Jelly Roll Race Quilt :: Directions & Notes

Jelly Roll Race Quilt :: Directions & Notes

Ok, so you may be asking… what is a Jelly Roll Race Quilt and how do you make a Jelly Roll Race Quilt in an hour, or so ;)?

This is part 2 of our 3 part Jelly Roll Race Quilt series. Be sure to read part 1 Jelly Roll Race Quilt :: Quilt in an Hour?! and part 3 Changing the Size and Determining the Number of Strips.

A standard Jelly Roll Race Quilt produces a quilt top that is approximately 50″ x 64″. It uses one 40 strip Jelly Roll Fabric collection, sewn into a single, super long strip, that is then folded in half and sew together along one edge, you cut the folded edge open and then repeat for a total of 5 seams. This doubles the width of the Jelly Roll quilt top each time, and cuts the length in half. You end up with a quilt top that is a series of offset strips that come together in a surprisingly fast and fun fashion. You can’t really tell what it will look like until it is all done and you spread it out for the first time. It feels like quilt magic.

If you haven’t tried to make a Jelly Roll Race Quilt… give it a go. I had a great time making mine and plan to make many more.

First, unroll your Jelly Roll. You can just use one strip after another as it comes in the roll, although my Jelly Roll, Moda Wrens & Friends had a couple of the exact same strips one after another and I didn’t want to sew two of the same strip together so I sorted my jelly roll out by colors. Don’t spend too much time worrying about the order of the strips! You have to give up pattern control with a Jelly Roll Race Quilt. Just trust that the fabric collection will come together in a fun way.

Many of the Jelly Roll Race Quilt images I found online showed sewing the strips together at a 45 degree angle. If you like that look, by all means do it. I prefer the way it looks with a straight seam and just sewed mine that way.

Note: all measurements assume a 1/4″ seam allowance.

So sew all of your strips together into one super long, mega strip (approximately 1600 inches long – actually longer, but I’m rounding), right sides together. Don’t cut the thread between seams, just grab and go.

Once all of your jelly roll strips are sewn into your mega strip, trim the thread between each section, cut off 18″ of one side of the strip. This is very important to offset the seams! Just be sure to do it on only one side. Then accordion fold the mega strip to make it easier to manage. You can then separate the folded strip into two piles, one for each end of the strip.

Place the folded mega strip on your lap and pick up both ends. Lay the two ends on top of each other, right sides together, and sew them together along one edge. This first row will take seemingly πŸ˜‰ forever. When you get to the end, you will have to cut open the folded edge so your new double strip will lay open flat. Don’t worry if this first row is twisted. Just cut the end open and untwist it. It will get easier to not twist the rows as you go along. You now have a two row strip that is approximately 800 inches long.

Repeat. Grab the two ends, right sides together, sew along one edge until you hit the end, and cut open the folded edge.

You should now have a strip that is 4 rows tall and approximately 400 inches long.

Repeat. Grab the two ends, right sides together, sew along one edge until you hit the end, and cut open the folded edge. You should now have a strip (that is not really a strip any more) that is 8 rows tall and approximately 200 inches long.

Repeat. Grab the two ends, right sides together, sew along one edge until you hit the end, and cut open the folded edge. You should now have a strip (that is definitely not a strip any more) that is 16 rows tall and approximately 100 inches long.

Repeat. Grab the two ends, right sides together, sew along one edge until you hit the end, and cut open the folded edge. You should now have a quilt top that is 32 rows tall and approximately 50 inches long.

You are now done! Open up your Jelly Roll Race Quilt top and enjoy the surprise.

So now you are thinking that was fun, but what if I want my Jelly Roll Race Quilt to be a different size? I had those exact same thoughts. The standard Jelly Roll Race Quilt, really only works for a throw quilt, or a full sized bed if you add a border. I did some more research, played with some numbers, and came up with a formula to change the quilt size. Click here if you want to change your Jelly Roll Quilt size.

Copyright Β© Wee Folk Art, LLC 2008-2014. All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce our text, images or patterns without prior written consent. Please contact us with any questions.


Michelle ~ Wee Folk Art


  1. It was very easy to do, I was surprised, when I opened it and looked at all of it I was in ahhhh. Now I would like to add a back to it and border. I can’t find instructions for that can you help me please. Thank you. Charlotte

  2. Thanks so much for this guide to the jelly roll quilt process. I was trying to follow the instructions on another site and was getting flustered; your instructions resumed me;-)

    1. Kimara

      You are very welcome. So many people have been helped by this post of Michelle’s. I’ve been wanted to give it a go. Oh, to have more hours in the day! Let us know how it works out! πŸ™‚ ~Kimara~

  3. When stitching the strips together, do you open all the seams flat as you get to them?

    1. Michelle ~ Wee Folk Art

      I don’t usually open my seams flat. I just let them lay in the direction that I’m sewing. You generally won’t have to seams hitting in the same area so you don’t have too worry about lining them up in any way.

      1. So I made a jelly roll quilt and doubled it up one too many times so now it’s super long and narrow. Any suggestions as to how I can fix it?

    2. This is exactly the question I had! I made a queen size quilt some months ago, and bought an extra jelly roll to do a companion quilt for a smaller bed later. For the life of me, I can’t remember ironing seams. This one is going to be a twin, so I have to approach it a little differently to get the right width. It seems I should iron seams for this one, right? I already sewed all the strips together, so have a very long strip. But now I have to cut them to the width I want, rather than just folding and sewing over and over. To iron seams or not to iron seams? What do you think??

      1. Michelle ~ Wee Folk Art

        Hi Julia, Be sure to read part three of the jelly roll series. In that post I go into detail on how to change the size of the quilt. It should help you plan your twin size quilt. You don’t need to do anything different except use fewer strips. In that post I explain it all and give you a formula for figuring out how many to use. And no I don’t iron seams until the very end.

        1. Howdy, Michelle! I had already read your three part post about jelly rolls race quilts, and officially became a fan! Since I had only a small window to finish my twin quilt (grandson gone for a couple of days meant free sewing time!), I decided to iron the end-to-end seams all in one direction to make the slightly more complicated process of doing the twin rows easier. It worked great! Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. I made my first jelly roll quilt turnd out so cute and it was so eazy but puting the three pieces together than sew them what should the back look like

  5. Your instructions were very helpful! Just curious – why do we need to cut off 18″ on one end of the mega strip? I haven’t found an answer for that.

    1. It’s supposed to distribute the colors more evenly. I made a 1600 quilt and ended up taking it apart in a few places and switching strips. But it came out nice! 70’s look. πŸ™‚

      1. Thank you! I know it’s not easy/fun to take apart. I can’t wait to try this out!

    2. Michelle ~ Wee Folk Art

      You cut off 18″ to offset where the seams line up when you go to start sewing the additional rows. If you left both sides 40″ long then at 40″ and then again at 80″ etc you would end up with the jelly roll strips ending at the same time and it would create vertical stripes. We want a more offset brick style pattern. Make sense?

      1. Yes, makes perfect sense!!! Thank you! I’ll be trying this method soon for a baby quilt πŸ™‚

    1. Michelle ~ Wee Folk Art

      Thanks for sharing your project link Nancy. I love the bright colors of your quilt. I’m glad you enjoyed making the jelly roll quilt. πŸ™‚

  6. Thank you so much for these very clear directions! I’ve wandered the web for my next step and only got more confused. I’m putting your site as one of my favorites.

    1. Michelle ~ Wee Folk Art

      I’m glad you found us Melody. It really is an easy way to make a quilt once you wrap your head around how it comes together. I’m glad the tutorial was helpful. Be sure to check out our other tutorials as well. πŸ™‚

  7. I’d love to see a video tutorial on this….at least the beginning and end of each step. I’ve never quilted and this looks like the easiest style pattern-wise….but since I don’t even know the basics I’m completely stumped. Anyone have a link to a good video?

    1. Jenny from Missouri Star quilt Co. does a great video tutorial.

  8. Have you got instructions on how to add a border and backing?

  9. How do you keep same fabrics from being on top of each other in the rows? I have just finished one and have 3-4 fabrics on top of each other. I have to admit, I didn’t like making this. But, your instructions were spot on which I appreciate.

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