Karen writes about life as a Quiltmaker in Austin, Texas; surviving in an empty nest, marriage, cooking, gardening and (did I say?) Quilting...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The BEST Geese EVER!

I'm always trying out new techniques to improve my quilting. And, while I'm not normally bowled over by the "fastest" or "most convenient" new way to cut, sew or mark... a technique obtained from one of my message boards (Stashbuster on Yahoogroups) really got me excited as it is such an improvement over the traditional techniques for a classic patchwork block.
This weekend I checked out a new technique for making the classic "Flying Geese" patch that purported to result in "No Waste", and allowed one to adjust it to "any size". Flying geese, when done well, can make a lovely addition to any quilt... put in lines, in the resemblence to their namesake flying birds, they provide wonderful movement for the eye to enjoy.

Check out Caryl Bryer Fallerts innovative use of Flying Geese in her contemporary quilts:
As anyone who's ever made flying geese knows, waste and adjusting the patch to the proper size are the most difficult aspects of making these little buggers. At first glance, this appears to be one of the simplest patches to construct - just three triangles - right? But, those triangles involve BIAS edges - yep... those wonky, stretchy cuts that involve cutting fabric on the diagonal or BIAS.

The integrity of the weave, provided by the comforting, sturdy WARP threads that run the length or GRAIN, and the less firm, but still much less stretchy WEFT which runs back and forth across the the fabric is immediately compromised when you must make a cut across the diagonal of the fabric... Making any further work with the fabric problematic. That resulting "stretch" is what makes sewing any patches formed by triangles a challenge. Paper pieceing is one way to make these patches en mass while keeping those bias ... or hand piecing for liesurely (time consuming) perfection.

Cutting each triangle, and sewing it separately each other triangle, especially with the sewing machine, usually will result in some amount of stretchin of one or the other of the diagonal edges - and a patch that is ever so slightly off it's exact result when complete. Fine if you are only putting together a 4 patch potholder, but not good at all if you need several hundred patches for a quilt. Every 32nd or less off is multiplied as the quilt is pieced... resulting in wavy edges, crooked lines, or worse!
So, since all the inside lines of the Flying Geese patch are on the bias, they are a potential source of problems with this patch construction.
There are several "quick" methods for making this patch, but most require a final "truing" or "trim" of the patch to make it just so, or they involve a great deal of waste... below is a link to a method created by Pattie R. Anderson (of Patchpieces.com) that involves the cutting of one big square, and 4 small squares - the resulting construct ends up with no wasted fabric, no trimming, and TWO finished geese! It's also easily made in any size desired.

I got so excited playing with Patti's technique that I made my own excel spreadsheet showing the appropriate size large and small squares for any patch size I could envision. I finished up 16 geese in less than 30 minutes, and put them around a central medallion for a baby quilt that will go into the charity batch to the quilt next week!! Here's a picture of the medallion:

Isn't that cool? And aren't those fine geese? No chopped off points, all so even!
So, next time you need to make geese, visit Patti's website and download the FREE (the best part) .pdf pattern for NO WASTE geese. It's at the bottom of this page link:
While you are there, shop Patti's great site for other wonderful quilt patterns! Well, I'm off to make more GEESE - THANKS Patti! (email me and I'll send you my Excel spreadsheet in a pdf form with all the calculations already done for you to use Patties method to make geese in any size you wish)!
- Karen

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