The Long Awaited Swoopy Geese Tutorial!

        A while ago, I shared a picture of one of my first swoopy geese projects and mentioned that I might write up a tutorial but then promptly forgot about it... Well the time has come to make good, here is the long awaited swoopy geese tutorial in all of its swoopy glory!

        Or perhaps not so long awaited? Anyways I am writing today for all my friends in the Tacoma Modern Quilt Guild hoping that this tutorial will provide a bit more insight to the whirlwind that is my design process. So, lets get started!    

Please Note! Unless you plan otherwise, the you will actually be designing the reverse side of the block. The finished block will be a mirror image of your pattern! (Sorry guys, I forgot to mention this at the meeting). If you have a specific design that needs to be oriented one way or another you might want to draw the general shape out correctly, then trace it onto the back of the same sheet of paper and work from there or use a computer to reverse the image.  

Edit (9/28/2014) During my demonstration at the September meeting of the TMQG I forgot to mention that I traced my design onto tracing paper and stitched on the back (as the lines were clearly visible). As a result my finished flying geese pattern looked the same as my pattern!

  • Paper: either plain or graph paper works. I like 1/4 inch graph paper best!
  • Clear Ruler: I picked up my mini 5"x 1" for exactly this purpose but it isn't necessary, any clear ruler will work. A regular straight edge ruler would also work however it might require a bit more measuring.
  • Pen and Pencil: I like end up doing a lot of tracing so my original lines need to be dark enough to see though another layer of paper. 
  • Tracing Paper (Optional): Makes good paper piecing paper because it is so thin. 

Step 1:

Draw the shape of your block without seem allowance. This will be the shape and size of your finished block. Mine is 8" x 6".

Step 2:

Draw the overall shape of your swooping geese. They can be really curvy or only slightly curvy. It can also narrow at the end or it can maintain an even width.

Step 3:

Divide your swoopy curve into individual geese. You can use your ruler to achieve straight lines. I sometimes find it faster to estimate straight lines. This however isn't always as accurate.

Step 4:

Once the you have your individual geese blocked off begin to draw in your triangles. Once again you can use your ruler to measure the exact center of each line and draw the wing of your goose. I like to start by drawing one side of all my geese...

Then filling in the other side.

Step 5:

Once you have the (reversed) pattern of your block you will start to draw in your seam allowances. Add a quarter in to the outside edge of your pattern. Quarter inch graph paper makes this step easy since you can simply add a square without needed to measure with the ruler.

Step 6:

Using the clear ruler draw in your seam allowance along the outside of the swoopy geese. This will be the seam allowance for the swoopy geese paper piecing panel.

Step 7:

Finally draw in the seam allowance for the curved edges of the top and bottom background pieces. I used a dashed line for this seam allowance marking so that I wouldn't be confused by it while piecing the central panel.

Step 8:

At this point you have several options: you can copy and print 2 copies of your pattern to cut out and use or you can trace or print the pieces of your pattern onto other types of paper.

In the picture above I chose to make one copy of the patter and trace the patter piecing panel onto tracing paper.

Here is what the pattern looks like all cut out. Because I traced the patter piecing panel onto tracing paper I don't have to worry about any dashed lines. The tracing paper is easier to sew through and much easier to tear away. 

Stay tuned for the next installment of "Swoopy Geese" entitled "The One About Paper Piecing" in which I will talk about how to paper piece your swoopy geese (duh) and a few ways to piece you curved seams including curved seam piecing with freeze paper! How fun!


  1. Thanks so much Emily! I really appreciate your doing this and making it available to us. I have a quilt just waiting for this technique! I'm sure that when I do this, I'll be bugging you with lots of questions!

    1. No problem! I am happy to answer any question haha! I hope it makes sense :)

  2. Thanks Emily -- I've always assumed this could only be done by math majors, and love that you have offered a simple, straightforward way of doing it! Annie

    1. Thanks Annie! There is a lot of stuff in quilting that seems intimidating until we try it! I am glad you liked my method haha!


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