Jack in the Box Quilt Block

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

by Julie Baird

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.

Skill Level: Beginner

Grid: 5x5

The Jack in the Box quilt block is simple to make using either the Connector Corners technique or paper piecing for perfect pointy points.

You'll find both techniques available on this page in three different sizes.

As always, if you choose to paper piece, the pattern downloads are free and located on this page, too!

This block is also called Wheel of Fortune and Whirligig.

Let's get started!

General Instructions

When you are instructed to press, first press the pieced unit flat to set the seam. Then open the patch, pressing from the front. Seam allowances are pressed to the dark fabric unless otherwise noted.

Regardless of the technique you choose, try our favorite method for getting flatter blocks. Click here to learn about this simple and effective pressing technique.

Step 1: Choose a technique, a size and then cut your patches

Jack in the Box quilt block designJack in the Box design

The blue chart is for paper pieced Jack in the Box quilt blocks.

After deciding on the size, you can download the necessary patterns right from the chart—third line up from the bottom.

You'll need the most current version of Adobe installed on your computer to download  the paperpiecing pattern.

On the Adobe Print Menu page, under 'Page Size and Handling' set 'Custom Scale' to 100% before printing for accurate results. 

Click here to see what it looks like on the Print Menu page.

 There is a 1" square on the page to help you confirm it is printed correctly.

Note, too, that the 'Patch #'s' are sometimes words. This is to make it easier to keep track of the units between both methods.

The pink chart is for the Connector Corners technique.

Choose your method and cut from the appropriate chart.

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Jack in the Box Quilt Block

~ Paper Piecing ~

Patch Fabric Qty Finished Block Size
1A41-5/8” x 2-3/4” 2-1/8” x 3-3/4” 2-5/8” x 4-3/4”
2, SkyB82-3/8” x 2-3/8”2-7/8” x 2-7/8”3-3/8” x 3-3/8”
GooseA13-5/8” x 3-5/8”4-5/8” x 4-5/8”5-5/8” x 5-5/8”
5A41½" x 2½"2” x 3½"2½" x 4½"
CenterB11½" x 1½"2” x 2”2½" x 2½"
Print Jack in the Box
2" 3"4"**
Unfinished unit measures... 2½" x 2½"3½" x 3½"4½" x 4½"
Unfinished Jack in the Box
block measures...
5½" x 5½"8” x 8”10½" x 10½"

**Print two copies for a total of 4 units.

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Jack in the Box Quilt Block

~ Connector Corners ~

Patch Fabric Qty Finished Block Size
1, GooseA81½" x 2½"2” x 3½"2½" x 4½"
2, SkyB161½" x 1½" 2” x 2”2½" x 2½"
5A41½" x 2½"2” x 3½"2½" x 4½"
Center B11½" x 1½"2” x 2”2½" x 2½"
Unfinished unit measures...2½" x 2½"3½" x 3½"4½" x 4½"
Unfinished Jack in the
Box quilt block measures...
5½" x 5½"8” x 8”10½" x 10½"

Step 2: Assemble the Jack in the Box unit

The Jack in the Box unit

Make 4

Connector Corners

Click here for detailed instructions using connector corners to make the units.

When you are finished, click the 'Back' button on your browser bar to return here.


Cut the four patterns from the downloaded page(s) just outside the dotted lines.

With a dab of Elmer's Glue Stick, the one that goes on purple and dries clear, stick the back side of #1 to the unprinted side of the pattern. Use the dashed placement lines to position it.

Position Patch #1 using the dashed placement lines as a guide

This patch should extend approximately an 1/8" past the outside edges of the unfinished block.

With RST add a #2. It doesn't matter which side is first. Just be consistent. That way if you've making a boatload of these blocks, you can get a rhythm going. You should be able to see through the pattern to use the dashed placement line.

Stitch, starting and stopping a good 1/4"  before and after the solid line. (see arrows)


Add the second #2 and press.

Add a 'goose' triangle. Use the placement line to help you position it.

Stitch, starting and stopping past the edge of the unfinished block.

Trim to a quarter inch seam. In the photo below, just the excess green dot fabric will be trimmed away.

Trim to a quarter inch seam

Press the goose.

Add the sky triangles one at a time, pressing and then trimming away any excess after each is added.

Before trimming, the Jack in the Box unit looks like this...

The Jack in the Box unit ready for trimming

To trim, align the 1/4" mark of your ruler with the solid outline of the block. Trim with your rotary cutter. Repeat for all sides.

Trim the unit to size

Repeat to make the three remaining units.

Step 3: Assemble your Jack in the Box quilt block

Lay out the Jack in the Box units and cut patches into rows like this. Pay careful attention to rotate the pieced units a quarter turn clockwise as you move around the block. The geese point out from the center.

Lay out the cut and pieced units into rows

With a 1/4" seam allowance, stitch the patches into rows. Press with SAs in the direction of the arrows, away from the pieced Jack in the Box units.

Press the seam allowances in the direction of the arrows

Sew the rows together with a 1/4" seam. After one final press, your finished Jack in the Box quilt block looks like this!

The finished Jack in the Box quilt block

Maybe it's because I'm making this at Christmastime, but this block really reminds me of a bow? You, too?

Common Variations

There are a few variations on the basic design. The one thing that doesn't change is the strong movement created by the central pinwheel motif.

Colorado Beauty quilt block design

Colorado Beauty

In this first variation, the unit is the same, but the cut square and rectangles are removed.

Click here for instructions to make a Colorado Beauty block.

Seesaw quilt block design


The rectangle has lost a HST.

Land of Lincoln quilt block design

Land of Lincoln

The pieced rectangle is flipped end to end and the goose has lost one of it's sky patches.

Lucky Pieces quilt block design

Lucky Pieces

Two HSTs are substituted in for the goose!

Same name, different block...

Another block called Jack in the Box

This version of the Jack in the Box quilt block is closely related to ours—the only difference being the HSTs that have replaced the pieced rectangles.

There's more blocks popping up...

Link to Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

For even more blocks to make...

These are my go-to resources for quilt block ideas. 

Can you see the library sticker on the spine of Jinny Beyer's book? Yep. I check this copy out of our local library every few months for research.

Maggie Malone's 5500 Quilt Block Designs is my all-time favorite quilt block resource!

Can you tell?

It's in color.

It's got a ton of blocks.

What's not to love?

Next on my 'must-have' list is Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.

Unlike the Maggie Malone book, the blocks in this volume are hand-drawn and in black and white—no color—personally, I prefer colored drawings to work with.

This book is no longer in print.

If you can come by a copy expect it to be wickedly expensive. Once in awhile you can find it here on Amazon.com.

UPDATE: Electric Quilt, in cooperation with Barbara Brackman has announced they plan to republish the Encyclopedia sometime in 2020. 

However, all is not lost if you can't find a hard copy.

BlockBase is the computerized version of the Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.

It contains designs for over 4300 blocks—pretty much every block published from the 1830's through the 1970's.

It can be used with Electric Quilt and is a Windows based program.

In fact, there are instructions included so that you can pull up the digital patterns within Electric Quilt (PC version for now) without having to open up BB program.

UPDATE: Electric Quilt has announced that they will be rereleasing the standalone BlockBase software for BOTH PC and MAC in 2020.

This is terrific news.

Finally there's The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer.

Lots of detail and in color, it is a beautiful volume. That said, I check it out of my local library on a regular basis instead of purchasing it—can you see the library sticker on it's spine. Yep, it's from the Plainfield Public Library.


Simply because I own the previous three references and find this the least user-friendly of the group.

And it does make a fabulous coffee table book!

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