Note: this tutorial shows how to create a curved flying geese pathway. It is sewn in the paper-pieced style, but is NOT a paper-piecing tutorial. It’s also quite long!
There have been occasions when I wanted to have a curving, wavy line of flying geese in a piece. I thought of a couple of ways to create them, but my criteria were very specific so making a bunch of wacky improv geese and throwing them together in a path simply would not work. I definitely wanted them to be asymmetrical, vary in size, and I wanted the points to be sharp and not cut off. Here is my solution.
To be very clear, I do not like paper piecing. I am not very good with all the angles and often misalign my fabrics. And after I conquer it, I still have to tear all that paper out. When I have to use that method, I prefer to use a lightweight interfacing rather than paper and then it can stay in place.
There are so many types and weights available…….I did not know that I had more than 9 kinds on my studio shelf! It does not matter what brand name you use, but lightweight and non-stretchy are the key factors. I have used fusible, but it’s a bit trickier and the non-fusible works fine.
Grab a piece as long as the pathway you want. Draw 2 nice curvy lines to define your pathway.
Then draw a light line down the center of the path and make marks that will become the tips of the geese.
Grab your ruler and draw straight lines across the path at each of those marks. Varying the distance is what gives you the perspective of small in the distance and larger close to you.
And now draw a line from each center dot tip to each side, making triangles.
See that eraser? It gets a lot of use before I am satisfied with my curves and line placement! But when I have a happy drawing, I want to be sure that I can see those lines when I’m doing the stitching and that they don’t bleed into my quilt at any time later on! That’s when the permanent markers come out and everything gets traced one last time.
And because this curved path will be pieced into a background (or appliqued, if that’s your preference!) I want to be sure that I have enough extra fabric along that edge for a seam allowance. I mark that line, too, but in a different color.
And now we’re ready to sew. If you don’t know anything about paper piecing, I can only suggest a little study and practice on a few blocks before you throw in a curve! On this one, we start with the largest triangle and add on each edge piece as we work our way to the smallest piece.
Make sure that your first piece of fabric covers both the triangle area and will go all the way out to that outer border.
To be super clear here, this piece of fabric was too small and a larger piece was actually used!
Things to remember and that are hard for me to do……….you will almost always need a bigger piece of fabric than you think. You will be working with odd angles so flip the fabric before you sew to make sure it covers the area. Don’t forget that you will be sewing directly on those lines from the back.
Trim the seam allowances as you go, either with scissors or you can fold the interfacing back on the line you just sewed and trim with a rotary cutter. Think twice and then cut………you don’t want to cut your interfacing or the pieces that you have sewn already!!!
When you have that nice straight seam allowance, it’s easy to line up the next piece of fabric and sew it down.
Continue sewing and flipping all along the pathway. Your outer edges will mostly be uneven and a little rag-tag looking, but as long as they cover that outer line, you are doing good! You will most likely have all kinds of little trimmed bits that might even be big enough to use, but don’t try to just barely cover an area…at least for me, it usually doesn’t work out. Plan on using a larger piece and trimming a lot!
Press every seam as you go along, so set up close to an ironing mat or plan on getting up and down a lot!
When I get to the end, I use large background pieces that extend beyond the pathway, for that bit of ‘improv insurance’ when it comes to adding this section to the next!
At this point, I stitch a line of basting where I drew that second line along the pathway. That gives me a very clear margin of fabric to use for my seam allowance as I cut and join that curvy line.
Place the path section on the top of the fabric you are joining. Make sure that you have fabric under all parts of the curve.
Cut along the curve somewhere within that basting line, remembering that you want at least 1/4 inch away from your points.
This is sewn the same way we sew any of our other curves. Match the fabric at one end and bring the fabric edges together as you sew. I prefer to sew with the pieced section on top. It’s easier to keep all those seam allowance pieces under control that way!
Repeat for the other side and you have a wonderful curved flying geese pathway, ready to enhance your quilt! Pressing usually works best if you press away from the part that has the most seams, and your pathway should be nice and smooth.
And just because this was so challenging, I spent some time working on a piece using this pathway.
Not finished yet, but fun playing with the curves, the geese and the silks. Hope you have fun with it also!