Flying Geese appear in a lot of different quilt blocks. Today I am going to share my favorite method for making them. The No-Waste method results in four identical Flying Geese. I start with slighthly oversized blocks and trim them down to size as this has resulted in sharper points for me. So there is a wee bit of waste. For this tutorial I will be making Flying Geese that finish at 2" x 4" but there is a chart at the end for using this method to achieve several more sizes.
To begin I have cut 1 square of my "Goose" fabric (white) 5 1/2" x 5 1/2"
and 4 squares of my "Sky" fabric (blue) 3 1/8" x 3 1/8"
First I lay one of the small squares on the large square right sides together-lining up the edges.
Another blue square gets placed on top, lining up the edges. There is a little overlap which is just what you need.
With a ruler mark a diagonal line down the middle of the small squares.
It is important that your line is from point to point. By lining up the diagonal line on your ruler with the edge of the large square you will get the right angle.
Whenever I need to mark fabric like this I place it on a piece of very fine sandpaper that I have attached to a clipboard. This keeps the fabric from moving while I mark it.
At my sewing machine I am going to sew 1/4 inch away from each side of the drawn line. I have the top blue square facing so that the overlapping point is pointing away from my needle.
The previous stitches are hard to see here, but I am now sewing down the other side of the line.
After sewing on both sides of the line I come back to my cutting table and cut on the drawn line.
Then I press towards the small triangles-setting the seams first with my iron
and then carefully pressing them open.
I know have two units that look like this.
Next I draw diagonal lines down the center of both of the remaining blue squares...
and place them on top of the pressed units.
Once again I am sewing 1/4 inch away from each side of the drawn line.
And like before, I cut apart on the drawn line.
These get pressed towards the small triangles to form the Flying Geese units.
To trim these to the correct size I need to know my measurements. In this case I need Flying Geese that measure 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" (this is not the finished size, but the size needed to account for seam allowances.) The first thing I need to know is the Midpoint of my Flying Geese-the halfway mark of the length I need these to be. Since my length is 4 1/2" I divide that in half and get 2 1/4". I line up the 2 1/4" line on my ruler with the point of my "goose." I also lay the 1/4" line of my ruler across the top of that point-this will be my seam allowance and is very important in order to keep that point from disappearing when I sew.
At the bottom corners of the unit I want the 2 1/2" and 4 1/2" interesecting lines on the left to meet right at the seam line. On the left I make sure that the edge of my ruler and the 2 1/2" line also meet at the seam on that side. This will keep my points sharp at those edges.
Once I am happy with how everything looks under my ruler I trim off the extra fabric on the right side and the top of the unit. (I have foudn that the Creative Grid rulers that have come out recently are very good for this as they do not slip as much as other rulers do.)
Next I have to turn everything around in order to trim the remaining two sides. I have lined up the 2 1/4" line back at the point of my "goose" and I now have that diagonal line on my ruler falling nicely along the seam line too. Another indicator that all is well. I have the 4 1/2" line along the side that I just trimmed and the same with the 2 1/2" line-then I trim off the extra and am left with a perfectly sized Flying Geese Unit.
I have a couple of other tools for trimming that I really love. The first is a Bloc-Loc ruler. These come in several sizes and only work for trimming that one size. They have a groove in them that the seam of the Flying Geese fit into which locks the ruler in place and also acts to keep the unit you are cutting perfectly aligned with the daigonal seams. Like with the regular ruler I trim two sides, rotate everything and trim the other two sides.
Recently I added this little gem to my took kit-it is another Creative Grids ruler and designed for trimming multiple sizes of Flying Geese. You start with the side of the ruler marked Trim #1 and use the guide lines and letter that go with the size geese you are making-in this case I have lined up the 2" x 4" diagonal lines and the letter D goes at the point of my goose.
This ruler has added my seam allowances so once I have those things lined up I am good to trim the first two sides.
After turning everthing around I am using the side of the ruler marked Trim #2. I line up the the letter D at the point of my goose again and the 2" x 4" lines at the trimmed edges of my unit, then just trim the last two sides.
All three of these methods resulted in perfect Flying Geese.
Now I want to take a moment and show you a comon problem. In the photo you will see that my red square is just a touch off of lining up with the larger square underneath. This will affect the end result.
Another issue is not sewing in a straight line and/or
keeping an accurate 1/4 inch away from the line.
And a last issue is not making sure that the drawn line is centered on the block-this one veers off the the left of the bottom point of the square.
This will throw things off as well...
Then when I go to trim the unit you can see how even a small problem like one of the above can mean that the diagonal lines of my flying geese do not perfectly line up with the diaganal lines on my ruler.
This means that I have a corner that will not result in a sharp point when sewn into a block.
I hope these little tips will help you acheive perfect Flying Geese too.
I have created a chart to give the cutting and trimming measurements for several different sizes of Flying Geese. Below the chart is a pdf version you can download to keep handy.
Anytime I can simplify my block construction and achieve better accuracy I am all for it.
Making an Ohio Star block is the perfect chance to show you how to
make Quarter Square Triangles (QST's.)
The finished size of my bock is going to be 9 inches.
To make this block along with me you will need the following:
2 4-1/2 inch squares of light fabric
4 3-1/2 inch squares of light fabric
2 4-1/2 inch squares of dark fabric
1 3-1/2 inch square of dark fabric
Once these are cut I like to starch them. I have found this helps with my accuracy, especially when working with seams on the bias.
I am going to start by drawing a diagonal line on the 4-1/2 inch light fabric squares.
I use an ultra fine Sharpie for this for a nice dark line that is easy to see.
Underneath the fabric I use a very fine sandpaper that is attached to a clipboard.
It is a little trick that keeps the fabric from shifting when I need to mark a line.
With right sides together I pair the light and dark 4-1/2 inch squares. I need to sew 1/4 inch from the drawn line.
I prefer a small stitch when piecing (2.1 which equals 12 stitches/inch) and always sew with my needle in the down position.
Next I need to sew 1/4 inch from the other side of the drawn line.
When that is done I cut on the diagonal line, giving me two Half Square Triangles.
Time to press. First just lay the iron on the seam to "set the seam."
I am pressing to the dark side.
After carefully opening up the unit I press from the top. It is particularly important when working with these bias seams to not move your iron around,
but only lift it up and set it down on the fabric.
I lay two Half Square Triangles on top of each other-right, butting the seams together as in the bottom part of the photo.
With my ruler I mark a diagonal line down the middle.
Just like before, I will sew 1/4 inch from each side of the drawn line.
Feeding these units through my machine with the seam facing towards the needle like this helps to push those two seams together.
I take a quick look to make sure my seams have lined up well.
Now I cut right on the line I had drawn.
I now have enough Quarter Square Triangles to make my block.
Since my finished units need to measure 3" I will trim these to 3-1/2 inches. It is important to lay my ruler's diagonal line right on that seam line. A little math here lets me know that half of 3-1/2 is 1-3/4. That means that I will find the 1-3/4inch mark on my ruler and place it right at the center of the intersecting triangles. Now I can trim the extra off on the first two sides.
Rotatinf the block, I line up my ruler in exactly the same way and trim the remaining two sides.
All of my Quarter Square Triangle units now measure 3-1/2 inches. Perfect.
Time to lay all of my pieces together to make the Ohio Star Block.
Chain piecing the rows together being careful to keep the Quarter Square Triangles in the correct position. I sometimes triple check before sewing as I all too often have to get out my seam ripper, Jack, when I put them together wrong.
An important part of putting this block together is the direction I press the seams. I want to press them so that they go in opposite directions. If I can I liek to press towards the plain square to avoid bulky seams.
Making progress on sewing the rows together...
Before I proceed, I like to check to make sure my seam allowance is correct.
The middle squares in each row should now measure 3 inches across. If they are off, it is a simple matter to remove the stitches and adjust the seam. Sometimes, just moving the needle position one way or the other is all it takes to solve the problem.
With my seams all pressed in opposite directions I can nest them together and put a pin in to hold them in place while I sew.
As I will sew right up to the pin, leave my needle in the down position and remove the pin before sewing the rest of the way. I also slow way down when I come to these seams as it is easy for the bulk to not behave nicely if I am sewing to fast. My goal here is to have my needle land right on those intersecting seams.
This is what the back of my block looks like. To reduce bulk at the intersections I flare them open. This allows the seams to lay in opposite directions. When you feel the intersections from the front they will be quite flat which I really like.
Here is the view from the front. Just need to add that last row...
With all three rows sewn together it is time to square up this block to 9-1/2 inches.
One thing to be aware of in that process is to make sure I have 1/4 inch of fabric extending beyond the points on my star. If not, then I will chop off the points when I sew it into the quilt.
The Ohio Star is one of my favorite blocks.
I hope you will give the Quarter Square Triangles a try. This method is easy to use no matter what size your finished block. Just add 1-1/2 inches to the finished size you need, In this case I needed a 3" finished Quarter Square Triangle unit. 3 + 1-1/2=4-1/2.