Tutorial: Burp Cloth with Perfect Flying Geese

I can’t recall where I came across it first (Pinterest? Google?) but in all my excitement and motivation to make things for the new baby I found this adorable burp cloth tutorial. And then I thought, “What if I just take this a one step further?”

I’ve got more than a metric ton of fat quarters and fabric scraps lying around, some from the crib bedding, and some just because I’m a fabric hoarder. These little burp cloths would be super duper cute if I did a little quilting down the center rather than just a strip of fabric!! RIGHT?!

One of my very favorite classic quilt patterns is the flying geese pattern. Sadly, the traditional way of piecing this pattern ends up with a lot of waste fabric (which of course I hoard for some other random project that I’ll never do). It almost kills my soul every time to cut all those little triangle corners off and just toss them aside (*cough*hoard them*cough*). Until now.

I give you… No-Waste Flying Geese.

No-Waste Flying Geese

burp-cloth-suppliesI know… I’ll give you a minute to let it all sink in. Yes. You can have your flying geese and keep all you fabric in tact. I promise. I didn’t believe it at first either, but it’s true!

In this tutorial, we’re going to cut out enough squares to make two row of flying geese down your burp cloth. If you’re doing this for another project adjust your totals accordingly. Also, if you need an amazing chart to scale your geese to a different size, I recommend this one by The Quilt Pattern Shoppe.

We need sixteen flying geese blocks for this project. Each “set” of no-waste flying geese yields four geese, so you’ll repeat all the steps outlined until you’ve used up all the blocks we’re about to cut out.

Step 1: Cutting

First you need to cut out all the squares for your geese and sky. From your geese fabric, cut out four (4) 5-1/4″ squares. From your sky fabric cut out sixteen (16) 2-7/8″ squares. Now you’re ready to start assembling your geese blocks.

Stacking and Marking the Geese Blocks

Stacking and Marking the Geese Blocks

Step 2: Stacking and Marking (the first time)

With right-sides together, stack a sky block into diagonal corners of a goose block. The sky blocks will overlap a little, this is perfect! Draw a line from corner to corner across the sky blocks. Then, draw another line 1/4″ to the left and right of this center line. These 1/4″ lines will be your sewing lines. I used a blue fabric marking pen to distinguish the center from my sewing line marked with pencil. If you have a 1/4″ sewing machine foot, you wouldn’t really need to mark a line. Repeat until you have used up all your geese squares. You’ll have some sky squares left over for a future step. Just set these aside for now.

Step 3: First Sewing Pass

Sewing Geese Squares

Sewing two seams on each goose & sky set

Now it’s time to sew! Stitch 1/4″ on either side of the center line that you drew. I don’t bother back-stitching when I’m quilting… and I have yet to have my blocks fall apart!

1st Goose Separation

1st Goose Separation

When you’ve finished sewing both seams on each goose block, take them all back to your cutting mat and cut them apart on the center line you drew.

Press seams towards the sky!

Press seams towards the sky!

Now it’s time to press the seams!! Give your seams a quick steam to set them, and then press the seam towards the “sky” fabric. You’ll have a few little “tags” hanging off each end, and you’ll be able to see a little bit of the seam in between the two triangles. Don’t panic, this is perfectly OK.

 

Step 4: Second Stacking and Marking

Second stacking and marking

Second stacking and marking

Now you’re going to use the rest of the sky squares you have set aside. With right sides together, place one sky square in the remaining open corner of the goose square… er… triangle now.

You’ll draw another center line from corner to corner on the newly placed sky square, and again draw a sewing line 1/4″ on either side of the center line. Repeat until you’ve used up all your sky squares and each goose “triangle” has a sky square stacked and marked.

 

Step 5: Second Sewing Pass

Final sewing pass

Final sewing pass

OK! Now you’re all set to sew the last two seams! Are you excited yet?? Sew 1/4″ on either side of the center line you marked. I like to start from the top of the newly placed sky square. This makes sure that you adequately catch the point where the two sky triangles will meet. It’s important that the top of each goose block has two slightly overlapping sky triangles because this ensures that the “beak” of each goose isn’t caught in the seam allowance when you sew them all together!

Final goose separation

Final goose separation

Take all your geese back to your cutting mat and cut each one apart on the center line. It’s everything I can do to contain my excitement!! Your geese are almost ready to fly!!!

Press those seams to the sky!

Press those seams to the sky!

Once again, press those steams to set them, and then press your seams towards the sky!

Now you should have a perfect little stack of geese and absolutely no wasted fabric!! Admit it, you were skeptical when we started. Now you’ll want to make a million more geese, huh?!

Before you get too excited, we’re not quite done. We’ve got to trim them up and make sure that they’re square.

Step 6: Squaring Up

Line up your geese

Line up your geese

If you noticed there are some little triangles sticking out of the top of your geese and little tags to the left and right. We’re gonna trim these off, and in the process make sure that each goose is pretty squared up.

Trim off those little tags

Trim off those little tags

I found it was easy to do five geese at a time. Line them up on your cutting mat so that each end is in line and use your ruler and rotary cutter to trim off the little corners on all three sides. This will naturally square things up too!

Sweet! Now your geese are all ready for arranging! Aren’t they pretty?

Adorable Quilted Burp Cloth

Laying out the pattern

Laying out the pattern

OK!! You’ve mastered some awesome, no-waste flying geese. Now we’re ready to arrange our little mini quilt, sew it all together, and finish up that burp cloth!

Step 1: Arrange your geese and sew together!

You’ll need to arrange your geese in two rows of eight. I decided that I wanted my geese to fly in opposite directions, but you could let your geese all fly in the same direction. You could also alternate a few here and there. Really, the sky’s the limit! Get creative with your geese.

I like to lay out all my blocks before I start sewing. I’m kind of particular about the arrangement of my blocks, I like to make sure that the fabric patterns are all “just so.” Laying everything out also makes sure that you know exactly how to sew everything together!!

You’ll continue 1/4″ seam allowances for the rest of the project.

Stitch together each of your geese blocks in the order that you laid them out. I recommend doing a whole vertical row, the next vertical row, and then sew the two together!

Step 2: Cut and prepare your borders

Prepared border strips

Prepared border strips

I test out my panel on my cloth diaper before I came up with these border measurements. I’ve noticed that cloth diapers aren’t exactly perfectly square, so you might want to adjust the measurements a bit if you want the borders to extend all the way to the top and bottom of your cloth diaper.

We’re also gonna get a little fancy and create some mitered corners on the borders. These are super easy and they make your quilts (and other work) look really snazzy, like you spent hours and hours on this project. People will look at your sewing and go “WOW! Make me one?!” And you’ll know the real secret, that they’re E-A-S-Y!!

From your border fabric, cut strips in the following measurements:

  • Cut 2: 1-1/4″ wide, 17″ long
  • Cut 2: 1-1/4″ wide, 25″ long

Yup, these strips are super long, it’s all good. You’ll see where everything is going in few minutes.

Press one of the long sides up 1/4″ on all the strips.

Step 3: Sew on your borders

Read through these instructions carefully before you start!

Pin your border strip to your quilt top

Pin your border strip to your quilt top

Mark the center of each strip, and line the center of the border strip up with the center of each side of your tiny quilt top. You will pin them on and sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance. (Ignore the little thread orts on my quilt top… I may or may not have had to do a little seam ripping……….. *wink*)

You’re going to start and stop sewing each border strip 1/4″ from the ends of each side!! DON’T FORGET THIS STEP!!! Remember to backstitch too!

Sew all your borders on

Sew all your borders on

I like to sew on both short sides, and then sew on both long sides. When you get to where the borders meet each other, just fold the one that’s already sewn out of the way. (You can kind of see this in the photo to the right.)

Your work will have some tails on either end, we’re going to use those to make the miters.

Step 4: Pressing and mitering corners

Pressed borders

Pressed borders

Press all your borders up and away from your quilt top. The corners will be a little funny, but that’s OK. The borders should overlap at each corner.

Preparing for mitering!

Preparing for mitering!

Now it’s time to start mitering!

At each corner and with right sides facing, fold the quilt top so that one short edge lines up with the adjacent long edge and line up the borders one on top of each other.

Using a straight edge (I used my hem gauge, but you can use any straight edge… quilters rule… ruler… envelope… whatever you’ve got handy), draw a diagonal line across your border strip. This is where you’re going to sew to create your mitered corner. Your diagonal line will be a 45 degree angle that continues the folded edge up into the border.

Pretty little mitered corner!

Pretty little mitered corner!

Sew along that line you just drew (don’t forget to backstitch!). Press open your seam and then trim the seam allowance to 1/4″ and trim any little tags that are sticking out beyond your border.

Repeat with each corner!

For more information on mitered corners, check out this blog post on Craftsy!

Step 5: Quilt top + cloth diaper = burp cloth!

The only thing left to do is attach your cute little quilt top to the cloth diaper and you have one cute burp cloth… almost won’t want to use it it’s so cute!

Spray baste your quilt top down

Spray baste your quilt top down

I am a big fan of spray baste when it comes to projects like this. You just need a little bit, but it will make your quilt top just sticky enough that you won’t have to mess with any hand basting or shifting or anything! Spray the spray baste on the wrong side of your quilt top and place in the center of the cloth diaper. smooth out all the wrinkles and make sure everything is lined up the way you like it.

Sew all the way around the quilt top. You can use an edge stitch, a zig-zag stitch, or a pretty decorative stitch (if your machine does that). I did a little quilting by stitching in the ditch between all the geese blocks too to make sure that nothing buckled later when I wash them.

That’s it! You’re finished!!

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