10 April 2014

Kansas Dugout Quilt Block and Y Seam Tutorial

I just love this little guy.  Such an amazing little piece.  The 1/4" presser foot with guide.

Have you ever noticed those little notches along the side before?
Me either... Until now!

Each is spaced exactly 1/4" apart.  Hmmm.....

In Monday's post, which you can read here, I promised to share my secret on how I pieced the Kansas Dugout blocks without marking the seam lines.

This tutorial will show you just how I made those blocks.

I set Aunt Elna to Quilt with the 1/4" setting.

This automatically sets the needle at 8.3 and adjusts the stitch length to 1.80

Lay the square on top of the side piece with right sides together (RST).

Insert the needle 1/4" away from the raw edges of the square.
Notice that the back notch on the side of the presser foot is on the edge of the square?
No need to mark that corner.

Start sewing about three stitches, backstitch three stitches and then continue.

Stop stitching when the front notch is at the edge of your square and backstitch to lock the threads.
No need to mark that corner either.

Sew the other side piece on in the same manner.
Press the seams open.

Place the next side piece on the square with RST, centering it, and pin in place.

Do the same for the final side piece.

Flip the block over and insert the needle just a smidge in front of the seam.
Notice the center notch on the presser foot is now just in front of the seam?
No need to mark that corner.

Start sewing about three stitches, backstitch three stitches and then continue sewing.
 Stop stitching just a smidge before the seam, when the center notch is at the edge of your square, and backstitch to lock the threads.
No need to mark that corner either.

Sew the other side piece on in the same manner.
Press the seams open.

Your pressed block from the back.

Fold the block in half diagonally with RST.

The bottom edges of your sides will be alined, as will the pointy corners.
Notice how the center square is folded where it meets the side pieces?
Finger press to crease that diagonal fold.

Now I readjust Aunt Elna.

This puts the needle into the center position at 4.5 and the stitch length remains at 1.80

And I change to the regular presser foot.
*I will explain the reason at the end of the tutorial.*

Insert the needle just in front of that corner.  Sew three stitches and backstitch.
Then continue ALL THE WAY OFF THE END.

Here is the completed corner seam.
Do this for the remaining corners.

Ta, da!  You just sewed a Y seam!
Four of them, in fact!

Here is how the back looks prior to pressing.

I press my seams open whenever practical.
If you prefer, press them to the side.

Finished Kansas Dugout block - front view

I am NOT saying this way of making the Kansas Dugout block is the right way or the better way.  But it is my way.

And it is an easy way.  Because there is no marking involved.  And, by pressing the seams open, you can always see where to insert the needle and where to start and stop stitching without going into the adjoining pieces.  This also allows your finished top to lay smooth and flat.

*Why did I change from my 1/4" presser foot?*

The quilt math gods were frowning upon my method.  Using the edges of your center square to determine where to stop and start stitching results in a slight discrepancy or inaccuracy.  My bad!

So this caused my corner seams to be greater than 1/4".  The main thing is to continue that diagonal created by the fold and to watch that your side edge remains perpendiculr (at a right angle) to the seam.

As a side note....

My blocks were made with a directional print and CANNOT be used in an on point setting.

My Setting

On Point Setting

My Setting

On Point Setting

Personally, I do prefer the look of the on point setting.  It is more appealing and reflects the alternate name for this block - The Lattice Block.

Oh, well..... Maybe next time!

This top finished at 44" square.

As another side note....

Having used my AccuQuilt GO! Signature Block die, instead of the standard size of piece for this block, did not effect the final outcome, except in appearance.

Diagram A shows the pieces used for my block.
Diagram B shows the proportions for the traditional block.

The main thing is to ensure, on your side pieces, the length of the sides must be equal to the sides of the square.  And that the pointed ends are squared.

So whatever method you use to cut out your pieces, mark or not mark them, press open or press to the side and whatever setting you decide to put your blocks in.... Just remember one thing.

Y seams are not that hard.

And they advance your skills level to enable you to make other blocks.  To do mitered borders.

I encourage you to just try it.  Just do one block.

My Oblongagon quilt and Hexagon quilt both had Y seams.  I am planning to do another hexagon quilt and press the seams open as I go.  Perhaps this will make it's construction easier.

Throw another quilt into that bucket!
The Susannah quilt block.  I have been admiring that one.
This would make a gorgeous quilt, too!

This post has been added to my Tutorials page.
That page sure needed a spring cleaning!
Please come and have a look around!

Will you give Y seams a go?

Keep On Quilting On! 




Vicki said...

What a fantastic tut! You made it all very clear. Your quilt turned out spectacular. I am liking your block ideas.

Patricia said...

The way of a great quilter. Do what it takes to make it work. That's how to get it done. That's how I work too!

Quilt Art Design said...

This is soooo amazing. Im bookmarking it so that I can re-read it a few times. I wish I had at least 6 more arms and another 48 hours in my day, but I have to get the art quilt done, so .... maybe later.

Mara said...

Thanks for the tutorial, your machine sound awesome.

Katherine said...

Brilliant! Love useful tips like yours, Lorna. Bravo on a fab tute.

Your quilt top is so adorable!

MalinisQuilts said...

I have tried the Y seams on a different project and it didn't seem difficult. I guess, I always love a challenge.
By the way, your 1/4 quilting foot definitely makes piecing these blocks easier. I am not sure if my machine comes with similar settings as yours. But looks like you got a pretty neat machine to do that. This block is definitely going into my to do list. Thank you for sharing this wonderful tutorial!

BillieBee (billiemick) said...

Great Tute, but somehow I never get my "smidge" just right....grin.

Anonymous said...

I love the finished top! It almost looks like you're peering through a fence at the zoo animals inside :)

Vera said...

Your top looks lovely! Well done!

Wendy said...

great tutorial! Thank you!

Jessica said...

Great tutorial! I love the animal print. My son loves the "fruity Os". :)

Lin's Quilts said...

Your tutes are very well-thought -out. Thanks.
And I always enjoy your blog. You always have such great ideas!

Unknown said...

Love this and your tutorial- my kind of method also. Have pinned this on my to do list!

Vicki in MN said...

I had to run right to my 1/4" foot and look, yep I got those marks too :-) I have avoided Y seams in the past but I will give it another try. Thanks Lorna!! And I think those marks will come in handy for other things too.

Alyssa said...

Great tutorial with very clear photos. Thank you. Photos really help.

Jayne said...

I love the quilt and boy...great tutorial! I'm going to re-read this several times before I attempt it! Great job Lorna!

Jo Ferguson said...

I never noticed those marks on my 1/4 " foot. Wow, that will make life easier. This is an excellent, well-written and well-thought-out tutorial. I've sewn Y seams before and even though I don't mind doing them, you've given me an easier option............Thank you.

M-R Charbonneau said...

Thanks for the great tutorial, Lorna! I've never done a y-seam and you've almost convinced me to try. When I do, I'll definitely come back to your tutorial.

Marly said...

Thanks for the tutorial; you make it look SO EASY. Am I right in thinking that when you've finished the blocks you haven't finished with Y seams? You need to use them again when putting the rows together, don't you? I think I'll be trying this block pattern for a Christmas table runner; ideas are coming in already!

Paula@TheSassyQuilter said...

You made that look easy Lorna! Great pics too. I will definitely take notice of those notches on my foot!

Serena @ Sewgiving said...

I've never noticed those notches before either! Magic!

Carla S said...

I can't wait to try this block! Thank you so much for taking the mystery out of Y seams!

Susan at TheBoredZombie.com said...

Awesome! It's amazing how many of our tools are made to do a job and we don't even know it isnt it?? I'd never noticed that notch before, but it is there. No doubt about it. ha!

Jill Fisher said...

You had me at "no marking." I am going to go look at some feet. Right. Now.

atla said...

I know this is an old post, but I'm hoping you can answer a quick question to help me with a quilt in progress. I'm making my first quilt with y seams.. all large hexi shapes. I get how to sew the individual seams, but how do I approach the whole quilt top? Do I tackle the hexi's in rows.. clusters? It seems as if it's going to be difficult to sew large sets of y seams together, and I'm just not sure where to start. Thanks for any pointers you can offer! :)

Lorna McMahon said...

Hello Atla,

Unfortunately, you are a no-reply blogger, so I do hope you will come back here to see if I have responded to your question. Yes. Make the hexi's into rows. Then sew the rows together.

atla said...

Lorna, thank you! I was actually linked to one of your extended tutorials after asking for advice on another forum, and it is greatly helpful! Thanks so much for sharing all your beautiful work and wisdom, and for taking the time to respond to me :)

Follow me Everywhere!

Follow on Bloglovin'

Follow by Email HERE...

To have new posts delivered to your inbox, enter your email address, and click on Sign Up! FeedBurner will send a confirmation message. Click the verify link within that message to start your subscription.

Visit my Pattern Shop...

Wholesale printed patterns?
Contact me at

Join Our Sew Along on Facebook

Back to Top