Y-seams can strike fear into the hearts of even veteran quilters. The dreaded seaming situation occurs when you have three fabric edges that all meet at one point (like when you’re sewing hexagons together). Once stitched, the seams form a Y-shape. You’ll also encounter Y-seams when you’re working with eight-pointed stars or if you're creating a tumbling block design in your quilt.
But sewing together Y-seams really isn’t scary (really!). In fact, once you know the trick to pulling them off, you’ll never dread — or avoid — this letter of the alphabet again. And the trick is this: Unlike most seaming set-ups, which involve sewing edge-to-edge, the key to sewing a Y-seam is to start and stop sewing a ¼ inch away from the edge.
Still not quite feelin’ it? That’s okay! We’re gonna walk you through this step by step with some precut hexagons.
A Little Y-Seam Wisdom
- Remember you are sewing with bias edges, which are somewhat stretchy. Take care not to pull or tug on the fabric as you sew.
- Many patterns use templates for blocks with Y-seam construction. These templates often have pre-drilled holes to mark where the seams will intersect. That’s a big help! But if don’t have a template, no prob. Simply use a mechanical pencil to draw a line ¼ inch from each edge of the fabric pieces (on the wrong side of the fabric). By marking these lines, you will be able to see the exact intersection point of the seams.
- Mind these markings! You never want to sew past the dots or intersection points and into your seam allowances. If you end up with puckers on the front of your blocks, it’s likely because you went into the seam allowance (to correct this you’ll need to un-pick where you over-stitched).
- Use an open toe or clear foot on your machine (so you can easily see what you’re doing) and begin each seam by placing the needle down into your marked dot before you start to sew.
Now You're Ready to Sew
1. Line 'Em Up
Line up the cut edges of your first two pieces (right sides together), then sew a ¼-inch seam, being sure to start and stop exactly at the dots or marked intersection points. It’s a good idea to take a couple of backstitches at the beginning and end of each seam to lock in your stitches.
2. Add Your Third Piece
Bring in your third piece and, placing right sides together, sew the second seam of your “Y,” taking care to again sew “dot-to-dot” and not sew past your first seam or into the seam allowance.
3. Sew the Final Side
Now pivot that third piece and sew the next and final side of your “Y,” again taking care not to sew over either of the first two seams.
Carefully press all three seams on the back side. Then flip over your block and admire your neat and complete “Y”!
Photo via A Quilting Life