No Waste Flying Geese Quilt Blocks

Technique #3: 5 Squares + 6 Seams + 3 Cuts = 4 Geese

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No Waste Flying Geese quilt blocks

No Waste Flying Geese quilt blocks are a fast and easy way to stitch these units. Marking and stitching are kept to a minimum.

But what makes this method so special?

It's easy!

Most patterns don't call for a just a single Flying Geese unit. In fact many (like those shown below) require four or multiples of four.

And using this method, you create four identical units, all at the same time!

No special tools or specialty rulers required. Just your basic, everyday ruler— a square or rectangle with a 45° diagonal line that  splits one corner in half for cutting patches and trimming to size.

Sawtooth Star

Priscilla's Dream

It's a terrific way if you don't like paper piecing.

To make things even easier, I've created a cutting chart for you to download and print for a variety of sizes.

Pros:

  • Fast, four at a time with fewer seams to sew
  • No special tools to buy
  • No paper to remove
  • No sewing on a bias edge

Cons:

  • Not as scrap friendly, the four geese are identical and take a bigger piece of fabric
  • You MUST SEW ACCURATELY; if you mess up, you've messed up four Flying Geese

Remember to download your free cutting chart further down on this page.




The Technique


This 'no-waste' method creates four traditional Flying Geese blocks at a time, whose width is twice their height.

In my stitched sample, the finished unit measures 2" x 4" or 2-1/2" x 4-1/2" unfinished.

The No Waste Flying Geese Formula

For quilters with a perfect 1/4" seam

Sky Fabric: Cut 4 squares equal to the finished height of the Flying Geese plus 7/8"

Goose Fabric: Cut 1 square equal to the finished width of the Flying Geese plus 1-1/4".

Always press towards the 'sky' fabric.

Step 1

Calculate the sizes of the sky and geese fabric for our 2" x 4" finished unit.

Sky Fabric: 2" finished plus 7/8" equals 2-7/8"

Geese Fabric: 4" finished plus 1-1/4" equals 5-1/4"

Then cut 4 'sky' patches and 1 'geese' patch.

Personally, I like to cut my patches over-sized to start with, stitch the units and then trim them to the unfinished size. I find that adding an extra 3/8" to the sky squares and an extra 1/4" to the large Geese square provides plenty of 'fudge factor'. So I have cut the sky patches 2-7/8" + 3/8" or 3-1/4" and the Geese square 5-1/4" + 1/4" or 5-1/2" square.

Trimming instructions are included at the end of this tutorial.

Cutting charts for both exact size patches and generously cut patches are available for you to download, too.


Cut patches for the no waste flying geese quilt blocks using the cutting chart of your choice


Step 2

With right sides together (RST) align one sky patch in each of two opposite diagonal corners—my sky patches are the red print.

To help the fabrics stick together, give this set-up a little press.

Now draw a line from outside corner to outside corner through the sky patches. (Though I've used a blue marker so it's easier to see the line here, usually I use my favorite Bohin mechanical chalk pencil because it never dulls and the line stays fine.) Your two smaller squares should overlap, just like in the picture below.

Sew 1/4" away from each side of the drawn line.

If it's easier you can always draw in the sewing lines instead with a Quilters Rule Quick Quarter ruler.


Mark and stitch the first two sky patchesAfter marking and stitching


Step 3

Cut the large square in half between the stitching lines with either a scissor or rotary cutter to create two sections.

Press flat to set the seam.

Press flat to set the seam


Open the sections, pressing with the seam allowances toward the sky fabric.


Open the unit and press towards the sky fabric


Step 4

Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the two remaining sky patches. (Or use your Quick Quarter ruler to draw the two stitching lines a 1/4" from the center diagonal.)

With RST, align a sky patch with the geese corner of the two sections. The drawn line intersects the corner.

Open the unit and press towards the sky fabricThe overlap of the patches—though it looks strange—is absolutely correct


Step 5

Sew 1/4" away from the drawn line for both sections. 

Cut each section in half between the stitching lines.


Cut section in two between the stitching linesOne section cut between the stitching lines


Step 6

Press flat to set the seams. Open the sky patch and press with the seam allowances towards the sky fabric.


Open patch and press seam allowance towards the sky patchSince these blocks will be trimmed down to size at the end, I don't stop to clip threads as I go


Step 7

Repeat for all four no waste Flying Geese quilt blocks.


Four stitched no waster flying geese quilt blocksThese blocks are ready to be trimmed


Trim the Finished Block


Measure your No Waste Flying Geese quilt blocks to confirm their accuracy. 

If you've started with over-sized patches, as I have in this example, you'll need to trim the units to size.

Step 1

Find the vertical center of the unfinished Flying Geese patch. (If you've downloaded the cutting chart, this number is in the column called 'Center'.)

For our 2-1/2" x 4-1/2" unfinished sample, the center is computed as:

4-1/2" divided by 2 equals 2-1/4"

At your cutting mat, align the 2-1/4" vertical line of your ruler with the top center point of your goose.

Align the 45 degree line of your ruler with the seam line between the geese and sky fabric as shown below.


Measure and trim the first pair of sidesMeasure and trim the first pair of sides


Step 2

Trim off the two exposed sides with your rotary cutter.

Rotate the block 1/2 turn (Goose point is away from you), aligning the previously cut edges with the 2-1/2" horizontal line and the 4-1/2" vertical line of the ruler.

Take a quick check to see the that the 2-1/4" vertical line—the 'center' from the previous step—runs through the point of the goose.

This point should also be a 1/4" away from the top edge of the ruler.


Measure and trim the first pair of sides


Step 3

Trim the two remaining exposed edges.

The point of the Goose is 1/4" away from the cut edge. The seams of the Goose at the bottom cut the corners exactly in half.

Voila! A perfect No Waste Flying Geese Quilt Block!


A perfect Flying Geese unitTrimmed and ready to be pieced into your next quilt!

Trim (or check for accuracy) the 3 remaining units for 4 perfect No Waste Flying Geese quilt blocks ready to be pieced into a block of your choice!


Download and Print Your Cutting Chart


There are two different downloads available to you.

Click here if your seam allowance is reliably perfect 1/4", or...

Click here if you'd prefer to stitch oversize patches and trim them down after sewing.

The 'Center' dimension used for trimming is the same for both charts and is the vertical center of the Flying Geese unit.



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