Inset Seams- A little how I do…

As many of you know I’ve been working on Bonnie Hunter’s quilt Daylilies.  It’s from her book String Fling.

I’ve made quilts with inset seams before but I never felt REALLY comfortable with it.  I’ve managed.  It’s looked okay…This time it’s going much better.  I think part of it is my attitude.  I’m not going into it with the attitude of “if I want this quilt I have to do it”.  My attitude is “I want to master inset seams”.  In truth, I have tons of quilting experience and I shouldn’t let something like a silly inset seam hold me back from anything!!

I think I’m doing good.


Partly for me…and partly for you, I snapped some pictures as I made a block.

I gotta admit when I first read the directions I was a little worried on how the blocks might come out…..this was the directions.

Then I turned the page and found some VERY helpful illustrations.
PRESSING is so important when working with inset seams.  It can make or break the whole process of making blocks.

Please note.  Unlike most quilting seams, I backstitch at the beginning of an inset seam.  There isn’t another seam that will be crossing this seam to tack it in place.

I started out by sewing the seam and pressing it OPEN.  I have to admit that using batiks really make sewing the blocks easier as I didn’t have to worry so much about right sides and wrong sides of the fabric.


It’s important to remember when sewing inset seams that it is necessary to stop about a 1/4″ from the end of EVERY seam where the pieces will intersect with a inset piece. Next it’s time to add the inset piece.  Line it up at the outer edge.  Sew.
I lift the pressed open seam and stitch up to the stitching which is 1/4″ from the edge.

You can see here where I stopped.  You will notice that I actually stop a stitch or so before the actual seam.

DO NOT PRESS THE SEAM YET.

Re-orientate the inset piece like this…
This time sew from the seam out to the outer edge.  Start the new seam at the intersection of the first seam, again folding back the pressed seam.


As you can see from the pictures, I chain piece these with a gap of thread in between.  I only work on one large block at a time.

Now it’s time to press.  It’s important to do this right.  It will make or break whether your piece is flat.

Place your piece and the iron as shown.  Move the iron forward “plowing” (farm girl term) forward.


The back should look like this. ..the front like this… Finish sewing the other pieces.  There should be six total, three one direction and three the mirror image.

Sew the mirrored images together as shown.  As before start 1/4″ from the top and sew through the bottom edge.Press the seam open as we did before.  This is IMPORTANT!
Now it’s time to put the inset square in.   Sew from the outer edge and sew to the seam flipping it back as before.

Re-orientate as shown.  Stitch from the intersection to the outer seam.

Time to press.  Put the iron as shown and again “plow” forward with your iron.
The back should look like this.  Occasionally I’ve had to flip the intersecting seam a bit but not much.

Next add the bottom triangle.

Press.  Look!!  We did it!!  Proper pressing is really the trick!  I am usually not a presser and tried one without pressing.  It was a HUGE fail.  Pressing made all the difference!

From here finish the remaining blocks and then sew them together into the large block.

I laid the block on the floor to take a picture and Ruby pushed her way into the photo…so Hi from Ruby!
I’m feeling so good about my blocks.  I have loved having a challenge quilt to work on…I have to say I am looking forward to the string piecing though….It’s good to have a balance between harder and easier work.

Don’t be afraid to give this a try!!

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15 thoughts on “Inset Seams- A little how I do…

  1. Gretchen

    Your lilies look lovely. And yes, it is important to press when making y-seams. I really appreciate you making the font larger on your blog, so much easier to read. Thank you!

  2. Stoney Monte

    Your tutorial was very helpful, Jo, and pressing is the key, from my experience. Batiks make it easier, too, as you mentioned. This quilt is going to be so beautiful and I can’t wait to see it.

  3. Tina in NJ

    Excellent tutorial, Jo! I was looking for a tutorial list/page, but I guess you did away with that when you redid the blog. Do you have a search function for the blog? I’ve done countless set-seams, but this would be a great refresher. My “new” sewing machine (7 years old) isn’t as good at stopping with the needle down as her older sister is, which I find is important.

  4. Dian

    Thanks so much for a great tutorial for sewing Y seams. Great photography with easy to view pictures. I too have always avoided Y seams but you just might have given me the courage to give it a go. Your quilt will be awesome-one you will treasure with pride in your accomplishments with both Y seams and applique, two things I have yet to achieve.

  5. Kim LeMere

    I think I will pull some fabric scraps and give this block a try with your tutorial, thanks Jo. I really like your blocks done with Batiks.

  6. Penny

    Wow! Beautiful & perfect lily! Thank you for the great tutorial! I am inspired now to try a set in seam!

  7. ShirlR

    Thank you for the tutorial and pictures. I am going to print this blog and put it with my String fling book with the Daylilies pattern. Cute little Ruby pushing her way into the picture, Well, she just wants to add some more beauty into the picture! (Smiles)

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