Front or Back?

What's Your Style

Welcome back! This is the third post in my series called What’s Your Style? Today’s question is about seams.

Common Guidelines

Seams, they are absolutely necessary but oh how they can create problems! When learning to sew we are taught how to press them. Here are some of the common suggestions:

  1. The first step in pressing a seam is to set the seam. Setting a seam simply means the seam is pressed closed. Pressing it closed aligns the stitches and makes the seam lay flat.
  2. If we are stitching together a light and a dark fabric the recommendation typically is to press the seam toward the dark.
  3. If we are nesting two different sections of a block together we are instructed to press one seam to the left and the other to the right.
  4. If we are having difficulty obtaining an accurate quarter inch seam, pressing your seams open may help.
  5. Bulk at intersections creates problems during the hand or machine quilting process.  Those raised bumps create areas that are impossible to quilt. To avoid this issue press your seams away from each other at the intersections. This results in a flatter quilt top and a happier quilter.

These are only a few of the suggestions that can help make life easier.

My Personal Preference

I am a real fussbudget! I like my seams to behave and lay nice and flat. To encourage these stubborn kids to behave I always set my seams first. From there, nine chances out of ten, I will typically press my seams open. I believe pressing them open achieves a more accurate block measurement as well as a much flatter seam. If I’m having difficulty getting my seam to stay open I have been known to either spritz it with water or a light mist of spray starch.

I do most of my pressing from the back. I believe I am more successful at keeping my seams all going in the desired direction when I use this method. Pressing from the back also creates a smoother finish on the right side because indentations from seam edges are less noticeable or pronounced.

Now It’s Your Turn

Today’s question has two parts:

  1. Do you press your seams from the right side or the back side of your fabric?
  2. What other guidelines do you apply when pressing your seams?

What are your thoughts? I know you have some so get busy and add your comments. 🙂 I’m dieing to read your answers.


A Quilt for Mr. J Part Two

Are you a pinner? I’m not referring to the online program. I’m wondering if you pin your seams before you sew? I’m a neat freak when it comes to most things and neat seams falls into that obsession. On this quilt, as with many others that I work with, I pressed all of the seams open. Typically when working with seams pressed this way it’s not really that big of a deal to keep them open when sewing rows together. With this pattern all of the seams are staggered which means you can’t simply match up the seams on the top strip with those on the bottom, pin it then stitch away.

When pinning this project I had to be alert for seams both on the top strip and on the bottom. After very carefully inserting an insane number of pins, and stitching the first three rows together I got extremely frustrated! No matter how careful I was the seams on the bottom flipped! I got so tired of opening up my stitching and coaxing the misbehaving nubs into place then stitching them again.

Finally I got the idea of running a basting stitch along the raw edges to temporarily limit the movement of those little buggers. I know it seemed like a lot of extra sewing but it’s either that or messing around with the other way. I figured what the heck! Let’s try it. I cranked the stitch length up to 4 and put the petal to the metal. There was no need to be careful in where the stitching line fell as long as it was between the outer raw edge and the normal 1/4″ stitching line. Mind you, I was somewhat careful not to make it super wavy.

Once again I pinned the two rows together but this time I didn’t obsess about pinning each and every seam. This time I used a much more reasonable quantity of pins; enough to help keep the edges stable while gliding them under my presser foot. I couldn’t wait to sew my first seam using this new process. When I finally made it to the end of the strips I quickly clipped the threads and flipped the strips over. EUREKA!!! It worked! Every single seam stayed just as it should be; neatly pressed open with absolutely NO flippers! :o) Yay! This meant the remaining seams should fly by much quicker which would mean I would finish Mr J’s quilt top much quicker.

One by one the remaining rows were stitched together. With that process finally complete the only thing left to do was to make one final pass with my iron over the seams. Within no time I had the pressing complete.

I stretched the quilt out on the floor for one last chance to admire my handiwork and take a few photos. As I stood there scanning past all sixty blocks I was so pleased with the outcome and so amazed at how quickly this quilt top went from start to finish.

Well, that’s as far as I can go on the quilt for now. Time to add it to my pile of quilts to be finished.

IMG_8776So what do you think?