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Mini Quilt of the Month, July: Flying Geese

It might seem counterintuitive, but summer is really a lovely time for making quilts. Working with crisp cool cotton and going at your own pace is a wonderfully relaxing warm weather pastime. When the weather heats up, it feels natural to work on patchwork projects in measured stages. One night you might cut the pieces, the next day perhaps you can sew a few of them together, a week later it's time to piece the blocks and so on. Summer just seems to demand this more relaxed approach, and we're happy to comply!

July's Mini Quilt is especially perfect for summer because of its small, do-able scale and bright, patriotic colors. It is made up entirely of Flying Geese blocks. The Flying Geese design is a beautiful traditional quilt pattern made up of centered triangles surrounded by two corner triangles. The evocative name comes from the center triangle's shape which ends up looking like a flock of geese flying in a V formation.

Every month this year we have been presenting a Mini Quilt of the Month, and this block and quilt are perfect examples of what the series is all about. (To see all the previous Mini Quilts, click here.) When we started way back in January we wanted to present beautiful small scale projects that taught useful techniques. Flying Geese fit the bill since it involves some great skills and tricks, none of which are very hard, but all of which will serve you well as you move on to bigger and more complicated projects. Best of all we love that, although each block is so simple on its own, when you combine it with other blocks the optical fun really begins!

Materials

Fabrics are listed from top to bottom of the picture above:

  • 1/4-yard Rowan's Shot Cotton,Eucalyptus
  • 1/4-yard Liberty of London's Tana Lawn, Mitsi in Blue 
  • 1/4-yard Liberty of London's Tana Lawn, Capel in Aqua 
  • 1/4-yard Lecien's Small Stripes, Blue. This particular fabric is no longer available, but please check out all of our current fabrics for some great alternatives.
  • 1 1/4-yard Moda Muslin 45"-200 count, Natural (for piecing and backing)
  • 1/4-yard Yuwa Fabric' Alternating Stripes, Red. this particular fabric is no longer available, but please check out all of our current fabrics for some great alternatives.
  • 1/2-yard Lecien's Small Stripes, Red (for piecing and binding). This particular fabric is no longer available, but please check out all of our current fabrics for some great alternatives.
  • 1/4-yard Yuwa Fabrics' Sweet Honeycomb, Red 
  • 1/4-yardRobert Kaufman's Kona Cotton, Coral

You will also need . . .

Size

24 inches by 24 inches

Pattern

Cut

From each fabric execept the muslin cut:

  • eight 4 1/2-inch by 2 1/2-inch rectangles
  • sixteen 2 1/2-inch squares

From the muslin cut:

  • sixteen 4 1/2-inch by 2 1/2-inch rectangles
  • thirty-two  2 1/2-inch squares

Arrange these cut pieces into five groups of two fabrics each. Each group will have eight rectangles and sixteen squares from each of the fabrics. Our groups were as follows:

  • Red Small Stripes and Muslin
  • Red Honeycomb and Muslin
  • Eucalyptus Shot Cotton and Blue Small Stripe
  • Coral Kona Cotton and Tana Lawn in Aqua Capel
  • Alternating Red Stripes and Tana Lawn in Blue Mitsi

Make Flying Geese

Start with one of the groups of two fabrics, eight rectangles and sixteen squares of each fabric. We will call them Fabric A (which will be the blue fabric in the pictures) and Fabric B (the red fabric). You will be making sixteen total flying geese blocks from this group, half will have a triangle of Fabric A in the middle and half will have a triangle of Fabric B in the middle.

Using a Hera Marker or erasable fabric marker mark a diagonal line across the wrong side of every square.

This diagonal line is your sew line.

The next four steps are each pictured in the photo above, from top to bottom:

Step 1: Pin a marked square of Fabric A to the left side of a Fabric B rectangle right sides together. The sew line should be going from the bottom left corner of the square to the top right corner. Pin on both sides of the sew line.

Step 2: Sew across the sew line.

Step 3: Trim off the outside left corner 1/4-inch above the sew line.

Step 4: With the right side facing press the Fabric A triangle upwards (with the seam allowance pointing towards Fabric A on the back) to form a rectangle as shown in the last step in the picture above.

Since you are making so many little pieces you can chain piece the sewing steps. First, pin all of the pieces and then sew them one after the other without raising the foot of your machine. If you pin the squares on either side of the sew line you won't even have to take the pins out as your sewing which also speeds things up. When you're done sewing you just take out all the pins and clip the pieces apart.

The next 4 steps are each pictured in the photo above from top to bottom

Step 1: To sew the next side of the block pin the remaining Fabric A squares to the left side of the rectangle, right sides together. The sew line should be going from the bottom right corner of the square up to the top left corner. Pin on both sides of the sew line.

Step 2: Sew across the sew line.

Step 3: Cut off the upper right hand corner 1/4-inch above the sew line.

Step 4: Press the newly pieced Fabric A triangle up. You will now have a complete flying geese block, a rectangle with a triangle of Fabric B in the middle. The seam allowances should be pressed away from the center triangle on the back.

Repeat this process for all of the Fabric A rectangles and Fabric B squares. You will have sixteen total finished flying geese blocks.

Repeat this process on all five of the fabric groups. You will have a total of 80 flying geese blocks.

Sew the Geese into Squares

This quilt is pieced together by first sewing together nine squares which each consist of eight flying geese blocks. The following pictures are of constructing the "G" square but all of the squares are put together in the same manner.

You can lay out your pieces in any pattern you like, our layout is only a suggestion. Also note that you will have 8 extra flying geese blocks. This is so you have a little room to play around with the layout.

The flying geese blocks will be pieced on top of one another with the points of the inner triangles all facing in the same direction.

Pin two flying geese with Fabric A inner triangles right sides together so that the point of the inner triangle lines up with the middle of the bottom of the opposite piece.

Sew across the pinned edge with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Be very careful not to sew over the top point.

Press the seam allowance upwards on the back of the pieces.

From the front it will look like this. Make sure the points of the inner triangles are facing the same direction and not pointing at each other. The top point of the inner triangle should be just barely touching the bottom of the triangle above it.

Piece two more flying geese to these pieces in the same manner until you have a strip of four pieced together. Make sure that their seam allowance are all pressed upwards.

Repeat this process for four of the opposite flying geese in your square but this time press the seam allowances downwards.

Pin the two strips right sides together matching up the side points carefully. Since the seam allowances are facing different directions the blocks should fit together at their seams without creating too much extra bulk.

Sew the two strips together being careful not to sew over the side points of the triangles. Press this seam allowance open (to reduce bulk) The square is now done.

Repeat this process for squares A-I.

Piece the Top

Piece together three vertical strips, with squares A, B, and C as one strip, squares D, E, and F and the second, and G, H, and I as the third.

Piece them in the same manner as you have been, lining up the seams and points and making sure not to sew over the points. Press the seam allowances open.

In our lay out square A is oriented horizontally while square B is vertical. To piece them together simply line up the edges and middle seams. The top triangle points on square B should also match up with the side points on the triangles directly above them on square A.

Sew the three strips together and your quilt top is done.

Baste

Cut a the muslin and batting to be a few inches larger than then quilt top. Smooth the muslin down and tape it taut to a clean flat surface. Lay the batting on top of the muslin. Lay the quilt top right side up in the center of the batting.

Using bent arm safety pins pin all three layers together every 4-inches. Un-tape the muslin and your quilt sandwich is ready to be quilted.

Quilt

You can quilt this piece in any manner you like as long as it's stitched together at least every 8-inches. We quilted it along the triangles of every horizontal row as shown above. Note the difference at the top left corner of the piece since square A is oriented horizontally.

Here is a back view of the quilt so you can see the quilting lines a little more clearly.

After it's quilted trim the batting and backing to match the quilt top.

Bind

Bind the quilt with the small red stripe. If you haven't bound a quilt before please visit the binding instructions from our January Mini Quilt of the Month: Courthouse Steps at this link. This quilt (and all quilts!) can be bound in exactly the same manner. Once you get to the story, scroll down near the end to the sections called "Prepare the Binding" and "Bind the Quilt".

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6 Responses to Mini Quilt of the Month, July: Flying Geese


  1. Sharon says:

    Thanks for sharing this cute quilt. You have inspired me to make my own flying geese quilt.

  2. Amber says:

    I'm surprised at your flying geese piecing technique. Simpler to execute than precision cutting each element, but throws out almost half the fabric!

  3. purl bee says:

    Hi Amber-

    You can certainly keep the little triangles that are cut off in this process and add them to your stash. All pieced together they would make a very sweet little quilt on their own.

    Thank you for your comment!

  4. Elaine says:

    I am inspired by your website and made a Mini Flying Geese quilt this week. I used the Fons and Porter Flying Geese Ruler to make my blocks. Absolutely no waste and blocks need very little squaring up.

  5. Pip says:

    I loved this quilt so much that I am making one for my friend's baby boy in greens and purple. It's my first quilt so quite a challenge, but it still looks great even if the blocks don't quite line up for me.

    I have to say I did use a no-waste flying geese technique from the internet as the fabrics are quite expensive.

    Thank you for the inspiration!

  6. Faye Hoch says:

    This is a perfectly acceptable way to make flying geese. There are many different methods. If you put all those little triangles together that are cut off from the flying geese block you are spending less than$0.50 on waste. I wouldn't worry about it.

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