The Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Sew Along – #13 Belle – Paper Piecing Y Seams!


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.


84 Responses to The Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Sew Along – #13 Belle – Paper Piecing Y Seams!

  1. Pingback: Belle is Block 13 of Farmer's Wife 1930's Sampler Quilt - GnomeAngel

  2. What a gorgeous block and such a detailed tutorial which will be a great help. Thank you.

  3. Ruth says:

    Beautiful block and wonderful tutorial. The pictures are great, also. Thank you!

  4. Leslie Wittenberg says:

    Thanks for the info. I was wondering, in general, when pp and the solid line comes to a point, do I pivot/ stop on the solid line or sew straight across the quarter in. seam allowance? I see for this block you start at the ends and meet at the point and I understand that but for regular seams. Thanks!

    • Ms Midge says:

      Hey Leslie. I tend to start and end at the seam allowances, but just make sure to backstitch one or two stitches 🙂 Hope that helps!

  5. Sue says:

    Great tutorial! It completely takes the mystery out of the process.

  6. Megan Abernathy says:

    Thank you for this!!! I taught myself to paper piece from YouTube and have had no problem yet but I haven’t had Y seams, so this should help when I get ready to tackle this block. Thanks for all the help!!

  7. Your post is so clear! I really couldn’t imagine how a person would do y seams when paper piecing, but you totally nailed it. Well done!

  8. Cindy says:

    Thank you so much for a great tutorial..feeling much better about this block now 😀

  9. Staci says:

    WOW! I was completely baffled by how to make a y-seam and paper piece, too! Thank you so much-and yes–never too many photos for a mystery like this one.

  10. Glenys O'Shea says:

    Took me awhile to nut it out but your tutorial was comprehensive and I feel confident I will finish this block well. Thank you.

  11. Sue Kaiser says:

    Thanks so much for doing the tutorial with paper piecing. I planned on paper piecing this block too. I love your blog and your fabric placement.

  12. mary hope GONZALES says:

    You did such a terrific job explaining how to do this and so encouraging! Thank you!!! I really like the fabric also…love birds in quilting and love!to hunt for different fussy cuts in finished Quilts!

  13. Hildy says:

    Thank you for this great tutorial! Paper-piecing and me are not the best friends and if you add y-seams to the mix I fear the result is nothing to enjoy. But I feel more better now with your tutorial as back-up;-)

  14. Debbi says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I was completely lost on the y seam, having never done one, and now I feel ready to tackle them. At least, I will after I have a nice glass of wine…

  15. Pingback: Farmer’s Wife block 13 – Belle | Cassandra Madge

  16. Kathleen says:

    Great tutorial. I am a newbie and really struggled with the double y seams which joined both halves. I made a second block after watching your tutorial. With your help the second block is much better. Thankyou.

  17. Marcea says:

    thank you so much for this tutorial…I made it and it turned out great…thanks for you help

  18. Ellen says:

    This block WAS a struggle for me but that’s why I am doing this QAL! I am learning so much and your tutorial was extremely helpful–clear, concise , instructions and close-up pictures. Perfect!

  19. Karen @runsewfun says:

    Thanks so much for this great tutorial. I must admit that it was still a challenge for me to actually sew this block and I did rip all the paper off when joining the two sections because it just became too cumbersome for me, but your instruction was VERY helpful as to which seams to sew in which order. So again, THANK YOU!!!

  20. Cathey Randolph says:

    Hi, Thank you for the awesome pp instructions. I want to learn how to do more pp on this QAL. Is there anyone posting each block as a pp block? Thanks again for this great tutorial.

    • Ms Midge says:

      Hey Cathey. Glad you found this helpful. I’m not sure what kind of techniques all the bloggers will be using for their blocks, but I’m sure some of them will be! xx

  21. Pingback: Rainbow Belle Block - The Crafty Mummy

  22. Amber says:

    I am brand new to paper piecing, so I was very glad to see the link for this tutorial. I followed it precisely, and I am VERY pleased with how my block came out! I am now pretty excited to practice paper piecing. THANK YOU for taking the time to write this post, it sure helped this newbie! 😉

  23. joyce feain says:

    Thanks for the tuts – it made this block so much easier – greatly appreciated

  24. Sherrie Baker says:

    This is the best Paper Piecing tutorial on Y seams ever! Thanks!

  25. Sandy Slattery says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. Spent all day yesterday trying to make this block then gave up. Then I found your wonderful website! Today I zipped right through it. Wouldn’t have been able to do it without your instructions.

  26. Carol says:

    Thanks for this tutorial! I’m off to give it a try!

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  32. Florence says:

    A big thank you for this tutorial !
    I think I couldn’t do this bloc without your help !

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  46. angie says:

    thank you so much! i COULD NOT have done this without you. I don’t know how you figured it out but that was really tough. Mine has issues…but good enough for me! Thanks!

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