No Waste Flying Geese with Placemat Project | Madam Sew

No Waste Flying Geese with Placemat Project

Flying geese are an integral part of traditional quilt piecing, and often show up in modern quilts as well. Having a fast and accurate way to sew these will make your piecing more pleasurable, and the final product beautiful with perfect points. For today, I want to show you the no-waste method of making flying geese. Then we’ll use our geese to finish some springtime placemats. We’ll do four at once, and make enough to do two placemats. You can scale up to as many placemats as you like.

Placemant Project

Cut four 5-3/4-inch scrappy squares and sixteen 3-3/8-inch background squares. This will give you finished geese at 2x4 inches. Cut two 12-inch focus fabric squares and four 4-1/2-inch background squares to finish the placemats.

background square

On the back of your 3-3/8-inch background squares, draw diagonal lines from corner to corner 1/4-inch away from the center. I like to draw these lines using a 1/4-inch ruler. I find the accuracy is much better with an actual sewing line, rather than estimating a quarter inch away from a single line. This is done easiest with a special ruler that has a center line to put on the points, and will give you an accurate quarter-inch from that center.

squares, draw diagonal lines

If you don’t have a quarter-inch ruler, use your cutting ruler, and place the quarter inch line running through the points. Then draw a sewing line on the edge. Use your favorite marking pencil, it doesn’t matter how thick you draw the line. Repeat for the other side.

cutting ruler

Place one background square on the corner of your 5-3/4-inch scrappy fabric square with the diagonal lines pointing to the center.

fabric square

Add another background square to the opposite corner with the lines touching.

opposite corner

Pin in place and sew on the lines across both background squares, placing your needle on the inside edge of the drawn line. Chain sew on one line across all your units, then turn around and sew the second line on all units.

Pin in place

Clip the threads between the units, then cut apart down the center, leaving a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

clip the threads

Press the background triangles up, forming a heart shape.

Press the background

Place another background square on each of the sewn units on the remaining corner, with the lines running up between the top triangles.

sew remaining corner

Chain sew on the lines. Cut apart in the center, again leaving a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

chain sew the lines

Press up, forming the flying geese.

press up

Next, I'll show you how to trim them. Using a square up ruler that has a 45-degree diagonal line to the corner, place the diagonal line along the edge of the goose, placing the 2-1/4-inch point at the goose point. This will give you a 1/4-inch seam allowance below the point. You can see the 2-1/2-inch line is clearly on the unit with an area to trim off extending past the line.

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trim diagonal

Trim the side and top.

trim the side

Now, turn the goose around and place the bottom on the 2-1/2-inch line and the left side on the 4-1/2-inch line. Trim the top and right side. Make sure you have exactly 1/4-inch from the goose point to the edge as you make the next cut.

bottom line

Each set of one large square and four small squares will yield four flying geese 2-1/2-inches by 4-1/2-inches. Repeat three more times to get a total of 16 flying geese.

small square

Sew four geese together in a row, and press the points up.

geese together

Be sure to sew with the goose point on top, so you can see the ‘x’ created by the previous sewing lines. Sewing through that point accurately gives you perfect points.

goose point on top

Press the points up.

press point up

Add one 4-1/2-inch background square to the base. Repeat three more times.

square base

Arrange the flying geese units on either side of the large print squares, and sew together. Sew with the geese up, so you can see the ‘x’ point to sew through for perfect points.

flying unit

I placed mine with the points running up on the left and down on the right. You can put both sides running the same direction if you like. You could also make one more set of four flying geese and use two of those in place of the background squares.

flying geese

Quilt as desired, and bind as usual.

quilt desire

Two springtime placemats, ready for your table. Of course, you can make more. Vary the colors in your geese, use multiple focus prints for the middle, or whatever your creativity can imagine!

springtime placemats

Enjoy your new placemats!


I’d love to invite you to visit my blog, From My Carolina Home, for more fun projects, quilt alongs and mystery quilts! My blog has a variety of subjects, quilting and sewing, tablescapes and recipes, book reviews and hand stitching, crafting and mountain living.

carole carter
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how do i download this pattern?

Elaine Tinsley

Great tutorial. This is my go-to method for flying geese too!

Sue H

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