Thursday, March 29, 2012

Perfect Flying Geese

Kathleen works Thursdays 5-7 PM
Just like you, I'm a busy gal. There just isn't enough time in the day to focus on all the fun quilting projects I have in the works.

Just like you, I have tons of projects just floating around in my head, waiting to hit the top of my priority list.

I learned a long time ago that "it's all about having the right tool" to make a tough job easier.

I love traditional, scrappy quilts and could happily spend the rest of my life making reproduction quilts. The only problem is that they are usually made with a lot, and I mean a lot of small pieces that require a great deal of repetitious assembly. For instance, a long time ago I fell in love with a traditional scrappy flying geese quilt. After collecting Thirties fabrics, this quilt made it from daydream status to the production queue.

The patten called for 768 flying geese units 1 ½ " x  3". Pretty small and a lot of them. Plus, I wanted them to go together perfectly so the long strips would be even. This was no small job. 
Because I am so busy, just like you, it's important for me to find ways to streamline big jobs into a more efficient process. This is where having the right tool makes a huge difference. For this particular quilt I relied on the "Quilt in a Day Flying Geese Ruler". For a few dollars, it did the trick: I was able to create my 768 units in an assembly line fashion then trim them to perfection.

The flying geese ruler comes with easy to follow instructions but I thought I might include some photos here to show you what it’s all about.  

1. Instructions include two square sizes. The large square is the goose and the smaller square is the sky.

2. I love to use the hera tool to make a faint line rather than a pen or pencil. Stack the two squares on top of each other and draw a diagonal line down the center.

3. Sew 1/4" on either side of the line and then cut the block in half along the diagonal line.   

4. Press the seams open to the dark side and then stack them back on top with the bottom left corners lined up – yes, the seams with not be lined up.


5. Draw another diagonal line across the seams from corner to corner, sew again on either side of the hera line and do a final diagonal cut.

6. Snip a little cut in the center of the unit just up to the seam line. The center snip allows you to press to the dark on either end of the unit to produce two units.

 7. Here’s is where the flying geese ruler finishes the job. Line up the lines on the flying geese ruler with one side of a single unit and trim across the top and one side of the flying geese.

 8. Flip the ruler and line it up to trim the bottom and second side. Repeat this for the second geese in the first unit, then twice again for the second unit. The finished product is 4 perfect flying geese with only a little bit of waste.

To me, the waste was worth the tradeoff for perfect geese that made a fast stack of flying geese units that assembled beautifully into my strippy quilt .

I worked on these geese as "leaders and enders" (a strategy promoted by Bonnie K. Hunter ) while creating other quilts. From start to finish, it took about 6 months to make all the geese. As my stacks grew, I assembled them in units of 10 and then bundled them into groups of 50 to make for easier counting.  

As quilters, we aren’t supposed to admit our mistakes, but we do it anyways. Remember I said that I love traditional quilts. When I cut out all my squares, it wasn’t until I assembled my first unit that I had reversed my squares. My flying geese were reversed, where the goose was dark on a light sky. Oh, the horror! Go against tradition? Thank you Eula for calming my spirit and reminding me that traditional can have its variation. Besides, there was no turning back. So…deep breath…accept…and move on. Check out my traditional, flying geese quilt named, “Night Flight”.

My next favorite tool..."Triangle Trimmer by Quilt in a Day".

Until then, Happy Quilting,