This article is the fourth in a series of beginner's guides to patchwork and quilting written by Kerry Green http://verykerryberry.blogspot.co.uk/. If you have always wanted to make a quilt and don’t know where to start, this series of ten posts will include instructions to make basic quilt blocks, introduce simple techniques and combine the blocks to make a small sampler quilt.
This article features ‘flying geese’. These are made up of a central quarter-square triangle - the ‘goose’ - squared off by a half-square triangle as the background or ‘sky’ on either side.
The proportions of a flying geese unit are consistent: based on the finished measurements (seam allowance not included) where the width is twice as long as the height. Flying geese can be made using a variety of construction techniques from traditional piecing where the exact shapes are cut out and sewn together, to using two squares and a rectangle to make a single goose (see the Flying Geese block below) and even a ‘no waste’ method where four geese are created at a time!
Flying Geese Block
Finished block size 12” square. This block is made up of eight flying geese and uses a corner square triangle construction method. Finished size does not include the seam allowance so the unfinished size is 12½” square. Seam allowance is ¼" throughout.
You will need
- One fat quarter for background - I used a light print.
- Four differently coloured fat eighths to contrast with the light fabric. I used navy and other dark prints. There will be lots of fabric left over for other blocks!
Background fabric: Cut sixteen 3½” squares.
Coloured fabrics: Cut two 3½” x 6½” rectangles from each of the four different coloured fat quarters giving eight rectangles in total.
On the wrong side of each background square, draw a line diagonally corner to corner using a soft pencil or disappearing fabric marker.
Place a background square on one end of a coloured rectangle, right sides together and with the background square on top so the diagonal line is visible. The placement needs to be precise!
Sew from corner to corner following the diagonal line. Press the seam. Place a quilt ruler on top of the seam and use a rotary cutter to trim off the excess leaving a ¼" seam allowance. Open out the background fabric and press the seam towards the darker fabric.
Repeat steps 2 and 3 with another background square at the other end of the same rectangle to make your first flying geese unit! It should measure 3½” x 6½”. Repeat to make a total of eight flying geese units.
Arrange your flying geese units in pairs following the diagram. This is a good time to play around with your layout and colours; I changed mine around for the finished block! Sew each pair of geese together taking care at the point of each goose where the layers of fabric are bulky.
Join the squares of geese together to make two rows. Join the rows together to complete the block.
This corner square triangle method does waste a little fabric but it is accurate and straightforward, especially for a beginner and allows you to change to the colours of the ‘geese’ and the ‘sky’ for each unit.
Sawtooth Star Block
Finished block size 12” square. This block is made up of squares in two sizes as well as four flying geese units sewn using a ‘no waste’ construction method. Finished size does not include the seam allowance so the unfinished size is 12½” square. Seam allowance is ¼" throughout.
You will need
- One fat quarter for background.
- Two fat eighths in contrasting colours– I am using a red floral as fabric A and a white large floral as fabric B, all from Katarina Roccella’s Recollection range for Art Gallery Fabrics.
Background fabric: Cut four 3½” squares for the block corners. Cut one 7¼" square for the ‘flying geese’.
Colour fabric A: Cut four 3 7/8” squares. These will make the star points or ‘sky’ section of the flying geese.
Colour fabric B: Cut one 6½” square for the block centre
On the wrong side of each fabric A square, draw a line diagonally corner to corner using a soft pencil or disappearing fabric marker.
Take two fabric A squares and place on opposite diagonal corners of the 7¼" background square with right sides together and with the smaller squares on top so the diagonal lines are visible. The placement needs to be precise! The squares will overlap at the centre. Pin in place.
Sew ¼" away from the diagonal line and through all the layers. Repeat on the other side of the line. Cut along the pencil line so that there are two sections.
Working on one section, open the smaller squares out to make half-square triangles. Place one of the remaining fabric A squares in the corner with the diagonal line pointing towards the half-square triangles; it will overlap slightly.
Sew ¼" away from the diagonal line through all the layers. Repeat on the other side of the line. Cut along the diagonal pencil line.
Open out the fabric A squares to make half-square triangles and press. You should have two flying geese units each measuring 3½” x 6½” – you may need to trim them slightly and remove the dog ears. Repeat with remaining section from step 3 and the last two fabric A squares. You should now have four flying geese units.
Arrange the flying geese units with the background and centre squares into three rows following the diagram.
Sew the rows together: the seams should ‘nest’ at the points where seams meet. Press the row seams open. Your block is complete.
The advantage of the ‘no waste’ method is that it quickly creates four identical units with no fabric wastage. However, if you want to have different colours of geese or sky, the squares and rectangles method is very effective.
To make flying geese using the corner square triangle method, the calculations are straightforward. You need to know the finished size you would like your Flying Geese unit to be. Note that the ½” additions are for the seam allowances. For each Flying Geese unit, you will need:
One goose rectangle: (the width of the finished unit + ½”) x (the height of finished unit + ½”)
Two sky or background squares: (height + ½”) x (height + ½”)
For the ‘no waste’ method, again you need to know the finished size of your flying geese. To make four identical flying geese units, you will need:
One goose square: (width + 1¼”) x (width + 1¼”)
Four sky or background squares: (height + 7/8”) x (height + 7/8”)
Rita of Red Pepper Quilts often combines simple and traditional quilt blocks with an eye-catching mix of different fabrics and colours in her quilts to great effect. In her A Flock of Flying Geese quilt, she uses half-square triangle units to create flying geese and the shot cotton half-square triangles shine brightly! In Flock of Flying Geese II she uses the standard flying geese unit to great effect using mainly solids for the sky but with occasional floral and text prints too so that the eye is constantly drawn to unexpected bursts of colour.
Next time we move on to foundation paper pieced blocks and I’ll take you step-by-step through this useful precision piecing technique! You can find me, my sewing adventures, tips, quilt-alongs and tutorials at verykerryberry.blogspot.co.uk
Follow Kerry's quilt in progress with our 10-part series.