In this week’s blog post lets talk about the stitch & flip technique, sometimes known as the folded corners. This is a technique that is very useful because it adds a design element to a unit or block that is not achieved by straight seams only. I will share tips on how to perform this technique so your units and blocks turn out perfectly… or at least as close as possible. You may hear this technique referred to as “folded corners” because after stitching, the fabric is folded over (by pressing). Don’t let the different name throw you off. Let’s get started!
Flying Geese Units
If you make flying geese units the old fashioned way, 2 squares and a rectangle, you are using the stitch & flip method already. The key to making these units successfully is careful stitching and measuring as you go. Here are the traditional geese first steps:
I start in my demo above with 2 squares that are each 2 1/2″ and a rectangle that is 2 1/2 x 4 1/2″. Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of the two squares. When you lay one of the squares face down on the rectangle, pin to keep the square from shifting. Once you sew along the line, the next steps are very important:
In the photo above on the left, I am folding over the square to make sure it matches up with the edge of the rectangle. The center photo shows that when I measure, the rectangle still measures 4 1/2″ in length. I can then trim off the excess fabric on the back (last photo). Always fold over and measure the unit after stitching before trimming off the excess fabric.
I repeat these steps on the other side of the rectangle and here is my finished geese unit still measuring 2 1/2 x 4 1/2″:
Here’s a bonus way to save fabric if you don’t like cutting off the excess and tossing it. Once you have the square placed face down on the rectangle and sew along the drawn line, sew another seam 1/2″ away from the first seam. If you want to mark that line too, feel free.
Cut between the two sewn lines and you end up with the geese unit you are working on and an half-square triangle square you can use in another project. That way, you are not wasting any fabric.
There are no-waste geese methods that I will cover in a later post that will allow you to make multiple geese, but if you like making geese this traditional way, this is a way you save waste too. A geese unit that measures 2 1/2 x 4 1/2″ yields two HST squares that can be trimmed to measure 1 1/2″ square.
Other Uses for Stitch & Flip
Stitch & flip is also used to make corners on squares that add a unique look to the design of a block. The block shown below from my Star Wheels quilt has flying geese in it, but also other stitch & flip parts:
You can do stitch and flip on anything that has a 90 degree angle like a square or a rectangle. I’m going to demo using the black pointed units in this block (that I call the “spokes” of the Star Wheel block), but the same step can be used for the orange corners of the star block. These steps are similar to the geese steps above. I started with a 2 1/2″ black square and a tan 1 1/2″ square. Draw a line on the wrong side of the tan square as a guide for stitching:
Next, lay the small square face down and line up its edges with the edges of the bigger black square as shown. I like to pin it in place for stitching so the small square does not shift. Then stitch on the line.
Once the seam is sewn, I fold over the square like I did in the geese steps above and measure the unit to make sure it still measures 2 1/2 x 2 1/2″ and the small square folds in half evenly. Then I can cut off the excess in the seam allowance.
I then repeat those steps on the other side of the black square to get the finished “spoke” unit.
I have an older tutorial video I made on this method that may be helpful to you demonstrating this technique.
Here are some other blocks where I have used this method:
These are only a few of the many I have made. Can you pick out all the stitch & flip units in each block?
So, that’s it for this week. Comment below on this technique or ask any questions you may have. The drawing for my pattern, Star Wheels is still ongoing.
The drawing will be on Monday, March 14th. ***We have a winner. Congrats, Pat!***
Regina Bohannon says
I love the tip for saving the HST! Thanks!
Connie Neagle says
I enjoyed you quilts and techniques when you spoke to our guild in Springfield, Mo.
Darlene Hissem says
Love this method. Good tutorial!
Love the flip & sew method. I do the HST sewing too. So far just collecting those stitched HST’s.
Interesting tips today, I have done my flying geese in another way. look forward to trying this! Thanks so much!
I love to save those little “extra” half square triangles, too. So far just have a box full of them. One of these days I’ll make something with them!
Brenda in Iowa says
I’ve always shied away from flying geese when I could. I was shown one time to only trim the 1/2-square triangle (goose-wing piece) and not the background. This was to stabilize the entire block so it didn’t stretch.
Thoughts? I always appreciate your tutorials.
You can do it that way since it will leave the background in case your square does not match up with the edge of the rectangle when flipped back. However, if you use my method of flipping the square back before trimming and making sure it matches up and your rectangle still measures correctly, you can trim everything.
It all depends on your comfort level! 😁
Thank you for sharing valuable tips especially to pin it and double check at the machine. We can always learn new methods even if we have sewed for awhile. If I have many flying geese, I do like the other method.