Paper Pieced Flying Geese

I'm a little bit slow, but I've finally started looking ahead to autumn pattern making.  I pulled out bunches of scraps of those lovely warm autumn colors from my stash and waited for inspiration to strike.

There had to be leaves, of course.

Leaves swirling and blowing in the autumn wind.

And geese. Geese flying south like in one of my favorite poems.

Something told the wild geese,
 It was time to go, 
Though the fields lay golden. 
Something whispered, "snow." 

Yes, definitely flying geese. But there's a bit of a problem here. I have always liked flying geese borders, but working with all of those triangles makes me crazy! I am such a stickler for sharp points and perfect blocks, and I have ripped out seams and redone blocks so many times that I've often given up on flying geese.

Big blocks are easier, but I'm making a table runner, so the blocks have to be small - maximum 1 1/2" x 3".  Yikes!!

And, even for this small table runner I need a LOT of little blocks - 72, to be exact. Three triangles in each block, so that makes 216 little triangles with 648 points to make perfect!

But geese are what I want, so I'm going to make them the easy way.

Paper foundation piecing to the rescue!!

A number of my quilting friends tell me that they don't like paper piecing, that way they've always made their blocks suits them just fine.

For those of us who have been quilting for a long time and learned to quilt with more traditional methods, paper piecing may feel a bit uncomfortable. I truly balked at the idea. All of that upside-down sewing on paper looked downright weird!

Then a friend showed me a quilt she had made with paper foundation piecing. I was blown away! So, I tried it. Liked it, too. A lot! Perfect points, nice straight blocks, and all of it done quickly and easily.

Sew on the line. Cut on the line. Nothing to measure, nothing a tad too short or a little bit crooked, and perfect points every time!

This is what I've done in the past two days. I only worked for a couple of hours yesterday and a couple of hours today, but 26 of my flying geese are done.

Effortless points that even my perfectionist mother would approve. 

Here is a mini-tutorial for making these:

I started by making a pattern template.  

I worked in groups of four blocks. I made six sets of four, and one set of two flying geese blocks to give me the 26 that I needed for the top of my table runner. I may make a template for groups of six blocks as well. The larger the grouping, the easier it all becomes.

There is some waste of fabric, but if the pieces are cut just a bit larger than they would be otherwise, the fabric lost is minimal. 

Step 1: Photocopy the pattern templates. I use the cheapest copy paper I can find for this. It's lighter weight and tears away easily.

Cut out the triangles. 
4 5/8" squares cut twice diagonally are used for the geese.

2 5/8" squares cut in half diagonally work well for the background triangles.

Hold the first goose triangle on the wrong side of the paper with the right side of the fabric facing out. Hold up to the light to see that it is positioned correctly.

Place the background triangle for the number 2 piece about 1/4" from the stitching line. The right side of this piece will be facing the green goose segment.
Make sure that you are using a very short stitch so the paper will tear away easily. 

Sew directly on the line between pieces #1 and @2.

View from the right side of the fabric.
A little bit off? Won't matter at all.

Trim edges fairly even.

Fold the background piece back and press.

Lay the next background piece against the geese block.

Check agains the light to make sure it is accurately lined up.

Stitch on the line between piece #1 and piece #3.

Trim, fold back...

Not even? Not a problem.

Add the next piece in the same way as the others. 

Stitch, trim, fold back, press.

Continue until all the geese blocks in this row are assembled.

Trim right on the solid lines for the seam allowance.

Tear the paper away.
Sew the sections of blocks together.
Add the flying geese strip to the quilt.


I love paper foundation piecing, but it may not be your cup of tea. If you've never tried it, though, do give it a whirl. Who knows, it may prove to be a real time saver.

Happy Stitching!


  1. Paper piecing is such a good way to do Flying Geese - you can get the points just 'so'. Thanks for the tutorial.

    1. Thank you my friend, and you're welcome. I see that you've been working with paper piecing a lot in your tiny blocks. Next time I do flying geese, though, I plan to try your method that looks so easy and is 3-dimensional.

  2. Thank you. I really appreciate your suggestion -- paper piecing for flying geese.

    1. You're very welcome. I hope you find the technique usable.