Introducing “Let’s Talk…” an open forum for discussing just about anything – especially if it’s quilt-related!
I’m so excited to start my first “Let’s Talk” series with a discussion about pressing seams open vs. to the side! I’ll give you my thoughts and then please feel free to participate by adding your own comments. I’d love to hear what you think!
I have always pressed my seams to the side. I don’t want to sound like a “know it all” (because I’m definitely not) or that I’m right and everyone else is wrong (only when I say so 😉 ). I just want to give you a few reasons for what I do and open up a discussion about it. Here we go…
- It’s faster. This is my number one reason for pressing seams to the side, because I love efficiency when it comes to my time spent on quilting. And it’s not just faster to press to the side, but it’s faster matching your seam intersections.
- It allows you to create opposing seam allowances that “lock” together or “nest”. This gives you more accurate seam intersections (and it’s faster). It takes me much longer to match my seams when they’re pressed open as shown below in the top piece. I love having my intersections nest and then pinning that in place. Sometimes I pin on both sides of the seam and sometimes I pin diagonally with one pin (and anchoring both sides). You can see that in the bottom piece, right side.
- Pressing seams to the side establishes a stronger quilt because it’s both the fabric and thread that are holding those seams together rather than just the thread. When you think about it, if your seam has been pressed open and you look at the seam from the right side, you can actually see the stitches of thread that are holding your seams together. If you look at a seam that is pressed to the side, you see a crease in the fabric, no stitches. Those stitches are covered (and therefore protected) by fabric. Does that make sense?
- If your seams are pressed open, I wouldn’t suggest that you stitch in the ditch when quilting your project. This will further weaken your seams by possibly severing some of those stitches as you quilt and separating your fabric at the seams.
So, it comes down to these three things: EFFICIENCY, ACCURACY AND INTEGRITY!
O.K. every “rule” has its exceptions. I know the number one reason that people press their seams open is because it lays flatter. That is a fact. SO, sometimes I will press a seam open because it just finishes flatter that way. This usually occurs when I’m piecing a complicated block; the last rows that are stitched will get pressed open and my block will look better and lay flatter.
Here’s a block that I found from last year where I pressed open the half square triangle units AND the final two seams. I’m not sure why I did it that way, but I can be “open” to try new things!
Most importantly, do what feels comfortable to you! I know there’s more than one way to peel an orange and you are the final judge of what works for you. We can still be friends, right?
Now it’s your turn. What are your thoughts about pressing seams open vs. to the side? Leave a comment and let us know what works for you!