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Saturday, 23 July 2016

Pressing Seams Open Or To The Side - Pros & Cons Revealed

Pressing-Seams-Open-Or-To-The-Side-Pros-And-Cons

In class my students frequently ask me what method I use when pressing my seams - open or to the side.  My answer is always the same - I use both methods.  I decide which method to use depending on the following list of pros and cons and the outcome that best suits the project I'm working on.

PROS & CONS OF PRESSING SEAMS OPEN OR TO THE SIDE
Pressing-Seams-Open-Or-To-The-Side-Pros-And-Cons Pressing-Seams-Open-Or-To-The-Side-Pros-And-Cons
Pressing-Seams-Open-Or-To-The-Side-Pros-And-Cons  Pressing-Seams-Open-Or-To-The-Side-Pros-And-Cons

I believe it's great to have rules and traditions and once we understand why these exist or existed we can also be open to adapting them and using new methods alongside or instead which may work just as well or better with our modern conveniences and tools, etc.

Taking all the above into consideration I make my seam pressing decisions according to the needs of each project as it arises.


Stitch In The Ditch Update - 8 October 2016
The one time that you really shouldn't press seams open is if you want to Stitch In The Ditch (see my reply to comment 1 below).  If your seams are pressed open then your SITD stitches will only be attaching your piecing stitches to your batting and backing and not your quilt top.  If your pieced quilt top stitches break then your top will no longer be attached.  Of course, rules really are made to be broken and I've committed this heinous crime myself since writing this post when I quilted my First Blush version of my Just One Block Quilt - yep, even I went for looks over practicality on that one!


GLOSSARY
There are some terms and tools I've mentioned in my Pros and Cons that you may not have come across before.  I explain each of them in separate posts and you can click through to them below to find out more.

Nesting Seams
You may (or may not) be familiar with the term nesting seams.  When quilt seams are pressed to one side this is the term used to described the technique to line up pieced seams accurately.  I've covered nesting seams in this post.

How To Nest Seams

Using a Bloc-Loc to trim HSTs
I've mentioned using a Bloc-Loc to trim HSTs so now seems a good time to share this post with you again - 

Using A Bloc Loc To Trim HSTs

How To Join Open Pressed Seams Accurately
When quilt seams are pressed open it can be tricky to line them up accurately at the joints.  I've covered joining open pressed seams accurately in this post.

How-To-Join-Open-Pressed-Seams-Accurately


Hopefully, you now feel more informed and comfortable about making a choice to best suit your project next time you're faced with the dilemma of which way to press your seams!

PRESSING SEAMS OPEN OR TO THE SIDE - PROS & CONS REVEALED

Pressing-Seams-Open-Or-To-The-Side-Pros-And-Cons


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12 comments:

  1. I've heard, but haven't tested it for myself yet, that stitching in the ditch works best when you've pressed to the side. I tend to press open mostly but I can see if I start thinking ahead to quilting, I would definitely switch up my pressing style more. If what I've read turns out to be true, I must test it on a couple of baby quilts! Unless you know already?

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    1. Ah, stitch in the ditch, I'm not a lover of it, especially for students who are new to quilting. Newbies often think sitd is the easy option but it's far from it - unless you've got a really steady, experienced hand it's actually incredibly difficult to stay in the ditch and seeing those stitches hopping in and out of the ditch on the finished quilt can look worse than if they were all out of the ditch in the first place. If my students are very keen to do sitd, I often suggest they try stitch next to the ditch instead which they will find easier and will give more consistent results. Sitd, or snttd is great for reinforcing and strengthening seams pressed to the side and pressing your seams to the side will also create a ready made ditch on the side with no seam layers beneath for you to sitd. Sitd is a complete 'no no' for open pressed seams though as you won't actually be quilting your fabric layers together, you'll simply be sewing over your stitches, weakening them and risking them snapping. Hope this is helpful :D

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  2. I've just tried pressing all seams open on two projects after another blogger highly recommended it, but I found I had a great deal of trouble getting the seams to line up even pinning them. This may be a factor of not being able to adjust the pressure on my Bernina presser foot. I usually press to the side except when there are multiple seams coming together where reducin bulk is necessary.

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    1. As you found it really is more difficult to accurately match seams that have been pressed open. To overcome this, as I mentioned in my post, I use the 3-pin technique I've detailed in my How To Join Open Pressed Seams Accurately tute. Again this doesn't work 100% of the time but the odds are better in your favour! :D

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  3. I am mostly a hand quilter so I press seams open. I find my seams are more accurate and points meet nicely especially since I started using the little clips from Clover to hold seam lines together as I sew (instead of pins). I LOVE Bloc-Loc for trimming HST's so I take the extra step of first pressing the seams to the side before I do the trim and then pressing them open before sewing. It can be a pain if you are doing a lot but the accuracy makes it worth it to me.

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    1. Wow Barbie, to press your seams to the side to use the Bloc-Loc and then press them open afterwards is absolutely dedication! I love the Clover clips but I don't like using them to match my seams as I have to remove them before I get to the seam join as the machine foot can't get close when they're in the way - how are you sewing around them? Do you have a tip for where to place the clips that you'd be happy to share? Chris :D

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  4. Your answer is the same as mine "it depends!". I think I do press to one side more often to nest those seams. I also unpick and swirl the seams sometimes if I have four coming together in the same point.

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    1. We're on the same page Carole - I also clip the holding stitch and swirl my seams around the central point :D

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  5. OH wow Chris - so many detailed reasons to consider. I do both but for no reason other than what I feel like at the time. You've given me lots to think about! Thanks for linking up to A Round Tuit. Hope you have a lovely week!

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  6. Great information here, Chris - thanks for gathering it all together in one place! I'll definitely be referring people to this post when they ask "why?" I do as you do - it depends on the project, and sometimes I'll use both techniques in the same project, such as the Christmas in July quilt along quilt. Whoop whoop for great info from great teachers!!

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    1. Huge believer in informed choice and then you can do what's right for the project and the maker, a much more relaxing way to quilt! :D

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  7. Interesting. I usually press to the side, but because I find it easier, but I had never really considered the pros and cons of each alternative. Thank you for sharing. Added to The Really Crafty Link Party Pinterest board.

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Chris Dodsley