How to Make No-Waste Flying Geese for Quilts

How to Make No Waste Flying Geese
Janet Wickell

Flying Geese Quilting Blocks

It's easy to make no-waste flying geese for your quilts and other projects. This technique lets you sew small squares to a larger square to produce four accurate flying geese. Unlike other quick-pieced geese projects, there's no fabric wasted with this technique.

What Are Flying Geese?

Flying Geese are rectangular patchwork quilting components that are twice as long as they are tall, each with a peaked triangle at its center. Small triangles flank opposite ends of the peak. The quilt blocks shown on this page are made entirely from flying geese.

Flying geese are used in hundreds of patchwork quilt blocks and also are a wonderful choice when you want to sew patchwork borders or add other types of accents to a quilt.

The quick-pieced technique is perfect when you need just a couple of geese, when adding triangles to the ends of long strips of fabric, or when you want to use small pieces of fabric to make a scrap quilt. But the no-waste method is the way to go when you need multiple identical geese.

You can sew somewhat scrappy geese with this method by varying the four small squares that are sewn to the larger square.

Cut the Fabric

Make No Waste Flying Geese
The Spruce / Janet Wickell

True Flying Geese are rectangular units, twice as wide as they are high. Quilt patterns should tell you the finished size of all geese that are used.

The "Peak" Fabric

Cut a square that's 1 1/4 inches larger than the finished width of your flying geese.

  • For geese that finish at 3x6 inches, cut a square that measures 7 1/4 x 7 1/4 inches.

Fabric for Side Triangles

Cut four small squares that are 7/8 inch larger than the finished height of your flying geese.

  • For geese that finish at 3x6 inches, cut four squares that measure 3 7/8 x 3 7/8 inches.

Make 4 No-Waste Flying Geese

  1. Cut one large square for the peaked fabric and four small squares for triangle fabric as determined using the instructions above.
  2. Draw a line from one corner to the opposite corner on the reverse side of the four small squares.
  3. Place two small squares on the large square, right sides together and small squares in opposite corners as shown in the illustration. The lines on the reverse sides of the small squares should flow together as illustrated.
  4. Make sure all edges of the fabrics are aligned. Secure the patches with straight pins.
  5. Pin the small squares in place. Sew two seams, each a scant 1/4 inch away from the marked lines. Press the unit to set the seams (press flat, as-is, do not flip fabrics).
  6. Cut the unit in half on the originally drawn lines (center illustration, right).
  7. Press the triangles in each unit open (bottom illustration).

Finish Sewing

Make No Waste Flying Geese
The Spruce / Janet Wickell
  1. Place the two units created using the instructions in step two in front of you. Arrange a small square in the corner of each unit, right sides together, and marked lines positioned as shown in the left portion of the illustration (seams sewn in step two are illustrated).
  2. Sew two seams to attach the new squares to each unit, each a scant 1/4 inch away from the marked line—just as you did for the first squares. Press (as is, no flipping) to set the seams.
  3. Cut each unit apart on its original drawn line (midway between the seams).
  4. Press the triangles open to create four flying geese (bottom illustration). Each should be 1/2 inch taller and 1/2 inch wider than the finished size of flying geese used in your quilt.
  5. Trim "dog legs," those tiny triangles that form at the ends of seam allowances where triangles are sewn together.
  6. Repeat to make more flying geese as needed.

Cutting Instructions for a Few Popular Sizes

 Geese That Finish at 2x4 Inches

  • (1) 5 1/4 x 5 1/4 inches large square
  • (4) 2 7/8 x 2 7/8 inches small squares

Geese That Finish at 3x6 Inches

  • (1) 7 1/4 x 7 1/4 inches large square
  • (4) 3 7/8 x 3 7/8 inches small squares

Geese That Finish at 4x8 Inches

  • (1) 9 1/4 x 9 1/4 inches large square
  • (4) 4 7/8 x 4 7/8 inches small squares

The no-waste flying geese cutting chart gives instructions for geese in more sizes.

More Techniques

  • ​Use rotary cutting techniques or templates to cut shapes and sew individual pieces together to create the geese.
  • Sew using foundation (paper) piecing, a popular method that's especially helpful when you're working with small patchwork.

Watch Now: How to Prepare Fabric for a Quilt