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Thread: to press or not to press; that is the question!

  1. #1
    Super Member terri bb's Avatar
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    to press or not to press; that is the question!

    do you guys press and starch your fabric before you start and then iron your seams when machine piecing or do you eliminate that step? i dont want to take a bunch of unneccessary steps; i realize there is no 'quilting police' in anything we do and there are no rules, but i also am fairly slow at piecing a top and i take a lot of steps to ensure accuracy, etc. maybe because im only a 2 year old sewer. any suggestions? it takes me an average of about a week? to piece an intermediate queen pattern if im really steady at it and life stays out of my way! thanks
    A rolling stone gathers no moss

  2. #2
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    if you want your pieces to lay falt and match then you will press. prewashing is a matter of preference. some do and some dont. However, if you want to be sure all the chemicals are out of the fabric and they won't shrink or fade then you will pre wash. I don't consider these unnecesary steps to assure good results. Every quilting has his or her ways of doing things. You have to make up you mind how you will do it.

  3. #3
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    I always iron first and I have been using Best Press for about 2 years now. It adds a little stability to the fabric and helps to get rid of stubborn wrinkles. I don't always wash first if it is a small project but ironing, that I always do.

  4. #4
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    As I piece,I finger press the ends of the seams and only use the iron after all the edges of the fabric have been stitched.I think it leads to less distortion.

  5. #5
    Power Poster gabeway's Avatar
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    If you prewash - ironing and starching are a big help. I definitely iron seams when piecing as it helps when quilting. A week to piece a queen sounds reasonable.
    Wayne & Gabriele, the married quilters.

  6. #6
    Super Member katier825's Avatar
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    You can experiment and find what works for you. What you are making can make a difference too. If you are working with precise measurements, pressing/starching will help. If you are working with triangles or other bias, starch helps. On occasion, I have sewn a piece or two without pressing the seams and not been happy with the results. It made a tuck by the seam. I prefer to press, and most of the time I starch too.

    If you are looking to speeding up your process, chain piecing can help.

  7. #7
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by terri bb View Post
    do you guys press and starch your fabric before you start and then iron your seams when machine piecing or do you eliminate that step? i dont want to take a bunch of unneccessary steps; i realize there is no 'quilting police' in anything we do and there are no rules, but i also am fairly slow at piecing a top and i take a lot of steps to ensure accuracy, etc. maybe because im only a 2 year old sewer. any suggestions? it takes me an average of about a week? to piece an intermediate queen pattern if im really steady at it and life stays out of my way! thanks

    prior to cutting, I press, usually with starch, only enough to insure a good cut. After sewing, I always press. At almost 66, I still HATE pressing.
    Bad Spellers of the World
    U N T I E

  8. #8
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    I press and I starch. I am a fabric washer, but that is just my preference. I guess I never thought about how much time it takes, I just try to enjoy!

  9. #9
    Super Member Daylesewblessed's Avatar
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    I like to press. For me it is the rewarding part of the process. The seams look so nice, and it helps with the next steps.

  10. #10
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    I starch before cutting, it really helps everything lay flat during the process. It even helps with getting very precise cutting. Pressing thoughout the piecing , really lets me know if I am on track. Through out my years of quilting I have experiemented with omiting some steps... and everytime ended up with regrets.

  11. #11
    Senior Member kristakz's Avatar
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    As others have said - figure out what you prefer, and work that way. I always press my seams, because I think the end result is better when I do. I also prewash everything (esp. since a disaster involved a blue & white quilt). Ironing that pile of fabric out of the washer is *not* my favourite activity, but it is an absolute necessity. After that, I only press before cutting if the fabric has a fold in it (ie, cutting when I folded the fabric to store it).

  12. #12
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I press when machine piecing, usually with a dry iron. When I was a beginner I used a steam iron, but eventually realized that I am more accurate with a dry iron.

    Having said that, I have read on the QB about people who have taken a class from Kaye England. If I understood those posts correctly, she does not press until the top is finished. I remember one post especially about a student who tried this out for himself and said he got better results with it. I haven't had the courage to try it myself.

    As for starching, I do not prewash fabrics so there is enough stiffness in the fabric to give me accurate cuts. If I do have to prewash a fabric for some reason (if it does not pass my colorfast testing, for example) then I always starch the washed fabric before cutting to restore some crispness.

    If I know I will be sewing long bias seams, then I heavily starch the fabric before cutting to keep the fabric stabilized while I work with it.

    There are different ways to starch. I reserve spray starching for finished tops because overspray isn't such a problem for me then. If I need to starch yardage, I mix a solution of Sta-Flo liquid laundry starch and water, "paint" this on with a large wall painting brush, allow a couple of minutes for the starch to be absorbed, toss in the dryer, and then iron with steam. This is much less work than trying to spray starch yardage.

  13. #13
    Super Member Wanabee Quiltin's Avatar
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    I always wash my fabric and am so happy I do. Each time I look at that dark red/blue/black/green/purple/yellow dye in my kitchen sink, I say "Thank you" to my quilt teacher. I do not iron any fabric until I am ready to cut it. Yes, I definitely iron my seams when piecing, something the same teacher taught me to do. My quilt blocks lay beautifully flat just like they should. Maybe there aren't Quilt Police out there but I think experience from bad results are my Quilt Police. I have never gotten into spraying my blocks with starch or anything, I know some women use 2 or 3 cans per quilt. I think that is your personal choice. I think if you are piecing a queen quilt top in one week, you must be doing something right.

  14. #14
    Power Poster Mariposa's Avatar
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    I prefer to press and starch. Pressing after each seam helps me to keep things flat, and I am able to better match points, etc.
    Perhaps try an idea for a while to see what works best for you~
    Be a blessing to others, as you may entertain angels unaware!

  15. #15
    Super Member auntpiggylpn's Avatar
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    I too am a pre washer as I am allergic to the chemicals in the fabric making process. I will iron my yardage after I wash it. I used to be a a die hard Best Press kind of gal then I stumbled across the Bounce Pressing Spray. I love it! When I am ready to use a piece of fabric for a project, I will again iron and will do a light spray of either Best Press or Bounce Pressing Spray if it needs it. Might be a wasted step and a waste of product but I don't mind! When piecing, I press after every seam. I don't necessarily use anymore pressing product though. When my block is completed, I will give it a good pressing with a light spray of pressing product before I square it up.

    (PS: I'm one of those weirdos that enjoys the ironing of my yardage after washing it. It is really cathartic for me, especially if I am in love with the fabric! Plus it gives me another opportunity to examine my fabric for any defects such as runs, snags, stains (even on brand new yardage!) or holes. I guess I spend a lot of time loving on my fabrics! I wonder if I should seek some kind of professional help. . . hmmm)
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  16. #16
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    I agree that pre-washing and starching are personal choices. I personally don't do either...and I do press carefully every seam to help ensure precise matching...it really makes a difference in my experience.
    Kate

  17. #17
    Senior Member quiltingme's Avatar
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    I use Best Press before cutting, and at every step in the piecing process. I do not prewash unless the fabric is a color that might bleed, or if there is a strong dye odor.

  18. #18
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    Same above and do pre wash.

  19. #19
    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    You should watch the first episode of Craftsy's Free BOM. She tells you how to straighten out your fabric you buy. Very interesting. Never knew that before. I always press with starch my fabric before I cut and press after I sew each piece. I love cutting and ironing. Just really enjoy that aspect of the sewing. I will use 'Faultless', 'Best Press', or 'Bounce' when ironing. I never over do it. But I love the crispness of it. If I am working with bias, I do overdo it quite a bit!! It's so relaxing to iron! But I encourage everyone to watch Craftsy's Free BOM first episode. The instructor is the writer of 'Quilts, Quilts, Quilts' from 1988 (?). She has some excellent ideas that I don't think any of us know about.
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  20. #20
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    I always press and starch my fabrics before I cut. Even if you aren't going to starch them you do need to press them to get a good cut and in my opinion a better cut if starched.

  21. #21
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Piecing a queen size top in a week is NOT slow!!! If you are getting good results, I wouldn't change anything!!
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

  22. #22
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    I have been working on the Omigosh quilt, and I have starched as I went along. The strips stand up by themselves (almost). The pieces are so small that that is the only way to make the seams lay flat. I haven't run into any problems yet, and if I am going to, please don't tell me. Ignorance is bliss you know. This quilt is for me, and I am hoping to post it when I get it done if I can get one of my kids to help me. It is real scrappy.
    Sue

  23. #23
    Super Member Dina's Avatar
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    Okay, I do not press or starch before I sew my pieces together. I also don't prewash. I do press as I go along. I even press the seam, to "set the press"...I think it is called. So, like everything in my life, I do some stuff right and some stuff wrong...but it works for me.

    If you can piece a queen sized top in a week, I'd say you are doing really well!! Just do what you want to do, it sounds like it is working!!

    Dina

  24. #24
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    I always wash first. I made a quilt for my Grandson and washed the border fabric many times as the dye was still coming out, thought I was good to go, washed the quilt again after finishing and "disaster" the colour ran, washed again and fortunately it came out of the white background.

  25. #25
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    I press my fabric before I cut the pieces. Wrinkled fabric can distort the cut. But, I don't always press the block as I assemble the pieces. Instead of the iron, I use the little wooden hand-press while piecing and then press the block when it is complete.
    Martina
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