Many A Goose On The Loose: A Charm Friendly Tutorial

So I’m in the middle of piecing a really fun quilt right now…a yummy rainbow of colors, and a ZILLION flying geese units!  I’m so excited about how this happy quilt is going to turn out…if I can ever finish it.  The inspiration came from fat stack of charm squares I acquired in a rainbow swap a couple of years ago.  They’ve been just sitting on my shelf, batting their eyelashes at me for what felt like eternity, and finally I couldn’t take it anymore.  Must use those charms!

Flying Geese Tutorial 09

Flying Geese Tutorial 10

Flying Geese Tutorial 11

So since I seem to be up to my eyeballs in flying geese, I thought it would be fun to share a nifty little tutorial with you today!

Flying Geese Tutorial 01

For this tutorial, I’m going to offer instructions on how to use the 4-at-once method to make flying geese from 5″ charm squares, but you can most definitely use any size squares to make 4 units at once.  Let’s start with a little bit of math, so you understand how to recalculate the cutting measurements for use with any sized squares or units.  If you just want to stick to 5″ charm squares, you can skip this geeky bit and get right to the cutting!

So here is the basic formula for the 4-at-once flying geese method:

Finished length of the flying geese unit (the longest side) + 1.25 = size of square needed for print fabric

So for example, if I want flying geese that measure 5″ across, I would need to start with a print square that is 6.25″.  For my project, I didn’t really care what the finished size was, but I did know that I wanted to start with 5″ charm squares, so I had to whip out my dusty old algebra skills and reverse this equation.

X (finished length of the unit) + 1.25″ = 5″

5″ minus 1.25″ = 3.75″, so I know my finished unit is going to measure 3.75″.  Remember, this is the finished  length.  The unfinished length, or the raw size of your flying geese before you stitch them to anything else, will be 4.25″.  Again, this number didn’t really matter to me as I my focus was on the starting square size rather than the finished size, however it did come in handy in terms of designing my entire  quilt, and calculating other patches to fit with my flying geese.

Along with each charm square (or whatever sized square you choose to start with), you’re going to need 4 smaller squares in your background fabric.  Here is the formula used to calculate these squares:

Finished height of flying geese unit + 7/8″ = size of 4 smaller background squares

It’s helpful here to know that the finished height of your flying geese unit is always going to be half the finished length of the unit.  So, to find the finished height to plug into this equation, we’ll take our finished length of 3.75″, and divide this by 2, giving us a finished height of 1 7/8″.  So  we simply add 7/8″ to determine the size of our smaller squares:  1.875″ + .875″ = 2.75″.  

So to cut to the chase, we’ll need (1) 5″ charm square with (4) 2.75″ background squares, and this will yield 4 flying geese units.

Flying Geese Tutorial 02

Once you’ve cut your pieces, use a ruler and a pencil to draw a diagonal line, corner to corner, on the wrong side of all of your smaller squares.

Flying Geese Tutorial 03

Next, take 2 squares and align them on your charm square as shown below, right sides together and on opposite corners.  Pin.

Flying Geese Tutorial 04

Now stitch a 1/4″ seam on each side of the drawn line (not on the line itself), then cut the unit in half on the drawn line.

Flying Geese Tutorial 05

Press the flaps open and you’ll now have 2 cute heart-looking units.  We’re half way to 4 flying geese!

Flying Geese Tutorial 06

Take your remaining small squares, and align them on the 90 degree corner of each print triangle, right sides together, so that the drawn line is pointing toward the 90 degree corner of the unit.  Pin, and just as before, stitch a 1/4″ seam on each side of the drawn line, then cut the units in half on the drawn line itself.

Flying Geese Tutorial 07

Press open, and voila!  4 identical flying geese units!  It’s so quick and easy!

Flying Geese Tutorial 08

Now I’ve heard mention from other quilters that they don’t prefer this method because it requires a lot of switching back and forth between sitting and standing, which can be tedious ….pin, stitch, cut, press, pin, stitch, cut, press, and I have to say, after making about 600 of these units for this quilt, I couldn’t disagree more!  By simply approaching your piecing as an assembly line, rather than concentrating on starting and finishing each unit before moving on to the next, you really eliminate the “up down” factor.

In other words, do everything in large groupings by step- pin all of your units (for your entire project) at once, then sit down and chain piece them all at once, then cut all of your units at once, and so on.  This makes for a much more efficient process, that in my opinion, is nothing short of therapeutic!

Flying Geese Tutorial 12

Well, there you have it!  Thanks so much for stopping by and I do hope you’ll give this method a try!

For those of you eager to hear the winners of this month’s Sugar Block fabric giveaway, stay tuned- I’ll be announcing them on Facebook and Instagram later today!


April Beyond The Block & A Giveaway

Be Present

This month’s personal challenge has really been on my heart recently, and now that it’s in the forefront of my mind, I’m seeing it everywhere and it’s driving me CRAZY.  Perhaps you’re feeling the same way.  For so many of us, the internet holds a vast amount of our daily attention.  We work online, pay bills online, bank online.  We find our next dinner recipe or schedule our doctors appointments online. We chat with friends.  We shop.  We find creative inspiration.  We share pictures and stories and questions.  Truly, almost anything that we could need or want to do is online, but sometimes our phones, or tablets, or laptops, turn into a powerful magnets, sucking us in and blinding us to our surroundings.  I never thought *I* would fall prey to smartphone addiction, but alas, as a stay at home mom, as a member of the online quilting community, and really just as a human being in the 21st century, I’m finding it harder and harder to resist.

I suppose I’ve always been attuned to phone “manners” and have loosely tried to limit myself to what felt like appropriate times, but it wasn’t until recently that the real effects of “phone addiction” started to creep into my awareness.  Truly, I’m not pointing fingers because the perpetrator is most often me, but there’s just something about being on the other end of this scenario that really drives it home.  Some loved ones had stopped by for a casual impromptu dinner last month.  No special plans, nothing fancy- just a glass of wine as the kids played outside.  As I bustled about the kitchen mixing up a quick casserole, and my guests sat around the kitchen table, we casually chatted, until suddenly things got quiet.  I looked over to see that everyone at the table was engrossed in a screen…a couple were on phones, one on a laptop.  The silence was deafening, and as I stood there browning the meat, I felt myself becoming really agitated.  Here we were, healthy and blessed to be able to spend precious time together, and how do we spend it?  Scrolling Instagram and Facebook, commenting on photos of what other people are doing, checking email, tweaking our websites.  At that moment, through the silence, it felt as if my guests were saying “This moment isn’t interesting,” “I’m bored,” “I’d rather be somewhere else,” “This time isn’t important to me,” “YOU aren’t important to me.”

Be Present 03
I know my guests were probably not actually thinking those things.  I know they love me and our times together.  But I can’t change how their actions made me feel, and how it seemed to drive an invisible wedge between us in that moment.  I was convicted- I couldn’t help but realize how truly ugly my own incessant phone checking habit had become.

I just love Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages, and am so moved by his call to practice true quality time.  ”Quality time is giving someone your undivided attention.  I don’t mean sitting on the couch watching television.  I mean sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other and talking, and giving each other your undivided attention.”  Maybe this moment felt so hurtful because my love language is quality time, or maybe, just maybe, we all need and deserve quality time.  Gary continues, “A central aspect of quality time is togetherness.  I do not mean proximity.  Togetherness has to do with focused attention.”  I see a lot of things getting in the way of focused attention in my life, but I think the biggest culprit is most definitely screen time.

wall decal available from Willow Creek Signs on Etsy

wall decal available from Willow Creek Signs on Etsy

This month’s challenge is to take a good hard look at what’s getting in the way of our togetherness, of our quality time with the people we love.  For me, it’s the phone.  For you, it might be TV, or cleaning, or work.  Whatever it is, let’s bring it out into the light and call it what it is- a bad habit, a parasite sucking time and attention from the relationships we hold dear. Changing these habits is hard!  It’s going to take some effort that might not feel all that great at first, but I know that the effects will be profound and lasting. Here are a few ideas for what this might look like for me:

  • Leave phones at the door.  This is a really tough one, but I feel like we need this in our home.  A basket or bowl in the entryway to catch phones on their way in and to keep them “in their place” during our quality time together.  To keep things from getting awkward with guests, perhaps make this into a silly game, a funny household rule that everyone must play.
  • Add a custom background or note to a phone or computer home screen to remind yourself, “Is this quality time?”
  • Schedule screen-free time periods in the day and stick to them- maybe this is no screen time after 5pm, or no screen time when our family is all together, or when you’re enjoying another activity like relaxing on the patio or watching a sports game.
  • Instate phone-free zones in your home- like no phones at the kitchen or dining tables, etc.

Perhaps you have other ideas!  I’d love to hear them!  Tell us about what’s getting in the way of your loved ones receiving your full attention, and what steps you might take to overcome that obstacle.

I also have a special treat for my Sugar Block Club members this week!  A fabulous fabric giveaway, courtesy of Pat Sloan and Moda Fabrics!  Pat (who, by the way, is such a sweetheart!) has a darling new line out called “One for Me, One for You”, and she’s so generously offered up prizes for 4 lucky winners!

Pat Sloan Giveaway Collage

To enter, you must be a 2014 Sugar Block Club Member.  Good news- if you’re not one already, you can easily join right now, and will still be eligible for the giveaway.  Contest will be open through 4/7/14, and the winners will be announced and notified on 4/8.  Since the prizes include both the standard fabric line, as well as the batiks version, in jelly rolls and layer cakes, I’ll do my best to send the winners their preferred prize.

SBC Members Click Here to Enter the Giveaway

Happy April, friends!!!


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