From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
Skill Level: Confident beginner
Grid: 3x3, 9-patch
The Flock of Geese quilt block may be more commonly known as 'Birds in the Air'. Since we've already got a block by the same name (just simpler) in the library, this namesake will have to do.
Other names for this block include: Birds of the Air, Flying Birds, Flying Geese and White Cloud.
In this lesson you'll learn to make it with rotary cut shapes and traditional piecing methods.
Let's get started!
All seam allowances (SA) are 1/4".
First press a pieced unit flat to set the seam. Then open ig, pressing from the front to prevent tucks at the SA. Seams are pressed to the dark fabric unless otherwise noted.
To create a block with pointy points, choose fabrics that highly contrast each other. Large florals or prints with big open spaces are not suitable for this block.
We will be working with exposed bias edges (#1 and #3 patches) during construction. To tame them, I suggest starching your quilt fabric before cutting. (I did for the sample pictures in these instructions.)
Cutting Chart for a~ Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|1||D||3||1⅞" x 1⅞"||2⅜" x 2⅜"||2⅞" x 2⅞"||3⅞" x 3⅞"|
|2||L||2||1⅞" x 1⅞"||2⅜" x 2⅜"||2⅞" x 2⅞"||3⅞" x 3⅞"|
|3||L||1||3⅞" x 3⅞"||5⅜" x 5⅜"||6⅞" x 6⅞"||9⅞" x 9⅞"|
|Unfinished Block Size||3½"||5”||6½"||9½"|
|Trim HSTs to||1½" x 1½"||2” x 2”||2½" x 2½"||3½" x 3½"|
Draw a diagonal line on the back of 2 of the 3 dark #1 squares. I've used my Bohin Mechanical Chalk Pencil. The chalk is easy to see on the dark fabric. The line stays fine from end to end. (I love this marking tool!)
Cut the remaining #1 in half on the diagonal and set it aside.
With right sides together (RST), layer #1 and #2. Repeat for a total of 2 pair.
Sew 1/4" away from the drawn lines for a total of 3 stitching lines as shown below.
With a rotary cutter, cut along the drawn line to separate the sewn patches into 3 triangle squares and two loose triangles as shown below.
Trim away the dog ears (circles in red, top, right). In the cutting chart locate the row labelled 'HST measure...'. Where this row intersects the Finished Size column is what your HST should measure at this point. For this 4-1/2" sample, that number is 2".
Lay out the cut and sewn patches to create the Flock of Geese design.
Sew the HSTs and loose triangles together in each row. I get the best results when I feed the flat edge of the HST into the sewing machine first as shown below.
Press the SA of the top row of triangles in the opposite direction of the second row so that the seams will nest in the next step.
Sew the rows of triangles together. (Yep, I'm a pinner...even for short seams!)
Press. At this point, ideally, the two halves are the exact same size.
Match the two halves, RST and stitch along the long diagonal edge. I prefer to sew from the pieced side so that I can see where the points of the little triangles are, and avoid sewing through them.
Give your block one final press, check it's measurement against the unfinished block size from the chart.
Your Flock of Geese quilt block is ready to take off!
I think this Flock of Geese block is really rather...well...meh!
I could take it or leave it. But.
There's always a 'but', isn't there?
This ho-hum block is part of some pretty neat looking ones...that all of a sudden don't look so hard to make, like...
The Double Hour Glass
You might know it as 'The Wandering Lover', but all those triangles really help you eye 'wander' all around the block.
It looks like a more complicated version of our Old Maid's Puzzle.
But this block is called Old Maid's Puzzle and it doesn't look ANYTHING like it's simpler cousin. Who knew??!!
With all the fabrics, this one's got a lot going on.
This is my favorite, The Twinkling Star.
I admit, there's a lot of bias edges to contend with in a single block. But starch is the great equalizer. Take it slow and steady and you'll have a real stunner when you're finished!
Now add another color—two shades. It's totally transformed!
...and fly on over to the Free Quilt Block Patterns Library for more patchwork designs!
These are my go-to resources for quilt block ideas.
Can you tell?
It's in color.
It's got a ton of blocks.
What's not to love?
Next on my 'must-have' list is Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
Unlike the Maggie Malone book, the blocks in this volume are hand-drawn and in black and white—no color—personally, I prefer colored drawings to work with.
This book is no longer in print.
If you can come by a copy expect it to be wickedly expensive. Once in awhile you can find it here on Amazon.com.
UPDATE: Electric Quilt, in cooperation with Barbara Brackman has announced they plan to republish the Encyclopedia sometime in 2020.
However, all is not lost if you can't find a hard copy.
BlockBase is the computerized version of the Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
It contains designs for over 4300 blocks—pretty much every block published from the 1830's through the 1970's.
It can be used with Electric Quilt and is a Windows based program.
In fact, there are instructions included so that you can pull up the digital patterns within Electric Quilt (PC version for now) without having to open up BB program.
UPDATE: Electric Quilt has announced that they will be rereleasing the standalone BlockBase software for BOTH PC and MAC in 2020.
This is terrific news.
Finally there's The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer.
Lots of detail and in color, it is a beautiful volume. That said, I check it out of my local library on a regular basis instead of purchasing it—can you see the library sticker on it's spine. Yep, it's from the Plainfield Public Library.
Simply because I own the previous three references and find this the least user-friendly of the group.
And it does make a fabulous coffee table book!