Two Ways to Fly: Piecing Flying Geese

QuiltNotes Learning Center

Last Updated December 01, 2018

The Flying Geese unit is a popular building block of many quilts. The finished unit is a rectangle.

dark flying geese

The purple triangle in the center is the “goose”. The light triangles on the sides are the “sky”. We use these terms to identify the pieces.

Even though the sky pieces are lighter in the left side picture, this goose unit has a dark sky with a light goose.

The flying geese shown above use two fabrics. Choose three fabrics for even more design possibilities. Check out the QuiltNotes Pinterest Flying Geese Board to get inspired.

As you can see, the geese in quilts can fly in any direction, even in circles! Now let’s take a look at two ways to piece this unit. You will find other ways to piece this unit, but we believe these methods are the easiest to do and produce more accurate results. And best of all, you don’t need a special ruler or tool to make these. Rotary cutter and mat, ruler and a pencil are the only required notions.

Notions Needed

Flying Geese One At A Time

Use this method when you need scrappy geese. Because you are using rectangles and squares cut the same width, you can use leftover strips. If using scraps from precut 2-1/2" strips, you can make a finished unit that is 2" x 4". Learn more about Precut Fabrics

This method will have some waste of fabric but you will see a way to make half square triangles from the "wasted" part.

Finished Size of Unit


1" x 2"

1-1/2" x 3"

2" x 4"

2-1/2" x 5"

3" x 6"

3-1/2" x 7"

4" x 8"

4-1/2" x 9"

5" x 10"

5-1/2" x 11"

6" x 12"

Goose Fabric

Cut 1 rectangle

1-1/2" x 2-1/2"

2" x 3"

2-1/2" x 4-1/2"

3" x 5-1/2"

3-1/2" x 6-1/2"

4" x 7-1/2"

4-1/2" x 8-1/2"

5" x 9-1/2"

5-1/2" x 10-1/2"

6" x 11-1/2"

6-1/2" x 12-1/2"

Sky Fabric

Cut 2 squares

1-1/2" x 1-1/2"

2" x 2"

2-1/2" x 2-1/2"

3" x 3"

3-1/2" x 3-1/2"

4" x 4"

4-1/2" x 4-1/2"

5" x 5"

5-1/2" x 5-1/2"

6" x 6"

6-1/2" x 6-1/2"

We use the stitch and flip method to make the geese. For more stitch and flip piecing see Stitch and Flip Piecing. Using the chart above, start with one goose rectangle and two sky squares.

flying geese

On the wrong side of each square, mark the diagonals.

flying geese

Don't like to draw lines? Try Clearly Perfect Angles. It clings to smooth sewing tables.

flying geese

Place one square in the corner, stitch just inside the marked line.

Optional Half Square Triangles

If you want to make a small half square triangle, mark another line 1/2" from the stitched line.

flying geese

Stitch on the marked line. Trim 1/4" from the first line.

flying geese

Now you will have one small half square triangle (press toward the dark fabric) and part of the goose unit. For the goose unit, press toward the sky.

flying geese

Place the remaining square in the opposite corner. It will overlap the other seam.

flying geese

Stitch just inside the marked line. If you wish to make a half square triangle, mark and stitch an additional line. Trim 1/4" from first marked line.

flying geese

Press seams as before. Now you will have one flying geese unit. Additionally, you will have two half square triangle units if you chose that option

Four At A Time Flying Geese

Sometimes you will see this method called "No Waste Flying Geese". Not only will you piece 4 flying geese units in three easy steps, you use all of the fabric cut for it. Most often you will see this method done using one fabric for the goose (large square) and another for the sky (4 small squares).

Finished Size of Unit


1" x 2"

1-1/2" x 3"

2" x 4"

2-1/2" x 5"

3" x 6"

3-1/2" x 7"

4" x 8"

4-1/2" x 9"

5" x 10"

5-1/2" x 11"

6" x 12"

Goose Fabric

Cut 1 Square












Sly Fabric

Cut 4 squares












Here are the steps to making four flying geese at the same time.

flying geese

Use the chart to determine what size squares to cut. In this example, the goose fabric is the blue print and the sky fabric is the yellow print. On the wrong side of the small squares, draw a diagonal line as shown.

flying geese

Place two of the small squares, right sides together, in opposite corners of the large square. The squares will overlap in the center.

Stitch 1/4" from both sides of the drawn lie.

Trim along the drawn line.

Press towards the dark fabric on both pieces.

For each piece, place a small square as shown.

flying geest

Stitch 1/4" from the drawn line on both sides of the line.

flying geese

The stitches should end in the corner where the fabrics meet.

flying geese

Cut along the drawn line. Press toward the dark fabric.

Finish Each Unit

flying geese

Cut off the 3 nubs on each flying geese. The tip of the goose triangle should be 1/4" from the edge. This keeps the point after stitching to other units.

flying geese

Four geese ready to fly!


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