Unless you haven't stepped into a fabric store in the last few years (and I feel sorry for you if you haven't), then you might not know that the tidy roll of fabric above is known as a "jelly roll." It's made up of 40 strips of fabric 2 1/2" wide, usually some assortment of colors or prints designed to look quite nice together. It makes for a delicious bundle of color, and it's not surprising that because they've become so popular, bunches of projects that use them have proliferated wildly.
Which leads me to the concept of a "Jelly Roll Race." I'd read about it on someone's blog some time ago, and it involves using one jelly roll to construct a quick quilt top that measures 48 x 60 inches. The race aspect just makes it silly and fun -- so when I learned about it, I figured it'd be just the sort of goofy thing that would be a fun retreat game.
The directions for making the quilt top are really easy. You essentially sew the strips together end to end, so that you have one long strip 1600 inches long (which explains why this is also sometimes called the "Jelly Roll 1600" quilt. You then fold it in half, sew, cut and fold it in half again, until it is quilt sized. You don't worry about fabric placement -- the strips themselves make the pattern. And it's a whole lot of straight seam sewing, which even a beginning sewer can do.
You can watch a race here, courtesy of Heirloom Creations:
So that's what we did one evening at the retreat last week. It was loads of fun and led to lots of giggling -- AND a gorgeous bunch of quilt tops:
You can find the detailed directions on making one of these here. Be careful, I think they might be addictive.