How I paper piece the Union Jack block

Union Jack graphic

Yesterday Julie commented on my block #2 and asked if I made my own paper piecing pattern for the Union Jack blocks I am working on. The few that I found on the internet were not accurate and my English husband thought if I was going to make a Union Jack quilt with 15 blocks they should look like a real Union Jack. So I downloaded what looked like an accurate flag and made my own pattern.

Unit A (top left hand side of the flag) shown blow:

Flag unit A

4 units patterns

I print the 4 (A, B, C and D) red, white and blue striped units on 8.5″ x 11″ sheets of newsprint. Then on a light box I draw the sewing lines on the back – it just takes a minute – the pattern is so simple just a few straight lines. I cut the white frame strips and the red strips separately and add them to the 4 units. I have those measurements in centimeters because the inches were crazy.

Cut 4 white fabric: 3 cm x 9 cm. Cut 4 white fabric: 3 cm x 22 cm. Cut 2 red fabric: 6 cm x 10.5 cm. Cut one red fabric: 7.5 cm x 47.5 cm. I made file folder templates and I trace around them (on the back of the fabric) with a permanent fine tipped Sharpie marker. These measurements include the 1/4″ seam allowance.


 The way I am going about it is not the way most people do it. I have very little fabric (I only buy 1/4 yards and fat quarters or less) so I cannot cut the large random chunks of fabric most people use in paper piecing to make sure that the spot is covered with enough seam allowance. And I do not have access to a quilt shop so I cannot run out and buy more fabric. I have developed a way to conserve fabric and ensure that the spot is always covered – not too much and not to little – just right :-) I have used this method in the past for other paper piecing projects and it works for me.


I print the pattern on regular bond paper and cut it out and stick it to to old file folders. I use a glue stick – least messy way. Then I cut out the pattern leaving 1/2″ around all sides. I chop off the long points as you can see by the photo above.


Each one is labeled clearly with the pattern number and fabric color and the notation “cut on the wrong side of the fabric – this side down!” I am easily distracted and have marked and cut too many pieces of my precious fabric the wrong way. AND… I even have fabric placement guide photos – so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel with every unit of every block. See examples below:

Unit A piece #2


Unit A piece #3



Unit A piece #4


Unit A piece #5

Do I have OCD? Ya think? I just don’t do “random” and so many paper piecing instructions say something like: “place a scrap of fabric – in general bigger is better.” I must – CONTROL my scrap sizes – bigger is not better!

See these very good instructions for Foundation Paper Piecing from

Scroll down to the bottom of the second and last page and there on Method #3 is the way I do it!!


2 responses to “How I paper piece the Union Jack block

  1. Martie – David’s such and Englishman – I wanted the pattern to be authentic – since I was taking such liberties with the fabric :-) I am looking forward to doing another one with NO red, white or blue – that should be fun!

  2. This is a great way to do this. Great tutorial, too. Definitely easier than how I did mine. PS My flags are definitely not proportioned correctly, either, but I took the artistic license to not worry about it; not sure the recipient will notice the difference.

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