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!
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!
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.
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.
Next, take 2 squares and align them on your charm square as shown below, right sides together and on opposite corners. Pin.
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.
Press the flaps open and you’ll now have 2 cute heart-looking units. We’re half way to 4 flying geese!
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.
Press open, and voila! 4 identical flying geese units! It’s so quick and easy!
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!
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!