Over the past few months, I’ve had a numerous amount of interest and requests to make a video tutorial showing how I make the Union Jack block…
The first time I made this block I had just learnt how to Foundation Paper-Piece and was absolutely daunted by all of the different pieces and angles I had to sew! Oh. My. Gosh. So, I took a deep breath, studied the pattern and instructions and then took one step at a time. So then of course I proceeded to make countless mistakes, under and over judged fabric lengths and widths AND importantly learnt that keeping to a quarter-inch seam was critical for the pattern to come together, crisp and evenly at the end! What’s that saying? Through our mistakes, we become stronger… Well, maybe…
Since then I’ve gone on to make a lot of versions of this block, almost to the point where I could do it with my eyes closed! (Well, no. Not really. That would be a terrible idea!!) I had high hopes (and still do, actually) of piecing my many blocks together to make one of those big Britannia type quilts.
I’ve written about it before in other blog posts and it was on my New Year Quilting Resolutions of 2014 list to make during that year. (An idea that failed miserably! None of those quilts got made! My bad.) But hope is not lost! It will get made… one day… soonish…next year, maybe…
But, alas! I have had the chance to incorporate this block into quilt! I was commissioned by a work colleague to make a quilt for our department manger who was leaving to pursue another job. The biggest love in her life was bunnies as well as sharing the same admiration for all things British, like me. So I made her this quilt as a farewell gift!
It still is one of the most favourite quilts I’ve ever made.
I originally found this block in the book Modern Blocks, compiled by Susanne Woods as I was casually flicking through it when visiting my favourite bookstore in Sydney, Kinokuniya. As soon as I saw this block pattern in the book, I immediately made the decision to buy it without even looking at what other blocks were in the book! That’s how keen I was to make it! However, it wasn’t until I got home that I realised the block was made entirely using the foundation paper-piecing method… A technique, at the time, I didn’t know anything about! With my excitement and high hopes of being able to make an inspiring Union Jack Quilt squashed, I placed the book on my shelf and forgot about it.
A few months later, I signed up to do the online Craftsy Block of the Month with Amy Gibson… [And just on a side note: If you’re new to quilting and want to learn lots of new techniques and be wholly inspired by everything patchwork, I recommend highly to watch these video tutorials! It’s 100% free to watch and join. Honestly, without watching these tutorials, I wouldn’t be the quilter I am today! So go! Do it now! Watch. Learn. And grow!] …and in one of the months she taught me how to foundation paper-piece. Here I was, thinking it would be this weird, strange, ancient technique that I thought I would never enjoy. How very wrong I was. In a matter of minutes, I was in awe of just how easy and simple the technique was. I just couldn’t believe how straight, clean and crisp I could get my seams and how many new and awesome modern block designs that were now open for me to make! And then…Lightbulb! I now had the power to make that Union Jack block!! Huzzah!!
The block in question, called Just Jack, was designed by Lynne Goldsworthy. (A quilt-block designer I seem to keep running across over the past few months…spooky!) The block that I make is a little bit different to the one in the book. I’ve made it smaller (165% as opposed to the suggested 200%) and have eliminated the two pieced strips from the top and bottom so that it’s just a Union Jack.
Now I must admit, this block is pretty tricky (and a little bit daunting!) if you’re new to foundation paper-piecing but I still want to encourage you to give it a go! Don’t worry if you make mistakes – I did and I learnt from them! Be brave, dive in and see what happens! (Oh man, I should take on some of my own advice inother parts of my life! Jeez!)
If you are new to foundation paper- piecing, you’re more than welcome to check out this tutorial I made last year that goes through all of the basic tools and steps to understand the technique.
One of the things I absolutely love about this block is that it allows you to be as free and creative as you wish! You can use fabrics that are rich in print and colour, ones that clash horribly but still look good or just stick to the classic side of things using solid colours to bring the block to life!
Now, the final size of this block will all depend on how big you choose to enlarge this pattern. At 165%, my finished block measured 26.5cmx17.5cm (10&3/8″x7″).
If you don’t have this book or unable to purchase it, here are a few other Union Jack patterns I’ve found on the net that are similar to the one I’ve made.
And lastly, here’s a list of the tools and notions I like to use when I’m doing any foundation paper-piecing…
– Brother Innovis 200QE sewing machine
– Brother 1/4″ sewing foot
– Gutermann polyester thread
– Fiskars Rotary Blade and Cutting Mat
– Sew Easy Rulers
– UHU Glue Stick
– Triumph Craft Scissors
– Birch Non-Melt Flower Head Quilting Pins
– Clover Thread Snips
– Clover Serrated Tracing Wheel
– Clover Finger Presser
Of course, let me know if you’re going to make this block (or already have!). Send me a photo of your finished block, or a project with the UJ in it or your fabric selections for your planned block! I absolutely love it when you share your creations and ideas with me!
The ways in which you can share with me…
If you’ve made it to the end of this post, I send you a big virtual HIGH-FIVE for getting through all of my rambling back story!
You’re a true super star!
Happy Sewing Friends!!