Flying Geese Tutorial – Triangulations

My second rant for the day (and what I was going to add to the first one but it got too long) . . if you’re doing something and you’re not happy with what you’re doing . . fix it!  If you’re making flying geese and they’re never turning out right, find a new way to make them!  If you’re making bread and it’s always a flop, try a new recipe!  If your quilt borders ripple and it doesn’t bother you, don’t worry about it.  If you want to change it, figure it out and change it!  How hard is it?  Not hard at all!

Do you remember this blog post where I shared a youtube video?  It’s worth watching again.  I’ve always believed I can do anything others can do . . if I set my mind to it.  When I got my first quilting machine, I never took lessons . . still haven’t . . but I was determined that if someone else could make beautiful feathers, I could do it too.  I know folks who have never had a formal lesson and they’re wizards on the longarm.  I know folks who have taken every lesson they could and they still say they can’t quilt and won’t try it.  I’m not saying lessons aren’t good . . I’m saying you can do anything you set your mind to do.  But it takes effort and determination and therein I think is where some run into a roadblock.

With the Rolling Along pattern, I got quite a bit of moaning and groaning about the flying geese.  The February QOV has lots of flying geese.  Are you going to say “I love the pattern but I can’t make decent flying geese!” or, are you going to get out some scraps and learn to make perfect flying geese?  It’s your choice!

The reason my instructions say to make flying geese, half square triangles, and quarter square triangles however you like is because there are so many ways to make them.  I’ve tried various rulers, no waste methods  . . whatever is out there, I’ve probably tried it.  My favorite method is to use Brenda Henning’s Triangulation™ CD.  You print off any size half square triangle, quarter square triangle or flying geese patterns that you need.

Here’s a quick picture tutorial of how I make flying geese using this method.

1.  Print out the sheet for the appropriate size needed.  I use plain inexpensive printer paper from Staples or Wal-Mart, wherever we get it on sale.

2.  Cut them apart.  At the top of each sheet, it tells you what sizes to cut for that particular size flying geese.  I cut mine just a bit larger . . maybe 1/8th inch larger, so I don’t have to fiddle with getting everything lined up perfectly.

Let’s call the larger triangle (pink on the legend) the geese and let’s call the smaller triangles the sky.  I’ve heard these components called different things but today they’re going to be the geese and the sky.  Lay the goose fabric wrong side up and place a triangle over it.  Hopefully you can see it through your paper.  If not, hold it up to the light and position the fabric behind the paper, wrong side touching the paper.

3.  Pin it if you’d like.  Turn it over so that the right side of the fabric is facing up.  Place one of the sky triangles over the goose fabric, properly positioned.

4.  Once the sky fabric is positioned correctly, turn it all over and sew along the line.

5.  Flip the the sky fabric out and press.  Add the second sky triangle.

6.  Once in position, turn it over and sew along the line.  Flip and press.

7.  Trim from the back where the cutting lines are shown.

8.  You’ll end up with a perfect flying goose!

If you’re thinking that you don’t like dealing with the paper removal, simply hold the piece with your fingernail right on the sewn light, grab one of the paper triangles (in this case, #3 first), snap and it comes right of in one piece.  Do the same thing with the other sky triangle and the goose section will slide right off.

Of all the methods I’ve tried, this is my favorite for making flying geese, half square triangles and quarter square triangles.  If you’re happy with your method, don’t change a thing.  If you’re not happy with your method, try some other methods til you find a method you’re happy with.



  1. 1


    Got the new Quiltmaker Magazine Mar/Apr issue today and it has directions for four ways to make the flying geese unit. Hope this helps those who are having trouble.

  2. 2


    I like to use Eleanor Burns Quilt In a Day flying geese ruler. But when I first started quilting, I just faked flying geese with 2 half square triangles.

  3. 3

    Cheryl in Iowa says

    Eleanor Burns method is one of my favorite methods, too……..but, and how cool is this, my Triangulations just arrived in today’s mail. Guess I’d better play around so I’ll be ready when the steps start coming!

  4. 4

    Pam says

    To quote one of my old teachers: “can’t never could and could never would.”
    I think that where there is a will, there is a way.
    My theory is that I control the fabric, not the fabric controlling me.
    Enjoyed your rants of the day and am so happy that you and Vince are enjoying Yellow Jacket Ranch.

  5. 5


    Thank you thank you thank you! I have ben trying to get flying geese right for some time. Your method is next on my list:)

  6. 6


    I will have to check that flying geese thing out. I usually struggle but in the end it always turns out pretty well.

    I enjoy the rants as well. It makes me believe that yes, I can do xyz or abc!!! Thanks….

  7. 8

    Frieda Z says

    I use a small piece of double sided tape to hold my first piece in position. That is the last piece of paper to come off and I haven’t had any trouble removing it. I use about a 1/2 to 1 inch piece.

  8. 9


    This is the next method I’m going to try. My no-waste geese were pretty awful, but I love the look of them, so I thought that this method would be easier for me to get right.

    I like your rants. They aren’t really rants; just telling folks not to be afraid and go and try things. Good words.

  9. 10

    WiAmy says

    I have had the triangulation program for years and did not use it much until this past Thanksgiving. At that time I used it for QST and HST and was really impressed with it–wondering what took me so long to USE it! Next time I try flying geese I hope to remember to try it! I do like the Elanore Burns method–but you are limited to certain sizes and need larger squares to start. It will be good for me to have another option. I’m happy to hear triangulations has your stamp of approval!

  10. 11


    I have found excellent flying geese results with my GO die that is a QST die along with the 2.5″ HST die. They go together very easily and when sewn into quilt blocks finish to perfect 2″ x 4″ flying geese. I have one other triangle die which, when combined with the 3.5″ HST die results in 3″ x 6″ finished flying geese. I was happy to discover how nicely they’d turn out for me using those dies!

  11. 13


    Loved your rants today, Judy! Every now and then we just need to do that.

    Wish I was able to do it more often…I’m horrible at it!! LOL!

    Have a great day!

  12. 15

    Margo says

    Judy, your designs are beautiful. Your designs always look very well thought out and supremely put together.

    I hope that people’s rants about triangles is just a misplaced dislike of the triangle design rather than a dislike for the actual construction. I say this because I just have never been a big fan of triangles; not because I may or may not like to make them, they just don’t light my pants on fire. Please continue to share your ideas, with or without triangles, because you inspire us to do our best. :0)Margo

  13. 16


    Thanks for the encouragement, on the flying geese, triangles, and the sock knitting. I can put a corner on just about anything I’ve had so much practice, but I do avoid HST’s. May rethink that with triangulations. Trying to complete a couple of the few UFO’s that have been staring at me first though. Your blog is so helpful to quilters. Don’t quit now!!

  14. 18

    Mel Meister says

    I like sewing the corner squares to the rectangle piece. I always make them a tad bit bigger and then trim down to the correct size. You waste a bit of fabric this way, but it does make accurate geese.

  15. 19


    I did moan, but about not having the measurements….that is my problem the math. I can make great flying geese now with or with out the measurement. Just give me the final finished size and I can make em!!!

  16. 21


    Before I had mastered flying geese, I made HSTs if I could. Nothing wrong with altering a pattern to make it work. And it almost always worked! 🙂

  17. 22

    Sharon says

    I have Triangulations but didn’t know I could do Flying Geese with it. I might have an older version. I can’t check right now. I have tried Eleanor Burns method and I always seem to have one that is too small or just a little off. I prefer the no waste method but it always intimidates me when a pattern calls for an odd size. Hey, I bit the bullet and took a paper piecing class because I always wanted to try and see if I would like it. And I surprised myself with how much I do. So your method looks like a great way to me.

  18. 23


    O.K. So here is the problem with your blog as I see it.

    First I started following your blog because we use to be on a quilting site together. And well I love your quilts!!!!

    Then you start knitting. This is the one hobbly I never learned. But one can only read your blog for just so long before you start thinking I would like to do that. so I took a sock class and made a pair of baby socks. Now I go to a group every Monday and have made a sweater and just received Knit Socks Love in the mail.

    Well then you start making bread as well which looks so Yummy! Again one can only look just so much so last night I made my husband take a bread making class at out local adult ed. My car still smells like nice warm bread. YUM! I gave the instructor the link to your blog as well haha so that she can read about milling her own wheat.

    I really Love your blog and you have truley pushed me to do other things and I have grown so much because of you. You are how I start my day every morning. Work does not start until I have read your blog!

    So the problem with your blog is now when I get home from work and the kids get bored of me I don’t know what to do with my time! Do I quilt do I knit do I bake. Is there anyway to do all of this at the same time?

    Sorry this was so long!

  19. 24

    Claudia Wade says

    I used the no-waste method from Patti Anderson’s website for the Flying Geese this time because my Triangulations disk had not yet arrived, and they turned out perfectly. You just have to be careful and accurate. But I’ll use Triangulations next time. I love that there are so many ways to achieve the same thing!

  20. 26


    I have the older Triangulations software and love it for HST’s when I need a lot of the same… I need to look into upgrading! 🙂 I didn’t know that they also include flying geese.

    When I’ve used it for my HST’s I shorten my stitch length and find that ripping off the papers is easier and faster than ripping a perforated coupon! 🙂 Easy Peasy!

    Love from Texas! ~bonnie

  21. 27


    Judy, you have a Mac, don’t you? I was reading reviews of Triangulations 3.0 on Amazon (there are a whopping 3), one of them states they don’t print right on a Mac. I presume that’s not your experience? I have a Mac and don’t want to buy it if it doesn’t work (although I’m also running Parallels and Win7 so I could get the PC version if I wanted to.