How to overcome tricky Y seams
Updated: Jul 26
So you want to produce great quilt tops? Really amazing quilts have an abundance of techniques which can be hard to get right - that's partly why they look so good when they are done well. Well this is just one technique and really just one way of doing it, but it has the joy of no loose ends to tie off and no worries about it coming undone. Put that together with a fail-proof method of getting the Y crisp and you'll be mastering Y seams in no time.
The first thing a quilt needs is an accurate cutting method - once you've mastered the cutting you'll at least have the pieces in the right places to start with. So be as accurate as you can when you cut.
We're going to look at joining 2 diamond shapes with a triangle (a broad-based isosceles triangle to be exact). The first job is to sew accurately whatever the size of the seam you want - it has to be accurate. I generally sew a scant 1/4 inch seam. A scant 1/4 inch seam is one or two threads width less than 1/4 inch. This is to accommodate the thread and the fabric fold. It doesn't actually matter so long as you are consistent throughout; your finished block and hence quilt top will just be slightly smaller than expected.
The first 3 pictures show you: 1) Diamonds joined together along one seam. 2&3) Aligning the sewn-together diamonds and triangle on top of each other and pinning together to hold in place (Triangle on top first then diamonds on top).
Picture 3 shows the diamonds on top, which is the way it needs to sewn, as you need to be able to sea where the diamond seam is. Sew your seam from the top left hand point (as you look at the picture) towards the seam between the diamonds. You want to stop just before you get to that seam with your needle in the down position. Try not to go past the seam as it makes the next part difficult.
The next set of 3 pictures show you starting at the point and having got to that seam with your needle still in the down position. As you approach the seam you will need to slow down and make sure you go slowly enough that you can stop with your needle down before you hit the seam. If you go past the seam it will make rotating the fabric difficult. You can take the pins out as you don't need them now.
The next part is a bit fiddly. Rotate the whole piece around the needle so the right-hand point of the triangle is straight towards you. With your right index finger hold it in place. With your left hand take the diamond seam and gently pass it over the left diamond creating a fold. This may need to be done in steps. Carefully align the right edge of the right diamond so it lays directly above the right edge of the triangle. These should be laying towards you.
Once you have got to the second point the Y seam is complete. The closer you get to the diamond seam in the middle, without going onto the second diamond, the more precise and crisp your Y seam will be. Ideally you would get the needle exactly between the two pieces of fabric but that is very difficult and somewhat time consuming.
I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial about sewing Y seams. Please let me know, in the comments, if you have any questions or would like me to go over any other particular techniques. I am planning to cover Y seams with a square instead of a triangle and partial seams in the near future.
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Look forward to hearing your ideas for your quilt or help with finishing one you've started!
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