Flying Geese Paper Piecing Tutorial

Hello again! As most of you already know, we will be paper piecing some flying geese for our Quilt Con Charity Quilt Challenge. Yvonne has so graciously donated fabric bundles to members and interested members have picked up their block packets with instructions. If you are interested in participating but haven’t picked up your fabric yet, please e-mail us.

For the challenge, each packet has two flying geese blocks: a straight flying geese unit and a smaller curved flying geese unit. The same paper piecing method applies to both, so let’s get started.

Gather your supplies! Don't you just love my poodles?
Gather your supplies! Don’t you just love my poodles?

In additional to your fabrics and templates you will need:

  • White or gray piecing thread
  • Size 90 universal or sharp needle (makes tearing the paper just that much easier)
  • A hot dry iron (steam will make the paper wrinkle) and ironing surface
  • A rotary mat, rotary cutter and a ruler with a quarter inch mark.
  • A washable/temporary glue stick. Elmer’s washable glue stick works well.
  • Some sort of card or card stock (optional see below)

Set up your sewing machine with your thread, size 90 needle and reduce your stitch length to somewhere between 1.5-2.0. This is very important for foundation paper piecing, as any longer stitch will not withstand tearing the paper and who wants to see their stitching unravel?

In your packet, you have received some charm squares of different prints and some strips of solid teal fabric. We will be using the prints for the geese and the solid for the background. Please do not use any other fabric, only fabrics from your bundle are allowed in this quilt.

I need to apologize in advance as I forgot to take pictures of the first couple of steps so later used another block to demo these steps. No, the geese didn’t just magically switch colors!

Paper piecing is also called “piece by number” because pattern pieces are numbered and you piece them in order according to these numbers. To begin paper piecing, hold your template up to the light with the blank side of the paper facing you and tab the glue stick in the center of piece A1 in your block.  Place your chosen print with the right side of the fabric facing you (the wrong side of the fabric facing the blank side of the paper) and make sure you allow about a quarter of an inch all the way around.

Step 1
Here’s the gray square positioned on the blank side of the paper with a quarter inch beyond the printed line.

You are then going to add piece number A2 which is the background fabric.  Place your background fabric on top of your A1 fabric so that you line up the edge of A1 and A2 like below. You can use a couple of pins or a dot of glue to hold the fabrics in place.

Step 2
A2 and A1 ready to be sewn.

Next flip your paper over to expose the printed side and stitch on the line between A1 and A2 pieces. Pay attention that your fabric on the bottom is not flipped or folded over before you sew. Start your stitching a couple of stitches before the printed line and end it a couple of stitches beyond.

Take your paper to the ironing board and set the seam and press it with a dry iron so that it’s nice and flat. And here’s where you need to excuse that I didn’t take picture of this exact step (this is actually a couple of steps down the line) but the same method applies. Once your block is pressed flat, you are going to fold the  the paper over the next seam you are sewing,  exposing all the extra fabric under the paper. Here’s where I like to use a card. You can use  a ruler or anything that will give you a solid edge to help you fold the paper across the seam line.

photo 2
Positioning the card on the seam to be sewn and folding the paper over.

photo 3

(Your piece will look different since this is actually the next step but same rule applies).

Next you will position the quarter inch mark on your ruler along the folded paper line and trim the extra fabric.

Trimming to quarter inch seam.
Trimming to quarter inch seam.


Trimmed seam.
Trimmed seam.

Now you are ready to add your next number.  Align the edge of you next fabric with the trimmed seam (right sides together) and stitch.

photo 3photo 4

After stitching,  press, trim , add next piece, stitch, press, trim etc. until you have pieced all of your pieces.

A finished block!
A finished block!

Notice that I used scraps to make my own fabric for the last goose.  Fun, isn’t it? Feel free to experiment in the goose part with improv piecing or whatever your creative mind comes up with.

Here’s another example with the third goose not pieced but rather left as a negative space.

photo 5Usually at this point, we will be trimming the block, but we are going to leave these blocks as is since it’s easier for whoever is constructing the blocks to trim them all to size at that point.

Don’t forget to write your name on the paper and bring it to the October meeting. Strict deadline!

Have fun and if you get stuck, reach out, and someone should be able to guide you.


Categories Tutorials

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