How to Make Flying Geese Quilt Units

Quilts with flying geese units find fans among quilters of all types. Depending on the size, formation, and colors used, flying geese quilts can look antique or modern. You can use flying geese for borders or fill an entire quilt top with them.

flying geese quilt
Snowbirds quilt uses flying geese in a modern, scrappy way. Learn how to make flying geese for this quilt on our Quilting Quickly YouTube Channel.

Traditionally, flying geese blocks consist of one large triangle in one color with the two smaller triangles in a contrasting color or pattern. But you can mix them up any way you like, using solids or prints.

Over the years, quilters have developed different techniques and tools for making flying geese units.

Most recently, the availability of pre-cut fabric squares has made it easier than ever to cut the triangles for flying geese blocks.

In her book Quilting from Every Angle, Nancy Purvis shows a technique for making flying geese that’s practically foolproof.

How to Make Flying Geese
by Nancy Purvis

1. Cut out pieces from two contrasting or coordinating fabrics as indicated in the pattern you’re using. Here, we’ll call the large square of light fabric A and the darker fabric B.

flying geese units
Sew ¼”on each side of your marked line, cut down the line to separate your blocks, and then press your fabrics towards the dark side on both units.

2. Lay piece A right side up and place two squares B right side down, in opposite corners. Pin. Using a ruler, mark a diagonal line from one corner to the other as shown in the image above.

3. Sew ¼” on either side of the marked line and cut apart along the line. Press the seam open or to the dark side on both units.

flying geese units 24. Place one unit right side up, and place another square B right side down in the corner, as shown. Mark the square with a diagonal line corner to corner. Pin.

5. Sew ¼” on either side of the marked line, and cut apart along the line. Press the seam open or to the dark side on both units. This will yield two Flying Geese.

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for the remaining unit to yield four Flying Geese units.

How to Trim Units:
Squaring up the Flying Geese units is important, so don’t skip this step!

flying geese units square
Don’t forget to square up your Flying Geese units.

1. Place an acrylic ruler over the unit, lining it up near your desired measurements. In this example, the finished unit will be 2 ½” × 4 ½”. Make sure that the tip of the triangle is ¼” away from the edge as shown. This leaves you a seam allowance to avoid cutting off the tip when you stitch it to an adjoining piece of fabric. The tips at the base of the triangle will touch the 2 ½” × 4 ½” marks.

2. Trim the unit top and side. Then rotate the unit 180 degrees, lining it up perfectly with the ruler marks for your desired finished size, and trim the remaining two sides.

Want to learn more about how to make Flying Geese? Check out a video tutorial on How to Make No-Waste Flying Geese.

What are your tips for making Flying Geese? Leave your comments below.

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Cate Prato

About Cate Prato

Cate Coulacos Prato loves fabric, thread, and dabbles in all types of fabric art. As Senior Online Editor for Keepsake Quilting, she welcomes your thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and discussion on quilts, quilting, fabric shopping, and the quilting community.

2 thoughts on “How to Make Flying Geese Quilt Units

    1. Hi Ramona,
      Did you check out the Flying Geese video at the bottom of the blog? I am a visual learner and usually struggle with written instructions; I found the video easier to understand, maybe you will too.
      Best,
      Brenna

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