Tips for sewing Y seams

Today, we’re going to look at a different presser foot and features of the Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 960Q that will make sewing those Y seams a snap.

People shy away from Y seams and yet, there’s nothing to them when you know what you’re doing.

Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 960Q

I recently made some cube pillows and I thought I would share them with you as I show you how to sew a Y seam.

Cube pillows – couldn’t just make one!


I made my cube pillows 12″ square so you need a variety of fabric to make SIX 12½” blocks.

I made my blocks slightly larger than 12½” and once I was done quilting them, I trimmed them down to 12½”.

  • Some of my blocks were made with 3¾” cut squares (16 squares per side), some were made with 4¾” cut squares (9 squares per side), some were made with 6¾” squares (4 per side). The fabrics I used are from Northcott’s ColorWorks Premium Solids and ColorWorks Concepts (prints) collections.
  • 13″ squares of batting (six in total – one for each side)
  • 13″ squares of muslin (six in total – one of each side)
  • 12″ x 12″ x 6″ foam pieces (two in total)

Variety of fabric squares to make quilt blocks

Make SIX different quilt blocks that measure roughly 12½” square. If you used the measurements above, the squares should all be slightly larger than 12½”. That’s OK as you need to quilt them and there might be some shrinkage.

One of the 6 quilt blocks needed to make a cube pillow

Quilt the blocks

I layered each of the blocks with batting and the muslin backing. I didn’t bother with basting – these blocks are small enough that they don’t need basting. But you could always put in a couple of pins if you feel the need to make them more secure.

I used the Interchangeable Dual Feed Foot on the Sapphire 960Q to stitch in the ditch on all of the 6 blocks. You can see a picture of the stitch in the ditch quilting if you check out this post from earlier this week.I used a cream colored thread in the bobbin and invisible thread on the top. Make sure that you use the Changeable Zigzag Foot on the Dual Feed Foot so you can see where you need to stitch. Or quilt them however you wish.

Then you want to trim the blocks to 12½”. I didn’t get too fussy with this process and certainly didn’t worry if the squares were evenly spaced in the trimmed block. It’s a cube pillow that’s going to be thrown around. No need to get too fussy with the details!

Once the blocks are trimmed to 12½”, I sewed a basting seam around the edge of each block using a ⅛” seam allowance. This will hold the loose edges together which will make it easier to sew the Y seams. I must have been in a hurry the day I basted those edges together because I didn’t use a longer stitch length – just in case you’re wondering when you see the picture!

And now we’re ready to sew those Y seams.

Colorful scraps from trimming the blocks

Baste all three layers together after the blocks are trimmed.

Sewing the Y seam

Before we get started, let me show you a picture of a Y seam so you can understand what I’m talking about.

You can see in the picture below that there are three different seams that come together and they look like the letter Y, hence the name – Y seams.

A Y seam

Setting up the sewing machine

This time, I’m going to use the Quilter’s ¼” Piecing Foot. This foot has red lines on it that mark the pivot points and in the case of the Y seams, the start and end of each seam. I love this foot. No guesswork is needed. I can easily snap that foot onto the presser foot ankle of the Sapphire 960Q.

I’m going to choose a straight stitch and make sure that my stitch length is set to 2.0. I don’t want those seams coming apart.

The FIX function makes it easy to stitch these Y seams. A normal seam runs right off the edge of our quilt blocks and in most cases, another row of stitching will close off the end securing that line of stitching. When sewing a Y seam, you start ¼” in from the edge of the fabric and no other seam will touch it to lock the end of the seam in place. Using the FIX function will essentially tie off the ends of the stitching, both at the beginning and the end of the seam. A very useful function!

The FIX function will tie off the beginning and the end of each seam to secure the ends

In the photo below, I’m about to start the first seam. I’ve taken two of the blocks and placed them right sides together. Keep in mind that the line of stitching you see in the photo is the basting to secure the three layers of the block.

I’ll use the red lines on the presser foot as a guide so I can start my seam ¼” in from the top of the fabric and using the edge of the foot as my ¼” guide, I’ll be sewing a ¼” seam. I hit FIX and the Sapphire 960Q will tie off the beginning of the seam.

I’ll then sew the remainder of the ¼” seam until I get to within ¼” at the end of the seam. Again, I can use the red lines on the presser foot to guide me. I’ll use the FIX function once more to tie off the end of that seam.

I now have the first seam for the cube pillow that starts and stops ¼” away from the top and bottom of the blocks.

Use the FIX function and the red lines as a guide to start the seam ¼” from the top of the block.

Use the FIX function and the red lines as a guide to end the seam ¼” from the bottom of the block.

Sew four blocks together in a row using the same technique as outlined above. Then join the first and last block together using the same technique to get a square with your blocks. Now we have to add the top and the bottom.

Adding the top and bottom of the cube pillow

For this next part, I found it easier if I removed the extension table from the Sapphire 960Q. It just gave me more room to maneuver the project. I’m going to place the right side of one of the remaining two blocks right sides together with any one of the blocks in my loop of four blocks.

Match up the corners. I’m going to sew the exact same seam (beginning and ending ¼” from the edge of the block) as I did to join the first set of four blocks. Because the seams don’t extend all the way to the edge of the blocks, this is an easy task.

Adding the top of the cube

You can see below that the ends of each seam are just touching, but they’re not overlapping each other. Remember that that line of stitching right at the edge is the basting stitch which holds the three layers of each block together. Without that basting stitch, it would be very difficult to stitch these cube pillows.

Ends of the seams are touching, but not overlapping

Start and stop on each of the four sides of the bottom of the cube pillow and then repeat with the last block for the top of the pillow. This time, you’re going to sew one complete side and then two half seams leaving half of the top open so you can insert the foam.

Leave half of the top open so you can insert the foam.

You can now turn the pillow inside out and admire those Y seams from the outside. There’s no need to push them out too far. There’s a lot of bulk at the corner and these are fun pillows. They don’t need to be perfect.

Y seam from the outside of the cube pillow

Cube pillow is almost finished

It’s time to insert the foam. I happened to have 2″ thick foam that I was going to use for another project that never happened. It just so happened that I had already cut it into 12″ squares so I decided to use the foam to fill the cube pillows. I had enough foam for 2 pillows. Then I found foam at a mattress store that was 6″ thick. They cut the foam for me and I only needed two pieces that measured 12″ x 12″ x 6″. I used the 6″ foam on the remaining three pillows.

If you buy the 2″ slab of foam, you can use an electric knife to cut it. Works like a charm!

Foam cut and ready for inserting into the pillow form

It was easy to get the first 5 pieces of the 2″ thick foam into the pillow form. Notice that I started by filling the “bottom” or the sewn part of the pillow. I knew that last piece was going to be tricky as the foam wasn’t going to slide very well on itself.

Inserting the 2″ pieces of foam

I decided to try my rotary cutting rulers to help slide that last piece of foam into the pillow and they worked like a charm. I ended up using two rulers so the piece of foam that I was inserting wouldn’t touch the foam already inside the pillow and I had no problem to get that last piece in the pillow.

Use your rotary cutting rulers to allow the foam to slip into the pillow

I used the same process with the thicker pieces of foam. I placed the first piece in the pillow. Then I placed the rulers on top of that foam piece so I could slide the second piece of 6″ foam into the pillow. I pulled the rulers out and the foam was in the pillow.

Last step was to hand stitch the opening closed.

Hand stitch the opening to complete the pillow

You could use any fabric to make the cubes. Why not use a children’s fabric book, photos that have been transferred to fabric, embroidery images or anything that works for you. You just have to adjust the sizes accordingly.

Despite the fact that all the seams were Y seams, these cube pillows were a snap to sew together. And let me say that we’ve been having a blast playing with them in the office.

The features of the Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 960Q and the Quilter’s ¼” Piecing Foot made it so easy to sew them together. I couldn’t stop with just one!

I’ve got another foot to chat about tomorrow and then I’ve got another great project for you to make. Have a great day! Ciao!

This is part 3 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 2:  2 ways to machine stitch a binding on a quilt
Go to part 4:  Tips for using the free motion foot

Related posts

How to make a rag quilt

Tips for using the free motion foot

2 ways to machine stitch a binding on a quilt


Cheryl April 6, 2016 - 8:11 pm
That was a good tutorial. Thanks for the tips.
Quilting Tangent April 5, 2016 - 10:18 am
Cute blocks, nice tutorial.
Elaine March 25, 2016 - 2:34 pm
Great tips. Thanks for. Sharing them.
Add Comment