Monday, May 9, 2022

Layer Cakes, Jelly Rolls, and Charms

 Happy Monday!  

How was your weekend?

We had a good soaking rain that lasted from Friday through Saturday and we needed it!  Everyone's garden and grass are looking fresher and happier!

Happily, I got a call from the sewing machine hospital on Friday that my machine was repaired and I spent Friday and Saturday finishing a quilt top for my cousin's grandson (sorry no photo yet but it's a simple square in a square quilt).  But then I wondered, what I had planned on working on next and couldn't remember until last night.  Oh yes, I wanted to use up some more charm packs.  And all that got me to thinking about you and what your opinions.

Today's topic is...Layer Cakes, Jelly Rolls, and Charms.

Do you buy them?  Do you use them?

The idea of pre-cut fabric isn't really that new.  I know that some retailers (like Sears) used to sell sample packs of fabrics.  I have a doll quilt that is made of one of those packs:

I even have examples of the fabric samples sold in the 1930s that I found at an antique store once:

I admit I was first seduced by the idea of charm packs, jelly rolls, and layer cakes.  I especially liked charm packs because they were affordable and gave me the variety of what was offered in the line.  I've only bought 1 or 2 jelly rolls which are still in the drawer and only one layer cake--because the merchant didn't  have yardage of the fabric.

I find that the pre-cuts limit my imagination and often (in the case of charms) are not cut accurately.  Recently I finished these baby quilts for the twins and had to cut the charms down to 4.5 inches because the sizes varied so much.

The bottom line is I generate enough scraps to fill a full deep drawer with 5 inch scraps, 2.5 inch scraps and 2.5 inch squares.  This is just the charm drawer:

Yes there are some charm squares in there but 99 percent of the squares are leftover fabrics I sized a la Bonnie Hunter.

I'm more inclined to buy a fat quarter or half yard pack (or both) if I fall in love with a design line.  That way I have enough of it to make something or two from the fabrics.

What are your thoughts on the matter?  Have you noticed that charms and jelly rolls are being offered on sale regularly from your favorite fabric shop?

Have a safe and happy day!


  1. Our local shop has some of the pre-cuts, but a very limited number. I use the strips for placemats and sashings (mostly solids for that), and I'm using a combo of strips and similar fat eighths for a quilt now, because the pattern calls for many 2-2 1/2" squares. I really shy away from the charms for the reason you cited- too often not a full 5", even using the pinked edges.

  2. I'm not a big precut fan but maybe that's my age. I noticed younger women are more into the precuts. I don't purchase them anymore and have been on a mission to get the pre-cut box empty. Happy stitching!

  3. I don't tend to buy pre-cuts because I like to pre-shrink my fabric and then it is easier to hand quilt. I have bought some in the past but I find they are hard to use up. I guess I would use them more if I just made scrap quilts but I don't make many of those. I also don't like the way jelly rolls leave lint on everything they touch. It's just messy. There was one time when a layer cake came in very handy. I wanted to make a specific applique quilt and so I bought a layer cake from the line plus 3 yds. of border fabric. It turned out to be a lovely quilt with few scraps left over.

  4. I, too, was sucked in at first by the convenience, but have fallen out of love with all precuts for many of the reasons you raise. My main gripe is a full fabric line frequently has several colorways and therefore the charms/strips/cakes don't all work together.

  5. I have bought charm packs and jelly rolls and never used them. Either they don't have the correct amount of lights and darks for a pattern or I also need some yardage to go with the precuts. I don't buy them anymore.

  6. For the same reasons you stated I do NOT buy them. Plus, if one buys a jelly roll to make a quilt SEEM scrappy you will often find the same print in numerous colorways. I purchase usually in one yard cuts, to go into many many quilts. I've found that if I do not go scrappy then I WILL run out of a specific fabric and have to readjust the size of the quilt to smaller than planned.