Thursday, December 15, 2011

Foundation Pieced Union Jack Tutorial

Ok so here goes with my first tutorial, fingers crossed it will go well and all make sense. So this is something that I have made for someone else but thought I would talk you through the process so if you like Union Jacks you can go ahead and make your own.

Before I show you any pics I would just like to tell you that this is a pressie and therefore not my usual taste in fabric, it also needs to be very durable so I'm using some heavy weight tapestry fabrics but this would be really cool in quilting fabrics. Also read the whole post before attempting as I have some helpful hints and tips at the end.

(Tapestry fabric doesn't press well, so the photo doesn't do the nice straight seams justice!)

Here goes:

Step 1 - decide on the finished size you want your union jack to be, mine is going to be 13" square finished

Step 2 - grab some paper and draw out the outline of your union jack using a ruler and making sure everything is square, i'm only drawing half of mine out as I don't have paper big enough but that's fine as long as you have a photocopier

Step 3 - If you have drawn the whole outline then divide it into quarters, if you have just drawn half like me then divide it in half

Step 4 - draw in where your central crosses will be, bearing in mind that the thickness of the vertical one will be doubled if you have just drawn half. I made mine 3" wide so I drew the central one 1.5" wide, also remember that this central cross actually contains a main cross with a thin outline (traditionally white), therefore you need to decide the thickness you want the cross and the outline and they need to equal the width you have allowed. Mine is 3" wide, 2" for the main central cross and 1/2" for the outline on each side (the picture only shows the outer 3" line though)

Step 5 - Very faintly draw a line diagonally from the centre of your block to each corner

Step 6 - Decide how thick you want your diagonal stripes to be, I chose 1" for the central diagonal (traditionally red), 1/4" for stripe above and 1/2"for the stripe below (both traditionally white)

Step 7 - Draw a faint line 1/4" around the outside of your Union Jack, this will be the outer seam allowance

Step 8 - Cut your pattern out and photocopy, I decided to just cut out a quarter and then I photocopied this 5 times (1 for each quarter of the union jack, 1 for cutting out the shapes to use as patterns for fabric pieces, the original to be stored for future use), this way I could be sure they were all exactly the same but by drawing out half I had a really good idea of whether the sizings I had chosen would work visually. Draw in any lines that are faint.

Step 9 - Put 4 quarters to one side for use in a minute, store your original away and with the other cut up the pieces to help cut the right size and shape pieces for us to sew together

Step 10 - I am going to ignore the 2 central stripes as I think it will look better to sew them in as whole strips later, so start by taking one of the triangles and pin it to your fabric, you want to leave about 1/2" all around it when you cut it out.

Step 11 - Put it against the reverse of one of your quarters, hold it up to the light checking that you have at least 1/4" hanging over the lines. You also need to make sure that the right side of the fabric is facing out, you do not want the right side against the paper!!!

Step 12 - Sew along the line to secure the pattern piece in place.

Step 13 - Fold the paper along the line that you have just sewn, measure a 1/4" seam allowance and trim with your rotary cutter

Step 14 - Line up your next pattern piece, right sides together with the edge that you have just trimmed

Step 15 - Sew in place, if your seam allowance was wider than 1/4" then trim the excess.

Step 16 - Open up and press in place, check that you have at least 1/4" around the unsewn edges (if not then unfortunately you need to unpick, jig your pattern piece around and re-sew, otherwise you get to the end of the block and realise you need to do it all over again like I did!!!)

Step 17 - This time you will not have a sewn line to fold back, you need to fold the paper back along the next sewing line so that you can trim to the 1/4" minimum seam allowance, line your next fabric on top and sew

Step 18 - Repeat with each pattern piece until the quarter is complete

Step 19 - Turn it over, check that there is fabric overhang over all of the edges (just so you are sure that you have all of the 1/4" seam allowances that you need) and then trim all of the overhang off

Step 20 - Repeat this for all of the 4 quarters

Step 21 - Remove the paper - this needs to be done very carefully as you don't want to distort the stitches, I tend to pull the paper to the side rather than up, this way it tears quite well at the perforated line (most of the time)

Step 22 - Now i'm going to revert to regular patchwork, cut the strips for your central cross and the outline, I cut a long strip 1" wide for my outlines (1/2" finished, with 2 x 1/4" seam allowances) and 1 long strip 2.5" wide for my central cross

Step 23 - Sew your outline strips to 2 sides of each quarter block

Step 24 - Join 2 quarter blocks together with a strip of your central cross in the middle, make sure every lines up properly. Repeat for the other 2 quarters

Step 25 - Join the 2 halves together with a strip of the central cross in the middle, again making sure you are lining up everything so it matches. Press and WooHoo a finished Union Jack!

Hints and Tips:

  • Some people swear by sewing over all of the lines first but without any thread so that they perforate the lines and make them easier to tear at the end (I do this if I remember or can be bothered)
  •  I never get through a paper pieced block without making a mistake, just don't beat yourself up if this happens (it normally happens to me if I get smug and try to take short cuts)
  • It always uses way more fabric than you think it should
  • By cutting the individual paper patterns you can get your grain going in the correct direction if you wish, although if im really short on fabric then I don't let this bother me
  • I do a few backwards stitches at the start and finish of each line to really help secure it
Yay my first tutorial, sorry for it being so lengthy but I wanted to make sure each step was clear. So what do you think, does it make sense? is it something you might make? be sure to tell me if you do and any constructive criticism is welcome

Linking up with Fabric Tuesday at Quiltstory, go check out all the lovely projects


Kathy said...

Yay - Well done! Great tutorial and great pattern choice - I've been wanting to have a go at a union jack for a while, and then I can add a southern cross for an aussie flag :)

Katy Cameron said...

That came out well even with the heavier fabrics playing havoc with your seams!

pippablue said...

Well done on your first tutorial! It is very clear :)

Leo said...

I found that tutorial just in time - I was asked to sew something UK-themed, I was thinking about stitching the London underground map - but now I have to try your tutorial ... well later after christmas...

Katie said...

Lovely job! I think I will start it today!!

Patternista said...

That's lovely! And thanks Lotti for your support re Fox and Deer Tea Towel. I'm glad you love them. I'm in midst of designing fabric panels too. Keep updated on Twitter: @patternista1. I'll follow you too. Have a good Xmas :)

Quiltstory said...

Can I tell you I love you?? That too soon? I really really want to make a union jack quilt or maybe just pillow...thank you!! I am not genius enough to figure it out :) My dad is from England and I want something for me and something for him...not to mention I could make great gifts for my siblings. Bookmarking this and coming back in the new year! Thanks for linking up too!

Quiltstory said...

Oops...just noticed that you aren't linked to us, can you make sure next time you do? With a link or our button. Thanks so much!!

Leah said...

Great little tutorial for a square block. Just a little pointer - you have the diagonal stripes upside down! In the leftside quarters the thicker lines should be on the top. The pic in step 20 shows how they should all look. I know some people are not bothered, but for authenticity sake I thought I'd mention it.

Annabellouise said...

Lovely idea for a cushion or a wall hanging. I may try one for our street party in July in lightweight fabrics.

Unknown said...

really pretty!

Liz DandeliondD said...

Wow! I just found you through the Flikr group.
I was looking for a Union Jack tutorial for ages and couldn't find one anywhere.
In the end, I made up one - if only I had found you sooner!
Once I pluck up courage to try a paper pieced block, I will have to give yours a try.
Maybe you can check out my tutorial and see what you think too :goodvibes:
Kind regards