Ask Jo: How I Make Flying Geese

I think one of the top questions I get is how do I make my Flying Geese.  For those of you who don’t know, Flying Geese is a popular quilt block.  They really aren’t hard but get people a little tripped up at first so…after getting several people asking for a “how-to” from me on how I make mine, I finally sat down and made a couple of Flying Geese and took pictures as I went.

One of the most popular ways we see Flying Geese blocks is a portion of a star block.  I pulled a couple of my quilts to show you.

Here Rosie is showing off a quilt I made…I think this was from an issue of American Patchwork and Quilting.  Kelli made one too.  We didn’t design this.

It’s made in all reproduction fabrics and I love it.  There is a block in the… center of a star block.  It was so fun to make.

If you focus on the outside center of the star block, you see a larger mauve-colored triangle that is the background print with two white right-angle triangles attached making star points.  Together, that unit is called a Flying Geese block.

Here is another quilt that uses Flying Geese to make star points.  This one is a Bonnie Hunter quilt found in her book Scraps and Shirttails I.  You can find the book HERE.  Mine is done with recycled shirts.  I love the quilt.

I made this quilt in 2013.  You can read all about it HERE.

You can see the Flying Geese are making the star points here as well.

Oh, I loved this quilt.  I really feel the need to make some star blocks pulling on me.

My recent dive into making Flying Geese came with my working on my Hawaiian Sunset Quilt.  This quilt has 600 Flying Geese.

You can see them bordering the blocks.  Oh, I’m so excited to see this quilt come together…but first, I have to tackle the Flying Geese.

For me, I make them one of three different ways.  There is a way you can make four Flying Geese at a time with no waste.  I only make mine that way occasionally.  For example, I was making the Red Sampler quilt from Lori Holt and that’s how she makes her’s so I made them that way, but it’s not my favorite way at all.  I know many do make theirs using that method and that’s totally fine.  I looked up a tutorial for that way and you can find that HERE.

Sometimes I make them using the Connector Square way that can give Bonus Triangles.

For these examples, I am making them 2 1/2″ based meaning they will be 2 1/2″ tall when finished and 4 1/2″ wide.  To make it I need:
1- 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangle and two 2 1/2″ squares.

Some people draw a line on the back of the squares but to save time, I use Lori Holts Seams So Easy Guide that you see taped to my machine.  You can find the guide HERE.

I put the square on the rectangle as shown.  I line the needle at the corner at the top as shown.  I keep the opposite corner on the middle line you see and sew.

Many people cut 1/2″ from the sewing line and throw away the excess but I sew another line to get the “bonus” triangle.

I line it up as shown and sew again following the line on the guide.

Now I clip the two pieces apart.

I iron that and then position the second triangle as shown.

Again, I line it up according to the line on the guide and sew.

I line it up and again so I can get the bonus triangle.

I clipped and ironed.  I ended up with one flying geese block and two
2″ half square triangles.
The other way I make Flying Geese is using a Companion Angle Ruler (Find it HERE)  and a Right Angle Ruler (Find it HERE).   If you like working with Jelly Rolls or you keep fabric strips, this is a great way to go.

First off use the Companion Angle Ruler to cut a large square.  If you want 2 1/2″ unfinished, then you use 2 1/2″ strips to cut your pieces.  The rulers make the math so simple.  Line it up and cut on each side of the ruler.  If you are cutting more pieces, flip the ruler, line it up, and cut again.

For the smaller triangles, you again will need a 2 1/2″ strip or whatever your unfinished size of units you want.
It’s important to cut these in mirror images so I keep my fabric right sides together.

I line it up leaving the top tip above the fabric.  I cut on each side of the ruler.  If I am cutting more pieces, I flip the ruler and continue to cut.

In the end, I should have these pieces like this…

Again at my machine, I have the Seams So Easy Guide.  I like it using this method too.

I put the right-angle triangle on top as shown.  I make sure the blunt cut-off edge is lined up at the top.  I use the line on the guide to navigate my pieces to the needle.  In the picture, I pulled the fabric to the left so you could see the line I am referring to.

Next, I clip off the “dog ear” (the little extra triangle clipping).

I iron and then come back to the machine.

I place the last triangle as shown and using the guide stitch it in place.

Again, I clip the dog ear and iron.

Here are my two triangles.  One gave me the extra half-square triangles, the other didn’t.

Stop back again as in the next blog post I explain why I use which method and when…and I give you a look at some of the amazing quilts I’ve made using the leftovers of the Bonus Triangle Method and explain the hows and whys of which method I use when.  I hope you stop back to learn more.

12 thoughts on “Ask Jo: How I Make Flying Geese”

  1. Very clear explanation. I wonder where you keep all of your quilts. You seem to be able to pull them out for a demo.
    I bought one of those over the door hangers and love it. Thank you for the referral for it. I’m thinking of getting a second one. I wish she would make a smaller size for a smaller door for older homes.

  2. Both look like great methods. I recently got the creative grids ultimate flying geese ruler from my daughter for my birthday and that is now my favorite way to make them. They are so accurate.

  3. Love this post! I avoid flying geese because they always end up wonky…but you have given me hope!

  4. Good tutorial, Jo. In the next part of the flying geese tutorial, it might be helpful for newbies if you show how you press the seams. That can make a big difference in how a block comes together.

  5. Thank you for sharing this method for making flying geese. I have the Seams So Easy Guide and now I see how easy it would be to use making these pieces.

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