Over The Rainbow


  • 3m of black patterned background fabric
  • Lots of scraps of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet
  • 7m (7 3⁄4yd) of piping cord
  • 155 x 190cm (60 x 75in) of backing fabric
  • 155 x 190cm (60 x 75in) of wadding
  • Thread in black for piecing
  • Quilting thread in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet
Note: Sally-Anne used approximately 10 different fabrics of each colour, which is equivalent to about half a fat eighth of each fabric. If, you have a large stash of a particular colour you could use a different fabric for each ‘goose’, or do a swap with friends

Finished Size

55 1⁄2 x 71 1⁄2in (141 x 182cm)

Skill Level


The Flying Geese

  1. Cut the scrap fabrics into rectangles 4 1⁄2 x 2 1⁄2in. You can choose to work with just one colour at a time or to make a selection of different colours. You need 25 rectangles of each colour.
  2. Working up the length of your fabric, to leave long strips for the border that will be cut later, cut some 2 1⁄2in black squares. You need two squares for each Flying Goose unit. It is probably easiest to cut enough to go with the rectangles cut in step 1 and then cut more as you need them, as cutting for long periods can be tiring.
  3. Take one coloured rectangle and with RS together place a black square on one corner, matching up the edges. Stitch across the diagonal as shown in Figure 1.
  4. Using a rotary cutter or scissors cut off the excess triangles from the back with a 1⁄4in seam left on your block. Keep the trimmed triangles RS together (black and colour) for use later.
  5. Press open the resulting triangle and place another black square on the opposite corner. Stitch as before making sure you stitch in the right direction or you will get a diamond instead of a triangle.
  6. Again keep the trimmed triangles together for use later. Press open the triangle to complete the goose. Repeat to make 25 geese each in all the different colours of the rainbow.
  7. Join the geese together in rows of the same colour. Sew with the point of the triangle as the top piece and then you can adjust your seam by a thread one way or another to keep the points really sharp. Figure 2.
Figure 1: Sewing the Flying Geese
Figure 1: Sewing the Flying Geese

TIP! If stitching in a straight line is difficult, try making a chalk line on the fabric or iron a crease to follow

Figure 2: Joining the flying geese
Figure 2: Joining the flying geese

Centre Assembly and Borders

  1. Before you cut any strips always check the length of your particular piece; even if your seam allowance is less than 1⁄16in out that could make a total difference of 1in across the piece by the time you have joined 25 units together. It is always best to cut the strips a bit too long and then trim them rather than cut them too short.
  2. Cut six strips of black fabric 50 1⁄2 x 1 1⁄2in. Assemble the centre of the quilt with the colours of the rainbow in the correct order (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet); alternate the direction the geese are pointing in and add a black strip between them.
  3. Cut four 5 3⁄4in lengths of black fabric. You now need to cut two pieces into 50 1⁄2in lengths and join to the sides of the quilt. Cut two into 45in strips and join one to the top and one to the bottom. Press towards the black fabric.
  4. The triangles saved from trimming the Flying Geese units should still be in pairs (one colour with one black). Join them across the diagonal and press open. Trim to 1 3⁄4in square if necessary. Place them in pairs of the same colour. Join them together, keeping the correct colour order of the rainbow (i.e. red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet). Figure 3.
  5. You will need to make a few additional sets of half square triangles as more of these units are required than liberated from the geese trimmings: simply cut 2 1⁄2in squares and then cut in half on the diagonal to give triangle shapes and trim as above.
  6. Join the triangle border to the quilt centre, starting on one of the long sides. Sew in place and press towards the border. Working clockwise round the quilt, add each border in turn, making sure you keep the rainbow fabric sequence correct. If you need to adjust the length of your border to make it fit perfectly then the simplest way to do this is to take a small seam in some of the black sections where it will be least obvious.
  7. Cut more black strips 4 1⁄2in wide and add these to the quilt top as in step 3 above. Press the seams towards the border fabric as before.
  8. The final border is made up of black and rainbow colour squares. Each square is a cut size of 1 1⁄2in. Join into pairs of black with a colour.
  9. Join the pairs in the sequence of the rainbow and attach to the outside edge of the quilt as before.

Quilting and Finishing

Over the Rainbow
  1. Make up the thin pencil piping using the circumference of your piping plus 1⁄2in. To make piping cut a strip of fabric and fold it round the piping cord, WS together. Stitch close to the cord using a piping or zipper foot.
  2. Place the piping with the raw edges of the piping to the outside raw edge of the quilt and sew in place using black cotton.
  3. Layer your quilt sandwich and tack all the layers together from the centre out, which will help prevent movement whilst you are quilting.
  4. The quilting patterns are for the two borders. Straight lines have been quilted across the quilt (see photo above). The rainbows have also been quilted in the seven colours of the rainbow. The outside braid pattern has been stitched in yellow, violet, blue and red. If you wanted to machine quilt then the braid pattern can be worked continuously sewing one line along the border at a time and then changing thread colour. However, the rainbow design would leave a lot of ends to finish off, so it might be better to choose a continuous line pattern to use in this border instead.
  5. When the quilting is complete trim off the excess backing and wadding to the same size as the front; a large square ruler is useful for this. Lift the front away from the wadding then trim the wadding only an additional 1⁄4in all the way around – do not trim the backing.
  6. Fold the seam allowance of the piping under the wadding and then fold the backing 1⁄4in under the wadding: slipstitch the backing to the back of the piping to secure.
  7. Finish your quilt with a label containing as much information as possible, as future generations will want to know when and how it was made. Remember, a quilt is not finished until it has a label.
Figure 3: The triangle border
Figure 3: The triangle border

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 13 Number 8 - August 2005