I have a love/hate relationship with Y seams. I love how clean they make quilts because they eliminate any extra, and sometimes distracting, seams. But geez, if you’re not prepared, they may eliminate you, and any extra patience, any extra brain cells, any extra finger nails, and all extra chocolate in the house! HA!
My first quilt involving Y seams was a sort of block of the month that had sixteen Lemoyne star blocks all done with eight Y seams in each block… The first block took me more than three hours, after learning everything not to do at least twice, I got them down to just under fifteen minutes! Aren’t you glad I fell on my face, seam ripper in hand so I can share all my secrets with you all these years later?!
Click to enlarge
The first thing to do is prepare your pieces. Believe me, this step saves so many headaches later. I use a small ruler and a sharp pencil or fabric marking pen. Lay the ruler on the pieces at the quarter inch line, and draw a short line on each side so it intersects like an X at the corner. In this case, I’m sewing hexagons together, so I did this X process at each corner. If you are sewing a Lemoyne star or another block with Y seams, you only have to mark the inside corners (or only those sewn with Y seams). There is a handy tool on the market that makes this step super easy (if you don’t want to do it the old school way), it is a template with all sorts of angles and tiny pin sized holes ¼” in from each corner. Here’s a link to that tool.
Once all the hexagons are marked, lay two of them right sides together and put a pin through those corner X’s at either end of the seam line. Sew from one X to the next, doing a little backstitch at each end if you like. I usually just turn my stitch length down to 1.8-2.0 and avoid backstitching if I can.
Finger press your seam open, then give it a nice quick press with the iron.
Now take the third hexagon, and lay it face down over the left hexagon that was just sewn. Pin at the X’s on either end of the seam.
Sew from the first pin to the second pin, and drop the needle right into the X. Lift the presser foot, and swivel the top hexagon to match the bottom one. Place a pin in the next X to hold the two pieces together. Sew to meet that pin.
Here’s a close up of what the front and back of the Y seam looks like. Notice the tiny split in the back seam where you turned the corner, this will allow for the block to lay flat when all the seams are pressed open.
Keep adding blocks with this “needle down, swivel and pivot method.” I plan to do a little baby quilt with these, so I have quite a few Y seams ahead! Wish me luck ;)
Hollow Star baby quilt constructed with Y seams.