How to Trim Flying Geese

How to Trim Flying Geese

Why do we trim our flying geese? 

We generally sew our flying geese a smidgen bigger than their final finished size, then cut them down to the exact dimensions we need in our quilt. This helps with the inevitable human error that occurs during sewing. Trimming helps us get a perfectly-sized block every time. 

Some patterns will leave you plenty of room to trim your geese. Others will have you sew your geese to size, but have you "square up" to straighten any uneven edges. 

No matter which you're doing, you can follow the instructions in this tutorial to trim your geese. 


Know Your Measurements

Before you trim, you'll need to know three measurements for your flying geese:

  1. The finished size, which is the size of your flying geese when they are ultimately sewn into the quilt. In this case, we are trimming geese with a finished size of 1" x 2"
  2. The unfinished size, which is the size you will be trimming down to. This should be your finished size, plus 1/2" added to each measurement to account for seam allowance. Our example geese have an unfinished size of 1 1/2" x 2 1/2"
  3. The midpoint, which is half of the unfinished geese length. To find the midpoint, take the larger dimension of your unfinished size, and divide by 2. The midpoint is important - it helps you make sure that the "point" of your flying geese falls exactly half way down the block. For our example geese, we divide 2 1/2" in half to get a midpoint of 1 1/4".  

First Trim

Line up your ruler so the "point" of the flying geese block is 1/4" from the top edge of the ruler, and is lined up vertically with the midpoint. 

Flying geese lined up to a clear ruler.

Here, the point is 1/4" away from the top of the ruler, and 1 1/4" away from the edge. The diagonal lines on the geese fall at a 45-degree angle on the ruler grid. 

Trim along the top and right side, and you'll end up with something like this: 

Flying geese with first trim completed.

We're using a really oversized geese block for this example. In many cases, you'll barely have to trim anything off to get your geese to size. 

Second Trim

Flip your block 180 degrees. 

Line up your ruler again, this time matching up your already trimmed edges to the unfinished length and width of your block. 

In this case, we're going to trim our geese to 1 1/2" x 2 1/2", starting from the edges we previously trimmed. 

Flying geese lined up with ruler for second trim.

Trim along the top and right side, and your geese are finished! 

Trimmed flying geese


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