Open, Left or Right

What's Your Style

This is the tenth entry in my series What’s Your Style? In our everyday lives, we all have our own way of doing things; quilters are no exception to this trait. Even though there are standardized techniques to follow, when creating items with fabric, many of us choose to do our own thing. This series explores those individual habits. Let’s see what today’s question is.

After stitching a seam some quilters set the seam with an iron. Setting the seam is a simple technique. The two pieces of fabric that were stitched together are then placed on a pressing surface, such as an ironing board. A warm iron is gently set on top of the closed seam then lifted. At this point the quilter must make a decision, which direction will she/he press the seam?


Left, or


This is my response:

The direction I press my seams depends upon the item I am working with.

  1. If I’m working on a block that requires accurate piecing I typically press my seams open. I do this because I think they lay much flatter and as a result my block measurements are more accurate.
  2. If my seams need to be nested I press one to the left and the other to the right.
  3. If I’m creating an abstract art piece I press my seams in all different directions. The only goal is to avoid those bulky intersections that are a quilting nightmare.

Now it’s your turn to share your opinion by adding a comment.

  • Don’t be bashful!
  • Nobody will judge you!
  • The quilt police will not come knocking on your door. 🙂
  • Let’s have some FUN!

Thank YOU for participating in this fun survey!

P.S. Are there questions you would like to discuss in future editions of this series, if so, share them in a comment.



20 thoughts on “Open, Left or Right

  1. Hi Cindy! Mostly to the dark side…sounds omimous, huh! Interestingly, I have just been thinking of more opportunities to press open. Thanks for the thoughts!

  2. I almost always nest my seams. On VERY rare occasions, I will iron one open. I like the security of knowing my seams are going to match, and won’t be getting stitched wonky, which often happens when I have open ones. =)

  3. When I first started piecing quilts, I followed THE rule of pressing to the dark. Then, I realized that the rule just didn’t make sense in all instances. After I had a few quilts under my belt, I started giving myself permission to do what felt right…not only with pressing seams.

  4. It depends on what’s being added and on the colours of the fabric as I don’t want it showing through a light coloured fabric.

  5. I also press according to each individual project. I love when the seams all behave and line up properly. I admit though, sometimes my seams don’t obey and end up this way and that. If it’s a small doll quilt, then I don’t mind the wishy washy seams. However, I do spend extra time on big quilts to keep my seams perfectly aligned. I don’t know how quilt bees do it when each block is possibly pressed in a different direction. I love to use steam when I press, but I know it can warp the block. I need a different press board to avoid needing steam. I wonder what sort of board others recommend using for pressing the fabric?

    1. Greetings! Thank you for adding to our conversation. I agree with you that it depends upon the desired outcome. I used team as well. I try to be very careful not to distort. I made my own pressing board. Makes a huge difference compared to a normal ironing board. 🙂

      1. Cindy, I’ve heard a pressing board is worthwhile. I think it’s way past time for me to make one. My travel ironing board goes with me for classes and it has seen better days. It wasn’t great to start with and now it’s really awful. I’ll work on making a board. I assume you just use batting as the padding?

      2. I did. I used three or four layers. I used Duck Cloth for the top and stapled it all on the backside like with upholstery. Best thing I ever made. Fits in my Sew Steady carrying case for my table. I just love it! 😊

  6. I am of the camp that it depends on the piece I am working on. If I am working with a thick material such as recycled denim then I press my seams open. With regular quilting cottons I press right or left depending on whether I need to get the seams to nestle together for piecing.

  7. Hi Cindy,
    Happy Friday! I do the same thing as you as far as seams. I press open when there are a lot of seams that come together or press to one side for nesting. My press-open-all-the-time experiment fell by the wayside because it wasn’t necessary for all situations. ~smile~ Roseanne

  8. My answer is almost exactly what yours is. Nesting seams nest, generally. If I’m attaching a border, I press to the side with fewer seam joins, or I press open. Very few fabrics actually show light/dark when stitched and pressed, so there isn’t a big need usually to “press to the dark side.” But if there isn’t a reason not to, I generally do.

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