Nesting and Spinning Seams Tutorial

Posted on August 08, 2016 by Cristy Fincher | 6 comments

Hi Everyone!!

August is here, which means it's back-to-school time for us in Arizona. My kiddos started school last week. They were really excited to start the new year and see all of their friends. Summer break was challenging and wonderful all at the same time. Running a business from home is hard when all three kids have FUN as their top priority. And we did have a lot of fun. I must be honest, though. I'm happy to have some uninterrupted work (and cleaning - because I have to do that, too) time back in my daily schedule. 

I think it's time for a tutorial! I really love sharing my love of quilting and sewing with all of you. It's so amazing that I can reach and teach so many quilters by just typing, adding pictures and clicking "Publish". I hope you enjoy learning! Well, here we go!

Nesting and spinning seams (which may be called something different by another quilter) is my absolute favorite way to reduce the bulk at the intersection of multiple seams. It's very useful, and pretty dang cool, too. It's one of those things that gives me such a sense of satisfaction. The process is quite simple, but will take a bit of practice and thought when you're just starting out. Bookmark, pin or share this post so that you always have it handy! Plus, I have a video on YouTube called Spinning Seams, if you prefer. 

Step 1:
I'm making a little 4-patch block to demo how to nest and spin and intersection of 4 seams. Layout your blocks and draw a fine line of glue on the inside of the seam allowance of your first block, about 1/8" from the edge. I'm using our MicroFine Glue Tips and Elmer's Washable School Glue as my basting glue.

Step 2:
Do the same for the second row of blocks. With right sides together, align the second block of each row on to the first. 

Heat-set with a hot, dry iron.

Step 3:
Optional - mark a dot at the 1/4" spot at the beginning and end of where your seam will be. 

Step 4:
Start sewing at that 1/4" mark. This is where sewing may not feel as speedy at your regular ol' chain piecing. I promise with all of my heart that this step is completely worth the extra few seconds it will take. (I'm sewing a scant 1/4" seam with 50wt cotton thread from DMC and Schmetz Machine Embroidery Needles, size 75/11.)

Take 1-2 stitches, then back-stitch. If your machine has a "lock-stitch" feature, feel free to use it at the start of the seam.

Step 5:
Stop sewing and back-stitch or lock-stitch at the 1/4" mark at the end of the seam. Do not sew off of the edge. Leaving this 1/4" opening will allow the seam to open when it's sewn to the next row.

Repeat for the second row of blocks. You can chain piece your rows by lifting up your needle and foot to sew the second row. 

Step 6:
Set your seam. Oh my quilting friends, I cannot tell you how important setting your seams is (maybe that needs its own blog post). Have you ever gotten those pesky little ripples at your seam after pressing to the side? Try setting your seam first! You may find that you have little to no ripples after pressing to the side. It's amazing!

Press to the dark side (or to the side that you prefer). Be sure that the seams of the top and bottom rows alternate directions, like right/left, etc.

Step 7:
Glue baste the rows together by drawing a fine line of glue along the edge of one row.

With right sides together, align the rows and nest the seams. Heat set (don't forget that part). Big tip here: ALWAYS align a row from the center and/or intersecting seam to the outside edges. By doing this, you'll ensure that your seams intersect, even if you end up a little short in the seam allowance. Shortages can be absorbed in the seam allowance, and from the front you'll never know, plus your points will match ;).

Step 8:
Start sewing at a 1/4" down from the top, especially if you might be adding on to your block. Back-stitch or lock-stitch just like before.

Sew straight through any intersections. Stopping is NOT necessary. Continue sewing to the 1/4" mark at the end of the seam. Back-stitch or lock-stitch.

Step 9:
Now it's time for the magic! Open the intersection of the seam by guiding the sections of the seam to go in opposite directions. One side will go up, and one will go down. All of the seams will spin like a pinwheel around the intersection. Isn't is fantastic?! 

If the intersection doesn't open easily, there might be a bit of glue holding it together. Simply release it by pulling the seams apart with your fingers and you'll be good to go.

Step 10:
Press your seams nice and flat with a bit of starch or steam. Just look at that intersection! I'm in love!

And here's what it looks like from the back - so pretty!!

I hope that you'll give this a try and practice it a few times. This method will make the backs of your quilts look fantastic, it makes your seams strong and it makes quilting your quilt (hello, stitch in the ditch!) so much easier. Plus, the satisfaction and pride that you'll have in your work will be so much greater (at least I hope).

Not every seam can be nested and spun. As you create blocks and quilts, you'll begin to discover when this method will come in handy for you. Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments!

You have to take a look at this amazing quilt called Big Bang Quilt by Mister Domestic. He blogged about his process and how he used my Spinning Seams video on YouTube to help him piece his blocks together. His quilt is not to be missed!

Happy Quilting!

Posted in Spinning Seams, Tips & Tricks, Tutorial



6 Responses


September 30, 2016

do you do this with any size of block that you are sewing together? Im making a quilt and the squares are 4×10, So would you do this for this size squares?

Lisa J
Lisa J

August 11, 2016

Thanks for the tut! Good info!


August 10, 2016

Hi Susan. Have you tried glue basting? It’s really not time consuming at all. And you save so much time by not having to take out pins or readjust your pieces at the machine. I hope that you’ll give it a try.

Hi Mara. Yes, absolutely. I show exactly that in my video on YouTube. Thank you!

Hi Maria. It’s my pleasure! Thank you for commenting.

Susan Stitch
Susan Stitch

August 10, 2016

Why the glue? What happens if you don’t do that (very time consuming) step?


August 10, 2016

Can you nest seams after making HST’s ?

Maria H
Maria H

August 08, 2016

A very secure way to spin the 4 block without cutting the threads in the intersection.
Thank you for this tutorial.

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