Partial Seams Tutorial

Partial Seams Tutorial by Fresh Lemons Quilts

This tutorial is a long time coming. Last year at the Sewing Summit, I taught some of you how to sew partial seams. I’ve been using this technique quite a bit lately, between writing the Starfall quilt pattern and my upcoming book. I hope you will find this tutorial helpful – if not today, then in the future when you run across a block needing this technique.

My usual disclaimer…this is how I personally sew partial seams. I am self taught, I’m sure there are a thousand ways to do this. This is mine.

Partial Seams Tutorial

The partial seams technique allows you to partially sew one piece of fabric to another, and then come back at a later point to finish the seam.

For example, at first glance this block looks like a log cabin. But upon closer inspection, you see that each of the “logs” is the same length (and longer than the center piece). Using partial seams, you can easily sew this together.

Partial Seams Tutorial by Fresh Lemons Quilts

If you’d like to work along with this tutorial, cut 1 square and 4 strips as listed below. (These are the cut sizes, not the finished sizes.)

Center Square – Cut (1) 4-1/2″ x 4-1/2″
Side Rectangles – Cut (4) 1-1/4″ x 5-1/4″

Partial Seams Tutorial by Fresh Lemons Quilts

1. You can start on any side of the block. I started on the left side and worked clockwise. Place your left strip, right side together with the center block. Align the top edges. As you can see, the strip will hang off the bottom of the block.

Partial Seams Tutorial by Fresh Lemons Quilts

2. Sew your seam down the block, stopping and backstitching about 1″ before the end of the square.

Partial Seams Tutorial by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Your block should look like this so far:

Partial Seams Tutorial by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Press your seams as desired.

3. When you lay your top rectangle against the top edge of the block, you should notice it is now the exact length of the block.

Partial Seams Tutorial by Fresh Lemons Quilts

4. Right sides together, sew the top strip on as normal.

Partial Seams Tutorial by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Press your seams.

Partial Seams Tutorial by Fresh Lemons Quilts

5. Repeat this usual piecing process for the right and bottom strips.

Partial Seams Tutorial by Fresh Lemons Quilts

6. Now we are ready to finish the original seam. Fold your unsewn left rectangle back over the sewn block, aligning the unsewn edge. Pin into place.

Partial Seams Tutorial by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Starting where you backstitched in Step 2, finish sewing down the seam to complete it. Press your seams.

Partial Seams Tutorial by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Congratulations! You just finished your first partial seam block!



  1. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing your technique. I love the fabrics you use here, too.

  2. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    Thank you for this tutorial – this looks so much simpler than the bonkers method I had in my head when I have tried to work out how to do this kind of thing in the past. Lovely clear pictures x

  3. Reply

    Karen Bloemker

    May 8, 2013

    Superb instruction writing! Seriously the most concise, easy-to-follow directions ever – thank you!

  4. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    Thank you for the clear, concise directions — and the pictures as well. Finally I can say I’m willing to do a block with partial seams.

  5. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    I never thought to do it this way. Fantastic!

  6. Reply

    Gemma Roberts

    May 8, 2013

    Thank you for this tutorial. I’ve kept clear of partial seems, but now feel happy to have a go with your tutorial next to me and the machine 🙂 x

    • Reply

      Mary G

      November 17, 2014

      Me, too – I love the look but felt intimidated by it. This tutorial makes it look so easy and “logical”. Thank you.

  7. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    Oh man, I did sooo many of these when I made a quilt for my husband from his worn out dress shirts! I used the same method you did 🙂

  8. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    what a great tute, thanks for sharing

  9. Reply

    Esther F.

    May 8, 2013

    Thank you very much for this tutorial!
    The pictures and text are very clear!!!

  10. Reply

    Angela Baker

    May 8, 2013

    Omigosh. That is so easy! Thanks for another great tutorial. We love you, Faith!

  11. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    Thank you so much for sharing. Just this morning I saw a block on a Korean site on fb and was wondering how to make it. This is the very tutorial I needed !

  12. Reply

    Jen Nelson

    May 8, 2013

    Thank you for the great tutorial 🙂

  13. Reply

    Ben D

    May 8, 2013

    Thanks for the tutorial. I like this type of border.

    Oh, how I wish I had some of that fabric to make a flag for the “To Boston With Love” project. My one visit to Boston was in 1992 when the tall ships were there in celebration of Columbus’ anniversary.

  14. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    So clever ~ great tutorial!

  15. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    Thank you so much for this excellent tutorial!! Your concise and clear instructions make it all so easy!!

  16. Reply

    Dana Harris

    May 8, 2013

    You are so smart! Thanks for the tutorial.

  17. Reply

    Liz DandeliondD

    May 8, 2013

    I can’t wait to give this a try.
    Thanks for a great tutorial and the wonderful inspiration too.
    Gorgeous fabrics.

  18. Reply

    Jill Daniels

    May 8, 2013

    Great tutorial! Thank you for all your great tips!

  19. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    Thanks for sharing your tip.Love the fussy cut.

  20. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    Thank you for a great tutorial!
    Looks so obvious (pictures are so helpful!) but it wouldn’t have occurred to me to do it like this!!!

  21. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    Holy smokes! That’s simple! I had to piece some pieces together for a quilt I made not long ago. Mine was a little more complicated than this. But anyway… Either way, while I was making that one, I tried to figure this out, too. I have thought about this and thought about it, but for some reason have never seen how simple it would be! Perfect! Thanks for sharing.

  22. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    Thanks for the tutorial, I keep seeing patterns that refer to this technique so it will come in handy!

  23. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    Too funny, I finally made up my partial seams blocks from SS at the weekend there!

  24. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    Thanks for your tutorial! I learned one technique for partial seams just a few days ago…now I know a second method! Always great to have multiple methods in your arsenal!
    Have a great day!
    PS. I love your fabric!

  25. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    Faith, you are unbelievable! I am so glad I found you awhile back, have bought several of your patterns. Thank you so much for you absolutely wonderful details in helping this newbee quilter at age 70. I appreciate all your help! Please let me & all us know when you are going to make your book available. Again, thank you! Nancy

  26. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    When I started quilting, I always wondered why log cabin blocks weren’t evenly “logged”, but then I was taught to fear partial seams… You just made it look so simple! Thank you soooo much, I am no longer afraid and can’t wait to try it out!!

  27. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    Oh. That’s it? I’ve been afraid of partial seams because they seamed intimidating but I can do this!

  28. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    Brilliant! Thanks for the tutorial, this looked so intimidating, who knew it was this simple!

  29. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    Thanks so much for the tutorial. I just bought the modern quilting magazine with your BEAUTIFUL quilt in it. Can you also do a quick tutorial for block C? I just can’t figure it out. 🙁
    Thanks for all the inspiration. Yours in one of my favorite blogs. 🙂

  30. Reply

    Jennifer @ Ellison Lane Quitls

    May 8, 2013

    Clear as can be. Thanks Faith!

  31. Reply

    melissa steigerwald

    May 8, 2013

    Great tutorial Faith! Looks like something I can actually handle. Thanks!

  32. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    Thank you! I bought that issue so I can make your Starfall quilt!

  33. Reply


    May 8, 2013

    Wait, this is a technique? Sweet! I do this when I make things require a partial seem by bad measuring, just to kind of rig it together. I feel better now.

    Thanks for the tutorial, clear and lovely as always!

  34. Reply


    May 9, 2013

    Great tut! Thanks for sharing.

  35. Reply


    May 9, 2013

    Love this tut- thanks for sharing! Does it matter how you press the seams- open or to the side? Thanks!

    • Reply


      May 9, 2013

      Either way Cindy, whatever you are most comfortable doing. I pressed mine to the sides for this block.

  36. Reply


    May 9, 2013

    Thanks for giving clear and concise instructions on another technique to add to my toolkit!

  37. Reply

    Jennifer B

    May 9, 2013

    Thank you! I’ve been sewing most of my life, but am just learning to quilt. This was just what I needed, clear, concise instructions.

  38. Reply

    Rebecca Grace

    May 9, 2013

    See, this is perfect. This is the kind of block that LOOKS so scary that it frightens many beginners away, but the way you explain it? It’s suddenly a piece of cake! Thank you! 🙂

  39. Reply


    May 9, 2013

    Great tutorial. I learned a lot. You make it look so easy….well I guess it is easy now!! Blessings Lee

  40. Reply


    May 9, 2013

    Love this technique–so easy and I never would have thought of it! Will definitely use it in the future :-))

  41. Reply


    May 12, 2013

    Wonderful! and it is so simple! What is with my brain that I cannot see how this was done!???
    AND can you please tell me what fabric that is with the ship. I love that.

    • Reply


      May 16, 2013

      Hi Cat! The fabric is from Out to Sea by Sarah Jane Studios. 🙂

  42. Reply


    September 2, 2015

    Can you do paper piecing on copier paper, or do you have to transfer it to a lighter paper? if so what do you suggest? I love the way you do your tutorials, so easy to follow so going to give it a try. Also would like to print off the instructions and pictures, but it also prints off all the comments and takes way to much paper and ink. Thank uou so much for sharing your knowledge. God Bless Katie

    • Reply


      September 2, 2015

      Hi Katie – thanks for your comment! I use regular printer paper (I do waaaaay too much paper piecing to mess with any “special” paper – no time for that! :))

      If you want to print the tutorial, just select for your printer to print the first 3 or 4 pages instead of “All”. That should limit the printing of the comments.


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