Make The Flying Geese Block [Cheat Sheet + 6 Top Tips]

Learn how to make flying geese with two methods. Get the flying geese block formula and use our free flying geese cheat sheet to make the perfect flying geese!

The flying geese block is one of the basic quilt blocks that you’ll see in so many different quilt designs.

It’s often used on its own (like in our free Flying Goslings pattern) which can really show off the beauty of its simplicity. But it’s also the building element of other quilt blocks. For example, you’ll find it in many star quilt blocks.

In this flying geese block tutorial, I’ll show you how to make the flying geese block two ways (4 at a time and 1 at a time).

We’ve also created a flying geese size chart with the flying geese quilt block formula calculated for different standard sizes!

This post contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small comission if you make a purchase on any of the affiliated sites (with no additional cost to you). Learn more here.

How to Make Flying Geese 4 at a time

Most often you’ll be making a pattern or a block that calls for multiple identical flying geese. 

The sawtooth star is an example of a block where you need 4 identical flying geese for one single sawtooth star. 

And this is where the 4 at a time flying geese method comes in super handy.

Unlike the one at a time method, the 4 at a time also produces very little waste, so that’s another advantage.

Here’s how to make flying geese 4 at a time:

The instructions below will produce four 2 x 4’’ flying geese blocks. For other finished sizes, see the flying geese cutting chart below.

  1. Cut one 5 ½’’ square and four 3’’ squares. Draw diagonal guidelines from corner to corner on the wrong sides of the small squares.
  2. Place two small squares on the opposite corners of the large square right sides together. The guidelines should now form a long diagonal guideline across both squares. 
  3. Sew two seams, each a ¼’’ away from the guideline. 
  4. Cut in half along the original guideline and press seams out. You now have two identical (almost heart shaped) units.
  5. Place one remaining small square in the corner of the unit (with the guideline going towards the center of the unit).
  6. Sew two seams, each a ¼’’ away from the guideline. Cut apart (along the guideline) and press seams out.
  7. Repeat with the remaining (heart-shaped) unit and square.
  8. Trim your flying geese blocks to the desired (unfinished!) size.

Flying geese quilt block formula: 4 at a time

When searching for the flying geese quilt block formula, you’ll come across two different versions of this formula – the traditional and the ‘oversized’ flying geese block formula.

The traditional formula gives you very little room for error, which means you’ll need to sew with a very precise scant ¼’’ seam allowance to get it right.

The traditional 4 at a time FG formula:
One square: finished FG width + 1 ¼’’ 
Four squares: finished FG height + ⅞’’ 

We always recommend using the oversized flying geese block formula instead. Sure, it produces a tiny bit more waste, but it gives you just enough room for trimming, so you can get those perfect points.

The oversized 4 at a time flying geese quilt block formula (recommended) is:
One square: finished FG width + 1 ½’’ 
Four squares: finished FG height + 1’’ 

The oversized formula is what is used on our flying geese size chart in this article. 

And what’s really exciting is that we have a great shortcut for you – our flying geese calculator:

FLYING GEESE CALCULATOR

Just plug in your numbers and the calculator will tell you the required cutting dimensions (using the oversized flying geese quilt block formula). Click here to calculate your flying geese!

We’ve also created a super handy flying geese size chart / cheat sheet, with all the basic flying geese dimensions AND step-by-step instructions for both methods explained here. Get your flying geese chart here.

How to Make Flying Geese 1 at a time

The other option is making one flying geese block at a time. This method is also called the stitch and flip method.

I only use this when I’m making less than 4 of the same flying geese (which is very rarely, to be honest). Usually, I stick to the 4 at a time method. Still, sometimes this comes in handy, too.

Here’s how to make flying geese 1 at a time:

The instructions below will produce one 2 x 4’’ flying geese block. For other finished sizes, see the flying geese cutting chart below.

  1. Cut a 4 ¾’’ x 2 ¾’’  rectangle and two 2 ¾’’ squares.
  2. Draw a diagonal guideline from corner to corner on the wrong side of each square.
  3. Place one square on top of the rectangle right sides together. Sew along the guideline.
  4. Trim away the corner ¼’’ from the seam. Press open.
  5. Repeat steps 3. and 4. with the remaining square on the opposite side of the rectangle.
  6. Trim your flying geese blocks to the desired (unfinished!) size.

Flying geese quilt block formula: 1 at a time

Similar to the 4 at a time method, there are two versions of the flying geese quilt block formula, too.

The traditional formula assumes you’ll be extremely accurate and basically gives you no room for error.

The traditional 1 at a time FG formula:
One rectangle: (finished FG width + ½’’ ) x  (finished FG height + ½’’ )
Two squares: finished FG height + ½’’

To give yourself some room for error, we recommend using the oversized flying geese quilt block formula:

The oversized 1 at a time flying geese quilt block formula (recommended) is:
One rectangle: (finished FG width + ¾’’ ) x  (finished FG height + ¾’’ )
Two squares: finished FG height + ¾’’

Again, we’ve got a shortcut for calculating flying geese – the flying geese calculator. It will tell you the starting squares required to make flying geese using both methods explained here.

And if you prefer to have a flying geese size chart on hand, we’ve got that, too! Just keep on reading!

Flying Geese Size Chart

There’s a lot of math in quilting and it can sometimes get a bit overwhelming. We want to make things as easy for you as possible. That’s why we created this fantastic flying geese cheat sheet.

The flying geese size chart will tell you the starting dimensions of the fabric squares required to make flying geese in any of the standard sizes. And what’s even better – we’ve included illustrated diagrams to help you sew the flying geese.

How do you get it, you ask? It’s a free gift for our newsletter subscribers, so if you want it, just fill out the form below and get the flying geese cheat sheet instantly in your inbox.

DTQ TIP: If you’re planning to make a whole lot of flying geese, first calculate the required starting squares. Then use the Fabric Yardage Calculator to calculate the total yardage required for your project!

6 Tips for Perfect Flying Geese Blocks

If you ever tried making the flying geese block, you probably know this already. There are flying geese and then there are perfect flying geese.

You know what I’m talking about. Those perfectly symmetrical geese with perfect point, where everything aligns. Yum!

Now I’m not saying I always get perfect flying geese. Nope. Not this quilter.

But there are some things to keep in mind to get as close to perfection as the day allows (sometimes it just ain’t happening, right?).

Tip 1: Begin with accurate cutting

I know this is a boring piece of advice, but it’s true. In quilting, accuracy begins at the cutting table. Use a rotary cutter (with a sharp blade), ruler, and cutting mat to ensure that your squares and rectangles are cut to the exact dimensions specified in your quilt pattern or your flying geese size chart.

Tip 2: Use a Consistent Seam Allowance

Another boring piece of advice (sorry) – but try to maintain a consistent seam allowance throughout the piecing process. Many quilt patterns – including ours – recommend using a scant quarter-inch seam allowance. We’ve got some great tips on how to get it perfect every time in our ¼’’ seam allowance tutorial. 

Tip 3: Mark the guidelines!

You might be tempted to skip the marking part but trust me, you don’t wanna! Especially if you’re making 4 at a time flying geese. The seams here are pretty long, so if you’re going to eyeball it chances are, those seams won’t be very accurate. And inaccurate seams = wonky flying geese. We don’t want that.

There are different ways to mark the guidelines. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Use a Hera marker: a Hera marker is one of those basic quilting tools that you didn’t know you needed before using it for the first time. It’s basically a piece of plastic with a sharp edge that is used to create a crease in the fabric. The advantage of a Hera marker is that you can be 100% sure it won’t leave any residue whatsoever. You can get our favorite Hera marker here.
  • Crease the squares in half diagonally using your iron or finger-press them in half. The crease will serve as the guideline.
  • Use a ¼’’ seam guide tape: this is a special tape with the ¼’’ seam allowance marked on it. I’d only recommend relying on this for the second part of 4 at a time flying geese (when you sew on one single square) because the seam is shorter. There’s still some eyeballing involved here, so proceed with caution.
  • Use any other fabric marking tool: there are tons of different fabric marking tools out there and if you’ve found a personal favorite, go with that! Just always make sure to test it first (you don’t want any residue on a finished quilt!).

Tip 4: Pin pin pin!

Although this might seem like another way to complicate the process, it can actually speed things up. By pinning the small squares onto the large square you can sew faster. Because you know there’s no unwanted shifting and your pieces will stay in place.

Tip 5: Trim to size

I know you might be tempted to just trim away the dog ears, but I urge you to take this time and actually trim the flying geese to size. Especially if you’re using the oversized flying geese quilt block formula (and many patterns do!).

This way you’ll have perfectly size flying geese, which will fit perfectly into the block or pattern you’re creating.

Tip 6: Use flying geese rulers for trimming

To make the tedious task of trimming flying geese to size run more smoothly, you can get specialty rulers designed specifically for this. Here are some favorites:

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Bloc Loc Flying Geese Rulers

If you’re making a lot of flying geese of the same size, you might want to invest in these babies. These rulers are specifically designed for trimming flying geese to size (of course you need a specific ruler for each specific size – or you could get a set with multiple sizes). What’s special about them are the slots that ‘grab’ onto the seams on your flying geese, which ‘locks’ the ruler in place.

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Creative Grids Flying Geese Tool

This is a somewhat cheaper option – because you get a wider variety of sizes in one ruler. This one doesn’t have slots but has a special grip surface that holds the ruler in place. Like with all other Creative Grids rulers, the markings are easy to read and just make sense. Which means faster and more accurate trimming!

Budget option: Add markings on your basic quilting ruler

I know these specialty rulers are not an option for everyone. In that case, I recommend using some washi tape to add markings on your regular ruler. For example, if I’m trimming flying geese to 3×6’’, I’ll add a piece of tape along these lines on the ruler. This way, I quickly see where to align my flying geese. (I do this with all sorts of blocks or wherever I need to cut a larger number of same-sized pieces. Works like magic!)

I hope this flying geese block tutorial has inspired you to go make some flying geese. Don’t forget to download our flying geese size chart and get started on a project – our baby flying geese pattern is the perfect quick make!

Happy sewing!

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