Lately I’ve been making lots of flying geese units for various blocks. There are so many ways to make flying geese, but my favorite way is to make them oversized and them trim them to the correct size. Today I’m going to show you my two favorite methods for making oversized flying geese and several ways of trimming them. I’ve also included a cutting chart for each method that you can download and print for handy reference!
Method 1: 4-at-a-time oversized flying geese
The 4-at-a-time method of making flying geese is my favorite way to make them. This is also called the “no waste method” and uses a formula to come up with exact measurements to cut and then sew the pieces together. If you’re not really careful and you don’t use a scant 1/4″ seam, these flying geese units can turn out a bit small and possibly wonky.
I much prefer making them oversized using the same 4-at-a-time method, but changing the formula to make the cut pieces bigger. This allows me to trim them down perfectly and I don’t worry about being so perfect with my stitching. I will show a few of my favorite trimming methods at the end of this blog post.
Making flying geese this way is so fast and efficient! The only time I don’t use this method is when I only need to make one or two flying geese or if I have directional fabric. Stripes and one way designs can sometimes work in your favor with this technique, but most often not. It also depends on if the directional fabric will be used for the geese body or for the geese wings. You can see in the example below, a large square of striped fabric. It will eventually get sewn and cut up diagonally. The resulting large triangles (body) will have stripes running horizontally and vertically.
I’ll be referring to the parts of the flying geese as the body and the wings. Some people call it the goose and the sky, but body and wings makes more sense to me. And then there’s the singular goose vs. the plural geese which is a whole other discussion! Here’s a labeled flying geese unit so we’re on the same page.
In order to convert any flying geese instructions to the oversized, 4-at-a-time dimensions, you need to know the FINISHED size of the flying geese unit. Then you need to add 1 1/8″ to the short measurement (wings) and 1 1/2″ to the long measurement (geese body). For example, if you need to make a 2″ x 4″ finished-size flying geese unit, the formula will be 2″ + 1 1/8″ = 3 1/8″ for the wing pieces (cut 4) and 4″ + 1 1/2″ = 5 1/2″ (cut 1) for the body piece. But you don’t need to remember that formula because I have a handy cutting chart for you! You can save and download the PDF below or Pin the image for future reference.
Instructions for oversized flying geese, 4-at-a-time
- Draw a diagonal line on the small squares (A). You can also draw stitching lines 1/4″ on each side of the center diagonal if you choose to.
- With right sides together, place a square on two opposite corners of the large square (B). The squares will overlap in the center.
- Stitch 1/4″ on each side of the drawn line.
- Cut apart on the center diagonal line.
- Press towards the small squares. The resulting shape will look like two hearts.
- Place the remaining small squares, right sides together on the opposite corners of the units from above and stitch 1/4″ on each side of the drawn line.
- Cut apart on the center drawn line. Press towards the corners. You will have four flying geese units that need to be trimmed.
Method 2: Stitch & flip oversized flying geese
The stitch and flip method of making flying geese is most commonly used. I see this technique used in patterns and magazines frequently. The advantage of this method is that you have more control over directional fabrics and it’s simple. The disadvantages are that it’s slightly wasteful and that it requires greater accuracy. You need to stitch right next to the diagonal line to account for the fold-over of fabric and the seam thread. I often forget which side of the line to stitch on! My flying geese almost always turn out wonky.
My solution: oversize the stitch and flip pieces! I just recently tried this on my quilt blocks from the Strawberry Garden Sampler BOM by Fig Tree & Co. I wanted all of the stripes to run in the same direction, and it worked like a charm!
In order to convert stitch & flip flying geese instructions to the oversized dimensions, you need to know the FINISHED size of the flying geese unit. Then you need to add 3/4″” to the square measurement (wings) and 3/4″ to both sides of the rectangle measurement (body). For example, if you need to make a 2″ x 4″ finished-size flying geese unit, the formula will be 2″ + 3/4″ = 2 3/4″ for the wing pieces and (2″ x 4″) + 3/4″ = 2 3/4″ x 4 3/4″ for the body pieces. Again, you don’t need to remember that formula because I have a handy cutting chart for you! You can save and download the PDF below or Pin the image for future reference.
Instructions for oversized flying geese, stitch & flip method:
- Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on each square (A).
- Place one square, right sides together, onto the base rectangle (B) and stitch directly on the diagonal line.
- Trim seam and press to the corner.
- Repeat with the remaining square on the other end of the rectangle. They will overlap considerably more in the center than when using standard measurements.
- This creates a chunky flying geese unit that needs to be trimmed.
Trimming flying geese with a Bloc Loc ruler
My favorite way to trim flying geese units is to use a Bloc Loc Flying Geese ruler. These are so handy and easy to use! They have a groove underneath that locks into place along the diagonal seam allowance of the block, making it really easy to position. The main drawback is that you need a separate ruler for each size and they are not cheap. With that said, these are my most-used tools for trimming flying geese. I have them in four different sizes from 1″ x 2″ finished up to 3″ x 6″ finished. Once in a while, I need to trim to a different size and I have to use a different ruler.
To use the Bloc Loc Flying Geese ruler, you position it onto your flying geese unit and trim the right side and the top edge. Then you rotate it 180 degrees and trim the remaining two sides. That’s it!
Trimming flying geese using the Wing Clipper Tool
Another great ruler on the market is the Wing Clipper Tool by Studio 180 Designs. The advantage of this tool (ruler) is that it can trim a variety of sizes. There is a Wing Clipper II Tool that trims other sizes that are not as common. The disadvantage is that it’s a little more complicated to use. But still, it does a great job and comes with good instructions.
Trimming instructions using the Wing Clipper Tool (I’m right-handed):
- Place the flying geese unit so that the “V” or valley is facing downward.
- Line up the diagonal lines of the ruler on the seams. Make sure you’re using the correct cut sizes (2″ x 3 1/2″) for the example below.
- Trim along the right and upper edges.
- Rotate the flying geese unit 180 degrees (the”V” or valley will be facing upward).
- Reposition the ruler so that the “x” at the top falls on the intersection of the seam and the previously cut edges line up with the correct size marks of the ruler.
- Trim both remaining sides.
Trimming flying geese using a square ruler
What I like about this method is that it doesn’t cost a penny because you probably have a square ruler already. It’s also versatile and can trim many different sizes for flying geese units (assuming it’s large enough). I use a Creative Grids 6 1/2″ square ruler most often. The drawback is that you have to put your thinking cap on (a little). If you trim this way often enough though, you’ll get used to it.
Trimming instructions using a square ruler. Example shown is being trimmed to 2″ x 3 1/2″.
- Place the flying geese unit so that the “V” or valley is facing up. The 1/4″ line of the ruler and the 1 3/4″ line should be on the center seam. The 2″ and 3 1/2″ lines of the ruler should fall on the bottom diagonal seams.
- Trim the right and top edges.
- Turn the unit and place the diagonal line of the ruler on the seam. The previously cut edges will line up with the 2″ and 3 1/2″ lines of the ruler. Trim the remaining two edges.
Note: in this example, I’m trimming to 2″ x 3 1/2″. To make this work for any size flying geese unit, you need to know the center measurement of the long side of the unit you’re making. For example, to find the center of a 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ unit you would divide 4 1/2″ by 2 which equals 2 1/4″. You would then place the 2 1/4″ line of the ruler on the center seam allowance (point) of the flying geese unit.
That’s a bunch of information about flying geese and I hope it was helpful. I love making flying geese by oversizing them first and trimming to exact size using any of the methods shown here. I didn’t have to search too far to find some of my past quilt blocks that include flying geese. Here’s a little inspiration for you!
Thanks for visiting and happy quilting!