Any Hints on Pressing

agnesdMarch 3, 2011

Always seem to end up with the seams pressed the wrong way. Not the simple 4 patch seams but the more complicated ones. Do you figure out the pressing for the whole block or as you put it together? Is there a formula? Sometimes it matches on the top but not on the bottom row and I'm repressing to sew a flatter seam.

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Sorry I can't help with your question, I have the same issues and even the "press to the dark side" doesn't always work out for me.
On Fon's and Porters television show that airs on PBS this past week I think, the entire show is devoted to irons and pressing. She has a guest (forget his name) that knows all about irons. Very interesting show and you may find it on the F&P website. She showed some very complicated blocks that were ironed/pressed with exceptional precision.
I am going to watch this posting to see if anyone else has any answers...

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 5:44AM
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I also have a problem with this. Sometimes it's obvious but sometimes it's not until you get so far along in a project that you realize you would have been better to press seams differently.
I love the magazine patterns that show you which way to press but they aren't always the patterns I want to do.

Hope some people have hints/tips for this.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 7:08AM
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I use the 'press to the dark side' method when doing the block, but have the same issues as the rest of you when it comes to sewing blocks together. Sometimes the seams just don't alternate. If necessary, I'll change the direction of a seam in a block so that it nests with the next one. I would rather have the little fold-over in the block than have all that fabric together at the seam. (Hope that makes sense...)


    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 9:46AM
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I have a book written by an accomplished quilter (I'll look for it) and she says the same thing. There is no perfect fool proof way to always get the seams to match. So she suggested doing just what Kate said.
I press it down and I have never noticed a lump!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 9:54AM
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Press to the dark is helpful, but you are right - sometimes it doesn't work or you get to a place with your piecing where you need to work with rows that are both light and dark. Here are two things that have helped me - actually relating to the piecing which helps the pressing go better. When seams are going to get bulky as you add more piecing later on - press the seam open. You can even press the first seam or two towards the dark and then swith to seams open. That is what I tend to do. It seems to reduce the bulk and make the piece look nicer once it is completed. This other "point" I learned just last year. Let's say you are piecing two blocks together and you might lay them on the sewing machine in the wrong direction and stitch the wrong side. (Haven't we all done that - for me, more times than I can remember!) When you pin the pieces together before sewing, place them so the point of the pin goes towards the side you need to sew. Yes, pointing you in the right direction! That has helped me so many time and I find I use my stitch ripper a lot less.
I almost always use steam, too. It really flattens those seams. Since I seldom work with bias edges, it works just fine for me.
Hope to see some more helpful information here. Wow, a whole TV episode on irons and pressing... I will have to see if that one is available here.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 10:22AM
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Oddball here.....I like to nestle the seams. The times the seams cannot be pressed to the same side, I make a cut in the seam allowance about 1/2" from one end which allows it to lie flat one way and the rest lies flat the other way. I'm horrible at describing what I mean so hope you get the picture. @:) Some of you might have seen this on a BD block I've sent.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 10:44AM
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Most of the time I press to the dark side of the seam and/or press toward the outer edge of the block. Usually simply pressing with the iron set on "cotton" is hot enough for me. At home I don't use a steam iron - just always had "issues" with them. When on a retreat with friends, I like using the steam iron. Guess I'm not deligent about cleaning the things. What I do at home for really stubborn seams is 1) press the seam as best I can, then 2) cover the area with a cotton/linen towel, spray with water and "steam the heck out of it." Using a pressing cloth in this way, I don't worry so much about scorching the block. In my college tailoring/sewing classes, I had a professor that really believed in using a pressing cloth and making the inside of the garment look as nice as the outside! Old habits die hard! LOL!


    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 10:46AM
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Several years ago I took an on-line quilting class called Press for Success. The instructor actually had us diagram the quilt and figure out which direction we should press each seam in order to make the seams nestle. (There were some times when she recommended pressing open.)

Honestly, after the class was over, I never diagramed my seams.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 12:11PM
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Lola, I can see where it would be a huge help to diagram a quilt with a lot of seams like a Lone Star. When I made the Pam Bone quilt I was very careful to make sure the seams went in the right direction because there were so many and close together.
Other than that I'm with you, I would never spend the time to diagram quilt seam lol!!!
But I do appreciate patterns that include the pressing info.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 12:18PM
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I'm relieved Lola isn't suggesting we diagram our seams. LOL I do it like Sharon and Jeanne. I press the best I can but if I happen to come to one I can't fix, I snip the seam allowance and press the junction the way it should go. I also press some open if it looks like it will reduce bulk. As long as it will lay flat for the FMQ, I don't care what the inside of a quilt looks like.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 1:00PM
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For simple blocks, I press to the dark. But if I have a complicated block with lots of points and triangles or such, I press everything open.

I do like being able to lock the seam allowances that pressing to the dark allows - but above all else I want a flat block. Pressing open will always get me there, but it is more work.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 4:22PM
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As most do I press to the dark when possible, nest seams if I can, press open for Y seams but I had a problem today with one of my Sylvia's blocks that I had LOTS of difficulty with (6 1/2"). I wont show the back as I am ashamed of it and have to admit I am not very proud of any of it but thought maybe there would be some suggestions as to pressing. Jayne

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 7:36PM
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Just thought of something from one of the hints that might help. AFTER I sew them together why not put a pin facing the direction the seam was pressed. That would help a bit. Thanks for all the thoughts

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 11:06PM
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Lately I've started NOT pressing the seams (whenever practical) until I'm ready to sew the rows of a block together. For example, in a nine-patch I'll have 3 rows of 3 laid out ready to join. Only THEN do I press, and I press the top & bottom rows one direction, and the middle the other. This doesn't always work, but sometimes it helps.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 5:27PM
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I was taught to press to the dark, but also to the side of least resistance. I like to press seams open when it makes sense. The Nancy Bills Pineapple Block workshop I took (posted in another thread) taught us to press the bias edges that touched the outside perimeter open to help stabilize the block. She agreed you should press open when paper piecing for the same reason.

Sharon - I wish I could do what you do at the intersections. I look at El Burns tutorial on spinning those intersections, and I just can't do it!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 5:39PM
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