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Friday, May 16, 2014

Quilted Thoughts: Pressing seams to the side.. or not

So, it's taken me a good half and hour the settle on the name of my new weekly instalment.
 
Welcome to my new "Quilted Thoughts" I want to use this for us to all talk openly about various quilting topics. I want to get quite specific and understand why it is we do things the way we do them.
 
We often do things a certain way because that was the way we were taught. Many of the techniques obviously came from our wonderful predecessors the hand quilting patchworkers.
 
The use of our sewing machines shouldn't, for the most part, change those tried and tested techniques, but there are some "must do's" that have been engrained into us that I'm not so sure apply anymore.
 
Now I'm the first to admit I could be wrong and I'm going to be posting as many questions as opinions on all the topics that will inevitably spill onto the computer screen. So as I endeavour to rationalise the information I come across, often from various and opposing vantage points, both unwaveringly staunch in their justification of their techniques I hope to learn what they most probably already know...that there is a time and a place for everything.
 
So, my confession is.. I almost exclusively press my seams OPEN.
 
Now I must also admit that I don't do a great deal of geometric blocks with multiple intersecting seams. So I guess my question is:
 
Do you ALWAYS press your seam to the side? or Do you Mostly press your seams open and press to the side when necessary to reduce bulk in a tricky piecing situation?
 
I'm not entirely sure what intrinsic logic I'm missing, but when pressing seams to the side, I know I need to press the vertical seams of every second horizontal strips in the opposite direction to allow them to line up properly when the horizontal strips are sewn together (Whew) BUT, when I'm sitting there with my strips, I always manage to bugger it up by doing one the wrong way. I does my head in.. I know its simple (when you think about it) but if the only thing I need to worry about is pressing seams open, I can motor through the pressing, which with my dodgy back is something I want to get done with as little a time commitment as possible.
 
This is fine if you are working with squares. But surely pressing seams open is not going to work for a compass rose, or even a pinwheel block.
 
What are your thoughts? Does the way you press your seams really make that big of a difference in the grand scheme of things?
 
I've heard many times the theory behind pressing to the side came from the techniques of piecing by hand where. When stitching by hand the resulting seam can sometimes be a little weak, so by pressing to the side, you are not only covering the gap that might start appearing if the seam was pressed open but the stitch-in-the-ditch can be manouvered in such a way that the folded seam is also secured with quilting giving the seam that one extra point of strength.
 
But now.. if the seams were just horizontal and vertical and I'm using my sewing machine is there a good reason I need to press to the side? Given I understand how pressing to the side with complicated blocks requires it to reduce bulk. Is the same principal as important on a simple quilt?
 
I'm not really convinced by the "it makes the points match better" ...Yet
If I'm more careful with my cutting and 1/4 inch seams and pin like crazy, surely my points should match? right?
 
Oh and to throw one more question in there while I'm here:
 
Do you "set your seams" before you press the seam to the side (or open!)
ie while its still sitting right sides together do you press it as it is to let the stitched thread settle into the fabric?
 
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Hehe, who's idea was it to let the floodgates of my mind open, I'm sure I'll get better at this as we go along, so hang on in there with me!
 
I'd love to hear what you think on the subject, I truly believe we can never stop learning. There is a fountain of knowledge in you all, so if you have some great websites please post them below so others can take advantage of the quilty goodness that's out there.
 
Seeing as Friday is an honorary weekend day - have a great weekend!
(and all the peeps on the other side of the world yet to have your Friday begin, you can share our Friday until yours arrives!)
 
Take care
Happy Quilting from New Zealand
 

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