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Thread: Press seams open or to one side

  1. #1
    shaverg's Avatar
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    I am just curious. I normally press my seams to one side. But when I started quilting in 1983 and was hand piecing. I was taught to press seams open, which definitely made hand quilting easier.

    I know this is preference. But would just like some feed back. As a handquilter I am thinking about going against most conventional wisdom and start to press them open again and only to the side when it is a machine quilted piece.

    Most info I see says press to one side makes seams stronger. But occasionally I do see info that mentions pressing open.

    Those that press open have you had problems?

  2. #2
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I use a 12 stitch to the inch and usually press my seams open. If a dark will show underneath a light color I press to the dark side. Pressed open make matching seams a breeze. If you use a longer stitch length there may be problems with the seam coming unstitched at the beginnng and end when pressed open.

  3. #3
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    i do both depending on the style of quilt.

    if the pieces of fabric are larger i press seams to one side and then piecing them is easier because opposing seams can nest with each other and it makes matching seam lines easier.

    when i work with optical illusion quilts some pieces are only 1/4 inch square and these seams have to be pressed open because there isn't enough space to push a seam to one side without causing a big bump in that quilt section.

  4. #4

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    On a general note, I usually always press to the dark side of the fabric or the opposite of a joining row...so they will sit down against each other snug as I sew making my points join together great:)If I am on a corner w/several, I've been trying to learn that little snip technique where you snip a bit on each side..when pressed they make a perfect little patch on the back w/the corners. Even when I hand quilt, I finger press to one side. I was told to the 'why' people use to always press the seams open...can't remember the why now;)Believe it was a bulk issue. And, have been told since (don't know if it is right or wrong) that your seams have more strenght going together. Maybe someone will remember:)Skeat

  5. #5
    Super Member Rose Marie's Avatar
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    If the pattern I am using dosnt say how to press, I press open.
    Otherwise I press as directed in the pattern. El Burns always tells which way to press in her patterns and I like that very much.

  6. #6
    shaverg's Avatar
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    Thanks, to all of you. This helps a lot. It seems it is about half and half. I have some people say never open seams, but my hand pieced, hand quilted is now 26 years old and seems to be holding up fine, with open seams.

    I agree it is easier to nest the seams when to one side. I think it will just depend on how I am going to quilt it.

    I also try to press to the dark side if really obvious. But sometimes for hand quilting, I have trouble getting through several seams, even with the stab method. My stitches are 10-11 to the inch, until I meet one of those nasty seams, and I am not good at the stab method of hand quilting, which for me is the only way to get through them. It is such a pain.


  7. #7
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    I hand piece and I've always pressed to the "dark" side. if you press those seams open any tugging is strictly on the stitches (a single thread), if you press to one side the tug is not as directly on the stitches. It's not quite as bad if you're machine stitching and press open, as there are 2 threads sharing the pull.

  8. #8
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    In one of the newsletters Admin discussed this. He said that in the garment industry the seat seams have always been pressed open and look at all the stress put on those seams. I use both methods myself, depending on the pattern I am using. However I usually always press to the side when doing block exchanges to keep consistent with the majority of the other quilters. :wink: :D

  9. #9
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    The quilt under construction right now has open seams in one direction and to one side in the other. Having both go to the side would have made a bulky mess. I thought "the rule" was to ALWAYS press to the darker side but a recent article debunked that rule.

    I am free - lol

    I suppose that it also depends on how one plans to quilt the piece. I wouldn't want to do in-the-ditch if the seams were open.

  10. #10

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    I have pressed the seam allowances open only about 10 times in 23 years of quiltmaking. Even when I do, it's usually only for specific bulky seams and not the entire quilt.

    I don't know about strength, but pressing the seam allowances to one side does keep the batting from drifting through the open seam.

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