Sewing “Y” seams can be intimidating not only for beginning quilters but for veterans as well. A little planning and prep work can give you great results without pulling your hair out along the way.
While “Y” seams can be machine pieced I almost always chose to hand piece them and this is especially true of eight point stars. Once the points are together you have “Y” seams around the outside edge of the entire block. Following is a brief explanation of how I piece this block.
You can cut the pieces for your block using templates or in this case I used the measurements provided by my Electric Quilt computer quilt design program and rotary cut the pieces.
I am left handed so these pictures might look backwards to you ‘normal’ folks. You’re simply going to sew your seams in the opposite direction from what I’m doing.
- Please don’t press your block until it’s finished. We are working with both straight of grain and bias edges. Pressing can easily distort a bias edge and you’ll have trouble matching things up.
- My apologies for the change in background in the pictures. Truth is, Clutch and I got too lazy to get up off the couch at one point
Mark the 1/4″ seam line on the wrong side of all your pieces. If you used templates to cut your pieces you can skip this step because it was done when you traced the templates on the wrong side of your fabric for cutting. Yes, I really like the Bohin marking pencil. It’s what I call an investment pencil but well worth it. Great fine line on the fabric without any drag.
You want to sew the diamond pieces together in pairs. You’ll notice that two sides of the diamonds are on the straight of the grain and two are on the bias. I like to compensate for this by sewing a straight of grain edge to a bias edge as I sew them together.
With right sides together, insert a pin at the point where the seam line starts and stops to match up this spot on both diamonds.
You can add an additional pin in the center of the seam if you think you might need it to make sure the seam lines stay aligned.
Stitch with a small running stitch directly on the line from point to point making sure to secure your stitching at both ends of the seam. You’ll want to use good quality sewing thread and I like to use the same needle I use for hand applique.
Once you have them in pairs, sew the pairs together so you have two halves of your star.
We’re going to sew the two halves together in one long seam. Begin by pinning the first diamond section together just as you’ve done before and stitch toward the center. Secure your stitching as usual but DON’T cut your thread.
Insert your needle at the point where your stitching ends and bring it out at the beginning of the stitching line of the diamond on the opposite side of the center.
This will bring the center together so it’s nice and secure.
Match up the points with your pins to complete the rest of the seam on the second diamond and stitch.
There’s your star! Please resist the temptation to do any pressing until we’ve finished the block.
Here’s your “Y” seam. I usually begin with a triangle of my background fabric. With right sides together, pin the short side of one of the triangles to a diamond matching the points of the beginning and end of the seam line with a pin.
Stitch across the seam for the first side of the triangle and secure your stitching at the end point of the seam but DON’T cut your thread. I like the fact that by putting all of my diamonds together first I can alternate between the triangles and squares and stitch continuously around the star.
Insert your needle at the end point of your stitching and come out at the beginning point of the seam line of the diamond right next door.
Pivot the triangle to match up the end points and pin in place.
Continue stitching to the end of the seam at the tip of the diamond. Secure your stitching at the end of the seam but again, you DON’T have to cut your thread.
Repeat the process with one of the background squares. You’ll be matching a corner of the square to the end of the seam you just stitched and pinning the first half of your next “Y” seam.
Continue alternating triangles and squares until you’ve made your way around the star.
Now with your seam allowances all wild and free you can press your block. Press the center of the star rotating the points for a perfect finish.
There we are – block finished!