Flying Geese Units

Flying Geese Units

The block pictured above is constructed with 8 flying geese units in a 2×4 grid. Flying Geese units are a foundational unit in many quilt blocks and can be put together in a myriad of ways to create beautiful borders and unique sashings.

Some examples of blocks that use flying geese units are:

Dutchman’s Puzzle Quilt Block

Tobacco Leaf Quilt Block

Pinwheel Geese Quilt Block

Image of Flying Geese Unit

There are at least four methods for making Flying Geese Units. The two most popular are the Quick Corner Method and the Traditional Method (which has no fabric waste). Both are explained below.

Quick Corner (Sew/Cut/Flip) Method
for Making Flying Geese Units

Cutting Chart for Quick Corner Method:

If you want your FINISHED size Flying Geese Unit to be this size:For goose base
Cut 1 rectangle the size indicated below
For Corner Triangle units
Cut 2 squares the size indicated below, then draw a diagonal line on the back side of the fabric
1″ x 2″1.5″ x 2.5″ 1.5″
1.5″ x 3″2″ x 3.5″2″
2″ x 4″2.5″ x 4.5″2.5″
2.5″ x 5″3″ x 5.5″3″
3″ x 6″3.5″ x 6.5″3.5″
3.5″ x 7″4″ x 7.5″4″
4″ x 8″4.5″ x 8.5″4.5″
4.5″ x 9″5″ x 9.5″5″
5″ x 10″5.5″ x 10.5″5.5″
5.5″ x 11″6″ x 11.5″6″
6″ x 12″6.5″ x 12.5″6.5″

How to Make Quick Corner Flying Geese:

Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of each of your smaller squares. (Figure 1)

Flying geese step 1

With right sides together, align one marked smaller square with one edge of the rectangle as shown in Figure 2. Stitch one thread width to the outside of the diagonal line.

 Flying geese step 2

Cut 1/4″ outside the stitching line as shown in Figure 3. Press the  triangle open and the seam allowance toward the triangle. 

Flying geese step 3  Flying geese step 4

Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the other side of the rectangle to complete the unit.

Flying geese step 5Flying geese step 6
Flying geese step 7


When you use the Quick Corner Method for making Flying Geese save the corners you clip off and use them as “leaders” and “enders” as you chain piece to turn them into small HST units. Accumulate a pile of these over time, then you can assemble them to make blocks in other projects. 

Traditional (No Waste) Method

Determine the finished size you require, then cut your triangles using the chart below.To assemble a goose unit, take one of the smaller “sky” triangles and align the long edge with one of the shorter edges of the “goose” triangle. Sew with a 1/4″ seam.Gently press smaller triangle open, with seam pressed towards the smaller triangle.Repeat for other small triangle on the other side of the goose unit. 

Cutting Chart for Traditional Method for Flying Geese Units
(Makes 4)

If you want your FINISHED size Flying Geese Unit to be this size:For goose base
Cut 1 square the size below, then cut twice on the diagonal
For Corner Triangle units
Cut 1 square the size indicated below, then cut twice on the diagonal
1″ x 2″3.25″1 7/8″
1.5″ x 3″4.25″2 3/8″
2″ x 4″5.25″2 7/8″
2.5″ x 5″6.253 3/8″
3″ x 6″7.25″3 7/8″
3.5″ x 7″8.25″4 3/8″
4″ x 8″9.25″4 7/8″
4.5″ x 9″10.25″5 3/8″
5″ x 10″11.25″5 7/8″
5.5″ x 11″12.25″6 3/8″
6″ x 12″13.25″6 7/8″

Some tips to make it better

When I first started making flying geese units, I noticed that they often had a slight problem. They tended to be just a little bit short, and that “shortness” was usually in the top two “sky” corners.  My blocks often looked something like this:

Image of Geese with crooked corners
Geese with crooked corners

Notice how the two “sky” corners are not exactly square.  They seem to lean in a bit, don’t they?

I later learned a trick that gave me significantly better results. Instead of sewing directly on the marked center line of my corner squares, sew just a thread’s width to the right of the line.

Image showing how to sew to right of center line when making flying geese.
When making flying geese, sew a thread’s width to the right of the center line.

Now, this isn’t a great picture because I didn’t do a good job of marking the center line. You’ll notice that my center line is a bit off in the upper corner. In this case, I need to be super careful to keep in mind where the “real” center line is and adjust so that I’m sewing just to the right of it.

I know this sounds a little crazy, but it works. Here is why: when you cut and flip the corner, a bit of the fabric gets used up by the fold and the seam allowance. When you give it that little extra bit of width, you add that back into the equation and the unit comes out more precise.

Here is how my geese turned out. Perfectly square corners instead of short, crooked corners.

Image of square flying geese
Square Geese

I hope you find that you get some better results when using this tip!

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