Having discovered how much fun it is to write and photograph a tutorial, here’s another one – The Making your Geese Fly Tutorial!

Now obviously, this isn’t even remotely an original technique (check here for basic instructions).  But I only learnt of its existence a short time ago myself – thankyou Mistress Amy.

Nevertheless, adopting it has been one of those pivotal moments in my patchwork life when I think WOW!!!!  I want to make Flying Geese for every quilt I make!  How could I not share such a blessing :-)  So without further adieu …

As with lots of patchwork techniques, there are mathematical rules that we learn to apply without really understanding why (at least, I don’t understand!)  But, like many things in life, understanding why is not essential as long as you remember to stick to the rule.  Thus, I am not about to explain why,  just how!

Choose the fabric for your geese – a 2 contrasting fabrics are good.  Select which fabric will be your centre triangle, and which fabric will be your side wings.

For the centre triangle, establish how wide your finished geese will be – in this instance, 4 inches – so, add 1 1/4 inches to this = 5 1/4 – and then cut a square that is 5 1/4 inches along each side (of course it is  – it’s a square!)

cut 5 1/4 square
This rule applies no matter how big your geese – if you want 8 inch wide finished geese – add 1 1/4 inches so you will cut a square of 9 1/4 – get it!

Now, so you have a wee bit better of an understanding why we are doing this, take a look at the back …

take a look at the bacl

… if I draw a line from point to point in both directions, I wind up with a square that is quartered into four triangles – these will be your centre triangles!  Aaaaaahhhh! So one 5 1/4 inch square will yield 4 flying geese units!

Now, if my finished unit will be 4 inches wide and 2 inches tall, I will need to cut squares of 2 7/8 inches from my side wing fabric.  You are cutting it at 2 7/8 because ultimately, this square will be cut in half, so, just like a half square triangle, you need to allow 7/8 inch seam allowance.  And you will need four 2 7/8 inch squares, for one 5 1/4 inch square …

cut side wings

Lovely!  Now, turn these squares over, and draw a line from one point to the opposing point, just like you would for a half square triangle …

draw a line from one point to the opposing point

… and now you are ready to sew!

Take the 5 1/4 inch square – face up – and pin two of your side wing squares face down in diagonally opposing corners …

pin two squares onto 5 1/4 inch block

… so that it looks like this – the inner corners will overlap and your drawn line will meet – jolly good!

Now sew 1/4 inch away from the drawn line down one side … down, down, down, keep going across the middle, down, down, down, through both side wing squares …

sew 1/4 inch away from line down one side

…  and then turn around, and sew back the other way.  Just like you would with a half square triangle – but of course, you’re doing two at once.
turn around and sew back the other way

Let’s take a peek at the back of our 5 1/4 inch square and see what’s happening to those diagonal lines we drew (remember, you don’t have to draw these, I just did this to show you why we cut such a square).

look at the back
Huh!  You can see that all four of our centre triangles have a seam line running 1 /4 inch from the cutting line.  Cool!

So, grab your scissors, turn your square back up the right way, and cut along the drawn line …

cut down the middle

Mmmmm …. looks a bit funny doesn’t it!  This totally threw me the first time I did it – egads!  I thought – there’s a line of stitching that cuts right along the edge of the V.

unfamiliar geese
Iron back the two triangles on each unit …

heart geese

… and now they look like pointy hearts with a very dodgy bit of seam allowance in the  V. No problem baby!

Take your remaining two side wing square and pin one, face down and with your drawn line running from the V formed by the first two squares, into the bottom corner of each of your face up “hearts”.

pin one into each heart point

… and sew 1/4 inch away from said drawn line, down one side, turn it around, and then down the other side.

all sewn up
Guess what you are going to do now!  Yes!  That’s it – brownie points for you!  You’re going to cut along the drawn line of each of your two “heart” units and press the side wing triangle – that’s right, it’s no longer a square – open.  This will give you four units!
and look what you’ve got!

Ha-ha!  Isn’t that so cool!  Now you have four beautifully accurate, perfect quarter inch seam allowance at the top point, flying geese.  And to borrow a phrase from all those quilt patterns that make me pull at my hair with despair – now you can make as many as your want and “assemble (they say quilt!) as desired” …

assemble as you wish

No hair pulling here though – it’s a breeze!  Just make sure you have enough patterns in mind that require flying geese, because you’re not going to want to stop!

Let me know if you have any questions – but now I’m off to the kitchen.  There’s a lovely warm, toasty aroma of baked chipolatas and pumpkin calling to me – not to mention the fiercely bubbling water that if it waits any longer for its peas, will have boiled away.

Good night and good sewing!

making your geese fly!

14 thoughts on “making your geese fly!

  • June 3, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Such a great tutorial! Thank you eternally for visual enhancement and mathematical explanation (I don’t know if I will ever actually remember the numbers without having my thinking cap firmly attached).

  • June 3, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Excellent tutorial! This is the way I do it, but I have a book that shows a method with 2 squares of fabric that are one inch different in size. It yields 4 geese segments, but the method is more confusing than this one.

    Great job!

  • June 3, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    WOW! I still think I’m a little apprehensive about geese…but this makes it look a lot easier. So maybe someday I’ll try it, armed with this tutorial and a lot of patience…

    Thanks for doing this!

  • June 3, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    I always love reading your tutorial – thanks for sharing the tips! You are a gem!

  • June 3, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    So many people swear by this no waste method of making flying geese. I’ve tried it several times, and every time my geese come out just a tad to small. I can usually make them work by taking a very small seam allowance. I wonder why I have this trouble when most people online don’t. When my friends have tried it they have the same problem I have.

  • June 5, 2008 at 5:24 am

    Here I am wishing again that I lived down the lane from the Tumbledown House. It always seems so cheery there. With the fabric and the hoops and the 38 years of bits and pieces drying…

    This tutorial was the sweetest one that I have seen for this method…I think that your cheering us on the whole way, makes all the difference. Gracias!

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  • June 5, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Ha! This is so clever! I hate doing those flying geese one by one. I would love to try this.

  • June 6, 2008 at 12:10 am

    I love these flying geese! Can you please put the pattern for them on the Tumbledown Shop?

  • June 10, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    I have been making quilts for going on 40 years and have not seen this method (though I have heard tell of it) before. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have a variable star quilt I am planning and even though the star points are not technically flying geese — they are the same… I am off to try this out for real…

    PS, I will pass along your tutorial link from my blog, too.

  • June 14, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Best flying geese tutorial I’ve run across. I am a beginer, and find many patterns confusing. This tutorial is clearly laid out, and user friendly. Thank you.

  • September 25, 2008 at 12:11 am

    Thank you so much for such a clear and consise tutorial. I just did one in no time flat! Now, on to more stars!

  • October 10, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    I tried it!! YAY! Lily….it worked! I could sew flying geese this way! I’m so happy! YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY

  • January 24, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    A MOST wonderful tutorial. I’m hooked and am posting a link to you! THANK YOU!!!

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