Quilting techniques 101 with the Dear Jane quilt: Y-seams

Many quilters are afraid of the Y-seam. I am not one of those quilters. Actually ever since I made the star of the Orient block by Judy Martin I fell in love with them. The technique feels like a magic trick where you insert pieces of fabric were they should not be able to go with a nifty folding trick.

Star of the orient
Star of the Orient (Pattern: Judy Martin)

In this post, I will show you some example of Y-seam use in the Dear Jane sampler quilt. Sampler quilts are used by quilters to practice techniques because each block uses a different shape or quilting technique.  I make the Dear Jane quilt to teach myself hand sewing and hand piecing and so far all the effort is paying off! I’ve finished more than half of the middle squares and I see a big improvement between the start and where I am now. If you want to read more about the Dear Jane sampler quilt in general or my progress click the links I’ve scattered throughout this post such as these:

This post is a showcase of Dear Jane blocks. I’ll go further into Y-seams in a later post and maybe even write a tutorial. Y-seams are amazing and nothing to be afraid of. They open so many doors I previously thought firmly shut pattern possibilities wise. My next learning goal is combining paper piecing with Y-seams. So if anybody knows of a good way to start I’d love to hear.

What is a Y-seam?

So to show you what we’re talking about:


It is not always at these exact same angles, but a Y-seam is a structure where three different pieces of fabric meet in a point. To construct a Y-seam you first sew two fabrics together. After that, you fold the fabric over to make room to sew the third piece in. It will feel like magic to see the third fabric wedged between the other two once you fold the fabric open again. Be careful you do not accidentally sew the folded fabric though. Sometimes it helps to insert some pins to make sure the fabric is tucked away. The order in which you sew the pieces doesn’t matter. Sometimes it does help to start with the sharpest angles because these are toughest to sew right.

The name Y-seam makes me wonder how many letters of the alphabet can create a seam. I am actually only halfway joking wondering about that. It will be an interesting experiment to see how many letter seams I can make work. Maybe an R-seams, an S-seams or a Z-seam? I’ll get back to you on this!

Dear Jane block J-5: John Jacob’s windmill

This block turned out great. The orange and white work well together and the simple design is pleasing to the eye. Also, this block turned out much neater than I expected. This is one of the first blocks I did with Y-seams so I had no way to predict whether it would end up well or not.

Dear Jane block J-5: John Jacob's windmill

The edges of this block are made with Y-seams. There is also some curved piecing going on in the middle if you look carefully. Construction of this block starts with the orange middle square. After that, I added the white pieces and the orange wedges. The last white pieces on the edges I added without finishing off my thread and starting again. This is possible when you start with the straight line on the outer left or right side, pin it and sew it. After that, you pin the straight line next to it and so forth. I like this way of piecing because it saves time. Also, it helps me to attach the pieces neatly because I start sewing on the next straight line exactly where I stopped. Call it lazy or smart, this works for me.

Dear Jane block A-10: Which points west?

As you can see, the shape of this block is very similar to the previous one. You see that a lot in the Dear Jane quilt. Jane Stickle, who created the first Dear Jane, let herself be inspired by simple standard blocks and then went crazy with them to explore design possibilities. At least, that is what I think she did. This created a very diverse quilt which still looks like one whole because there are overlapping design elements. You can also see that with the 9 patch variations she made I’ve written about in this post: Quilting patterns 101 with the Dear Jane quilt: the nine patch. Does anyone know the name of this standard block of this post by any chance?

Dear Jane block A-10: which points west?

This block is constructed in much the same way as the orange one. The only difference is the middle which is done with reverse applique.

Dear Jane block A-13: Starlight – starbright

And lastly one of my absolute favourite Dear Jane quilt blocks so far. I love it because it reminds me of the religious cross symbol and because the green and red fabric work amazing together. The shape is different from the other two but similar enough to fit in this post. You can see that the edges of the quilt are constructed in a similar way as the other two blocks. Only in the other two blocks, the edges are one piece and here they are three. Also, the middle is different. To sew this block I first sewed the middle part and the pieces of the edges together. After that, I sewed the middle and the edges together.

Dear Jane block A-13: Starlight - starbright

The end!

That’s it for this week. I had some questions for you about this website though. One of the aims, besides showcasing my own work, is to teach people about the beauty and greatness of quilting and other crafts. My hope is that it motivates people to try it for themselves or to appreciate handmade items and the skill needed to make them. I would love to hear from the people who already read my blog what kind of things you want to read about and what I should write about more often. So I have some questions:

  1. Would you like more details how I construct the blocks?
  2. Are you interested in the background and possibilities of different techniques and patterns?
  3. What do you want to know about quilting and other sewing crafts?
  4. What is missing on this website?

Would you like to know more about the Dear Jane quilt?

See my DeviantArt or Instagram (username: bella.g.bear.art) for more artwork and WIPs. You can also follow my blog by clicking on the button on the left or by filling in your email address. There will be a monthly update at the end of every month and a new blogpost every Sunday or Monday.


      1. Yes me too! 😀. It sounds like a friend, which in a way this quilt definetly is to me. The quilt is named after the maker, Jane Stickle. The creator of the patterns, Brenda Pappadakis, wrote letters to Jane during the process to put het thoughts in line.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes!! I have made a few quilt tops, nothing fancy—squares sewn to squares. I make blankets out of flannel as well. Nothing crazy, very basic skills. I am always looking to better my skills

        Liked by 1 person

    1. hahaha thank you for the comment. I am very happy to hear I make it sound simple because that’s the point of this blog: to show that quilting is doable with a good teacher :-).

      But I also have to admit that even though I know how it works, some quilting techniques still feel like magic to me! That’s why I love it.

      Liked by 1 person

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