Fearless Sparrows, a block tutorial

Hi! Today is the day I get to reveal an original block design for the Fabri-Quilt New Block Hop!!!! I waffled between several ideas, and finally settled on this one. It’s inspired by a flock of sparrows we have living near our apartment — these birds are completely fearless and have no sense of self-preservation. Seriously, they don’t understand the danger cars, people, or dogs could face, and never move out of the way. A little annoying at times, but they are pretty cute.

Fearless Sparrows, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

This block is almost an improv design, but not quite. So, I’m calling it a choose your own adventure style block. The geese sparrows can change/move to any position you want. The directions will walk you through making four flying geese units for each color, but as you can see, you don’t need to use all four in one block. You could very easily make another block with the remaining geese. Shall we get started?

I used 5 of the 6 colors provided us by Fabri-Quilt: White, Coral, Turquoise, Charteuse, and Lapis Blue, but this block could easily be made with any combination of colors and/or prints.

Materials Listed

You will need:


(1) 8″ square, cut in half diagonally

(4) 3.75″ squares

From each color:

(1) 5.25″ square  (4 total)

(1) 2.75″ wide strip, at least 18″ long (4 total)



  1. Center a white square on each of the color squares
  2. Draw a line down the center and pin on each side. Make sure the pins are far enough part that you won’t have to remove them while sewing.
  3. Sew 1/4″ from each side of the line.
  4. Cut along the drawn line.
    Fearless Sparrows, steps 1-4, from Smiles Too Loudly
  5. Repeat for all four colors. You should have a total of eight (8) triangles now.
    Four pairs of triangles
  6. Press the blocks open, with the seam away from the white triangle.
  7. Now comes the tricky part. You want to take these weird looking HST’s and put them together, aligning a white corner with a color corner. This will look weird, and kind of wrong — but it’s not!!!
  8. Draw a line down the middle, pin on both sides, and sew 1/4″ from each side of the line.
  9. Cut along the drawn line.
    Fearless Sparrows, steps 6-9, from Smiles Too Loudly
  10. Now you have these really weird looking pieces. You can just start to see the flying geese, right?
    Opened up, weird
  11. Cut through the middle of these pieces. It doesn’t have to be super exact, but don’t purposely make it wonky. There will be plenty of ‘slop’ to trim these into the units you need.
    Cut through the middle
  12. Now comes everyone’s favorite part- trimming flying geese down to size. Since these aren’t a normal size, you’re going to need to get friendly with the alternative markings on your ruler, especially the 45 degree line.
    Trimming the flying geese, first cut
    See how the 45 degree line is aligned with one edge of the goose? And the 1/4″ dots all hit the other edge of the goose? This makes sure you’re trimming the block to be square with the goose. (If you’re going for wonky geese — and awesome possibility!– you don’t need to worry about this as much).
    Trimmed Flying Goose
    The final size of the flying geese unit is 2.75″ x 1.625″ (2 3/4 ” x 1 5/8″).
  13. Turn on some music and power through trimming all the geese (or only as many as you want to use…). Then, through the power of time and tunes, you get a nice pile of trimmings and a pile of flying geese
    Pretty Pile of Trimmings
    Pretty Pile of Trimmed Geese
  14. Decide how many geese units you’re going to use per color, and what order you want the colors in.
  15. Layout your geese how you want them to appear. I chose to use only a few units, and to have them all flying the same way, but this is where yours get to be different than mine!!!
    Starting to design the block
  16. Using the strips, fill in the spaces between the geese. You want to make sure you you fill in an area that’s at least 18″ long. Longer is fine, just remember that you’ll be trimming it down, and you might lose geese…
    Start to fill in
    All Filled In
  17. Sew the flying geese into the strips, then sew the strips together, all using 1/4″ seams. Press as desired (open and to the side will both work fine).
    Beginning to look like a block
    I find this to be the exciting part — you can start to see how the block will look!!!
  18. Before we can attach the large white triangles, we need to trim down the geese portion. This will allow you to more precisely locate the white triangles, and hopefully avoid having to unsew anything.You want to trim to approximately 12.5″ — a little over is fine because you will be giving it another trim after attaching the white triangles.
    Trim down
    You want it to center down the middle of the strips (between the bright blue and green here), so place the 45 degree line of your ruler along that seam. Trim each corner.
  19. Now attach the white triangles using a 1/4″ seam. Since we started with an 8″ square, there will be a fair bit of slack, and you don’t need to precisely align the pieces. You could get away with a square as small as 7″, but then you have to be really careful how you align. I prefer the easiness of oversizing the pieces.
    almost there
  20. Now just trim up the final block
    Final Trim

Aaaand you’re done! Ta-da!!!
Fearless Sparrows, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly, finished block


So, you know how I said you could make another block with the extra geese? Well, that’s just what I did.

alternate solids block

I also made one in prints, because, you know, it had to be done.

Block in prints

Aaaaaand, everybody together now!

beginning of a layout

My husband liked this so much, he asked if I could do a full quilt like this someday…. so I of course turned to the computer to see what that could look like. It’s still a little rough around the design edges, but someday it’ll come into being.

Rough Quilt Design

For more awesome block designs, visit today’s stops on the blog hop:

Host – Stephanie @Late Night Quilter
Hannah @Modern Magnolia Studio
Cindy @Stitchin At Home
Abby @Hashtag Quilt
Lisa @Sunlight in Winter Quilts
Carrie @Chopping Block Quilts
Eleanor @Cat Approved Quilting
Brianna @The Iron and Needle
Tish @Tish’s Adventures in Wonderland
Jan @The Colorful Fabriholic
Sarah @Smiles Too Loudly
Beth @Cooking Up Quilts
Leanne @Devoted Quilter
Liz @LizzyClips Design
Kim @Leland Ave Studios
Kitty @Night Quilter

29 thoughts on “Fearless Sparrows, a block tutorial

  1. I love it love it love it!!! I’m geese obsessed right now. So you’re super original block really hits the spot! I love the choose your own adventure style of quilting, by the way. :)))

  2. I know exactly what you mean about fearless sparrows, Sarah – brilliant name and visual for me to enjoy as I read your tutorial! I love the bold slash of colors running at an angle through the block, and the fact that there is a bit of light improv or “choose your own adventure” to the block piecing also really appeals to me.

  3. What a fun block to make. I’m not sure I have seen geese constructed this way before, you have showed me something new. I love the name of the block. It does seem there are always flocks of those little critters everywhere.

  4. I LOVE this block!!! I also love how your sample layout isn’t predictable with row after row of the block, you allowed for lots of negative space. I feel the same way about swallows, they’re so cute but they seem to carefree for their own good.

  5. A FABULOUS block, and so well illustrated and explained. I love the layout you designed. So cool that your husband supports your artwork to the point of wanting a quilt in the design. =)

  6. Sarah–can you hear the huge grin on my face? Reading through your tutorial felt like Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 . . .MAGIC,. . Step 9, Step 10, . . MAGIC. . . TaDa! Your directions are so clear and even though things were looking pretty strange (no offense–chalk it up to my being a beginner!) for a minute there–I GET IT! I can hardly wait to get started–and I love the improv-ness of it all, too. Thanks so very much 🙂

  7. Super cool Sarah! I love how they look all together. And I LOVE a choose your own adventure quilt block. Customizing is so much fun. 🙂

  8. Thank you, thank you for showing the method of making corner triangles too large, and then trimming down. Delightful way of getting accurate corners! Nothing worse than realizing you’ve shorten your block in the last steps. And your sparrows definitely remind me of summers in Ohio. Thank you.

  9. This block is amazing! I love how versatile it is, and that you’ve included an improv element! I’ve never come across this flying geese technique before – I’ll have to give this one a try!

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