If you’ve done any kind of search for quilt patterns or quilt inspiration, chances are you have seen the versatile, beautiful flying geese quilt pattern.
The flying geese block is such a great block since it is quick to construct, fun to make, and you can use it in a variety of ways.
It can work as a border or use it repeatedly to make a complete quilt top.
It definitely needs to be a staple in any quilter’s block catalog.
Today, I will go over some interesting facts about the flying geese block and give you a quick, simple flying geese tutorial.
What Does The Flying Geese Quilt Pattern Mean?
We’ve all seen them, the geese flying south for the winter and then flying back north for the spring.
There’s no way you could miss those beautiful “V”s they create in the sky, and that is what most will think of when they see the flying geese blocks.
But did you know slaves escaping slavery (on the Underground Railroad) in the United States used specific quilt block patterns to help them? This quilt block saved people’s lives during that time.
Quilt patterns were used as a code and hung out on a fence or clothesline to give those brave people directions and clues along the way to safety and freedom. The slaves used flying geese pattern for guidance. Whichever way the “arrows” were pointing was the way for them to go to get food, water, supplies, or shelter. Who knew?
Since then, the flying geese block has gained even more popularity for its timeless appeal and versatile nature.
How Are Flying Geese Blocks Calculated?
You want to make some flying geese blocks for your next project, but how do you figure out what size to cut your fabric pieces?
Here are some tips to figure out how to cut your pieces for the traditional way to create a flying geese block (which will be the method I show you later on in the tutorial).
- The height should be half of the width of the finished block. Example: 2”x4”, 3”x6”, etc.
- If you don’t have the “flying geese ruler,” don’t worry! You can make your own by cutting out your finished block’s desired size from a cardboard box. Then you can make any size block you want.
- When cutting your pieces, add ½” to each dimension.
- You will need to cut one rectangle and two squares for each flying geese block.
Example: Finished block is 2”x4”. Cut one 2 ½”x4 ½” rectangle and two 2 ½” squares.
Flying Geese Quilt: A Super Simple Tutorial
If you were to ask me, “How do you make flying geese quilt blocks?” I would say I use the traditional method.
This method is how I taught myself how to make these blocks, and I always get a fantastic result using it. There are other “no waste” methods of making the flying geese block, but those can be a little less accurate and a bit confusing, especially if you are a beginner.
Without further ado, let’s make some flying geese blocks from start to finish.
Step 1: Cut your pieces.
For my example, I will be making a 4 ¼”x8 ½” flying geese block. I’ll use my flying geese to create a border on a large quilt I am currently working on. Since I am supposed to add ½” to each dimension for my pieces to cut, I will be cutting the following per block:
- 1- 4 ¾”x9” rectangle
- 2- 4 ¾” squares
Tip: I always cut pieces for just one block first and do a practice block just to double-check that I will be cutting my pieces the correct size.
Step 2: Mark a diagonal line on both squares.
This step is optional if you’re comfortable enough to sew a perfectly straight line by eye. I like to mark all my squares to make sure I get a perfect stitch. It will take a little time if you are making a bunch of blocks, but it REALLY helps to have those perfect lines. Make sure you are marking your line on the wrong side of the fabric.
Step 3: Sew the first square to the rectangle.
I always sew on the right square first, but you can choose to sew the left first. Just make sure you sew the same side on all of the blocks first to be uniform.
Lay your fabrics right sides together. Line up a corner of the square where you made a mark with the “top” of the rectangle. Stitch right on top of that marking you made in Step 2 from corner to corner.
Step 4: Trim your seam to ¼”.
I use my ruler to make sure this is a nice clean seam allowance.
Step 5: Press your seam.
Press your seam towards the square. This step will help with attaching your blocks together later. You want your seams to be crisp and flat.
Step 6: Sew the second square to the rectangle.
Line up your square on the rectangle and sew right on top of the line you marked.
Step 7: Trim your seam down to ¼”.
As you can see in the photo, you want to cut your seam so there’s 1/4″ of material to iron.
Step 8: Press your seam.
Just as in Step 5, press your seam towards the square.
Step 9: Trim excess fabric.
Trim your flying geese block to the desired size and make your block square.
There you have it, your finished flying geese block! Aren’t these blocks fun to make? I love how it’s quite a simple block to create, but you can really make a gorgeous border or quilt top with fun, unique fabrics.
As you make a flying geese quilt, think about its unique history and how a quilt piece played a part in saving lives and directing people to freedom. There are so many interesting stories behind quilting, and you are continuing a tradition that is part of the fabric of our country.
Have you made flying geese before? What’s your preferred method? Have you made an entire quilt top out of flying geese? Let me in the comments below!
About the author: Miriam Ronne is a lover of all things quilting and sewing. She is a self-taught quilter and is constantly learning and broadening her skill set to create one-of-a-kind quilts! When she’s not behind her sewing machine you can find her playing with her fur babies or trying her hand at other crafty things.