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Shabby Union Jack

Union Jacks are hot right now. In the decorating world, I mean. To people in the UK they’ve always been hot, and rightfully so.  I picked up this Union Jack pillow at HomeSense the other day. 

Does it matter that I’m not from the UK? Not to me, obviously. It reminds me of the Beatles and pubs and Bridget Jones and the British Open and our trip to London last summer.

Yesterday I was reading Cottage Life magazine and the art on this page just spoke to me.  What did it say, you ask? It said, “Make me!” So I did.

These were a little on the drab side so I used Layla’s coastal flag for my color inspiration.   The Lettered Cottage Coastal Flag

I’m apologizing in advance for this “tutorial.”  I was a first grade teacher in my former life and when I give directions or explain things, it sounds like I’m talking to someone under three feet tall. Now, let’s get in a circle and sit “criss-cross applesauce.” Kidding.

I went to Home Depot and got 2- 1x6x10 foot lengths of knotty pine flooring boards. The only difference with flooring boards (sorry if I’m using the wrong terminology, I’m a girl) is that the top has an “innie” groove and the bottom has an “outie” groove.  So that they fit together. I had the guy cut them into 2 1/2′ sections, so 4 pieces per board.  Now you could make this with only 4 boards but I liked the way 5 looked. Is it the correct “official” Union Jack dimensions? Probably not.  It’s art.

Next, I painted the boards with some shade of creamy white.  Once dry, I dry brushed Sea Salt on top of it but left some areas of white peeking through. We’re going for shabby here…not perfection. Ahhh, that’s nice isn’t it? 

Once the Sea Salt dried (with the help of my hair dryer) I ran a line of Gorilla Glue down each “innie” groove and then put the whole thing together like a puzzle.

Now I probably should have waited for the Gorilla Glue to dry before I started painting.  Patience is, after all, a virtue.  Unfortunately, it’s not one of mine! So I pushed it against the wall (I was painting in our hallway) to secure it as I painted.

I’m sure some people could draw this freehand, but not me and my left-brained self.  I got out my trusty ruler and drew some nice straight lines.

Now to be somewhat accurate when drawing the Union Jack, the “+” lines are wider than the “X” lines. Make sense? So I painted the narrower “X” lines with a 2″ brush. Then I painted the “+” lines with a 3″ brush.  

Once dry (again with the hairdryer) I used a 2″ brush and painted Sea Salt in the center of the white lines. I used the narrow part of the brush to paint these lines. On the wider lines, I still used the narrow part but just kind of widened the strokes a bit.

I let it just sit for an hour so the Gorilla Glue could fully dry.  Then I took it outside and sanded it down with my Mouse sander and 220 grit sandpaper. I took any paint shine and gloppiness away. Here it is after the first sanding.

Now comes staining.  I used MinWax “Jacobean.” Caution, this is very dark and a little goes a long way.  I used a brush to apply it but I blotted the brush on a towel before I added the stain to the wood.  Also, I didn’t want to cover the white parts and have them look dirty, so I “drew off” sections to fill in as I went. 

I did this all over and really rubbed the stain in with a cloth. Once It dried I sanded the whole thing again.

I attached three sawtooth hangers across the back (because of the weight). And hung it over my Roadside Rescue Chest of Drawers.

That’s it.  Super simple.  A Union Jack made by an American living in Canada! Confused? Me too.

But hey, cute is cute…                   and cuteness is UNIVERSAL!

Linking up with:PhotobucketThe DIY Show OffMy Backyard EdenHookingupwithHoHSYS ThursChic on a Shoestring DecoratingFunky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

23 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lauren #

    Thank you for this one! I am an absolute NUT for all things Union Jack. That pillow you picked up at HomeSense retails for 70 pounds at the Victoria and Albert museum in London. Well done!

    October 13, 2010
  2. Patrice #

    Hi. Not only do I admire your lovely project, I also really, really appreciate the fact that your very-thorough tutorial is NOT full of technical jargon. For DIYers just learning this stuff, I think it helps people “get it” when we use universal language over esoteric. For myself, I’m a lot more inclined to connect to words like “innie” and “outie” than I am to “tongue” and “groove.” In my opinion, it’s that first “aha!” of connection that gives us confidence to try a new project too and worry about what to call it later.
    I bet you were a fabulous teacher. Heck, you still are! 🙂

    October 13, 2010
    (And thanks for linking up to mine too!)
    I’m off to share this on our Facebook page, RIGHT NOW! 🙂


    October 14, 2010
  4. Oh, that’s so pretty! I love the colors and the dimension of the art with your dresser is so nice. And using flooring is so clever! I’ll be bookmarking this–I’ve got too many bare walls in my house that need to be remedied.

    October 14, 2010
  5. Nice one! I wish our flag in Canada was as trendy and stylish as the Union Jack. I’m keeping this in mind for above the fireplace in my play room that I’m making over. I’ve been looking for an idea just like this. Thanks!

    October 14, 2010
  6. I love it! The pillow is adorable.

    October 14, 2010
  7. I have always adored Union Jacks, and I love, LOVE, LoVe your project!!!

    October 14, 2010
  8. Shari #

    Great site-found you via Lettered Cottage-do you have a subscribe button for google reader and I am just missing it somehow? TIA!

    October 14, 2010
  9. Very cute! says the South African living in America….

    October 14, 2010
  10. Rachel Carey #

    Ok, I’m confused. So you’re going to make ALL of us posters one of these and mail it to us? Ok, Excellent!!!!

    Seriously, how CUTE is this????? Great tutorial btw. I think my DH with the sometimes *not so bright* gene can handle this one. After all, he’s a *boy*.

    October 14, 2010
  11. Hey mate! Your just a “Jack” of all trades Susan! Wow! Love it and how you displayed the items on your road side rescue.

    October 14, 2010
  12. Love the union jack! I have the same pillow! I can not believe you got a Jan Constantine pillow at Homesense. Lucky you! looks great. liz

    October 14, 2010
  13. Love this. I am totally making this for one of my best friends for Christmas.

    October 15, 2010
  14. Love it! The colors are so perfect, shabby, shabby shabby at its best! Marcia

    October 15, 2010
  15. This is really great! I was born in England, so I do love the Union Jack as well as the American flag. This is such a fun twist on it and love this vingette all together.

    October 15, 2010
  16. Way cool! I loved Lyla’s. Yours is equally lovely.

    October 16, 2010
  17. I really love your sign and I think the whole vignette looks great!!

    October 16, 2010
  18. That was a great tut! Guess I am in the under 3′ section of life! lol. It turned out super!
    smiles, alice

    October 16, 2010
  19. What a great idea. I haven’t been noticing Union Jacks, but I’m sure I will now. I like your shabby version and your pillow.

    October 16, 2010
  20. Oh I simple adore this – Look fantastic and the washed colors are wonderful! Such a great piece. Hope you are enjoying your weekend! ~ Stephanie Lynn

    October 17, 2010
  21. Ann #

    Wonderfulness. Beautifulness. Loveliness. What an inspired project and so well done. I have to do a version of this for my hallway, love what you did!

    October 17, 2010

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