Conventional wisdom says that quilt seams should be pressed to one side. The thinking is that the seams will be stronger that way. Plus, if you’re piecing by machine that sets up an easy way to align seams by nesting them.
However, some quilters press seams open. They either do that in certain places to reduce bulk, or aficionados of the method will often press all seams open.
Why would you want to press seams open? The following article outlines three compelling reasons: you’ll produce flatter blocks, the points will be sharper and machine quilting will be easier. Scroll down the article to find “The Case for Pressing Seams Open”.
But what about the claim that seams pressed to the side are stronger? The following article by Mabry Benson explains why we were all taught to press seams that way.
“Pressing seams to one side is a residue of hand piecing. A seam pieced by hand with a running stitch is not strong, and so it is pressed to one side, not to strengthen the seam, but to cover the holes which would invariably open along the seam and let out the batting. The seam is not made any stronger by pressing it to one side, just the weakness is covered up.”
She goes on to make several other interesting points, which you’ll find in the following article.
Pressing seams to one side does have its benefits. For one you can nest seams for quicker piecing, and you can stitch in the ditch. You don’t want to do that with seams pressed open as you’ll be stitching right over the seam itself with no fabric behind it.
Julie Cefalu outlines several other reasons for pressing seams to the side in the following article.
The most compelling reason for pressing seams open may be to reduce bulk. There’s no reason why you can’t press both ways when a quilt requires it. Whether or not to press all seams either open or to the side is entirely up to you.
Try both methods and decide what works best for you. Kimberly from The Fat Quarter shop shows how to press seams open (without burning your fingers!) in the following video.
Click here to watch the video at YouTube if it doesn’t play on your device.
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