I was idly browsing through Pinterest the other day when I came across an article called “No waste Flying Geese” by Pattie R. Anderson. I was just about to start a quilt that used flying geese blocks so I thought I would give it a try.

Traditionally flying geese blocks are constructed from 3 45 degree triangles as shown in the diagram below.

They can also be constructed from 2 half square triangle (HST) blocks.

However this method takes a different approach and the blocks are constructed from I large square and 4 small ones.

The instructions for constructing the blocks gave the formula as;

Desired finished width of geese unit + 11/4”

Desired height of geese unit + 7/8”

The dimensions for the finished units in my pattern were given as width 41/2” and height 21/2”.

So according to the way I read the instructions in the article I needed to cut my block:

41/2 + 11/4 = 53/4 square; 21/2 + 7/8 = 33/8 square

Right?

Wrong

After completing the four flying geese blocks they measured 5” x 3”

So where did I go wrong?

As both dimensions were 1/2” out the obvious answer was something to with the seam allowances. It came down to my interpretation of the word “finished”. In the article they had used “finished” to mean the measurements once the flying geese were in the finished block/quilt.

Therefore, according to the formula in the handout my squares would need to be:

4 + 11/4 = 51/4 and 2 + 7/8 = 27/8

I redid my blocks using these measurements and this time they were the correct size.

Is there ambiguity in the article? Is it down to interpretation? Is it a lack of consistency between different writers?

So where did I go wrong?

As both dimensions were 1/2” out the obvious answer was something to with the seam allowances. It came down to my interpretation of the word “finished”. In the article they had used “finished” to mean the measurements once the flying geese were in the finished block/quilt.

Therefore, according to the formula in the handout my squares would need to be:

4 + 11/4 = 51/4 and 2 + 7/8 = 27/8

I redid my blocks using these measurements and this time they were the correct size.

Is there ambiguity in the article? Is it down to interpretation? Is it a lack of consistency between different writers?

I asked my husband whether he thought it was ambiguous and at first he said yes but then he re-read it and pointed out the following:

1. In the article it states “remember that the width of the finished units is always twice its height”. Had I read that I would have realised there was something wrong with my calculation.

2. The diagram of the FG unit  shown as an illustration along side the formula does not show any seam allowances thus that the formula uses finished to mean after it is sewn into the block. I asked him how could you assume this? He pointed to the diagram of 4 FG units at the bottom of the page which are shown with the seam allowances (as in the two earlier diagrams). It also says “use them in your projects.

So is it ambiguous?

One of the things I used to say to my students was RTQ – read the question and to put more emphasis on it RTFQ – read the FULL question. The students used to think the F stood for something else before I enlightened them. So in this instance I think it is a case of read all the information and read it again before you cut your fabric.

This was not meant as a criticism as an ex teacher I know only too well how difficult it can be to write materials and insure there are no errors or ambiguities. I wondered if it was just me or others would have interpreted the way I did in the first place.

There are lots of tutorial on this method on line and on you tube but the ones I looked all used the method where you draw a diagonal line from corner to corner and then stitch ¼” either side of it. This is a drawback for me because I like to use my ¼ foot so I have adapted the method so I can do that. In my next blog I will demonstrate how to do this and how to use the flying geese blocks to create a star block.

The link to the original article is shown below and also a link to one on how to make flying geese blocks five different ways.

http://www.patchpieces.com/files/flyinggeese.pdf

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