I don't know how we've made it to September without a paper pieced block in Hive 8. Well, the streak is broken. We're going to do some paper piecing this month. We will be using the Geese Trails templates from Piece and Press. Daniel Rouse, the author of Piece and Press, gave me permission to use his templates for this month. He asked if anyone shares their blocks on Instagram, to use the tag #trailsofgeese so he can follow along! He uses 6 squares for a 12x18 finished block, we will just use 4, for a 12x12 finished block. If you are new to paper piecing, I love this tutorial from Fresh Lemons Quilts. If you prefer to use the freezer paper method, that's fine too -- you paper piece how works best for you.
Let's get started. The templates have two pages - each a mirror image of the other. You will need to print 4 total pages. Which combination of 4 you use is mostly up to you; my only request is that the geese make a continuous trail. There are a few possibilities:
1. Wandering trail - use 2 of each page
2. Circle - use 4 of one page - it doesn't matter which unless you care if the geese are travelling clockwise or counterclockwise. I don't.
3 - Geese coming into (or going out of!) a circle - use 3 of one page, 1 of the other.
Remember when looking at the templates that they show the back side of the block.
When printing, please make sure you do not have "fit to page" selected. Each square should measure 6 inches. Also, these templates do not have seam allowance lines drawn for the edges - please add them. With the seam allowances added, each square should measure 6 1/2 inches. I prefer to draw the seam allowance lines on, and then trim about a quarter inch beyond that before sewing. Then I trim down to the seam allowance line before joining the templates together.
On to our fabric selection. For the background pieces (marked on the templates as 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9), please use a solid white, blue, or grey. Please use the same fabric for all of your background pieces.
For your geese, we'll get creative. I'd like your geese to transition from one thing to another. Maybe they start as light and get darker:
Maybe they start as blue and end up green:
Maybe they have small polka dots that grow to big dots:
Maybe they want to go through all the colors of the rainbow:
These are just examples - don't let them limit you - let your imagination run wild. Prints, solids, and batiks are all fine. If you are nervous about paper piecing, choosing all solids is a good way to start, because then there is no wrong side/right side to worry about when piecing. I would prefer each goose to be a different fabric, but if you need to repeat some, that is fine - please use at least 4 different fabrics.
I like to start by coloring in my templates, and labeling the geese. It helps me keep track while I am sewing. Here, I've labeled each template with either A, B, C, or D, so I know what order the geese go in.
I've labeled my templates A-D, so the geese pieces are labeled 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, and so on. The background pieces I put these in a pile just labeled with the template number.
I know many people cut their fabrics to match the template shapes (remember to include seam allowances!), but I find I am more confident of my piecing when I use larger rectangles. Again, you do what works for you. The bigger the pieces you cut, the more wiggle room you'll have, but it also creates more scraps/waste. I cut pieces in the following rough sizes (I don't use my ruler to cut, just eyeball it from the cutting mat):
Geese x 12 (#1, 4, 7): 2 1/2 x 4
Background x 4 of each of the following cuts:
- #2 - 4 x 3
- #3 - 3 1/2 x 1
- #5 - 5 x 4
- #6 - 4 x 1 1/2
- #8 - 3 1/2 x 7 1/2
- #9 - 2 x 4
Start with the fabric for your first goose. Fabric goes on the side of the template without the lines - you will sew on the lines, so you need to be able to see them. Hold your template up to make sure the goose is covering the template shape. It was rainy the day I did this one and my sewing room was a bit dark, so I used the light at the window. On sunny days I can just hold it up in front of myself. Holding it up to a lamp also works). Remember to include seam allowances all the way around.
You can pin, or clip your pieces. (After the first two pieces of any template, I just hold the fabric in place, but pinning is definitely more secure!) Take one of the background pieces cut to fit template piece 2. You are going to sew on the line between 1 and 2. Place the fabric for 2 along this line, so that 1/4 inch extends into piece 2. Be mindful of the template shape - after you sew on this line, you will flip the fabric over to cover the entire shape. As you can see in the picture below, that means that the background fabric needs to extend down towards the bottom right corner. If the piece were centered along the line between 1 and 2, when it was flipped it would not cover the whole part of 2.
Once you are happy with the fabric placement, sew along the line between 1 and 2. Sew a bit before and after the line too, making sure you are sewing through the seam allowance. If you shorten your stitch length, this will make removing the paper later easier.
I chain piece, rather than doing each page separately. I find this goes much more quickly. When I chain piece, I can sew all 4 templates in 45 minutes. Here are all four templates, with the first goose and background piece sewn on:
This step is optional, but cuts down on bulk, reduces the risk that the goose fabric will show through the background, and also makes it easier to see when placing later pieces of fabric. Fold the paper template back along the line you just sewed. Then trim the excess fabric off.
After trimming, flip the background piece over, and press, making sure it covers the entire template shape.
Repeat these steps with the remaining pieces of fabric, following the numbers on the template. If you are using print fabric for your geese, remember that after the first one, when you are placing the fabric it will be right side down before sewing:
After you've added all the template pieces, they will look something like this. Time to trim!
Flip the template paper side up, and trim along the seam allowance line. Remember that there is no seam allowance line on the original templates, so either draw one on, or use your ruler to cut 1/4 inch past the template lines.
Once trimmed on all four sides, flip the templates over:
Place the four templates right side up and make sure your geese are on the trail you intended. If one or two geese got out of order during sewing, no worries. Channel your inner Bob Ross, and believe that there are no mistakes, only happy accidents. Or call it a design decision, and move on!
Join the quadrants up to make the final square. Please remove the paper from the seam allowance on the side that you are pressing down. (If you like to press the seams open, please remove it from both sides.)
I like to remove the paper from the center where all the blocks join before sewing that seam too - it makes it a bit easier to move through the machine.
Feel free to leave the paper on when you mail.
I can't wait to see the what you choose for your geese!