Thursday, March 27, 2014

Easy Flying Geese Tutorial

My "Big House" quilt features a border of 6 inch star blocks.  I have seen these blocks called Variable Star blocks or Sawtooth Star blocks.  In their simplest form the center is simply a plain block, but for this quilt I felt like I wanted to add a little pizzazz so I pieced all the centers (except for one).  It was fun coming up with 19 different variations of piecing.  I love miniatures so this was a fun way to combine that with regular piecing to come up with a lovely design.

I wanted to share how I did the points on the stars.  For this block you can make half square triangle units to make your points or you can make the points by making flying geese units and not have the extra seam between the triangles to deal with.  I think the flying geese are easier, particularly if you have to make quite a few of them like I did!

There are several ways to make flying geese.  You can cut the pieces to the exact size needed and piece them in a traditional manner.  Eleanor Burns has a neat method (and ruler) for making them.  See her instructions and video here.  You can paper piece them for pure perfection.  Or you can use the sew and flip method that I will show you.  I like this method because it requires very little math, the cutting is easy and the results are always great.  If your units are small there is very little waste and if you are making larger geese you can save the bonus triangles for another project....not sure if this is a plus or a minus, but I hate to throw away good fabric!  Here is a post I wrote on how you can use those, if that helps!

For sew and flip you start off with a rectangle the size of your flying goose plus seam allowances.  For example my 6 inch star blocks require a flying goose unit that is 1 1/2 inch tall and 3 inches wide.  When I add 1/4 inch all around for seam allowances I see that I need a starting size of 2 inches by 3 1/2 inches.  Since my triangles will be the dark fabric, I will cut the rectangles for the geese out of my background.  For the triangles you will cut squares equal to the height of your goose rectangle...2 inches.  You will need two squares for each goose.   (Ok, that word is starting to sound really weird...goose, goose, goose)

You will need to mark a diagonal line on the back of all your squares.  You can use a pencil and draw a line or you can fold them in half and gently finger press a diagonal line.  You could even be like me and live dangerously and eyeball it (my personal rule of thumb is that this only works for squares under 2 1/2 inches). If you have one of these nifty Angler 2 tools you could use that as well! I have one, but don't know where I put it at the moment.

Pace one square on one end of your rectangle right sided together and edges matching.  Sew on your diagonal line.

 Fold your square back to make sure everything lines up, then trim away the extra fabric on the back 1/4 inch from your sewing line.  Press toward triangle.

Repeat using another square on the other end of your rectangle, making sure that your stitching crosses over at the middle of your rectangle.  (If you sew it the wrong way you end up with a funny chevron type of unit that will not work!)
Sew -

Trim -

 Press -

And there you have a perfect Flying Goose block!

I saved four of the cut off corners for this size block and sewed them together.  They ended up being enough to make a 1/2 inch finished block half square triangle block (1 inch before sewing).  I used them in one of my mini blocks in the center of the stars and decided they were small enough to throw away guilt free.  I have decided that I can't save everything and if it's smaller than 2 inches square it can go away without remorse :)

Hope you enjoyed the tutorial - however you decided to make your flying geese, enjoy the process!

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