Recently, I have become quite familiar with a piecing technique called “flying geese”. Flying geese are a common quilting element; they are often seen as an element of traditional and modern quilt blocks, or a repeating element across the entire quilt.

Above is an example of the traditional flying geese, you will notice that it is a geometric isosceles triangle (two sides and two angles are equal). Below is an example of a non-traditional flying geese, in this example the point is made in the same manner as those above, but the diagonals do not extend to the bottom of the colored block to create the triangle. Rather they meet the edge partway down the side and create a pentagram in the shape of a house.

 

Below I will explain how to make the traditional version of the flying geese block.

First, you will need three pieces for each “goose” you plan to make. For the traditional geese, you will want a rectangle where the length is two times the width (L=2W) .  For example, above I have illustrated a 4″x2″ rectangle . You will also need two squares, you will want each side of the squares to be equal to the rectangles width, so in this example the rectangle width was 2″ so each square will be 2″x2″.

Notice the dotted diagonal lines, these will be your stitching lines, and they will also create the short sides of your isosceles triangle (geese). Before you sew, it is wise to mark these diagonal lines on your squares so that you may follow the diagonal, in order to create a straight line. You may mark this line with a ruler and disappearing ink pen, colored pencil, or chalk.

 

Next, you will lay one square over the rectangle at a time, placing them face to face, and aligning the square on one half of your rectangle. Stitch the diagonal line that you have previously marked, with a short length straight stitch. I like to do a whole string of these at a time, before I move on to the next step!

You will now trim your seam allowance to the standard quilting 1/4″, as shown in the images above and below

Repeat these steps with each of your “geese”.

You will then press the pieces, with the seam allowance flattened towards the patterned or darker fabric. In the next image you will see the back and front of your piece thus far.

Here we go again!

Now, you will align the second square with the other end of the rectangle, be careful to align your marked diagonal so that it meets at a point in the center of your rectangle. Again stitch your marked line, trim your seam allowance, and press it towards the darker or patterned fabric.

Above, you will see an image that depicts the back and front of your flying geese. Notice that the point of your patterned fabric is about 1/4″ below the top of the rectangle, this will become the seam allowance when you sew your pieces together.

So there you have it! Your flying geese are ready to be put together into whichever block or quilt you like!

 

As you saw above in my example of a non-traditional flying geese, there are ways that you can modify these steps to change the shape of your pieced block. When modifying you may change the proportions of your length and width between the rectangle and the squares, just remember the length of the diagonal determines the depth of the point. You can easily choose a diagonal length that will stop midway down the side of your patterned piece to create the house like shape you saw in the Quatrefoil block above. Or choose to create a very shallow point by ending the diagonal only 1/4 of the depth of the patterned piece. There are so many ways you can play with the flying geese technique so be sure to try a few modifications and record your findings! Remember, quilting is all about geometry!

Now, if you are like me, you will have saved all of those little corners that you trimmed. In my next post, you will see what I have done with what would be fabric waste to many people. 😉

 

 

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