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Thread: Pressing seams open or not?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Helen6869's Avatar
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    Question Pressing seams open or not?

    I am noticing a lot of tutorials and even on Love of Quilting show the other week that teachers are suggesting pressing the seams open on quilt blocks. What is the consensus on this from you quilters here? How do you press and what are your reasons for doing so? Just trying to decide if I need to change a long-standing habit! Thanks!

  2. #2
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I only press the seams open if there is a good reason to, and I find that there seldom is. I think the seam is stronger if pressed to one side, and it's impossible to SITD if pressed open (because there is no ditch). I often SITD to stabilize before doing other quilting.

  3. #3
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    I agree with Dunster - I think the seams are easier to nest if pressed to one side also.

  4. #4
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    Depends entirely on the pattern. Some work best pressed open, so I do. If it works better one side or the other, I do that too. The quilting will hold it all together, either way.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member minibarn's Avatar
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    Currently I press to one side, but if I make another quilt for hand quilting I intend to press the seams open as I think it will be easier to quilt through. So, I guess for me it's a question of how I plan to finish the quilt as to how I will press.

  6. #6
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    I would only press open if necessary. If the seam breaks batting will be exposed and also lends itself to bearding problems
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  7. #7
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    I usually press to the side as seams pressed open can stretch during the quilting and I can see the stitches. You also cannot stitch in the ditch an open seams because you are stitching down the stitches and can break them. I press open the last seam when connecting 2 halves of an 8 point star or similar to reduce bulk in the center. I also press open if I am doing a recut block such as Disappearing Hourglass because the block has to be very accurate to resew back together.

  8. #8
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    I almost always press open. I've never been able to properly 'nest' seams that are pressed to one side - they always seem to slip no matter how many pins I use! I'm also a hand quilter and do find that it's easier to quilt with the seams pressed open. And, as Tartan says, when you have a block with lots of seams joining together, the block is much flatter when those seams are pressed open.

  9. #9
    Super Member Onebyone's Avatar
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    Usually open. I don't like the hassle of remembering which way to press each seam and then it crosses anyway. I've never had a problem with batting poking through. I use a short stitch length about 2.
    I love my life!

  10. #10
    Super Member feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Loads of factors. I usually press to one side. But advocates of pressing open insist there are no issues and their quilt tops lay nice and flat.

    But it presents an issue if you want to SITD as Dunster pointed out. There is no ditch with open seams so you will have to ditch a thread width over so you are actually quilting on fabric not a seam.

    Judi Madsen of Green Fairy quilts and Margaret Solomen Gunn of Quilts of Love, both amazing, award winning longarmers have written blogs on why they don't like seams pressed open (mostly for the ditching aspect). But they deal with these quilts anyway.

    It really boils down to personal preference and another factor to consider is bulk. For example when several seams meet in the center, like a pinwheel block, kaleidoscope block, LeMoyne Star, split Mariners compass to name a few, I will not stitch into my seam allowance in the center so I can swirl that part open. When joining these types of units, I will often start at the center and stitch out to the edges.

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