Eli’s Wheels Quilt

Photo courtesy of Chris Oliver

Hey everyone!  It’s good to be here on the Bake Shop again.  In the past I have shared tutorials for my favorite vintage quilts, but today I am debuting my first original design here.  I hope you like it!

1 Ruby Jelly Roll

1/2 yard binding fabric

2.5 yards background fabric cut into:

  • 16 1.5″xWOF strips
  • 1 10.75″xWOF strip (which is subcut into 6 6.5″x10.75″ rectangles)
  • 8 5.5″ rows (which are subcut into a minimum of 78 5.5″ unfinished equilateral triangles)   

3 3/4 yards backing fabric

1 Equilateral Triangle Template (5″ finished size)

This jelly roll contains 40 strips.  I chose to use one of the prints from the line as a background fabric, so I discarded that strip.   I also set aside another strip since we are sewing the strips into strip sets by pairs and need an even number of strips. Each jelly roll strip set should yield 2 full hexagons.  To give you a little wiggle room, we are going to use 16 strip sets.  If you make a mistake, simply use some of the other jelly roll strips to create more blocks.  If you don’t make a mistake, just add another row of blocks or make a fun pillow to go with your new quilt.

Cut 16 1.5″ strips from your background fabric.

Take your remaining 32 jelly roll strips and match them up into coordinating pairs.  Take 16 of your strips and sew a 1.5″ strip RST alongside the jelly roll strip.  Make sure you stagger this background  1″ from the beginning of your jelly roll.  This is important!  It will help you get an extra cut from your jelly roll and give you two blocks vs. one block for the same amount of work. 

Place each strip set background side down.  Press over the seam to set it (this will keep your lines crisp and keep your seam line from being wavy).  Now open your pair and press toward the jelly roll.

Now Stagger your second jelly roll strip 1″ down from your background strip  and attach it RSF to the background strip.   When finished sewing, press your strips open with the seams facing the Jelly Roll.

Your strip sets will be staggered on the edge like this to help maximize your fabric.

This is how your cut triangle will look.  From the apex of the triangle, Your background fabric will hit the 2″ finished and 3″ finished hash marks.  I used a sharpie when I was cutting to make a little dot on those lines…it is so easy to get confused!

Continue cutting until you have 12 triangles cut from each strip set.  Just flip the triangle all the way from one end to the other.  Be careful not to contort or twist your wrist when cutting triangles. I set up my mat on the edge of a desk/table and walk around the mat to make cuts instead of straining my wrists.  I got a lot of wrist pain once using a quarter square triangle ruler and I don’t want to repeat that. If you have an Olfa brand cutter, you will notice a set of ridges on your cutter.  These are registration points indicating where to put your thumb or forefinger (your preference) for the least stress on your wrist tendons.  Cool, huh?

Arrange your triangles into 2 hexagons like so.

We will sew our hexagons into 2 halves then join the halves at the center.  Join the first 2 triangles edge to edge then you will need to offset the third triangle in the half hexagon by 1/4″.  You can use your dog ears to line up your offset :

I really recommend setting your seams to give you nice, crisp seams.  With all those bias edges, this step is very helpful.  Setting seams means pressing your sewn line before opening up your block and pressing the block.  If you are nervous working with bias edges, you can do the following things:

  • starch your fabric (not necessary)
  • piece with a walking foot (not necessary, but can help especially in longer bias edge seams)
  • touch the fabric as little as possible…absolutely crucial.
  • set your seams (I find this very helpful, I love a crisp seam line).
  • if you are unsure of how much to offset your blocks to get the seams to match, sew the first few triangles with a basting stitch (longest stitch length).  If you’re happy with your pieces,  go over your seams with a regular stitch length.  If you mess up, it is much easier to take out long basting stitches and it will be less tugging with a seam ripper…tugging distorts your blocks.  After a block, I felt comfortable to just dive in with a regular stitch.  I also pieced with my regular 1/4″ foot. 

Now you have your half-hexagons.  Before you sew your hexes together into whole hexagons, here is an alternate layout I chose not to use for these particular fabrics (half hexes would be sewn together like a tumbler quilt):

Instead of this, we’re going to proceed with sewing the half hexes into complete hexagons:

You will notice there are dog ears in the center where your half hexagons will meet.  You can trim these before you begin or use them to line up your hexagons and trim them afterward.

Now cut 8 5.5″xWOF strips of your background fabric.  Sub-cut each strip into equilateral triangles (5.5″ unfinished, 5″ finished…remember these triangles are measured by their height, not the length of the sides).

Here is how it looks under the ruler.  Use the guidelines on your ruler to measure, not just the edges.

Now attach 2 equilateral triangles of your background fabric to opposite sides of your hexagon.  This makes a rhombus shape.  Set the seams and press open.

Here is your rhombus shape. I am calling this an Eli’s Wheel block.  It reminds me of a ferris wheel which in turn reminds of me 5 minutes of pure terror (or hilarity, depending on whom you ask) spent with my son on a giant ferris wheel overlooking one of the Great Lakes.  You should have 32 blocks.  Your quilt will have 7 rows laid out like so:

Row 1: 5 rhombus blocks
Row 2: 4 rhombus blocks
Row 3: 5 rhombus blocks
Row 4: 4 rhombus blocks
Row 5: 5 rhombus blocks
Row 6: 4 rhombus blocks
Row 7: 5 rhombus blocks

Now we will sew our blocks into rows.  Do not sew your rows together just yet: we will need to add setting pieces to the side.

Joining our rhombi will also involve us offsetting our pieces by 1/4″.  You can also use those dog ears along the edge to help you line up your blocks. 

You see I’ve lined up my dog ears.  You can also see the bottom block peeking out.   When you correctly line up your 2 blocks to sew, it kind of looks like a tent with the “pretty side” of the fabric lining the tent.  Sew along the top of the “tent.”

Set your seam and open up…Voila!

Press.  Continue joining your blocks into rows.

The beginning and end of each row will need another 5.5″ setting triangle.  Attach the setting triangle to the hexagon on the beginning and end row. 

 Sew your seam and then press open.

Now cut off the excess.  You will leave 1/4″excess past the point on your hexagon.  On the rows that have 5 blocks, this is all you have to do.  On the rows with 4 blocks, we will add an additional setting piece, a 6.5″ x 10.75″ rectangle.  Cut a 10.75″xWOF strip of your background fabric.  Sub-cut that into 6 rectangles that measure 6.5″x10.75″. 

According to my MATH, the pieces should be 6.5″x10.5″, but that just was a little shy (maybe due to the bias edges) I’d rather be conservative and cut a little extra.  You can always trim down from 10.75″ if you find this piece is too tall.

Attach the rectangle to each end of the three 4-block rows.

Now sew your 7 rows together to form a lovely 60×70 quilt top.


Approximate fabric requirements for backing: 3 3/4 yards.

Construct 2 strips the width of the fabric and length at least 66.5″  Sew Strips together to form backing. 

Baste backing, batting, and quilt top to form quilt sandwich.  Quilt as desired.


Fabric required: 1/2 yard.  Cut 7 strips of width 2.5″ or 2.5″ (your preference).  Sew into a continous binding strip.  Attach to the front of your quilt with machine and turn over and finish by hand using a ladder stitch or whipstitch.

60″x70″ lap quilt (with extra fabric to make coordinating pillows or a slightly larger quilt)

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial.  If you make one I’d love to see it!  You can see my other tutorials and projects on my blog

Mary Lane Brown

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s