Saturday, June 08, 2013

What's a Jelly Roll?

Back in April, I posted an entry about my birthday, and in it I mentioned getting some fat quarters and a jelly roll from my friend, Bev. Barbara asked what a jelly roll was, and although I answered her in the comments, I thought others of you might wonder too, so I'm writing this post as a little guide (and not at all exhaustive!) to pre-cut fabrics.

Pre-cut fabrics are just that: fabrics that have already been cut into the most common sizes used in quilting patterns and packaged together, usually by fabric line. My introduction to them was through Moda Bakeshop, a website for Moda Fabrics that has labelled each type of pre-cut as a common bakery item and publishes tutorials for quilts and accessories made using said pre-cuts. This is one of my favorite sites to browse for ideas for quilts!

These are the various types of pre-cuts and their sizes, courtesy of Moda Bakeshop:

Jelly Rolls: contain 40 strips of fabric, 2 1/2 inches wide x length-of-fabric (45 inches). These strips are rolled into the shape of a jelly roll - round and flat.

Honey Buns: contain 40 strips, each 1 1/2" wide x length-of-fabric (45 inches). Packaged together rolled into the shape of a honey bun.

Dessert Rolls: contain 20 strips, each 5" wide x length-of-fabric (45 inches). Packaged together in an oblong roll.

Charm Packs: contain 42 squares, each 5"x5"

Charm squares I bought several years ago
 Layer Cakes: contain 42 squares, each 10"x10"
A layer cake I bought
 Moda Candy (aka Mini Charms and Petit Fours): contains 42 squares, each 2 1/2"x2 1/2"

Honeycombs: contain 40 laser-cut 6-inch hexagons

Turnovers: contain 80 6-inch triangles, two each of each print in a collection

Other pre-cuts:

Fat quarter bundles: one of each print in a collection. Each fat quarter measures 18"x22". The reason it's called a fat quarter is because it's a quarter of a yard. If you just cut a quarter of a yard off a bolt of fabric, it will be 9"x45" - a long, skinny piece of fabric. For a fat quarter, you double the width (18") and half the length (22"), making it "fat," - but you still have a quarter of a yard of fabric. Make sense? You can also find fat quarters as individual pieces of fabric; they're lots of fun to collect and play with!
Fat quarter bundles (two of them) on the right and a jelly roll on the left
 Fat eighth bundles: one of each print in a collection, each measuring 9"x22". Same concept as the fat quarter, except it's just an eighth of a yard.
What I love about pre-cuts is that I don't have to spend time cutting out small pieces of fabric. If a pattern calls for 5" squares, a charm pack will work perfectly.

I also love that I can have samples of every piece of a fabric line. My Wal-Mart here sells jelly rolls, fat quarters, charm squares, but they are the fabrics that they have in their regular fabric departments, not designer lines. That's not a problem when I want to play around with them for myself, although I use designer fabrics for items I make and sell in HandmadeByGrace*, my online shop.The point is, I like having lots of different fabrics to choose from without having to buy large amounts of any particular piece.

When you use a pre-cut package, all your fabrics will go together, because they're all from the same line of fabric: no anxiety over whether the fabrics will play nice together!

Another perk of using pre-cuts is the amount of tutorials, patterns*, and books* available for using them. There's quite a selection of them online and in bookstores. 

One downside of using pre-cuts is that, compared to yardage (fabric right off the bolt), pre-cuts are more expensive when priced per yard or meter. But that's the case when you buy anything pre-packaged, right? Sometimes I'd rather have the convenience of pre-cuts, and you always pay for convenience. It's just a matter of what matters most to you at the time.

So that's my not-completely-comprehensive explanation of pre-cuts and why I like them. Do any of you use them for your sewing or quilting?

*Disclosure: I am not being compensated at all by Moda Fabrics or Moda Bakeshop; they are just my go-to source for using pre-cuts. However, there are a couple of affiliate links contained in this entry, and if you click on a link and order a product, I may earn a small affiliate commission. I've also linked to my online shop!


  1. Interesting. I knew what some of those were but I'd never even heard of honey buns, dessert rolls, honeycombs or turnovers.

    1. I was actually surprised that there were more than I thought! The honeycombs were new to me.

  2. Interesting! I can see the advantages - it's worth paying a little extra so save the tedium of cutting so many pieces out. And the name can make your mouth water at the same time. :-)

    I'd be afraid that I wouldn't like some of the pieces - have you ever had that happen? That would be one drawback to me of pre-cut pieces.

    1. I have found that I didn't like some pieces individually, but when they're combined with the other pieces in a project, they blend right in and I don't notice them. I haven't found any that I couldn't use because of just not liking them, though. I usually take a long time to pick a pack of pre-cuts to make sure I really like the overall line!


Thanks for taking a minute to read my ramblings and leave a comment! I appreciate it!

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