Flying Geese Tutorial

Traditional flying geese units are used in lots of quilt blocks such as star blocks. Learn how to make them 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'.

The geese units start out as one rectangle and two squares. The two squares are the same height as the rectangle, but half its length.

Multiple flying geese rectangles are used to make a single flying geese quilt
block like the Fox and Geese.

Single or multiple geese rectangles are used in numerous other blocks.

For example, these units are used as the points of many star blocks such as the Eight Point Star, Stars and Squares and Sarah's Choice. And, also heart quilt blocks.

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, you might want to make a 3 inch x 6 inch geese unit. You would need to cut one unfinished rectangle that measures 3 1/2 x 6 1/2 and two unfinished squares that measure 3 1/2 inches.

The math...

Rectangle Size:

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

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

Square Size:

height of desired finished geese + 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 Units Size Chart

Most of us hate doing math, right? :-) So, I have done it for you if you want to make these units in the sizes given below.


Finished Geese Unit Size (inches)

Unfinished Rectangle Size  (inches)

Cut 1

Unfinished Square Size (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 in the needed length of the unfinished rectangle or square.

How to Make Flying Geese Instructions

Step 1 Cut Squares and Rectangle

According to the measurement chart above...

Cut 2 squares from Fabric A and 1 rectangle from Fabric B.

On the wrong side of the squares, draw a diagonal line from 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, in right hand corner of the rectangle with the diagonal line going  from the center of the rectangle to the bottom right corner (like a \). Align the raw edges of the square with those of the rectangle.

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 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 with square side facing up on a rotary cutting mat.

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, 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 /).

Align the raw edges of the square with those of the rectangle and place 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 rectangle correctly.

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 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 rectangle unit. Notice the direction in which the seams are pressed.

backside of flying geese rectangle unit

Step 10 Trim

Sometimes it's necessary to trim off bits of fabric that are outside of the size you need. Use a squaring up quilting ruler to trim the flying geese rectangle to size, in my case 3 1/2 x 6 1/2. You should only need to trim off small bits of fabric.

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!

Bonus: Make HSTs

Wondering what to do with the triangles you cut off?

Well, you could put the triangles that resulted from cutting the squares in your scrap bin or stitch a 1/4 seam and make a half square triangles (HSTs). A happy surprise! Use the HSTs in another quilt pattern like a scrap quilt or a baby quilt.

make half square triangles from triangles cut from flying geese rectangles

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