup game, i decided to sew something. seeing as it was my birthday, i also decided i wanted something fresh, especially since my machine was still tucked away upstairs and i had no desire to lug it down. a little pressing and cutting seemed perfect.

happy birthday to me sewing time
several weeks ago i brought out this jelly roll, which i had slated for a project for a friend, with the intention of completing the quilt before a certain deadline. but that didn't happen and the jelly roll has been decorating a cake plate in the dining/sewing room ever since. until my birthday, that is. a few hours to myself seemed the ideal opportunity to break open the jelly roll and get to work on that gift quilt. (um, sorry kids.)

flat view of the top - taken quickly on the back porch/excuse the sloppiness
i'm revisiting the first pattern i ever put together myself - the very simple jelly roll-friendly "cinched" pattern i used for "out on a limb." i've always meant to do this again, photographing along the way so i could write up a pattern to share. now here we are.

the friend i want to make the quilt for has always admired my "out on a limb" quilt and also likes the "oops-a-daisy" fabric line, so i think it's a good match. i'll be recording my process along the way and then try to do one sum-up pattern post when it's all done.

i'm not doing a quilt-along, but since i'm posting this to share, anyone is welcome to follow along. (that said, i'm not working on any set schedule. this is getting fit in as i have time.) it's a pretty easy beginner quilt, but also a fast and fun way to use a jelly roll you might have hanging around. of course, it could easily be made with yardage or scraps, too.

fabric requirements

i'm starting with a generous amount of yardage partly because i already have it in my stash and partly because i simply like to work that way. generally i need room for error and i happen to adore scraps. for the final pattern, i'll narrow down the fabric requirements more specifically.
  • one jelly roll (or 45 - 2.5" wide x wof  strips *see further options below)
  • fabric a - 1/2 yd for accent block and backing strip a (could be done with 1/4 yd or fat quarter if adjusting measurements slightly - see section on accent block)
  • fabric b - 1/2 yd for accent strip and backing strip b
  • fabric c - 1/4 yd for strip joining squares and backing strip c
  • fabric d - the equivalent of about one jelly strip for joining blocks in the lower strips, if using
  • 1/2 yd binding fabric
  • 4 yds backing fabric
it's a pretty small list. if you want more variety in the strips, which i do, you can use additional coordinating pieces. once i started getting my strips up on the design wall, i realized the fabric line i'm working with has a lot of repeats to make the full 40 strips. since i already have a lot of other yardage cuts for this line (went a little crazy on a clearance sale purchase), i'll be cutting into that to supplement the jelly roll. however, this quilt is totally doable with just a jelly roll + 5 extra strips for the strip portion.

* note - 1/4" seams used through out and all measurements are for "cut" (seam allowance included) not "final" unless otherwise noted.

preparing strips

my design wall is only half a wall, so i'm laying out my pieces in reverse - the top portion of half strips is on the floor

this pattern is constructed with 30 full strips, (measuring cut 2.5" x wof - some full length and some pieced from 2 halves) and 30 half strips (measuring cut 2.5" x 21"). a standard jelly roll has 40 strips so you will need an additional 5 full strips minimum for this pattern. options:

  • one option is to use 5 white or other solid colored strips. this allows for some white space/breathing room in the busy design. 
  • in my original quilt, i cut 2 additional strips from 3 pieces of yardage in the same line and pulled one fabric i didn't like. i did this to add some consistency to the quilt so it wasn't 100% scrappy. 

begin by sorting your jelly strips into those that will stay long and those you will cut in half. options:

  • if you are only going to use the jelly roll + 5 more strips, you'll be cutting 30 of your strips in half, so pull the 15 strips you want to remain long. 
  • if you are using extra yardage or scraps, you can decide how many extra strips you want to cut to which lengths. you will need a minimum of 30 half strips for the upper portion of the pattern. the lower portion is made of 30 strips that are either full length or pieced together out of two half strips. 
also, if you don't want pieced strips on the lower portion, you have two options.

  • for jelly roll + 5 only, choose 15 strips to cut in half to make the top portion. (this means you will have each fabric in this section  repeated twice.) you will then have 30 full length strips left for the bottom. 
  • if you are using extra yardage, you can choose to cut either more half strips or full length strips at your own discretion, so that you have 30 half strips for the top portion and 30 full strips for the lower portion.

 start prepping the strips by opening the jelly roll and pressing the strips. the jelly strips won't be that wrinkled, but i do find they need some quick pressing, especially that middle crease where they're folded in half. once the strips is pressed, i cut the printed selvage off. i don't bother with the other end because it comes off when the top is squared.

when they are all pressed, cut your half strips. you can do this by measuring with your rulers, but i use the following method:

fold the strip in half and lay out on your cutting mat, aligning it with the lines on your mat. slide your ruler up to the very edge of your fold, so that the fold just barely hangs out by a few threads. square the ruler with the fabric and mat lines, then cut along the ruler.

you'll have one tiny bit of a scrap left when you've cut.

my reference photo to check distribution
  if you have a design wall, begin laying out your strips in a row as you cut. you can also use a bed or the floor for this part of the process - just somewhere you can see how it's looking. when you have them all laid out, take a reference photo that you can use to get another view on how balanced your color/volume/scale distribution is looking. also, once it's completely arranged, i print the reference photo as a guide for when i'm sewing the strips to help me get them sewn together as i intended. no matter how well i mark them, i always mess up something, so i find the photo helps me a lot.

if using jelly roll + 5, you will have 30 half strips in a row for your top portion. to make your lower portion, you will have 30 half strips (leftover from when you cut for the top portion) to piece into 15 long strips and the 15 long strips you already set aside.

 as you lay out your strips, start pairing up the half strips to make pieced full strips. my pieced and full strips are randomly placed. in some places, i have pieced strips next to each other, but never in a mathematically patterned way. see the photo above of "out on a limb" for reference. you can make a pattern of every other one or if you are using solid strips for breathing room, place them every 5th or 6th strips. once you are happy with your layout, sew all the half strip pairs into pieced full strips for the lower portion.

while creating this quilt, i decided to join my pieced strips in a slightly different way. i chose to piece the leftover half strips with small joining blocks in between. my joining blocks measure 2.5" x 2.5" cut. i created them from one jelly strip i wasn't using for the top since i had extra yardage i was supplementing with. (see part two, modifications for details on these joining blocks.)

you are now ready to sew your upper and lower strip sections.

ready to move on? see cinched pattern part two to learn how to make the accent block and strip.

linking up to lee's wip wednesday at freshly pieced

the detailed steps for this tutorial are spread over 5 posts i wrote as i made the "bloom" quilt and worked on the pattern. find the others here:

cinched part two - the accent strip and block, modifications from the first quilt, joining blocks for the long strips
cinched part three - joining your strips and sections to assemble your top
the three-strip accent stripe pieced backing - how to make the backing
loops and crinkles - quilting choices for "bloom where you are planted"
cinched part four - quilting, binding, and gifting
cinched full tutorial


  1. Thanks sharing a birthday gift with all of us in the form of your tutorial. This is a nice variation on the strip quilts I've been making!

  2. A little time to yourself starting a project you love sounds like the perfect way to spend some of your birthday! I hope it brings you joy and satisfaction as you work on during those snippets of time which you find.

  3. Looks like a nice, easy quilt to put together and the impact is wonderful!!

  4. hope you had a wonderful birthday Hydee. Thanks so much for sharing this with us - I have always loved your "Out on a limb" quilt so i would love to use this pattern. I can't start just yet, but soon :-) I have a jelly roll of Sew Stitchy to use - so it will be nice and pretty!

  5. I have begun making a "test" (Christmas) "Cinched" for myself before choosing a Jelly roll for my granddaughter....I ironed and trimmed 15 strips so far....before my (dang ) back began to hurt (the bad side of aging!!). I just love this pattern so reminds me of Gypsy Wife --only an easier strippy version for those of us (hmmm) who cannot piece blocks with lotsa pieces....and have them come out well....I am using Moda's 3 Sisters "Etchings". I only have 42 strips in my roll so I'll have to cut 3 more wof right? thanks so much for this wonderful tutorial.... Hugs, Julierose

  6. I made this for my granddaughter's "going away to college" quilt and she loved it...I backed it with a Christmas side for the Holidays....thanks so much for this wonderful tutorial so easy to follow...hugs, Julierose


a kind word is always appreciated. thank you for your visit.