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Pressing Seams Discussion: Recap

I really enjoyed our last “discussion” about pressing seams to the side vs. pressing seams open.  Thank you for participating and making my first “Let’s Talk” session a great success!

4 examplesI hope I didn’t come across as the quilt police; that was definitely not my intention.  I do have a strong opinion about pressing seams, but it’s not a judgement against anyone who doesn’t do things my way.  Whatever works for you is the best way!

In general, most of the quilters who commented, press their seams to the side unless it’s a really complex, bulky seam in which they will press that one open.

final seams pressed open

After reading all of the comments, I found some additional pearls of wisdom that I’d like to share:

  • If you’re going to be free motion quilting, those bulky seam intersections can really mess with your “perfect” feather or circle.  It can make it difficult to maintain a smooth motion while quilting.  So pressing open helps alleviate that.
  • If you know ahead of time that you’ll be stitching in the ditch, consider pressing to the side.
  • Pressing seams open helps some people with accuracy in their piecing.
  • If you’re piecing a really small block (think Farmer’s Wife) or miniature quilt, they might finish nicer by pressing seams open.
  • If you’re pressing to the side and experiencing “bulk” issues, try using a thinner bobbin thread to help the seams lay flat.
  • When pressing seams open, your stitches can unravel at the beginning or end of the seam.  Shorten your stitch length.
  • Some patterns don’t give pressing instructions.  If you press everything open, you don’t have to think guess so much!
  • On bulky seam intersections, try using a small rubber mallet or hammer and give it a whack!  (But be gentle)!

I also did a little more research and found a few good articles that you might find helpful:

  1. Pressing Like a Pro @ All People Quilt.  This covers 10 great pressing tips.  Short and sweet!
  2. How to Press Quilt Seams @ Stitch This!  Good, general guidelines and a few tips.
  3. When You Should Press Your Seams Open by Mabry Benson.  She is a very strong proponent of pressing your seams open.

I’ll probably do a “Let’s Talk” post once a month.  I haven’t decided on the next topic, but I might take on the subject of sewing machines.  I’d love to hear what your favorite machine is!

Let's Talk Button framedThanks for being a part of my quilting and crafting education and enjoy the rest of your day/evening!


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  1. Julie,
    I do a 5-10 minute blurb each month on quilting education at my guild’s night meeting. This month I was asked my the day education person to fill in for her and did a version of the same theme for the day folks, too. The theme is month was on bulk – pressing seams open or to the side. I got my idea from you and my info gave mostly from the discussion here and was supplemented from the other resources mentioned. I had many, many positive comments. Of course, I’m intimidated because we have lots of great quilters. Some of our ladies are even juried into shows. Someone told me she heard some of the ladies saying, “I didn’t know that!” I just gave them food for thought and reminded them that the quilt police do not exist. We are gearing up for our quilt show and I told them no one was going to rip their quilts open to see which way their seams are pressed. Thank you for a great idea for discussion.

  2. Great information Julie. I also learned from the other suggested sites. I am a beginner so I am reading and trying everything to find what will work best for me. Thank you again

  3. Hi Julie! I really enjoyed reading “let’s talk” article about pressing seams. So far I often use white background fabric and I really need to press seams towards dark side of fabric. But your discussion and summary were very inspiring and the references are also interesting to read. I am thinking about trying out press seams open once in near future when I do more complicated blocks or detailed quilting.

  4. Hi Julie
    I also like the ideal of Let’s Talk, to press open or to the side is a wonderful topic because so many quilters face this question sooner or later and to be able to read what everyone else is doing give quilters a chance to experiment different ways of doing things.

  5. I see I commented on the sewing machine question and everyone is talking about pressing seams still. Sorry

  6. I have 3 Brother Sewing Machines and a baby lock serger. I have enjoyed using all of them. Unfortunately the latest purchase has been having more mechanical problems then all the others. I am told it is wearing out and time for a new one but I am amazed at the cost to replace this one.

  7. Thank you very much for providing a follow-up to the discussion on pressing of seam allowances and for taking time to provide us with more reading material. The 3 links are all very interesting and informative.
    I cannot wait to see what people think about their sewing machines and which ones are their favourite.
    For me it is my 30+ year old Bernina machine. It is still going strong and I use it for FMQ and piecing – max width and length of stitches is 4mm. I have a combo embroidery/sewing machine; my second one; and although it embroiders very nicely it does not sew nearly as nice as the old Bernina. I also have another older sewing machine (18 years old), a Husqvarna/Viking, I use for dressmaking. It is a nice machine but does not sew through everything I can throw at it like the old Bernina.

  8. I didnt have time to participate in your last discussion but enjoyed reading the results. Hope to join in your next discussion. I enjoy your blog tremendously. Thanks Julie
    Gmama Jane

  9. As a beginner quilt/wall hanging person, I loved the information. Gives new views and also ideas to try to find out which works best on your project. Keep up the good work.

  10. Thanks for including a recap in your discussion posts. I can never remember to go back in a few days to see what others have posted.

  11. I think the Let’s Talk is a great idea for a series of posts and enjoyed participating! I was pressing the seam for a backing yesterday and thought of your post. And wondered, “Does everyone press that seam open?” Looking forward to your next discussion topic!

  12. Hi Julie, I did not comment on the Let’s talk because all the points seemed to be pretty well covered by the time I read the blog. But I did enjoy reading the blog and all the comments. I look forward to your next Let’s talk. This one had a good discussion going. you might want to take on ‘to pre-wash or not to pre-wash’, that is the question.

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