,

Tutorial – flying geese units

Patchwork: Foundation Piecing

Reindeer pillow / cushion in Scandinavian inspired fabrics. Patchwork and hand quilting. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Flying geese units are indispensable for borders and blocks on all kinds of patchwork quilts, like those in the left and bottom borders on the pillow illustrated, and with this paper foundation piecing method you’ll be guaranteed accurate results every. single. time! In this guide I’m even going to show you how to piece them to minimise waste. Exciting eh?! Let’s get to it!

The Dawn Chorus Studio pattern!

Here’s the pattern I created for a block that finishes at 3.5″ / 9cm.  You can download it as a pdf here: 3.5″ flying geese paper pattern. It looks a bit complicated but once you get going you’ll find it works easily – and brilliantly!

Step 1

  1. To begin, cut out enough paper patterns for your project (this tutorial will assume we’re just making four units, so cut 4).

Foundation pattern for Flying Geese patchwork, designed and © by Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Step 2

  1. Cut 4 triangles from a 5 ¼” (13cm) square of of your main fabric (the centre triangles) as shown below.
Making flying geese units for patchwork. © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Cut your square into quarters to create 4 triangles (this will be enough for four units)

 

 

Step 3

Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation paper method. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Getting the main triangle into position.

The paper pattern will be your sewing guide as you stitch the units together. It can be confusing when you assemble the units before sewing, but I find it easy if I remember that if I were stitching a seam without a paper pattern I’d have the right sides of the fabric together and that this remains the rule even when you’re using a paper pattern. Therefore, your paper pattern will always go on top of the wrong side of the fabric, and you want to be able to see the sewing guide so keep that right side up.

So in step 2 we want to get the centre triangle (labelled ‘1’ on the pattern) in place under the pattern. It’s easiest to do this with a light behind it, so if you haven’t got a light box, hold it up to a spot light or a window as shown above:

  1. Have the right side of the triangle facing you in front of a light source
  2. Place the pattern right side up over the fabric and make sure you have fabric covering the areas marked ‘seam allowance’ on the diagonal lines (see photo above)
  3. Pin into place.
  4. Complete all four.
Making flying geese units for patchwork. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

This is how the unit now looks from the back – note the wrong side of the pattern and the right side of the fabric.

Step 4

  1. This is where we can save fabric. Cut 3½” (6cm) wide strips of your secondary fabric (the fabric for the outer triangles) and hold it up to a light source, right side towards you (a strip about 17″ (43cm) long will be fine).
  2. Take the first of your paper patterns with the pinned triangle and hold it right side towards you and at an angle so that the edges of the triangle create a right angle with the strip of fabric (see image below).
  3. Ensure the right hand edge of the strip covers your seam allowance.
  4. Pin into place (along the marked centre line is convenient).
  5. Add more patterns to your strip in the same way, leaving a small gap of fabric between them.
Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting with the foundation piecing method. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Place your strip of fabric against a light source and pin your fabrics as shown.

Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

You can also pin them in place without using the light source as long as you ensure you have fabric covering the marked seam allowance.

Step 5

  1. Using a fairly small stitch (which will help you when you remove the pattern later on), stitch along the marked dashed lines along the edge of your strip. It’s almost chain piecing so is pretty quick to do!  You can make one or two stitches into the greyed seam allowance area, but don’t stitch into the dotted area marked waste.

 

Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Don’t stitch too far into the grey seam allowance

Step 6

  1. Cut your units apart along the long edge of the pattern.
Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Cut your units apart

Step 7

  1. With the fabric side towards you set the seam and then flip back the top fabric and press.
  2. Carefully trim the excess fabric to the edge of the paper pattern. This will leave you with roughly ‘triangle’ shaped scraps, which we’ll use in step 8, so don’t discard them!

 

Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Set the seam and then press.

Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Unit pressed and trimmed.

Step 8

  1. Place a triangle scrap right sides together with the main triangle, matching up the two triangle edges (to ensure the new triangle covers the seam allowance).
Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Placing the final triangle in position

Step 9

  1. Flip the unit over and stitch along the dotted line (3) as before. Do the same with all your units.
  2. Set the seams and press as you did in step 7.
  3. Trim off the dotted areas marked ‘waste’ along the long edges of each unit (leave the short sides as they are).
Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Stitched and trimmed unit

Step 10

Joining units together.

  1. Place the long edge of one unit along the long edge of another, fabric sides together, ensuring that you have one ‘point’ and one ‘base’ together. The arrow heads marked on the pattern will help you position the point and the centre of the base together.
  2. Put a pin through the intersection of the centre line and the dashed sewing line of one unit and ensure it matches the intersection of the centre line and dashed sewing line of the second unit.
  3. Stitch along the dashed line (long edges) into the greyed seam allowance area.

 

Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Pinning the two units together, ensuring they’re centred.

 

Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Two units stitched together

Step 11

  1. Press the seams open to reduce bulk.
  2. Continue to join units in this way until you have your required amount.
  3. Once your units are all joined together trim away the dotted waste area along the sides.

 

Making flying geese units for patchwork and quilting using the foundation piecing method. Free Pattern © Stephanie Boon, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Notes!

As the outer triangles have bias edges I prefer to leave the paper patterns in place and stitch through the dashed line when I join the flying geese to the rest of the quilt as it makes it more stable and less stretchy.

When you remove the paper patterns it can be a bit fiddly around the seams – spraying a little water helps it to come away easily and using a pin to help tease it out is useful too.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and will give it a go next time you want to ensure you have accurate flying geese!  If you have any comments or suggestions please leave them in the box below – I’m more than happy to help if I can and your suggestions are always welcome 🙂

My other tutorials can be found here. And don’t forget to check out my patterns too!

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4 replies
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thank you – my son loves it too, he asked me if it was a Christmas present and if he had to wait for it! I hope others find the directions helpful, but I’m sure that with all your amazing skills and experience Ann you could do it with your eyes closed – so to speak!!!

      Reply

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