Welcome to my first block tutorial in the Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Sew Along! When I was allocated Belle, I really didn’t look at the difficulty of it until I actually sat down to sew it – last week! And it was only then I realised it involved Y seams! Gulp. I know there is a lot of anxiety surrounding Y seams – let alone paper piecing them! So I have put together a little tutorial that I am hoping will relieve some of that anxiety and show you that Y seams truly are not the enemy! There will be loads of photos (never such a thing as too many!) and explanations.
I really really wanted to make a video tutorial for you all, however, the stars did not along – neither did my kids or husband – so no help to make it! I will, however, direct you to THIS blog post I wrote last year, in which I tackled my first Y seam. It provides a short video I learnt from.
Ok. You ready?
To start, you will need to have a general knowledge of paper piecing. Alyce @ Blossom Heart Quilts has a fabulous tutorial with a free paper piecing pattern HERE. This should get you through the first steps of piecing your two main sections prior to the Y seams.
A. Once you’ve done that, you will have the two main sections (A1-A5 & B1-B5), as well as sections C1 & D1, which are the single fabric pieces. I have cut those C & D pieces out the exact shape and size of the paper pieces, and pinned the fabric to the paper, as shown above.
B. Now take your C1 piece, and place on top of your side section (unless you are using directional fabric, it does not matter which side piece matches which C1 piece). Use a pin or a clip to keep it in place, and line up your top points. You will be starting to sew at the corner position noted above. You will continue using a 1.5 stitch length as per paper piecing.
C. Start your stitches right on the point of the printed seam allowance, backstitch once, and continue sewing the length of the seam. Backstitch again at the end.
D. When you have finished that seam, fold your fabric over and you will see the beginning of your Y seam.
E. The best tip I can give you for paper piecing is to rip the paper off the seams you will be joining as you go. This will reduce the bulk in the block at the end, and in this case – will allow you to continue with your Y seam much easier.
F. Now you need to take the same section you have just started on, and bring the other side of your C1 piece over to the corner block of the side section – B1, placing them right sides together. You may have to manoeuvre it a little, but you will be able to match up the edges as shown above. Pin or clip them in place.
G. This is what your matched up pieces will look like in 3D! Now sew them together as shown above. Remember to backstitch at the start and end.
H. You will finish stitching at the Y Junction. Rip off the seam papers.
I. And open up your first Y seam! It may feel a little chunky at first, but once you give it a little press, you will find it flattens out nicely.
J. Repeat steps B-H with your opposite side section and D1 piece. You will then have two halves of the block – ready to tackle the double whammy Y seam! Go grab a cuppa, take a deep breath and get ready to start again……
K. Take your A section and place it on top of the B section – matching up the edge of A5 and C1. Pin or clip in place.
L. Stitch as shown above in step L and K.
M. Rip the seam paper off.
N. You will now bring the paper over, right sides together, to match your longer centre seam. This longer section has a seam in the centre that should match. “Butt” the seam together and pin/clip in place. The end of your section will have pieces D1 and B1 matching at the end.
O. Start sewing from section D1 TOWARDS the first section you have already sewed. As shown above.
P. You will end at the Y Junction. Rip your seam papers off.
Q. Now bring the last third of the section over, matching sections B5 and D1. Pin/clip and sew together, once again sewing TOWARDS the Y Junction. As shown above.
GUESS WHAT?!??!?! You’ve finished! You should now be able to fold out the block and reveal your super duper Y seam block sensation!
When you press your finished block, it will look somewhat like this. You will be able to press the seams to the sides, which will enable it to not be too bulky. There have been lots of questions on whether people keep their papers on the blocks or take them off? I personally am leaving the papers on – mostly because some of my blocks may be a smidgen too small, and when I go to sew them all together in to a quilt top, at least I know the papers are the exact finished block size.
And that, my friends, is how you sew a paper pieced block with multiple Y seams together! What do you think? Was it as hard as you had imagined, or not too bad after all? If you found it really difficult, don’t be afraid to say! These blocks ARE really small to work with, and we’re all going to find a point where we struggle with some of the techniques, but I truly do hope that this tutorial has helped somewhat!
If you’re looking for an alternate way to make this block, check out Angie’s tutorial today too.
Helpful Information –
** All the block tutorials by Angie and bloggers.
** Any and all FAQs for the sew along.
The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W; RRP $28.99 – Click here to purchase.