Pressing is just a pretty word for ironing. I’m sure they had to make a up a name other than ironing so that quilting didn’t sound like just one more household chore: I hate ironing, but I love pressing! There’s no sleeves, no annoying pleats, just a small, square piece of fabric with a seam—I can handle that.
It’s always the little things, isn’t it? The details always add up and make the whole. It’s no different with quilting! Today I want to share, what I think, is one of the easiest ways to make your quilts better, yet most people don’t think about: pressing. It’s a part of every quilt project, but I often will see a quilt that could look 75% better if the quilter had just taken an extra second to really press her (or his) seams better. Read on to see my 5 steps to getting a beautiful pressed seam, and in turn, a more beautiful quilt!
Follow the Instructions
Your pattern designer has pained (for hours) over which direction to press the seams, I promise! So, first, follow the pattern instructions. You’ll run across two different ways to press your seams:
Press Seams Towards or Away From…
The first, and most common way to press seams is to press both seams in a certain direction. This is very simple, just push both over in the direction that you are told. This seems simple, but keep reading for the best practice when doing this!
Press Seams Out (Or Open Seams)
Pressing the seams out is not something that I do a lot in my own patterns, unless I have a lot of points where the seams become too bulky. All you need to do it separate the seam and press them in opposite directions.
Start on the Back
No matter what direction you’re pressing your seams, press the back first. This first step will change everything about your quilt! I like to do this rather lightly. It just gives the fabric a little memory or which way to go. My grandmother takes this gentle touch a step further with what she calls finger pressing; she simply presses the seams out with her fingers (this works especially well on a warm ironing board). The same is true for opening seams: just lightly press them apart from the back side of your block.
Now you may flip the block over and press the front. I like to get really close to the iron (it’s going to end badly one of these days) and press the seam out with my fingers before the iron goes over it. A safer way to do this might be to gently tug on the seam to make sure that it’s all the way apart.
Press as You Go
Press every seam right after you stitch on a new piece. I repeat: Press every seam right after you stitch on a new piece! You won’t regret it.
Once I have a block finished, I like to iron the back lightly one last time, flip it over, and starch the living daylights out of it. I think that the crispness of the starch gives each block a nice firmness and makes piecing go smooth like butter. I swear by Best Press, they have all sorts of delicious scents, my favorite is Mint Splash!
And there you have it: a few easy steps that will improve your quilting skills and give you a more beautiful finished quilt. You’ll be so proud of your work and people will notice! There’s nothing better than a clean, crisp quilt. The comments below are wide open for you to tell me about your pressing tips and tricks, so please leave a comment and fill me in!