Jack Attack II - A blocks

So this is the second instalment of the Jack Attack quiltalong and I am going to take you through step one of the process.  The starter post for this quilt a long can be found here.  My practice union jack is shown in this photo - as you can see it is BIG.

I can finally show you the fabrics I am going to use for this quilt.  Pat Bravo's new line, Rock n Romance, coming out in October.  The picture has the backing and binding fabrics, the neutral fabric and then six main fabrics for the flags.

We won't be cutting everything ahead of time because, when you make a Union Jack block, it's a good idea to make a practice block before you cut up all your fabrics and find you did something wrong.  So today we are going to make one practice A block.  In the union jack, there are A blocks and B blocks.

This is an A block:

There are two A blocks in each flag; one orientated as shown above and one rotated through 180 degrees.  One goes top left and one goes bottom right.  The diagonal is from top left to bottom right.

And this is a B block:

There are two B blocks in each flag; one orientated as shown above and one rotated through 180 degrees.  One goes top right on the flag and one goes bottom left.  The diagonal is from top right to bottom left.  

Take a look at the finished flag and you can see the two A blocks and the two B blocks.   Take careful note of the fact that each block has a larger and a smaller triangle and each block has a wider and a narrower white stripe.  I would suggest you keep referring back to these three diagrams as you make your A and B blocks.  

Making the practice A block

NB: consider making this first block from unwanted fabrics before cutting into precious fabrics.

1.   If you are using directional fabrics, decide which of your A blocks you are making first so you make sure you orientate your fabrics in the right direction as you cut and piece.  

2.   To cut the triangles for the A block, cut one piece of fabric 21" x 9".  Cut in half along the top left to bottom right diagonal.  

3.   Then align the 1.5" line of your ruler along the diagonal you have just cut and make a second cut.  NB: some people are struggling to make the A block align on the final seam.  If you are having this problem, try reducing the width of this cut to 1.25" or even 1".  Make the whole block in the same way then fuse the final finished block to the freezer paper aligning the larger triangle with the edges of the paper so that the smaller triangle overhangs.  Then trim the smaller triangle to size where it overhangs the edge of the freezer paper.  

4.   This will yield one larger and one smaller triangle as well as a spare strip which you can discard.  

5.   Next you need a piece of freezer paper (if you have no freezer paper, you can use any paper but freezer paper makes the process easier) 27.5" x 10.5".  

6.   Cut two WOF (width of fabric; cut from one selvedge to the other) strips from your white fabric - one 1.5" wide and one 3.5" wide. NB your fabric may not be white but I mean the fabric I have marked as white in my diagrams. 

7.   Cut one WOF strip from your coloured stripes fabric (pink in my diagrams) 2.5" wide.  

8.   Sew the wide white stripe to the large white triangle as follows.  Do not cut the white fabric to length before sewing.   Align the white fabric an inch or two beyond the end of the blunt end of the triangle and sew the seam. 

9.   Flip, press and trim at each end of the triangle along the dotted lines in the diagram.  Retain the longer piece you trim off as it will be joined end to end with others to make further blocks. 

10.   To finish with a triangle like this:

11.   Repeat using the small triangle and the 1.5" white strip and you will end up with a larger and a smaller triangle like this.  NB: also retain the longer white strip you trim off here to be joined end to end with others to make further blocks.  

12.   Press the triangles to the freezer paper taking care to align the edges of the fabric with the edges of the freezer paper.  Trim any fabric hanging off the edges of the freezer paper.  Peel the larger triangle off the paper.  

13.   Sew the coloured strip (pink in my diagrams) to the larger triangle as follows:  again do not pre-trim the WOF strip.  Align the end with the blunt end of the triangle (no need for the 1" - 2" overhang this time) and sew the seam. 

14.   Flip, press and trim along the dotted lines in the diagram.  Again retain the piece you trim off to be joined end to end with other pieces to be used to make further blocks.  

15.   Once again, press the larger triangle back onto the freezer paper and trim the pink fabric to the edges of the paper.  Then mark or pint a point somewhere along the edge of the white strip.  Mark or pin the same point on the pink strip.  

16.   Peel the triangles off the freezer paper, place right sides together with the two marks or pins together.  Pin and sew the whole seam then press.  NB: if your seam ends don't align perfectly at this step, don't worry and think the whole thing has gone horribly wrong.  Just trim it down slightly and then trim all the remaining blocks to the same size.  And here is my trial Rock n Romance A block photographed kind o fancy on a slant.

BINGO, you have your practice A block.  Please show me your A blocks in the Flickr group and let me know if you encounter any problems or the instructions are not clear.  


  1. Can i just say how very excellent your Touch Draw skills are, the diagrams are excellent!

  2. Hi Lynn, just want to confirm, from step 12 to 13, do we have to remve the freezer paper firs before sewing the pink stripe?

  3. Ahh, the pin lining up and measuring things totally appeals to my anal retentive heart... ;o) Shame I don't have time to make one of the bloody things right now!

  4. Brilliant. I may just dive into the real block, not practice. Your instructions are excellent and very clear.

  5. Thanks for another great tutorial. Your Jack's were the first I saw in quilts, and I think of you every time I see another creative idea for making them.

  6. Oh, this is going to be a fabulous quilt - I love your fabric choices!! Brilliant tutorial and diagrams, it's such a clever way to ensure the blocks are the correct size!

  7. love this and more jealous that you have that fabric already! so so jealous!

  8. Excellent tute Lynne. As soon as I finish quilting/binding this blasted baby quilt commission, I'm totally on it! Crazy Kaffe or Petite Odile.....still contemplating.

  9. I love your fabric choice!

    It was a lot more simple than I thought it would be! I want to go ahead and make my real A blocks, but I have a question. In Step 16, should there be any trimming or squaring up after sewing the seam? Mine was a little off (see Flickr) even though I pinned the heck out of it to keep it in the correct position while sewing. Thanks!

    1. Nevermind, you've answered me on Flickr and my blog. Sorry to be a bother all over the place! LOL

  10. hi Lynne. I am having repeated, irritating trouble logging into Flickr tonight - driving me crazy, have been trying on and off for a couple hours and it just won't work, so I wanted to quickly ask you something here instead sorry.

    Your instructions and diagrams were awesome, they were really easy to follow.

    I think my one issue has come up because I'm not very experienced in using freezer paper. I had a lot of threads come loose along the edges when I pulled it off the first time - and maybe that made things go a little wonky, because my measurements could have gone off.

    When I sewed my little (top) triangle to the pink stripe (I pinned all the way along) I ended up with the top outside edge being out by nearly 1/4 inch, where the skinny white stripe joins to the pink stripe. There is a little triangly tail down on the bottom side of the same stitch line - so maybe I was supposed to pin it a little higher, then sew?

    I took a pic of the wonk to show you on Flickr - I can see the photo in our photo stream, but I just can't log in to go to your Jack Attack page and comment. Sorry to be a bother, am betting it's my lack of experience/carefulness. thanks, Cat.

    1. Cat, I am having the same issue. I am also betting it's my lack of experience! Ha! :)

  11. This is going to be so much fun. Thanks for putting so much effort into this and allowing us to sew with you. :-D

  12. I absolutely love this Jack design! Would it be very difficult to size down to cushion/pillow proportions?

  13. I don't have freezer paper, but I do have quite a bit of different interfacing and stabilizer. Could I use that instead of freezer paper? Would it serve the same function?

  14. Wow, your instructions are wonderful and so clear. I read them carefully and felt empowered to sew, sadly your instructions made the whole thing look a lot easier than my skills would allow, but after much muttering and a whole load of red mist I managed an A block. Admittedly it had a bit missing, and was 1/8th short both height and width, but hey the stripes don't have to match, do they? Will try a lot harder on the real thing. Thanks again for a super challenging tutorial

  15. Hello! I'm making these blocks (and eagerly anticipating the Bs and stripes!) but I'm having a hard time getting everything to square up, too. I'm cutting the small width you suggested (1.25" rather than 1.5") from the starting rectangle, and my small triangle still ends up being 0.5" inches short at the top!

    I think I'm having problems with the biasing of the fabric. On my second attempt I paper pieced the large triangle, white and pink stripes directly onto the freezer paper, then pieced the small triangle without a paper backing and then attached it to the rest of the block. This helped somewhat but I'm still not quite square.

    I think for my 3rd attempt(!) I'm just going to paper piece everything and see if that helps with the precision! I figure once I tear away the paper I can press the seams away from the light fabric.


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