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Make flying geese fast: a tutorial

Flying geese

I spent a great chunk of last weekend happily piecing my lastest fabric acquisition into a pile of 96 flying geese blocks. They have since been sewn into a quilt top that, with any luck and some free hours, will get basted and quilted this weekend. My favorite part of making a quilt is undoubtedly piecing. I get in a rhythm when sewing 1/4" seams in rapid succession. I love it when I can get in that groove and sew a bunch of pieces together in a short time. For these flying geese, I used a great method for making multiple blocks that was fast and fun so I thought I'd share how I did it with you.

Flying geese tutorial

Flying geese blocks are rectangular with the finished height being 1/2 the measurement of the finished width, or said differently, their measurments have a ratio of 1 to 2. The blocks I made for the purpose of this demonstration finish at 3.5" x 7" (with the seam allowances they measure 4" x 7.5"), but you can easily adjust this formula to make the blocks any size you desire. It's easy. Another bonus to this method, is that there is no fabric waste when you piece flying geese this way.

Flying geese 1

This method produces 4 identical blocks. You'll need:

- 1 square of fabric cut 1 1/4" larger than the desired finished width. (For my block that is 7" long when finished, I cut my square to 8 1/4").

- 4 squares of fabric cut 7/8" larger than the desired finished height (For my block that is 3 1/2" high when finished, I cut my square to 4 3/8").

- a marking pen or pencil, straight pins, sewing machine and thread, a rotary cutter and ruler

Flying geese 2

1. With you marking pen and ruler, draw a diagonal line from corner to corner across all four of the small squares.

Flying geese 3

2. Place 1 small square on the corner of the large fabric square with the diagonal line starting at the corner. Make sure that the fabrics' right sides are together with the edges lined up.

Flying geese 4

3. Place a second small square on the opposite corner. The diagonal lines should meet and the squares will overlap by a 1/2".  Pin the small squares in place.

Flying geese 5

4. Sew a 1/4" seam on each side of the drawn line. This is a great time to use a 1/4" piecing foot if you have one.

Flying geese 6

5. With your ruler against the drawn line, cut the square into two triangles.

Flying geese 7

6. Press the seams towards the small pieces as shown. You now have two pieces that are somewhat heart-shaped.

Flying geese 8

7. Take another small fabric square and pin it to the point of the heart shape so that the drawn line runs from the point to between the top triangles.

Flying geese 9

8. Sew seams a 1/4" on each side of the drawn line. Once the seams are sewn, cut on the line just like you did in step 5.

9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 for the second heart.

Flying geese 10

10. Press seams towards the small triangles. Ta da! You now have 4 flying geese blocks.


I hope you all have a great weekend. I plan on sewing!



Wow! This is revelatory!
Thanks for sharing!

Rachel at Stitched in Color

Oh, neat! I have not seen this method before. Great that it involves no special cutting and no fabric waste. Will have to try!

p.s. shared about Quilt Essential on Stitched in Color today. Congrats on the book!


I haven't quilted in ages, but this has inspired me. Flying Geese is my favorite of all patterns and I've wanted to make one forever. Thanks so much for this tutorial!

Anne Marie

What a smart method!

Lisa Q

this is awesome Erin! I'm going to try this for my next quilt top! Flying geese are so fun! Love your fabric choices. Camille has a great tutorial for using Frog tape on half square triangles....I'll bet you could use that method with these and eliminate having to draw the lines. Check it out...I think it would work on these blocks!



Wow! I will definitely have to try this. Can't say that piecing is my favorite part of quilting, though...


This is my favourite method!


Brilliant! Happy piecing to you! That's one of my favorite parts too.


No way! All the flying geese tricks I knew wasted a boatload of fabric. And this one seems really easy to line everything up correctly. I love this. Makes me want to pull out some fabric and start something. Thank you!


Thank you!


Now I'm in the mood to make flying geese!

Brigit Dermott

Very clever! I love that there is no fabric waste with this method!


Very Cool, I'm going to try this...Thanks!


Great tutorial, very clear and easy to follow. Thanks for giving the basic formula early on so we can make it any size.


Oh Erin, I still love you! I have spent four days trying to do my stupid flying geese math and then I stumbled on this again. Why didn't I pin it the first time? Problem solved in less than five minutes and now I am not scared I will ruin my precious feed sack squares. Xoxo


Say you want to attach the side of a flying geese to another side of a flying geese or to a 2 1/2 inch sash. I don't see a "side seam allowance of 1/4 inch" so as to attach to another piece of fabric and keep the bottom point of the goose in the right position. Not sure I'm explaining well, but maybe you can understand what I'm getting at. I see the top 1/4 inch seam allowance to keep the top point of the goose, but what about the sides. Does it just work out? I'm a newbee. Thank you.

Erin | house on hill road

Hi Denise - The seam allowance is in there. It does just work out! I promise! - Erin


This is the best, thank you so much for sharing!

Lynn T

Thank You! I have just tried it and they came out perfectly........no waste, no awkward trimming!


This is SO clever- thanks for sharing this. Just tried it and it works great.


I've spent a week reading everything I could find on flying geese units and I like this method the best as I think there's less waste. However, I'm a cancer pt. on Chemotherapy and due to the brain confusion caused by the drugs, can't work out the measurements I need, to do this method. Can someone help! The width of my finished unit would be 7 1/8" and the height 3 5/8". Could you tell me the measurements for cutting my squares. I can sew, but I just can't think straight right now. The numbers just go in circles in my head and I end up in a state of mass confusion! These geese are going in a quilt for my Granddaughter and I don't want to waste fabric. I haven't had to ask for any help up to now, but..........HELP!

Thank you so much, as I just love that there's people like all of you out there!!

Erin | house on hill road

Hi Terry - I think I can help! First things first: to make this method work, the width of the finished unit has to be two times the size of its height. For yours, it would have to be 7 1/4" x 3 5/8". I will give you the measurements for that. (I can't make it work with 7 1/8" either!) You would cut your big square 8.5" (1 1/4" larger than the finished width of each unit - 7.25 + 1.25 = 8.5) and you would cut your small squares 4 1/2" (7/8" larger than the finished height of each unit - 3.625 + .875 = 4.5). Hope that helps! Happy sewing! - Erin



Carol Wood

Great tute to use for making 4 flying geese all at once, with no waste! Yay...
Now, if I want to make 4 different geese by using other fabrics, maybe I'll try to do it by changing the smaller squares...???


How many "geese" does one need for a quilt?

Erin | house on hill road

It's hard to say as it depends on what size quilt and how big you make the blocks. For a 60" square throw quilt with 5" x 10" geese, you need 72. For the same size quilt with 3" x 6" geese, you need 120.

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