Flying Geese Tutorial

Traditional flying geese units are used in lots of quilt blocks, especially star blocks. Learn how to make geese for quilts and get a size chart!

flying geese rectangle unitflying geese rectangle unit

As a whole, the traditional geese unit is a rectangle. When looking at a completed unit it looks like it's made up of three triangles.

The larger triangle is the 'goose'. And the two smaller triangles make up the 'sky'.

Use any color combinations you choose. Rummage through your scrap bin and pick two different awesome fabrics.

I have chosen a solid (Fabric A) in a vibrant yellow and a plaid print (Fabric B) in primary colors.

Quilt Block Formula

Making geese units this way is called the corner triangle method. The height of the rectangle is half its length. Or, the rectangle is twice as long as it is tall.

For example, to make one 3 inch x 6 inch geese unit you need to cut one rectangle that measures 3 1/2 x 6 1/2 and two squares that measure 3 1/2 inches.

The math...

Size of Rectangle:

height = 1/2 desired finished length + 1/2 inch seam allowance

by

length = desired finished length + 1/2 inch seam allowance

Size of Squares:

height of desired finished + 1/2 inch seam allowance

With this method I have found that it is best to make a unit where the  desired finished length is a whole (4, 5, 6, etc.) number.

Flying Geese Size Chart


Finished Geese Size (inches)

Rectangle Size (Unfinished)  (inches) Cut 1

Square Size (Unfinished) (inches) Cut 2

2 x 4

2 1/2 x 5

2 1/2 x 4 1/2

3 x 5 1/2

2 1/2 x 2 1/2

3 x 3

3 x 6

3 1/2 x 7

3 1/2 x 6 1/2

4 x 7 1/2

3 1/2 x 3 1/2

4 x 4

4 x 8

4 1/2 x 9

4 1/2 x 8 1/2

5 x 9 1/2

4 1/2 x 4 1/2

5 x 5

5 x 10

5 1/2 x 11

6 x 12

5 1/2 x 10 1/2

6 x 11 1/2

6 1/2 x 12 1/2

5 1/2 x 5 1/2

6 x 6

6 1/2 x 6 1/2

Start by cutting strips the same width as the height of the unfinished rectangle and square size. Then, subcut for needed length of the unfinished rectangle or square.

How to Make Flying Geese Instructions

Step 1 Cut Squares and Rectangle According to the size chart above choose a size and from Fabric A cut 2 squares. From Fabric B cut 1 rectangle.

On the wrong side of the squares, draw a diagonal line from one corner to corner.

Step 1 Cut squares and rectangle to make the flying geese.

Step 2 Place the rectangle right side up. Place one square right side down on top of the rectangle. Align it in the right hand corner of the rectangle with the diagonal line going  from the center of the rectangle to the bottom right corner like a back slash (\).

Step 2 Place the rectangle right side up. Place one square, right side down to begin making the flying geese.

Step 3 Place pins in the unit so the square will not shift when stitched. Stitch on the drawn line starting from the center of the rectangle to the bottom right corner.

Step 3 Stitch on the drawn line from the center of the rectangle to the bottom right corner to start making a flying geese unit.

Step 4 Place the unit on a rotary cutting mat with square side facing up.

Place the quarter inch line of a quilting ruler on the stitched line. Use a rotary cutter to cut along the edge of the ruler, leaving a 1/4 inch seam.

Step 4 Place the quarter inch line of a quilting ruler on the stitched line and use a rotary cutter to cut along the edge of the ruler, leaving a 1/4 inch seam on the flying geese unit.

Step 5 Flip the triangle (that resulted from cutting the square) face up. This triangle replaces the fabric that was cut away. Press the seam toward the triangle.

Step 5 Flip the triangle face up. Press the seam toward the triangle of the flying geese unit.

Step 6 With the rectangle right side up, place the second square right side down, aligning it in left hand corner of the rectangle with the diagonal line going from the center of the rectangle to the bottom left corner, like a forward slash (/).

Insert pins in the unit so the square will not shift when stitched.

Stitch on the drawn line from the center of the rectangle to the bottom right corner.

Step 6 Repeat Steps 2 and 3 to finish making the flying geese unit.

Step 7 Place the unit with square side facing up on a rotary cutting mat. Turn the rectangle if necessary to get a better angle to make the cut.

Place the quarter inch line of a quilting ruler on the stitched line. Use a rotary cutter to cut along the edge of the ruler, leaving a 1/4 inch seam.

Step 7 Place the quarter inch line of a quilting ruler on the stitched line and use a rotary cutter to cut along the edge of the ruler, leaving a 1/4 inch seam on the flying geese unit.

Step 8 After making the cut, orient the unit so the rectangle is horizontal.

Step 8 After making the cut, orient the flying geese rectangle correctly.

Step 9 Flip the triangle face up. Press the seam toward the triangle.

And, you have a completed flying geese unit!

Step 9 Flip the triangle face up. Press the seam toward the triangle of the flying geese.

Here's the backside of the flying geese. Notice the direction in which the seams are pressed.

backside of flying geese rectangle unit

Square Up Flying Geese

Step 10 Trim Sometimes it's necessary to trim off bits of fabric, or "square up" the unit. Use a quilting ruler to trim the flying geese to size (as shown here 3 1/2 x 6 1/2).

  • Divide the unfinished length of the rectangle in half (6 1/2 inches / 2 = 3 1/4).
  • With the large triangle pointing north, place that ruler measurement line on the unit where the two squares meet (or the point of the geese).
  • Trim in excess fabric.
  • Turn the unit clockwise two quarter turns, line up the ruler as before and trim.
Step 10 Trim off bits of fabric that are outside of the size you need. Use a squaring up quilting ruler to trim the flying geese.

Now you can use your flying geese units to make blocks!

Make Half Square Triangles from Left over Triangles

A happy surprise! Wondering what to do with the triangles you cut off?

make half square triangles from triangles cut from flying geese rectangles

Put them in your scrap bin or stitch a 1/4 seam and make a half square triangles (HSTs) for use in a quilt project!


  1. Home
  2. >
  3. How to Quilt
  4. >
  5. Flying Geese


Top