Saturday, August 9, 2014

Four Flying Geese Tutorial

Flying Geese units are a staple of quilt patterns--we use them all the time.  They are my most favorite quilt design shape.  Sometimes we use them exclusively:

Sometimes we use them as part of blocks:

The Simple What Nots club quilts use the lovely flying geese unit frequently.  The patterns use the method that involves cutting rectangles and squares, sewing on the diagonal then cutting the excess triangles away.   I've done that while making these small quilts so I'll know what the students are dealing with.  My preferred method for making geese is to make four at one time, and I oversize and custom cut them down--that allows me to "trim to perfection". 

To do this successfully, you just have to know the correct measurements for the parts.  These geese finish at 2" x 1".  The large square that will be four geese is cut 3 3/4".  The four squares will that become 8 half square triangles are cut 2 1/4".  Here is the process:

Draw diagonal pencil line from corner to corner of the 4 small squares, place two small squares on diagonal corners of the large square,  sew 1/4" from BOTH sides of the line, cut apart

UPDATE:  Here is a faster way to draw those lines:  draw the lines on one LARGE block. Then cut the block into quarters.

Press small triangles UP, to make a heart, add next square on lower half of heart, sew 1/4" from BOTH sides of the line, cut apart, press small triangles UP, trim to perfection
Here is how you trim to perfection:
First cut, place diagonal line of ruler on seam, have 1 1/4" mark at the point of the "goose"

Second cut, turn goose around, place 1 1/4" mark at point of goose, being sure the 1/4" line is at the point, and bottom line is straight across the goose unit, hold tight and trim carefully. 

REMEMBER:  the first cut is important, but the second cut is CRITICAL!

Perfect goose, 2 1/2" wide, 1 1/2" high
If you want to use this method you just have to know the correct sizes to cut the parts.  Here is a chart to help you.  Remember, these numbers make geese that are OVERSIZED  and need to be CUSTOM CUT, trimmed to perfection.  While you can do this method with the precise measurements, you have to do everything perfectly to have them work out.  I prefer to allow for slight variation in cutting and sewing and them "trim to perfection". 

Note:  units will be oversized and need to be trimmed to finished size plus seam allowances.

Finished size of flying geese unit
Cut size for large square  (goose) – cut 1
Cut size for small square (wings) – cut 4
2 x 1
3 ¾”
2 ¼”
3 x 1 ½
4 ¾”
2 ¾”
4 x 2
5 ¾ “
3 ¼”
5 x 2 ½
6 ¾”
3 ¾”
6 x 3
7 ¾”
4 ¼”
7 x 3 ½
8 ¾”
4 ¾”
8 x 4
9 ¾”
5 ¼”

Here is the class last night--there were about 25 people there and I'm sorry you can't see them all.  Some finished their quilt, including quilting and binding, some had the top done, some had parts in a bag and some are getting ready--it's all good!

We're having fun and making small quilts that will improve all of our future quiltmaking.  If you like this info please feel free to share it with your quilter friends.

Let's quilt!



  1. Barbara, you would probably LUV the new BlocLoc ruler for trimming your flying geese units!

  2. Thank you for a very helpful tutorial on the 4-in-1 Flying Geese!! ♥♥♥

  3. Thank you for the chart for 4X2" flying geese for which the current project in my mind's eye calls. Today I've been wondering how to bring the small size into being. You've answered my question.