Friday, November 25, 2016

Jack's Chain Tutorial

I've made two of these blocks and learned something new with each one. The most important thing for me was that I discovered I did NOT want to sew this by hand OR sew this with y-seams as it is traditionally made.

I found a digital file from 20 years ago when I was an editor with Quilt Magazine. This is one of the images:

This is made using a center hexagon, six equilateral (60 degree) triangles and simple 9 Patch blocks. I began with 2-1/2" strips for the 9 Patch blocks and worked my way out from there.

6" finished 9 Patch blocks using 2-1/2" strips
We all look for blocks and quilts that use up our Jelly Roll bundles, right? Well, this will do it!

My first block was sewn by the seat of my pants (and my sewing machine, btw). I created the center hexagon template (6" hexagon along the straight sides), found that the triangles can be cut from a 5-3/4" strip and started cutting. (Remember, I design with Adobe Illustrator and can create just about any block once I know a few of the dimensions.)

Marking the intersection of the 1/4" seams at the tip of the triangle
This Jack's Chain Block requires marking the 1/4" intersections. Did I say MUST?. This way you can make sure that the seams are totally accurate. If you don't want to take this step, stop right now and abandon this project (did I really say that?)

Mark the 1/4" seams on the Nine Patch
Use a pin to align the 9 Patch with the triangle as shown below:
Using a pin to align the triangle with the 9 Patch block
Sew the 6 triangles and 6 Nine Patch blocks together into a "ring." What you see below is the "ring" and the center hexagon fabric being auditioned underneath. It is NOT sewn yet.

Ring of 9 Patch blocks and triangles, awaiting the center hexagon
Now, back to that 6" center hexagon. This is 6" measured along the straight side (the way those who English Paper Piece measure these things). You can use an acrylic ruler to draft this, as most have a 60 degree line for orientation. (My 8 page pdf pattern on Craftsy - for the Jack's Chain Table Topper - has the template for hexagon (as well as process photos, illustrated step by step diagrams and the template for the 60 degree triangles). Since I have bills to pay (as you do), it's not free, but is reasonable ($5.00)! I will be moving this over to Etsy soon!

My craftsy pattern is here: Jack's Chain Table Topper, 22-1/2" x 22-1/2"


  1. I have a very old quilting book with this pattern in it. There is also a quilt made using this pattern. It is really beautiful and I have looked at it tons of time thinking that I want to make it. But I haven't gotten up the courage to try it yet. Maybe someday. Thanks for the tutorial.

  2. love this design. Its actually very similar to a design that I am hand piecing right now:

  3. Good Morning Debbie! I think that this is a lovely pattern and will make a beautiful table topper! I would love to buy your pattern, yet our funds are always so tight it may be awhile before I can purchase it. But, I will purchase it. So thank you for taking the time to create this lovely pattern without the Y-Seams (I have never even tried them after hearing all of the dreaded horror stories). Have a fantastic creative day!

  4. Beautiful! Thanks! Can the hexagon be cut with the large Accuquilt die? It's a 4.5" sided, but then could other parts be scaled down? (Newbie here)


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