How to Sew Flying Geese Quilt Blocks

Originally published Dec 18, 2012, and updated 2023.

Inklingo Flying Geese

Old News about Flying Geese

More than ten years ago, I made a little video showing how to sew scrappy Flying Geese quilt blocks for Bonnie Hunter’s Easy Street Mystery.

I’ve turned this method on its head now, so please read on . . .

Flying Geese Since 2009

Click to play (or View on Youtube)

The method has been the same since 2009’s Free Triangle Tips PDF.

There are several traditional methods for sewing Flying Geese but none are faster or more accurate than Inklingo—and you can even use scissors if you need a portable project.

No templates. No need to draw lines on the fabric. No paper to stitch and remove. No specialty rulers. No waste!

So that’s all good!

This method is wonderful for many reasons—minimal printing, the bias is sewn before it is cut to prevent distortion, there is straight grain in all the right places, and it makes 4 Flying Geese units at a time.

Love it! But there’s more. . .

Flying Geese quilt blocks

About Flying Geese Units (Math, but Interesting)

Flying Geese units are always twice as wide as they are high (e.g. 1 x 2 inches or 2 x 4 inches or 3 x 6 inches, etc.).

Inklingo makes it easy because triangles are named with the finished size. If you know the finished size of the HST, you know the finished unit will be that size times 2.

Inklingo Flying Geese

As you can see in the video, with Inklingo, we print the HST but we do not print the QST.  (There is straight grain on the longest edge of the big triangle, so it is a QST, as described in the Free Triangle Tips PDF..)

For decades, the rule of thumb has been to add 1.25 inches to the finished size of two HST (e.g. 2 + 2 + 1.25 = 5.25) but it is only an approximation.

(Monkey says it is an approximation for 1.21, so no one was brave enough to ask you to measure it. However, he says he is surprised that no one has tried to sell rulers with this line marked. <wicked grin> There is always someone with something to sell to clutter up your sewing space and cause confusion. I say don’t give “them” any ideas!)

What if . . . we use an Upside Down Ruler?

Inklingo quilters thrive on the precision of shapes that are accurate to at least 2 decimal places. You can see what I mean with the Triangles in the Index of Shapes. It is impossible to overstate the advantages of exact sizes.

I wanted a better way to determine the size to cut the square for the 4 QST for Flying Geese. Adding an approximation (1.25) to an exact measurement is not good enough—so I recommend an upside down ruler, okay?

Seeing is believing . . .

Flying Geese with upsidedown ruler

Upside Down Ruler and Ordinary Masking Tape

1, Print 8 HST, and cut into squares, as usual. (Do not cut the individual triangles apart yet, as shown.)

2. Trim the dog ears off at least one corner of all of the pairs of triangles.

3. Turn your acrylic ruler over so the wrong side is facing up and position 2 squares so the trimmed corners butt up against each other (above). Use the lines on the ruler to make sure everything is aligned in a square.

4. Position at least one layer of masking tape to mark the edge of the square.

In most cases, the masking tape will not fall exactly along one of the lines on the ruler. It marks a size that would be tricky to cut otherwise.

Flying Geese cut fabric

Now you can flip the ruler over and use the masking tape to guide cutting your fabric squares in the usual way—but absolutely precise!

Turning your ruler upside down eliminates arithmetic and is more accurate. It is almost the same as adding 1.25 inches but more exact.

It works every time. It works for any size.

Flying Geese quilt blocks

Every unit will be exactly the right size without trimming.

Flying Geese quilt blocks

Jumping up and down is not the best way to press, but it is a great way to celebrate precision.

Flying Geese Upsidedown Ruler

Just remember to turn that ruler upside down to position the masking tape, okay?

The HST 00B shape collection PDF includes 12 sizes of Half Square Triangles. I bet you can hardly wait to try this! There are many more sizes available too.

By the way, my new favorite rulers are from Quilters Select. (No affiliation) The 8.5 x 24-inch size is amazing for cutting freezer paper because we never need to cut it wider than 8.5 inches. (With narrower rulers, we sometimes need to use two rulers instead of one.)

New to Inklingo? Make Flying Geese with the free shapes!

1. DOWNLOAD, SAVE, and OPEN the Free Diamond Triangle Square shape collection first. You can use the free HST to make your first Flying Geese.

2. VISIT the Welcome Page on the website.

3. SUBSCRIBE for occasional updates.

Thank you for visiting!

Linda & Monkey

5 thoughts on “How to Sew Flying Geese Quilt Blocks”

  1. What a brilliant way to make the precise ways of Inklingo sewing even more precise! It is so easy to understand and will be so easy to accomplish that I’m now thinking about making some flying geese just for the fun of it! Thank you!!

    • I love seeing your comments, Cathi. Thank you for taking the time. Adding an approximation to an absolutely precise number has always bothered me. It felt really good to figure this out early in the morning last week. I often get my best ideas when I am semi-awake in the morning and I tell Russ it is a good reason to sleep in. (He likes sleeping in too. )

  2. Hi Linda,
    I have finished 100 Yin Yang blocks…yippee! I wonder what is the best way to sew them together. The middle of each side has MANY layers.
    Any ideas?
    Hugs Sweetie,


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