Wednesday, January 30, 2008

No Waste Flying Geese

Once you wrap your mind around the math, this is an easy, clever way to make to make flying geese units, 4 at a time, with no waste and no dealing with sewing bias edges.

Flying Geese - done!

Flying Geese units are typically twice as wide as they are tall. The finished size of my examples is 2 by 4 inches. They were used as the star points in the 8 inch Sawtooth Star blocks we made for the lotto in October, 2007.

Cutting Fabrics

For each set of four geese, you'll need:
  • one square of the geese fabric which is 1-1/4 inches larger than the finished width of the geese unit (i.e., 5-1/4 for 2 x 4 inch geese)
  • four squares of sky fabric which are 7/8 inch larger than the finished height of the geese unit (2-7/8 inches for 2 x 4 geese).
In this example, the cream is the geese fabric and the batik is the sky fabric.

Cutting for Flying Geese

Sewing the Units

Putting right sides together, line up the edges of two of the small squares with the edges of two diagonal corners of the large square. Draw a line, across both small squares from corner to corner.

Flying Geese - step 1

Stitch 1/4 inch on each side of the drawn line. Then cut along the line.

Flying Geese - step 2

Press the seams toward the dark fabric.

Flying Geese

For each half, align a small square in the corner.right sides together. Draw a diagonal line.

Flying Geese - step 3

Stitch 1/4 inch on each side of the drawn line. Then cut along the line.

Flying Geese - step 4

Press the seams toward the dark fabric. You're done.

Preparing Circular Elements for Appliqué

This Posy block was made using the faced appliqué technique, with a variation for preparing the Posy's center. This appliqué preparation works for circles, ovals and their wonky variations.


  1. Create a template from light-weight cardboard or heat-resistant template plastic. If you are making small circle appliqués, you may find a coin or washer that is exactly the size you need.

  2. Lightly trace the template on the back of your yellow/gold fabric

    For Circles (and Near Circles) Trace Template

  3. Cut out the center with a generous 1/4" seam allowance all the way around.

    Cut Center

  4. Using needle and thread, make a running stitch in the seam allowance.

    Running Stitch

  5. Place your center fabric right side down, place the template on top, then pull the thread to pull the seam allowance to the back of the template. PRESS. Allow the fabric/template to cool, then gently loosen the stitches and remove the template.

    Center Template Press

    You should have a nicely pressed center with all the edges turned under. I usually give it another press to make it nice and flat and ready to use.

    Remove template

  6. The steps for assembling the Posy block are the same as for Faced Appliqué. Center the flower appliqué on the background. Fuse or pin in place.

  7. Sew the flower to the background - on this block, I used matching red-violet and yellow thread and a zig-zag stitch.

  8. Turn it over and cut away the background (and the interfacing fused to it) from behind the flower.

    Fuse Center in Place Stitch Flower Trim Back

  9. Place the center on the flower and pin in place.

  10. Stitch center.

  11. Turn over the block and cut away the flower fabric from behind the center

    Pin in Place Stitch Center Trim back

  12. Press the block. Square it up and trim to 8.5 inches. You're done ;-)


Using Templates for Machine Appliqué

There are a couple of beginner-friendly techniques for machine appliqué which use templates.

Posy Posy Posy

One approach uses freezer paper and a glue stick; for the other, you'll need some sort of heat-resistance template material (I used lightweight cardboard) and starch. The two blocks on the left were created using the freezer paper-glue stick approach; the one on the right was made using a heat-resistant template and starch.


For this method, you'll need freezer paper, a water soluble glue stick, a towel and some water.
  1. Trace the design onto the non-shiny side of a piece of freezer paper.

  2. Cut out the template (on the line) and iron it to the wrong side of the flower fabric.

    Create Freezer Paper Template Iron Freezer Paper to Fabric

  3. Cut out the fabric, leaving approximately 1/4 inch seam allowance.

    Trim the fabric

  4. Using a piece of scrap paper to work on, apply glue stick to the seam allowances. Fold them back and stick them to the freezer paper. You will need to clip the fabric wherever there are inside curves.

    Glue Seam Allowances Flower Applique

    Your appliqué is now ready to use.

    Flower Appliqué Ready to Use

  5. Using this technique, you do not need to make a template for the center of the Posy. The center fabric can be rough cut - it should be large enough to fit behind the flower element, extending beyond the edge at least 1/4 inch, but make your life easier and be generous. The center fabric should be prepared like the background, starched and pressed.

  6. Begin assembling the block by sewing the flower to the center fabric. You can hold it in place with pins or a little glue stick. After it's sewn, turn the appliqué piece over and trim the excess center fabric, leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

    Flower with Center Fabric Trim Center

  7. Place the Posy appliqué on the center of your background square. Pin or glue-stick in place.

    Place and PIn on Background

  8. Stitch the Posy in place, then turn over the block and cut away the background fabric behind the flower.

    Stitched Posy Block Trim Back

  9. To remove the freezer paper, you must first loosen the glue. place the block on a towel and spray with water. (Again, my advice is to be generous and make your life easy - it's only water.) Use a q-tip, orange stick or similar tool to lift the seam allowances from the freezer paper, so you can remove it. Let the block dry and press or press it dry.

  10. Square up the block and trim to 8.5 inches. You're done.


    This block was sewn using clear mono-filament with a blind hem stitch.

For this method, you'll need liquid or spray starch and some sort of heat-resistant template material. It could be heat-resistant template plastic (made especially for this technique) or some lightweight cardboard, like I used in my sample block. You'll also need q-tips or a small brush.
  1. Create a template from your pattern.

  2. Trace the template on the BACK of your flower fabric

    Make Template
    Trace Template

  3. Cut out the flower fabric, leaving approximately 1/4 inch seam allowance. Clip any inside curves, up to, but not into the drawn line.

  4. Take template and fabric to the ironing board. Put the fabric right side down and place the template over it, lining it up on your drawn lines. Using a small brush or q-tip paint the starch on the seam allowance. If you are using spray atarch, you can spray some inside th lid then use the liquid with your brush. Fold the painted seam allowances up over the template and press in place.

    Trim Starch and Press Seam Allowances

  5. Allow the fabric and template to cool, then gently remove the template. I press the fabric (and it's nicely turned under edge) one more time to make it nice and flat.

    Remove template Flower Applique is Ready

  6. The assembly of the block is similar to that with freezer paper templates. The center fabric should be starched and pressed then pinned in place.

  7. Stitch the flower to the center

    Posy Center Center Placed Behind Flower

  8. Turn the Posy over and trim the center fabric, leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

    Back of Flower with Center Fabric Center Trimmed

  9. Center the Posy on the background square and pin in place. Stitch.
  10. Turn the block over and cut away the background fabric from behind the flower.

    Place Appliqué on Background Trim Back of Block

  11. Press the block, square up the block and trim to 8.5 inches and you're done .


    This block was sewn with purple matching thread using straight stitch.
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