Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Perfect Flying Geese Tutorial

Every quilter must know how to make a flying geese unit. It shows up everywhere!
It's simple to learn the steps and you can read them in many places. 
But I want you to learn to make a PERFECT flying geese.
Why would I want to do that? you say. 
Well I work in a quilt store and I have seen so many quilters get discouraged because they 
invest their time and money and emotion into their quilts
only to be disappointed when blocks don't fit and corners don't match.
Don't look! they say. Quilts are meant to be looked at.
With just a few critical bits of information and instruction it could be different.
So stick with me on this one . . .  
Learn to do it right and you will be saying to everyone 
Look at this!

Here is what we are aiming for:

FYI: The flying geese unit is always half as long as wide.
Ours will finish - in a completed quilt at  4" x 2".

We begin by adding 1/2" to the dimension for 1/4" seams on each side as we would with any other quilt block.
The middle triangle is the 'goose' and the side triangles make the 'sky'.  Just like the ones you see heading south for the winter but in this case the sky is RED and the goose is GREEN.

For each unit cut:
One 4 1/2" x 2 1/2" rectangle for the goose (green)
Two 2/12" squares for the sky (red print)

Next take the red sky squares, turn them over to the WRONG side of the fabric and draw a line diagonally from corner to corner. Use a soft lead sharpened pencil. Lay the end down a bit and sort of slide it along so it doesn't pull your fabric but the lead rubs on to it.
To do it perfectly take care to place your ruler edge slightly to one side of each corner. This allows room for width of the lead and the line is drawn perfectly from corner to corner.

Do this for both squares.

Lay one 'sky' square on the 'goose' rectangle RST (right sides together) as shown.
The next step is to sew the two together.
Before you do take a look at your options.
If you begin sewing from the outside corner chances are that little corner will get pulled up or down by the needle and threads.
The result is a messed up or distorted corner.
Better  to start sewing at the top corner in the middle of the rectangle.

Better yet use a "Hairy" to start sewing. A "Hairy" is a small scrap of fabric that acts as a bridge to your block. You start sewing on it first and then sew right onto your block. You eliminate the possibility of thread being pulled down through the throat plate of your machine or drawing up at the edge of the fabric. Using it over and over makes it "Hairy" with thread. Thus the name. J
This is a new "Hairy" ready to go --
Sew right from the "Hairy" onto the block.

But wait! Don't sew on the line! Even though we usually don't think of it, thread needs space. In this case you will be pressing the right side of the square over to form a triangle so make room for the thread by sewing just to the left of the line. Notice how the right side of the presser foot opening is running against the drawn line.

When you get to the opposite corner, reach around and clip your "Hairy" free and sew right onto it again. Clip your block free and you are ready for the next seam.

Take a close look at the stitches. They should be right BESIDE the line toward the outside corner.

Some 'flying geese' tutorials tell you to trim away the excess at this point. DON'T DO IT!!.
Rather go to the ironing board or use your pressing stick and press the triangle up to the corner.
The 'goose' rectangle is your guide -- match up those three outer corners carefully as you press with a dry iron up and across the seam. 

This way you know you have sewn it perfectly and that the corner is still perfectly square and not distorted.

When you turn the pressed piece over and look at the back of the rectangle, none of the red  'sky' square should be hanging out.

 Now is the time to trim away the excess corner. 
Fold back the triangle you pressed up and trim away the outside corner leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Smooth back the 'sky' triangle and do a small happy dance! One side of your perfect 'flying geese' is done.

Now lay the second red 'sky' square down RST on the other side of the rectangle with the drawn line going from the center to the opposite outer corner as shown.
Again, start sewing with your "Hairy" from the center of the rectangle toward the outer corner.
WAIT! This time sew with the center of your presser foot just to the right of the drawn line. You always make room for the thread by sewing BESIDE the line toward the outside corner.
Press the second 'sky' triangle in place - again matching the corners perfectly.
Turn the 'flying geese' over and check to see that no red 'sky' is hanging out.
Now smooth the triangle back in place . . . 
Make sure no green 'goose' is showing from the front. Fold the triangle back and trim away the excess as before.

Ta Da!!!
perfect flying geese!
Time for another happy dance.

How did you do?
I'd love to know.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

3 . . . 2. . . .1 . . . 0. . . Launch ! !

You can think about something for something for just so long and then you have to just go for it!
I have been thinking about creating patterns, teaching classes and creating this blog long enough.
The time has come to launch or forget it. . . I am LAUNCHING!

My first pattern is a quilted table runner  - Christmas Gifts show here:
Christmas Gifts is 19" x 40" and is a beginning quilter project. The pattern sells for $7 and includes the link to a tutorial for the "flying geese" block used to create the star and package bow. The "binding" edge is created from the backing fabric folded around to the front after quilting. The straight line quilting can be done on any home sewing machine.
The pattern is available by emailing Include your email address and phone number. Look for a downloadable version from this blog in the near future.

Thanks for stopping by!