Union Jack quilt top

Back in February, I was the queen bee of Compass Quilters, and I asked my bee mates to make Union Jack blocks with my free pattern.

Most of the blocks arrived on time, but I was waiting for a one or two late ones. When they did not arrive, as part of our own private swap, Jennifer of A Quarter Inch from the Edge made me some in exchange for some Polaroid blocks I sent her. Jennifer became an honorary member of the group.

Now that my Stash Bee blocks have started to arrive, I thought I ought to get this top finished. I do not want two piles of incomplete bee blocks building up! I had been procrastinating assembling the blocks as experience has taught me that every bee requires a little bit of unpicking and resewing, but I was proven so wrong in this case. Apart from one block that had been identified by its maker as too small and sent as a spare only in case I could use it anyway, all the blocks were the correct finished size. I had to fuse a little piece of reinforcing interfacing behind one block where the seam allowance was very, very scant in one place, but no block needed any other repairs or complete reassembly. I did not even have to trim or square up a thing. It is a bee miracle that is a testament to my fellow sewers’ skills!

Last weekend, I made eight more blocks to bring the total up to a good picnic blanket size (about 60 x 70 inches). My first thoughts were to add white sashing, but Valeria, a member of my local sewing group, convinced me to step out of my comfort zone and try blue to frame the blocks. As I plan to use this as a car/picnic blanket for my Mini, I thought the blue ticked two boxes: it looked good and would hide dirt better than white.

Today, I dropped it off with Donna for some long-arm quilting magic.

Union Jack quilt top made using Granny Maud's Girl's free foundation paper piecing pattern

I like the variety of the different reds, whites and blues, especially the Canadian maple leaf and Texas bluebonnet prints. It might be the British flag, but it is an international quilt.

This is not the best of photographs, taken on an overcast day, but when the top is quilted and bound, I will try to take some better shots outdoors. In the meantime, I wanted to show my clever bee mates that I have made progress and that their carefully sewn blocks are not lost and forgotten deep in the back of a drawer. It will be finished soon!

Have you had such perfect results from a bee before?

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43 thoughts on “Union Jack quilt top

  1. I had the pleasure of seeing most of this quilt top in person recently, and I have to say it looked AMAZING! And that was before it was finished! Kudos to all of you who contributed!

  2. It looks awesome! I am so happy that it came together so nicely! Beautifully done and the blue is quite fabulous! So happy to see I helped in there 🙂

  3. What a great quilt for the car and for picnics. Looking forward to seeing it quilted. I have been in one reproduction nine patch swap. The majority of the blocks were perfect, although some of the colour choices were a little bright for me. It adds a variety that you can’t always get from your own stash.

    • The variety can work in two ways, Susan. Here, I agree that the swap has definitely added variety and lovely fabrics that I would not have had enough of in my stash. At other times, it seems like swappers dig out their most ancient and unloved fabrics!

  4. Wow, I really love how the top came together and how awesome of Jenn to come to the rescue with a few more blocks. The blue sashing and scrappy red cornerstones look wonderful, and not having as much white in the top does sound perfect for a more rugged quilt. I hope you photograph it with Mini when it is done…

  5. That turned out so cool. I love the blue stashing, I think it really makes the blocks pop. I love all the blocks but those bluebonnet blocks are really cool….hehehe.

  6. I’m touched to have “bee”n made an honourary member of Compass Quilters and I’m so glad that my blocks were up to snuff. Always fun to see one’s little ‘ole block sewn into someone’s finished project! Great call on the blue sashing… it will definitely be more forgiving in the dirt department.

    • Your blocks made a HUGE difference in such a small bee. Thank you, Jenn.

      I chose blue to hide the dirt, but I still will not be dragging it through the dust and will be carefully placing it to avoid duck poo and other park/lakeside/picnicking hazards.

  7. Your observations are spot on Carla! I was going through my Stepping Stone blocks last night, trying to work out what size they were supposed to be!! Then why do people not press seams open if the tutorial calls for it? Lumpy seams that won’t press flat and bulge at the front is the result! Ugh! But your ladies are certainly skillful. I love your quilt! Picnic photos in Spring- can’t wait!

    • I have just been wrestling with the opposite – an unhelpful tutorial that called for pressing seams open when that forced the fabric against where it wanted to go and formed weird lumps. For that block, pressing flat ended up … well … nice and flat! Some blocks work better one way than the other, and for others it really does not matter. I checked with the queen bee and she had skipped that bit of the tutorial too!

  8. Wow! I love it!! I’ve looked at your post how to make it and it looks a bit complicated as I’ve never quilted (though I’ve watch craftsy classes!). Would it be a bit ambitious for my first project? 😃

  9. This will be the perfect picnic rug for your mini! I’m glad you went for the blue sashing and red cornerstones … it brings out the best in those blocks. I want a quilt like this too now … maybe I should join another bee 🙂

    • Or make your own. 🙂 I made the extra eight blocks surprisingly quickly, considering the number of pieces.

      Like Rebecca, I am tempted to make another in girly florals, but as I almost never make the same pattern twice I guess it is unlikely I ever will.

  10. I know why all your blocks were perfect – they knew they were making them for you, and that you put great effort into everything you do, so the bee members really tried hard to make their blocks perfect. It’s like at school, if the teacher has high standards and lets it be known, the pupils try harder to reach that high standard. If the teacher has sloppy standards, the pupils don’t care, and hand in sloppy work. You set the standard high, and received beautiful blocks in return. They look great together. Too good to rattle round in the boot of your mini. But I guess you’ll make a little bag to keep the quilt in so it doesn’t get dirty in the boot!

    • I understand that this was EXACTLY the reasoning used by my local round robin group when sewing all those flying geese!
      My Mini’s boot is usually pretty clean – no teenaged boys with mucky rugby gear in my world!

  11. I love how this turned out and so glad to be a part of it. Sorry I had one block come out too small, but I see the 2 replacements made the cut. I like the dark blue sashing with the red cornerstones – really makes the blocks shine (and will mask dirt better than white!)

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  13. This looks awesome Carla, I’m so pleased it went together smoothly! I would love to get my top pieced before Xmas also. Fingers crossed I can squeeze it in!

    • I sewed the last stitches on the binding on the weekend! It is finished. I just have to take a photo now.

      This really has been a charmed bee project for me. I cannot believe that I did not have to redo a single block.

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  15. OH BOY! I have been wanting to make a theme appropriate quilt for our Mini and am so glad to have stumbled upon your block tutorial and the photo of your completed top. Thank you so much for these posts. We participated in Mini Takes The States (MTTS) this summer and had a blast. We love our MIni and traveling with hundreds of Minis was awesome. Google to see photos online. We have an S Roadster. What model is yours?

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