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.
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″
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.
2. Sew your seam down the block, stopping and backstitching about 1″ before the end of the square.
Your block should look like this so far:
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.
4. Right sides together, sew the top strip on as normal.
Press your seams.
5. Repeat this usual piecing process for the right and bottom strips.
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.
Starting where you backstitched in Step 2, finish sewing down the seam to complete it. Press your seams.
Congratulations! You just finished your first partial seam block!