Geese Flying High


  • One Layer Cake of 16 25cm (10in) squares or 16 9 1⁄4in assorted squares
  • 1.1m (1 1⁄4yds) of background fabric for geese
  • 3.25m (3 1⁄2yds) of fabric for borders and binding
  • 193 x 226cm (76 x 89in) of backing fabric
  • 193 x 226cm (76 x 89in) of wadding

Finished Size

Approx 183 x 210cm (72 x 83in)

Skill Level


Flying geese can be tricky units to piece, but some short-cut methods can result in substantial waste. Pauline Adams has been using the technique used in this project for some time, but Gaye discovered it in an American Quilting booklet published by Renée Nanneman.


  1. From each fabric in the Layer Cake, cut a 9 1⁄4in square. If you are using a larger square ruler it helps to mark the lines you need to use with masking tape from the front.
  2. From the background fabric, cut eight 5in strips and cross-cut the strips into 64 5in squares.


  1. To make a set of four flying geese units, take one 9 1⁄4in square and place it face up your work surface. Take two background squares and, right sides together, place them on two opposite corners of the larger square; they will overlap at the centre. Mark a diagonal line from corner to corner across the two background squares; pin the squares in place ensuring that all the outer edges line up. Stitch a 1⁄4in seam either side of the marked line. Cut along the drawn line and press flat with the light fabric behind the dark: W-shaped unit. Make 32. See Figure 1.
  2. RS together, lay the remaining background squares onto the corner of each W-shaped unit. Mark a diagonal line from corner to corner towards the centre of the W-shaped unit and stitch a 1⁄4in seam either side. Cut along the drawn line and press flat to give 64 units. See Figure 2.
  3. Check the finished size of the flying geese units; they should measure 4 1⁄2 x 8 1⁄2in. Trim if necessary, always trimming from the base of the triangle and equally from either side to keep the point centred.


Handy hint Work on one stack of flying geese units at a time or you are likely to get your arrangements of units

  1. You need four stacks of flying geese units; put one flying geese of each fabric into each stack. Arrange into vertical columns in pleasing arrangements.
  2. Sew the flying geese units together. See Figure 3. Place two units right sides together with the point underneath and carefully stitch a 1/4in seam, avoiding the point x on Figure 3. Press the seams towards the wide base of the triangles. Continue until you have completed the four columns.
  3. Check the length of the four columns of geese units; they should measure 64 1⁄2in long but determine the average length. To do this add the four measurements together and divide by four, e.g. 64 1⁄4 + 65 1⁄8 + 64 7⁄8 + 64 3⁄4 = 259, average of 64 3⁄4in.
  4. Cut a length of border fabric using the full width, which must be at least 42 1⁄2in wide between the selvedges, to match the average length determined in step 3 above and press well. Cut five strips 8 1⁄2in wide. To fit on your rotary cutting mat, fold the fabric into four along its length: see Figure 4.
  5. Pin and stitch the lengths of border fabric between the columns of flying geese units. See Figure 5.
  6. From the remaining border fabric, cut four strips 10in wide across the width of the fabric and join them along their short edges. Measure the quilt width across the middle of the panel and cut two border strips to that measurement; sew the strips to the top and bottom of the panel.


  1. Give your quilt top and backing a press. Layer the quilt by placing the backing fabric WS up on a clean flat surface, followed by the wadding and then the quilt top, centrally and RS up; the backing and wadding are slightly larger than the quilt top. Pin or tack in place. Quilt in the ditch around the blocks, or quilt fanciful flying geese tracks across the quilt or as desired.
  2. To bind the quilt, trim the excess backing and wadding level with the quilt top edges. From the remaining border fabric, cut eight strips 2 1⁄4in wide across the width of the fabric; join at right angles, pressing the seams open to reduce bulk. Trim the ears and fold in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press. Match the raw edges of the binding to the raw edges of the quilt top and sew in place, folding a mitre at each corner. Fold the binding over to the back of the quilt and neatly slipstitch in place by hand.

First published in Popular Patchwork August 2008