Tips for Making Geese in the Garden – Part 1 of 2

Welcome to my new series where I explain a little more in depth about how I made a recent quilt and share tips to make your sewing and quilting faster and more fun! Today we’ll focus on my Geese in the Garden Quilts made from my Abstract Garden line with Benartex/Contempo.

Geese in the Garden Quilt Pattern

Click here to get the print version of Geese in the Garden pattern.
Click here to get the PDF version of Geese in the Garden pattern.

The “Geese” Design

When I designed Geese in the Garden with it’s radiating diamond-like shapes,  my first instinct was to write the pattern by making all of  the blocks from Half Square Triangles. However, that would have left a seam in the middle of each block which would have disrupted the fabric print.

I knew I could eliminate some of the seams using the “flip and sew” method but there would still be some seams I didn’t like, and it would have created a lot of waste. Here’s an early sketch of it in Electric Quilt with those unsightly seams (in the yellow seeds fabric and the pink roses fabric).

Geese in the Garden Sketch

So then I researched how to sew diamond shapes and discovered that these shapes are NOT true diamonds, but are rather “squished” or “elongated” diamonds. However, the traditional technique to make the diamonds would still work, but I’d have to recalculate the math.

Diamond Cutting

Diamond cutting in process. 

After a bit of testing I figured out an easy way to cut these elongated diamonds with a simple acrylic ruler that has a 45 degree line – no specialty ruler required! It’s all about the width that you cut them, and that information is included in detail in the pattern.

45 degree angle cutting

You’ll get a chance to use the 45 degree line on your ruler when cutting these diamonds.

Because these are not true diamonds, they have a definite left and right side. You can create some really cool designs with “mirror image” units. Here’s a tip to cut them correctly: Cut at least 2 stacked strips at a time. Make sure one strip is right side up, while the other is wrong side up. Or fold the strip in half and you’ll automatically get mirror image pairs.

Mirror Image Diamond Units

Mirror image units – and no pesky seams in the middle of the fabric!

Abstract Garden Fabric Choices

My Abstract Garden collection includes a total of 20 fabrics arranged into warm and cool colorways. However, I wanted fabric selection to be easy for this quilt pattern, so that you could use any fabrics you like.  So it only takes a total of 5 prints to create the design.

Since I was making two quilts (warm and cool), I decided to cut and piece them both at the same time. I starched the fabrics ahead of time before I cut, to help control the diagonal bias edges.

Abstract Garden UnitsClick here to get the Geese in the Garden Kit – in warm or cool.

The fun part about choosing fabrics is creating a radiating, glowing look with your color choices. Because the center diamonds of the design are interchangeable, I played around with them to make sure I was happy with the color arrangement.

Geese in the Garden Units

I love pretty stacks of cut units – don’t you?

Sewing the Geese Rows

Technically, this is a “row” quilt, meaning it’s sewn together into rows, rather than blocks. The super easy thing about this pattern is that each row is exactly the same! To make sewing go even easier, I recommend laying out all of the units, and sewing them into pairs on either side of the center triangle.

Geese in the Garden Rows

Although these are for 2 separate quilts, how fun would it be to alternate the rows?

My tip for sewing units with a 45 degree angle is that you need to offset the triangle tips by the same amount on both sides as you sew. The triangle tip will stick out about 1/4″ inch on either side. Notice the tips sticking out in the image below when the fabrics are matched up, right sides together:

Geese Triangle Tips

Sew an accurate 1/4″ seam, using the point where the two fabrics intersect in the corner. This detail image below shows the sewn seam (stitched with my favorite 50 weight Aurifil thread). Notice it’s been rotated to show the angle at which I sew each unit under the machine. (Make sure to chain piece all the units at once for speed and efficiency.)

Sewing Diamond Units

You’ll know you’ve sewn them correctly when you’ve created a nice smooth edge along both pieces. Don’t forget to trim the triangle tips! I also press all of my seams open so that my blocks will lie nice and flat.

Sewn Diamond Units

Remember, this technique works for ANY units with a 45 degree angle. Below is what the center triangle looks like when I lined it up with the rest of the sewn pairs. It looks a little awkward, but notice how both tips are sticking out about 1/4″. Once the pieces are flipped over right sides together and sewn, everything will come out even, just like the diamond pairs.

Sewing 45 degree angles

I often get asked how I press seams open without burning my fingers. The answer is that I open them up with my fingers ahead of the iron, and I never use steam. Here’s a 20 second video clip showing how I press my seam open, once I’ve sewn my rows:

Here’s the backside of the cool version with all of the rows sewn and those nice, flat, pressed open seams. Doesn’t it look just as pretty as the front??

seams pressed open

Although the pattern comes in 3 sizes, I chose to make the smallest size. But the best thing about this pattern is that it’s the same number of pieces to cut and sew, no matter which size you make. They just get larger as the quilt gets bigger. It only took me a few hours to piece each quit top, so it’s a great design to make when you are in a hurry, and it’s fun to show off your favorite fabrics in the diamonds.

One final tip to share today: don’t stress too much about perfection. Do your best to line up the seams as you sew the quilt, but notice the lower left corner of the image below. The turquoise and blue corners don’t match up perfectly in all the rows,  but that’s ok. Once the quilt is quilted – you won’t even notice it!!

Geese in the Garden quilt featuring Abstract Garden by Christa Watson

Very few of my points line up perfectly – but it still looks great!!

If you found this post helpful, you can help support my blogging efforts by purchasing my Geese in the Garden pattern or any of my other quilt patterns or fabrics at shop.ChristaQuilts.com. They’ll come infused with a little “Christa Quilts” magic, ensuring your success while I cheer you on!

In the next post, I’ll share tips on how I quilted each quilt with two quick and easy walking foot designs, so stay tuned!

3 thoughts on “Tips for Making Geese in the Garden – Part 1 of 2

  1. Claudia W says:

    This is off subject, but I just wanted to let you know that I watched a class of yours from blueprint. I will be revisiting it again and again, because there were so many tips that you mentioned that helped me immensely! Then yesterday I watched your visit to The Quilt Show, and WOW! I just love your techniques!
    Thank you so much for sharing your talents!!!
    Claudia W from Sequim, WA

  2. Hedy says:

    Thank you for showing us your not quite perfect points. They are the true bane of my quilting, I end up feeling guilty because they aren’t perfect. Yet my quilts are lovely too. Thanks!!

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