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Thread: Advantages and Disadvantages of Pressing Seams Open

  1. #1
    Super Member Boston1954's Avatar
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    Advantages and Disadvantages of Pressing Seams Open

    I would like opinions on pressing seams open or to one side or the other. I have always pressed to the side, but it makes for more bulk to quilt through. What do you think?
    Life is not a movie. No one is going to yell "CUT" when you make a mistake. - Anne L. Fulton

    I am from the South....39 miles south of Boston.

  2. #2
    Super Member pittsburgpam's Avatar
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    The more complicated the design, the more seams, the more I tend to press the seams open. Also, if I want my piecing totally perfect I press them open. Bulk is a consideration but it goes along with a lot of seams so, pressing them open.

    If it's a simple and quick design, I press to the side.

  3. #3
    Super Member grammyp's Avatar
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    One problem with pressing open is the batting can show through the stitching. Also, if both sides don't get quilted there can be more stress on the stitching in the seam causing it to loosen over time. That said, I often press mine open to reduce the bulk.
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  4. #4
    Junior Member J.M.'s Avatar
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    I usually press to one side, unless the pattern of the block specifically calls for open seams. Some patterns simply won't work unless you press the seams open, but I do find that open seems are more fragile, so I only do it when I have to.

  5. #5
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    Pressing seams to one side gives strength to the top. However, there's nothing wrong with pressing open if it eliminates bulk. Just remember you won't be able to quilt in the ditch if you press them open. I might suggest shorter stitch length in piecing and dense quilting if you press all the seams open.

    I see that you say you are in Eastern Oklahoma pining for Massachusetts. I grew up in Eastern Oklahoma and spent 36 years in Western Oklahoma. Am now in Northern Virginia and miss the slower pace of Oklahoma.

    Jane

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    I usually press to the dark side. The only time I press open is on joining of borders. This makes less bulk. I try to use the length of the fabric for borders rather than selvage to selvage. I personally think pressing to one side makes a stronger seam. That probably isn't true, but that's what I think.
    Sue

  7. #7
    Super Member Lisa_wanna_b_quilter's Avatar
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    I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both way. With some patterns open really seems to be the only thing that will work for me. Too much bulk tends to eat my points or make it very hard to sew.

  8. #8
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    I have always thought pressing to one side was recommended because handstitdhed seams were made stronger or had less tension on them. Since I think machine piecing is more durable, and I only machine piece, I press which ever way seems to work best for the pattern.

  9. #9
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    I posed this question to Bonnie Hunter this week as I got ready to sew my Spiderweb triangle sections into blocks. When the rows are sewn together there will be 8 points coming together. She said especially with string piecing, press however it is easier for you to prevent problems. Hooray, I am pressing my 8 meeting seams open and it is working well.

  10. #10
    Senior Member DeneK's Avatar
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    This is one of those things that seems to be mostly a matter of preference... I started out doing what I thought was "following the rules" and pressed to the side but by experimenting with both ways found my work was neater and my joins better when I pressed open. So that is what I do most of the time. Sometimes the configuration of seams tells me otherwise and when they do, I listen. Maybe the seams are not as strong... I haven't had a problem yet. But then I don't quilt for prizes, profit or posterity. I do it for my own pleasure and just hope what I make is pretty enough that someone else will like it. I want it to be used and enjoyed and don't have any expectation that it will still be around 20 years from now.

  11. #11
    Super Member Mitch's mom's Avatar
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    The seams on my clothes are pressed open and it gets a lot more stress to the seams than any quilt I will ever make. I started pressing them open and am much happier.

  12. #12
    Super Member pattypurple's Avatar
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    How do you easily press them open? When I try I end up with a mess of parts pressed every which way. Do I need to use a tiny iron, or risk burning my fingers?
    I Quilt Therefore I Am

    Pat

  13. #13
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    I have been pressing my seams open for decades. The only disadvantage I have seen is it take a bit longer.

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    Super Member b.zang's Avatar
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    Although I'm not opposed to pressing seams open, I like how pieces nest together when a match is made of seams pressed in opposite directions.
    Barbara

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  15. #15
    Junior Member Alexandra's Avatar
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    Handpiecing, always open. It was how I was taught years and years ago by my grandmother. Machine piecing to the side if seams will be butted, but the last few in a block, open to reduce bulk.

  16. #16
    Senior Member IAmCatOwned's Avatar
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    I have a single quilt where I pressed seams open. Will never do it again. Unless you quilt very closely, over time, the seam will stretch revealing threads that connect the fabrics. Not a problem with miniature quilts. How hard your quilts are used may be a factor in this. My own bed quilts are washed only twice a year. Some people wash their quilts as often as they change their sheets.

  17. #17
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    I do both, depends on the quilt and the bulk.

  18. #18
    QM
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    Pressing to one side is stronger, especially if you quilt through the fabric layers. You are relying on the sewing thread to keep its strength. Pressing open is far superior at really bulky points, like the center of a le Moyne star. There is the added advantage that you have less problem with 'shadowing' though lighter fabrics.

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    Pressing seams to one side is a holdover from when everyone was hand piecing. With sewing machines, that really isn't needed. Think about it, when one is garment sewing, all seams are pressed open to reduce bulk. Now, a article of clothing is going to have a lot more stress on seams than a quilt will have. When wearing pants, you sit down in them, bend over, etc with open seams in the construction. A lot of the so-callled rules in quilting are left over from the time when all quilts were made by hand,not using a tool like a sewing machine. The sewing machine creates a much sturdier seam.

  20. #20
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quilter2090 View Post
    Pressing seams to one side is a holdover from when everyone was hand piecing. With sewing machines, that really isn't needed. Think about it, when one is garment sewing, all seams are pressed open to reduce bulk. Now, a article of clothing is going to have a lot more stress on seams than a quilt will have. When wearing pants, you sit down in them, bend over, etc with open seams in the construction. A lot of the so-callled rules in quilting are left over from the time when all quilts were made by hand,not using a tool like a sewing machine. The sewing machine creates a much sturdier seam.
    The seams in most of my clothing are pressed to one side because they're serged. I rarely press seams open. I like them pressed to the dark side. Do what works for your quilt construction.

  21. #21
    Super Member Boston1954's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traditional Quilter View Post
    Pressing seams to one side gives strength to the top. However, there's nothing wrong with pressing open if it eliminates bulk. Just remember you won't be able to quilt in the ditch if you press them open. I might suggest shorter stitch length in piecing and dense quilting if you press all the seams open.

    I see that you say you are in Eastern Oklahoma pining for Massachusetts. I grew up in Eastern Oklahoma and spent 36 years in Western Oklahoma. Am now in Northern Virginia and miss the slower pace of Oklahoma.

    Jane
    Hello Jane,
    I miss the ocean, The Boston Bruins, and most of my family. I am 1,600 miles from everything I love. Also there are scorpions here. Yick!!!
    Life is not a movie. No one is going to yell "CUT" when you make a mistake. - Anne L. Fulton

    I am from the South....39 miles south of Boston.

  22. #22
    Junior Member Suzette316's Avatar
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    You know, it's never made sense to me that seams pressed to one side makes anything (the stitching or the quilt) stronger. I'm not saying it absolutely doesn't, it just doesn't make sense to me. (And I'm talking about machine piecing, not hand piecing.) But . . . being a very obedient little quilter, I pressed to one side for years, just because that's what was always recommended. About three years ago I decided to be a rebel and press my seams open. I loved the results! Everything fit better and looked better. To be sure, there are times I press to one side, but more often than not, I press mine open. (Oh, and one of those quilts with pressed open seams was for my sister's dog. For two years now that quilt has been machine washed and dried at least once a week, sometimes two or three times and she tells me it's holding up beautifully.)

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