{Classic Quilt Blocks} Flying Geese - An Introduction

Classic Quilt Blocks have been sewn for centuries, are easy to recognise and are every quilters favorite. Let's celebrate these gorgeous blocks and add them to our quilting projects!

It's a new month and it's time for a new block in my Classic Quilt Blocks series. It's always fun deciding which block I'll share with you, and this month I'm excited because I've chosen an absolute treasure - the Flying Geese Block.

The Flying Geese block is fundamentally a building block that is combined with various shapes to construct other blocks (the sawtooth star for example) but used alone a flock of geese can make some very interesting blocks - this is what I want to concentrate on in this month's Classic Quilt Blocks series!

It's a super simple block but there are lots of ways to piece them, so I'll share links to different tutorials as well, and you can choose the method that works best for you depending on the project you want to sew.

I've planned lots of ways to share the Flying Geese block with you this month - it's going to be fun and hopefully very informative!

Let's have a look at the Flying Geese block in a little more detail so we can appreciate it's history, it's versatility and its beauty.

Block History:

There's not a lot of history available on the Flying Geese block, so it's a fair assumption that it looked like geese flying and so it was named. We already know that quilters named blocks based on simple observations or common homestead items, so it's an easy conclusion.

If you look at the theories of the Underground Railway, a Flying Geese quilt hung outside the home was said to be code for slaves to follow the flying geese to Canada and to freedom. It's also believed that the direction of the arrows indicated where runaway slaves could find water, food and shelter.

Fact or fiction, you know I love these stories and I want to believe that people showed their compassion and strength by developing systems or quilt codes that saved many, many lives!

Block Design:

The Flying Geese block consists of one large triangle (the goose) and two smaller triangles (the sky). It's drafted using a 2 x 1 grid:

The blocks need to be drafted twice as wide as they are tall - 1 1/2" x 3", 2" x 4", 3" x 6" etc. 

I put together a Flying Geese Cheat Sheet back in 2019, and this post includes a step by step tutorial and links to other tutorials, plus a cutting chart for multiple sizes so you don't have to do all the math! Make sure you have a copy of this chart in your collection for future reference!

Colour Values:

When choosing colours for the Flying Geese block, ensure there's enough contrast between the light and dark fabrics to make the geese stand out against the sky:

If the goose fabric is dark, the sky is light and vice versa.

Next week is my step by step tutorial, and we're going to be sewing the gorgeous Dutchman's Puzzle that you can see in the photo above. It's basically eight flying geese set in a fun formation and to help you prepare for the tutorial, I've provided a colouring sheet so you can plan your own block to sew.

Simply click on the link to download and print:

Grab your colouring pencils, crayons or pens and get creative!

Antique Quilt Inspiration:

I found these antique quilts on Goggle images, and aren't they stunning? The layouts are simple, but they showcase the Flying Geese blocks so effectively.

I think my favorite is the one in the bottom left-hand corner - I love how the pairs of geese travel in alternate directions, and I love the colours of this one - so pretty!

Which one's your favorite? It's hard to choose, but antique quilts are a good place to start when planning a layout for a Flying Geese quilt of your own :) I hope these examples inspire you!

So, here's what coming in this month's Flying Geese Classic Quilt Blocks series:

  • Week Two - a step by step tutorial for the Dutchman's Puzzle block, plus a Cutting Chart of six sizes of the block for future projects. I'll also include a list of links for other methods of sewing the Flying Geese block.
  • Week Three - some fun blocks full of Flying Geese to inspire you, plus some of my favorite Flying Geese quilts that you'll want to sew.
  • Week Four - a modern FPP mini quilt pattern you're going to love! 

Lots to share this month. I hope you're as excited as I am!

So that's my introduction to the Flying Geese block. As we look at this block more closely over the coming weeks, I hope it shows you how versatile this Classic Quilt Block really is, and it inspires you to use it in future projects!

Happy quilting :)
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