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A Pressing Matter

Updated: May 23, 2023



There is a lot of chatter out there about pressing these days. Over the years, fabric quality has improved and become thicker, making some very bulky seams. They will not lay flat and are hard to work with. So, what's the answer? Do you press the seams open or to the side? I'm glad you asked ;) I guess the answer is it depends. Here are a few things to consider when determining how to press for the best results in your piecing.

Here is an adorable llama quilt with quite a bit of piecing in the face. Some of these pieces are the size of a postage stamp! The fabric used is a heavier linen/cotton blend that makes for great texture, but it also makes some of the thickest piecing you’ve ever seen. The maker (Michelle) wisely pressed all the seams open around each piece. This allows each of the pieces to lay flat instead of the seams rolling to one side or the other. If you plan to press your seams open, you may want to lower your stitch length to 2.0 or even 1.8 if you can. This will help keep your seams secure even when stressed.

Here we have it all! The strips are sewn together to make the blocks, and pressed in one direction. The blocks are sewn into rows, and those seams are pressed opposite each other so they “nest” when the rows are sewn together. Then, the long seams that join the rows are pressed open to disperse the bulk evenly to either side. This makes for a very clean outcome! The best of all worlds. Nice work, Elaina :)

Here is a trick I used recently when piecing diamonds together. These diamonds were left over from my Ombre Blossoms quilt.

I had pieced a skinny gold strip down the center and pressed the seams towards the outside. This created a channel down the middle with ridges on either side. The gold strip is only ½” so sloppy pressing could make a visual difference in the final outcome.

I sewed triangles to either side of the diamond, turning it into a larger triangle unit. You can see I pressed the first seam in towards the diamond with the second seam out towards the background (this will be important later).


I made six of these diamond point/triangle units in different colors, each one with the first seam pressed in and the second seam pressed out. Now laying them side by side, the right seam will nest with the left seam of the next block. A little bit of pre-thinking has made for some easily nested seams.


Pin the larger triangle units together along one edge carefully matching the gold center strip at the point. Right at the tip, I rolled the top seam to the other side with my thumb so the gold strips would nest together. Pin in place and stitch.

Clip the seam, just shy of the stitching, so the rest of the seam will roll back the way it was. The gold strip nests beautifully at the tip.

Press this seam open. You can see how nice and flat that makes the front look.

I repeated this process to join all the diamond star points together. Just look at how flat that made things! All those seams coming together and there is very little bulk :)

So the answer is, sometimes we press open, sometimes it's best pressed to the side and sometimes we clip and split the seam. And sometimes that all happens in the same quilt!


Happy Sunday everyone!


Krista

Follow all my quilty adventures on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Visit my website for free tutorials and tips. If you like my patterns, you can buy them on Etsy, and here on the website. If you're looking for the gold metallic fabric, you can find that here.


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