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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Pressing Quilt Block Seams

For years I have read in every book and magazine along with discussions with other quilters, that when pressing seams in a quilt block to press BOTH seam allowances off to the darker side or to one side that will help keep all the seams aligned correctly for sewing all the blocks together. So I pick up a magazine yesterday (sorry can't remember the name off hand) and while I was looking through it, they had an entire page devoted to pressing the seams in quilt blocks open and why, including preventing two seams from getting off kilter when you sew over both of them where you might go from two layers of fabric to six within one stitch length. They had a lot of good reasons for pressing them open and pooh-poohed the idea of it leaving the seams with too much thread tension to hold up. As a garment sewer first before being a quilter, I know that I'm still wearing skirts regularly that I made up to 20 years ago with nary a popped seam. So how can the seam pop out so easily on a quilt when they don’t on garments which actually would get rougher use and lots of trips through the washer?

Anyhow I was looking for ideas on whether any of you have tried and/or routinely press your seams open instead of off to the side. It 'seams' it would help those of you that have trouble with intersections on your 7700 not get thrown off so easily.

Have the books and references been wrong for all these years? As part of my quest to be the best I can be with quilting, I have been trying hard to follow the rules, but is the this a rule that needs to be updated and broken?

Here are some great quilt magazines that I have enjoyed over the years. The one that I found the information about pressing quilt blocks was in the premier issue of a magazine on using pre-cuts. I don't buy precuts, I make my own. At the end of every project, with the leftover small pieces of fabric, I cut out 2 1/2" strips, 2 1/2" squares, 4 1/2" squares and 4 1/2" x 2 1/2" rectangles. If I still have odd shapes left over I will cut them into something that is a fairly common size, such as if I have enough to make a 3 1/2" square, that is what I will cut it into instead trimming off an inch of fabric on both sides and thus wasting part of it. If I wanted to, I could also make 5" and 10" charm and cake squares and fat  quarters, but instead if I have that large of piece of fabric leftover, I fold it up and put it back in my stash. But I've been thinking about rethinking that process. Stince I started working on hexagons for quilting, I am also always looking out for  leftover fabric shapes that I can use for different size hexies.

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