A Quilty Kind of Girl

February 23, 2010

Tutorial Tuesday – Nesting Seams in a Four Patch

Filed under: Tutorial Tuesday — quiltcetera @ 12:00 am
Tags: , ,

Nesting seams is a technique quilters use to match seams which intersect with another seam. The simplest example that I can think of is a four patch unit. Four squares of fabric all share an intersection. It is desirable to have all four fabrics align at a center point. This alignment must be arranged before sewing and can be secured with the use of pins. My personal choice is fork pins which straddle the seam, securing it on both sides. The same result can be accomplished with two single pins. Have a look at the following tutorial to see the method I used for lining up the center seams of these four patch units.

Two little patches

Two patches waiting to become a four patch.

I've turned the patches over so you can see the seams on the wrong side.

Look how much bulk a seam creates. Imagine sewing this together with both seams pointing in the same direction.

Now that I've turned the seams in opposite directions, the bulk is distributed to either side of the seam.

This is how the seams will look once they are lined up correctly.

This is where the fork pin enters the fabric. Notice how it pierces the fabric on either side of the seam.

Keeping the fork pin erect, it should be pushed through the fabric, exiting 1/4 inch below the entry point.

This patch is now ready for sewing. The fork pin will not be removed when stitching, Instead, the sewing speed will be very very slow, as you walk over the pin to avoid impact with your needle.

The final result. Using fork pins will allow you to create nearly perfect patchwork. Nesting your seams will improve your precision which will show in the points and corners.

Let me know what you think of this week’s Tuesday Tutorial, and I hope you can make it back for next week. Feel free to leave me comment if you have any ideas you would like to see made into a tutorial.

Quilty Hugs,


PS. Scoot on over to etsy, where I listed some of my beloved Amy Butler fabrics so that you can make your very own Fabulous Charm Pack Purse. If you want them you better hurry, cuz I’m seriously considering changing my mind!

PPS. If you really want to make your Reversible Charm Pack Purse from Botany Fabric just like I did, then go ahead and click on the pretty Fat Quarter Shop banner below. The Lovely Kim and Fabulous Jocelyn are waiting for your visit. πŸ™‚

Only "The Best" Selection of Moda Fabrics Online!!


  1. Thank you Bradie! I find this very useful. It is also very clear how to do it because of the way you present it ( even for a complete beginner like me) :))

    Comment by Christina Holland — February 23, 2010 @ 2:54 am | Reply

    • I am so glad to hear you say that Christina. That is exactly what I am aiming for. πŸ™‚ Thank you!

      Comment by quiltcetera — February 24, 2010 @ 10:15 pm | Reply

  2. Thank you Bradie. This tutorial was extremely useful and very clear. I look forward to next weeks tutorial.
    Loved the charm pack purse on moda. Very tempted to make 2 for my 2 girls.
    Thanks for the inspiration,

    Comment by Marsha — February 23, 2010 @ 4:46 am | Reply

    • It is truly my pleasure Marsha. Thanks for stopping by! πŸ˜€

      Comment by quiltcetera — February 24, 2010 @ 10:16 pm | Reply

  3. Love this tutorial…I do nesting seams when quilting…but never thought of the fork pins…I need to find some…much easier than two pins! Thanks!!!

    Comment by Carmen — February 23, 2010 @ 5:55 am | Reply

    • Hi Carmen! When I run out of fork pins, I resort to double straight pins. Sometimes a girls gotta do, what a girls gotta do! lol

      Comment by quiltcetera — February 24, 2010 @ 10:17 pm | Reply

  4. Thank you for the tutorial. I have only just found your blog so I look forward to further exploring. If you cannot nest seams, say if your block has several half square triangles meeting how do you tackle that?

    Comment by Marianne — February 23, 2010 @ 7:26 am | Reply

    • Hi Marianne,
      what block are you working on? If I know the block perhaps I can help you better.

      Comment by quiltcetera — February 24, 2010 @ 10:18 pm | Reply

  5. I was taught to sew with seams pressed open, I am a self taught quilter. I have recently joined 2 different quilt guilds but I have not inquired about the seams.

    Comment by Christene Mason — February 23, 2010 @ 8:02 am | Reply

    • Hi Christene,
      open seams do have their uses, but for the most part the seams, are generally pressed to one side or the other.

      Comment by quiltcetera — February 24, 2010 @ 10:20 pm | Reply

  6. Hey Bradie, thanks for this. Were you seeing my fork pin questions on Facebook on the weekend? haha

    Ok, so if I put the forkpins in the way you indicate with them hanging off the edge, then I can’t use my 1/4″ guide. Will give it a try your way this afternoon.

    Comment by Mishka — February 23, 2010 @ 8:25 am | Reply

    • How did it work Michele? The fork pins still work with a metal guide. When you sew slowly, you can just ease them under carefully.

      Comment by quiltcetera — February 24, 2010 @ 11:31 pm | Reply

  7. Thank you for the tutorial on this, I have been trying to match mine up for so long and having you show it this way looks so much easier, I am self taught and can’t wait for next weeks, I have lots to learn still.

    Comment by Teena — February 23, 2010 @ 12:39 pm | Reply

  8. excellent tutorial, great photo’s I tend to look before I read, so I really appreciate that…fork pins are on my “need” list now!

    Comment by Rhonda Duncan — February 23, 2010 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

  9. What a great idea Bradie! I never heard of fork pins before, but now I am going to look for them. Anything to make my quilting life easier.

    p.s. When is the guild meeting next? At what time? I will see you there, and yes you can bring my prize there. Thank you.

    Comment by Patricia — February 23, 2010 @ 1:30 pm | Reply

    • Hi Patricia,
      I’ve seen them at most shops locally. Did you get my message about guild?

      Comment by quiltcetera — February 24, 2010 @ 10:22 pm | Reply

  10. Nice explanation Brady. Thanks.

    Comment by anthony — February 23, 2010 @ 8:40 pm | Reply

  11. Thanks for commenting on my blog! I’ve just in the past couple weeks thought, for the first time, that I might like to make a couple quilts (that’s how it starts, right?). Thinking I may need a class though. I can’t imagine my sewing being nearly as perfect as the pictures of yours in this tutorial. Beautiful!

    Comment by Jackie L. — February 24, 2010 @ 11:01 am | Reply

    • Hi Jackie!
      I’m going to have to send you a picture of my #TwitKal. I dropped a stitch and didn’t notice until about 6 rows later. Somehow, I still had the right number of stitches but I’m not sure how to fix it. Still trudging through the lace though. Slowly, slowly.

      Quilting and knitting seem to be two hobbies that work well together! I’m sure you would love it. Thank you for the compliments!

      Comment by quiltcetera — February 24, 2010 @ 10:27 pm | Reply

  12. Very useful! I think I need to go get me some of those pins! I have the hardest time with nesting seams on ANYTHING!

    Comment by Lady Ozma — February 24, 2010 @ 10:25 pm | Reply

  13. Thanks for the tutorial. It was very clear, and of course it’s easy when the angles are 90 degree, but what when you need to stitch 2 or more half square triangles? I never seem to stick to one same pattern, so I end up ironing them to one side or other, without any order, to flatten down the bulk. Will appreciate some help on this (I can sense your next tutorial will be about this…)

    Comment by ana — February 25, 2010 @ 3:32 pm | Reply

    • Hi Ana,
      yes, a triangle tutorial is brewing. πŸ™‚ (it won’t be this week though.)

      Comment by quiltcetera — February 27, 2010 @ 1:43 am | Reply

  14. […] you need help with nesting seams, you can visit my tutorial on that very […]

    Pingback by Day One – The Easter Mini Quilt Along « A Quilty Kind of Girl — March 22, 2010 @ 5:30 pm | Reply

  15. […] Now to make the center four patch. Fabrics used for this step are:Sea Glass Green – TWO squares measuring (2 1/2) X (2 1/2) inches & Apple Green – TWO squares measuring (2 1/2) X (2 1/2) inches.For instructions on how to make a four patch, you can see my Nesting Seams in a Four Patch tutorial here. […]

    Pingback by Week One – Summer Star Sampler Quilt Along 2010 « A Quilty Kind of Girl — July 6, 2010 @ 10:13 am | Reply

  16. Thanks for this wonderful tutorial! Since I’m self-taught, I’ve never even heard of fork pins. Will go have a look for them now.

    Comment by Elnora C — July 17, 2012 @ 5:20 pm | Reply

  17. Reblogged this on unity2013.

    Comment by unityoness2013 — December 5, 2014 @ 8:25 pm | Reply

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