I don’t know the history of flying geese as a quilting pattern, but I know it’s been around longer than I have. I love that quilt blocks have such long lives, even if they are reinvented and reinterpreted time and time again. Kind of like music or DNA- it really is all composed of the same finite number of building blocks, yet the possibilities are endless.
Last week I was at our church’s Girls’ Camp, so while I did a lot of walking, talking and laughing, I didn’t get much sewing done. That puts me a little behind on my Modern Medallion quilt, so I’ve just gotten caught up on border 1 and 2. If you look at the pic above you’ll see a row of flying geese, which is border 2. Those geese are intended to be a bit wonky, although honestly, as the pattern goes, they weren’t quite wonky enough for me. I was going for something a little more like this:
Rather than neat little rows of flying geese, mine look a little more like a traffic jam. They are running into each other, vying for a better spot in the line up. Reminds me of a horse race rather than an obedient formation of Canadian geese.
In order for me to get the geese I desired, I read the directions in the pattern, and then immediately disobeyed them. I’m just that kind of quilter. I knew that I wanted to make my geese larger than the required size, then cut them down to 2″ x 3 1/2″. I also knew that 80 geese would take a while to make, and I am a little short on time these days, so I wanted a faster method. While there are a few different methods out there for making flying geese, I wanted to share with you the one I chose to use for this project.
This is where I admit to my addictions. Hello, my name is Angela and I am a ruler hoarder. I love rulers. In fact, I have three different rulers that make flying geese. Yes, three. If there are more out there, I will probably buy them. It’s just reality.
For this project I used “Flying Geese x 4” by Lazy Girl Designs, and you can click here for more information on this product. This method makes 4 flying geese at once, and I happen to like those kinds of numbers. Here’s the basics on how it works:
First, decide what size geese you want. The disadvantage to using this kind of ruler for this is that there are only so many sizes that can be made from the template on the ruler, and the required 2″ x 3 1/2″ geese for Modern Medallion is not one of them. In this case, that’s perfectly fine, because I didn’t want exact geese, I want wonky. So, I chose a larger size that I can trim down. Begin by using the ruler as a template to cut 1 large square. This square will be the “geese” part of the block, and remember this method makes 4 at a time, so all 4 geese will be grey.
Next, cut 4 small background squares using the ruler markings that correspond to the larger square. (Cut 1 large A square and 4 small A squares.) Truth be told, you don’t need the ruler to cut large numbers of squares. You can do that with a regular ruler and simply cut strips and squares as needed. The advantage of using this ruler comes when you really want things to get scrappy.
See? I had a leftover from the New York beauty portion of this project, and instead of working around a larger ruler, I just lined up the template marks on the “Flying Geese x 4” ruler and voila- my scraps became stars. Well, actually just background, but stars sounds better.
Next, draw diagonal lines on the back of each small square, and then line 2 of them up on the larger square like so:
Sew along each side of the center drawn line, using 1/4″ seam. This should be familiar to you if you’ve made half square triangles before. Next, use a rotary cutter to cut on the drawn line. This will leave you with two pieces that look like this:
Take these to the pressing station and press open. I have a tendency to press away from my geese, in this case, away from the dark, but it really doesn’t matter. It is personal preference, so try it different ways to see what you like best and gets your desired result. After pressing, these two look like two hearts.
If you followed directions earlier, those two small squares should already have a drawn diagonal line on them. The drawn diagonal line should be lined up down the center of the “heart”, not horizontal across the “heart”. Now, sew a seam 1/4″ on either side of the drawn line on each small square, again similar to HST. When sewing is complete, use a rotary cutter to cut on the drawn line, like this:
I think it’s funny that my feet almost made it into this shot. Squirrel. Okay, back on task. Take these units to the pressing station and press the geese open, seams in the same direction as was done earlier. This is what you will have when you are done:
Four flying geese. Now these are much larger than what I wanted for my Modern Medallion, so I trimmed them down to the size I needed and then followed the rest of the directions in the pattern for a continuous border.
The irony of the situation is that honestly, I’ve never had really good results using this ruler to make flying geese. My accuracy has been crap almost every time I have used it. But not this time. In the process of using this method to make wonky flying geese, I finally figured out how to use this ruler and method to make accurate geese. Who knew. Want to know the secret? I will reveal it in another post- one that compares this method and ruler to another one made by Deb Tucker. Pretty good stuff.
In the meantime, you may admire the progress on my Modern Medallion. I think I might name it Early Riser. We’ll see.