half square triangle quilt
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Pressing matters

Hi friends!

How are you?

Today I have a question for all of you: do you primarily press your seams to one side when making a quilt or press them open?

I am typically a press to one side kind of quilter. I think it goes back to when I first started making quilts; that was THE RULE. Especially with the older battings; it was less likely to beard or come thru the seams if they were pressed to one side.

Horizons fabric
In and Out quilt


Also the seams were stronger and less likely to pull apart. And I like to be able to nest my seam allowances. I find things match up better when I do that. 

BUT, there are times when I decide to press open. I may not even follow my own pattern instructions! In my patterns, I usually give what I call “pressing suggestions”. And I usually suggest pressing to one side. 

This issue came up recently as I was making a new version of my pattern In and Out. The original quilt was made by Northcott using their line Ikat Sktech from Banyan Batiks and I wanted a version for me to have.

In and Out, a quilt design by Kate Colleran


I decided to use  Kathy Doughty’s new fabric line for Free Spirit called Horizons. The fabric was sew much fun to work with and a little outside of my usual choices. It has directional prints, big prints and was super busy but super fun!

flying geese quilt
In and Out quilt in Horizon fabrics


The quilt has some flying geese units and some half square triangle units and where some of the units come together, it can get a little bulky. I pressed the seams in the first row that I made to one side. After that, I pressed open all the seams open. 

half square triangle quilt
In and Out quilt in a tree!


I wish I had thought about how I was going to press before making the quilt. If you are going to press your seams open, it is true that it is easier for them to pull apart. But there is a little trick to making them more secure. Just sew with a smaller stitch!  A super simple trick – if you plan ahead.

Let me know in the comments which way you usually press. I would love to hear your thoughts! Now it is time for me to get back to sewing- lots to do here in my little quilt studio!

happy quilting!


2 thoughts on “Pressing matters”

  1. I mostly press my seams to the side, but I’ve started pressing some seams open, HSTs especially. I also quickly learned that I needed to use a smaller stitch length. But I also noticed that my perfect scant quarter inch seam that worked when I pressed all the seams in a block to the side wasn’t working when I pressed all the seams open – my blocks ended up being too big. So I adjust my seam to a regular quarter inch instead of a scant quarter inch & that usually works.

  2. I recently went to a quilting class (my first), and the teacher said to press seams to one side so that the seam itself would be under less stress and therefor stronger. She also said that pressing to one side allowed for a “ditch” so that you could quilt “in the ditch,” something that wouldn’t happen if you pressed seams open. As a garment sewist who learned in the 1960s, I had always pressed seams open and am only slowly making changes to those 50-year-old lessons! The whole ‘scant quarter inch,’ HSTs, etc. is a conversation still beyond me (though my goal this year is to include triangles in a quilt top)!

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