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Thread: Pressing Seams to the side or open???

  1. #1
    Senior Member pineneedles4's Avatar
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    I have always pressed my seams to one side, usually the dark side unless it will create problems at intersecting seams. Now, lately I've read where people are pressing seams open when machine piecing. This would certainly create less bulk in most patterns when quilting. I read an entry on here where a long arm quilter praised the lady who pieced the top for pressing open all of her seams. I also read somewhere on the internet about someone explaining that seams were always pressed to one side because when people hand-piece, this would hide the stitches and make the seam stronger but it was not necessary when machine piecing.

    Have you ever pressed open the seams? Did you like the results on the finished quilt? What is your experience?

    Vanessa in Oklahoma

  2. #2
    Member kwilter11's Avatar
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    The instructions for a scrappy quilt said to press the seams open. I'd never done it before, but it worked beautifully. I'm considering pressing them all open from now on (but it is a pain to to do) because I have a hard time getting my points to match when there's that big hump to go over.

  3. #3
    Senior Member JenelTX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineneedles4
    Have you ever pressed open the seams? Did you like the results on the finished quilt? What is your experience?
    I'm very inexperienced, but I do remember reading in one of the quilting books I've read that seams pressed open are not as strong as seams pressed to one side. Just something to factor into your decision.

  4. #4
    Super Member rwquilts's Avatar
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    I have pressed seams open only when the bulkiness of the fabrics dictates it. I always try and press both seams to one side, but I have to admit while recently working on the FWQ and making 6 inch blocks, when I was sewing teeny tiny seams and many of them, pressing open seams was a great help to my block looking good. It's your quilt...you get to pick the rules? :):)

  5. #5
    Super Member judy_68's Avatar
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    I press to one side so I can get he seams to match. It took me forever to be able to make it work that way. I would never be able to line seams up if I pressed open.
    Judy

  6. #6
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    I think it's a situation of the proper technique for the proper job. If you are doing straight seams that will meet, pressing to one side to 'lock' the seam when they meet works well. Pressing open or twirling intersections reduces bulk on pinwheels, stars etc.

    As far as the long arm quilters, the only thing I've heard is to always press the backing seams open, not necessarily all the piecing seams.

    Here's a good tutorial on pressing on this board:
    http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-149984-1.htm

  7. #7
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    I only press open if it'll really make a difference, cause it's a pain in the neck to do

  8. #8
    Power Poster blueangel's Avatar
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    I press them open when I need to reduce the bulk

  9. #9
    Super Member GABBYABBY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JenelTX
    Quote Originally Posted by pineneedles4
    Have you ever pressed open the seams? Did you like the results on the finished quilt? What is your experience?
    I'm very inexperienced, but I do remember reading in one of the quilting books I've read that seams pressed open are not as strong as seams pressed to one side. Just something to factor into your decision.
    I agree.

  10. #10
    Super Member Deborah12687's Avatar
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    I always press it to the side for a stronger seam. With the 1/4 inch seam that every one seems to use these days I feel better about doing it that way.

  11. #11
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Some thoughts ....

    LAQ ... if there's a lot of bulk, yes they'd like them pressed whichever way will minimize the bulk. At least my LAQ does. She's showed me how with too much bulk in one point, it's hard for her to keep an even pattern and stitch across that. It doesn't matter so much which way, as it does for handquilting (see below)

    Handquilting ... flipped them directionally, and the quilting was done on the single layered area. Harder for them to quilt thru multi-layers. And was important to make sure all were flipped in same direction from one block to the other, to do consistent quilting.

    Seam strength ... is it such an issue now, with most of us machine stitching, with modern threads/fabrics and our ability to adjust stitch length? Perhaps it was more so when the quilts were hand stitched?

    Light to Dark ... the conventional way, to avoid dark shadows coming thru onto the lights.

    Which way to flip ... one teacher I've had says forget about light/dark ... see which way the block wants to send it. Sometimes it's more natural in one direction or the other. And too, the bulk minimization consideration comes in there too.

    I'll Look forward to reading further comments about these thoughts.

  12. #12
    Super Member Glassquilt's Avatar
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    Press to the side

  13. #13
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    I only press open if bulk is a problem, like on pinwheels.

  14. #14
    Super Member clem55's Avatar
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    Since I learned and did most of my sewing making garments, a pressed open seam was a natural. I never had problems matching seam lines where necessasry. When I stasrted making quits, I followed the rules about pressing to the side. For me this seemed to present more problems matching the seams, because no matter, I always seemed to end up with some blocks with the pressed seams going the same way at the joint. I have also noticed at times that while I thought I had the seam pressed flat. I sometimes had a little fold . Those little folds cause a problem if you get too many in a block. I am thinking I may go back to pressing seams open. I really don't understand the " stronger" issue at all. I have a pretty broad rear-end and my pressed open seams have held together darn good with the "pull" they get. LOL

  15. #15
    Super Member GwynR's Avatar
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    The way it was explained to me was if pressed open and a couple of stitches pop open you can see the batting and it unravels fast, when pressed to the side if they pop open they don't ravel open as fast and you don't see the batting. I did just do a strip quilt and my MIL pressed the seams open. I left the end to end seams because they are so short but repressed all the long seams to the side.

  16. #16
    Super Member Shelbie's Avatar
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    When I started quilting, I pressed all of my seams open as that is what I had always done when making garments. I was quickly told by the "quilt police" that quilters don't do that. Now I press them whatever way is most sensible. My Janome 6500 does not like bulky seam intersections and veers off the seam line so pressing open sometimes brings much better results.

  17. #17
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    As a hand quilter I was taught to press to the side. I am making one now that I have been pressing the seams open as much as I can. Sometimes this creates too much bulk so I press that seam to the side.

    It does take longer and I will not do it on every block I make.

    My friend sells her quilts and she tells me she just presses and where ever they go they go lol!!

    As long as my quilt top is laying flat I'm happy.

  18. #18
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    I press mine to one side, usually to the darker fabric if I can. I pressed my seams open on my first Stack-n-Whack, but on the second, I didn't. The bulk at the intersection of the second top was not much of an issue. Some, but not much. And the centers on the second one were much easier to match. I think it really boils down to personal preference.

  19. #19
    Super Member amandasgramma's Avatar
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    The only time you would press them open is when you piece the backing and on some star patterns where 6-8 points come together at one place. I'm working on a quilt with seams in the back and it REALLY causes the quilting machine to bump out of design when it hits them. :) (BTW - if you piece the backing, use 1/2" seams -- they lay flatter)

  20. #20
    Super Member IrishNY's Avatar
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    I like to press them to the side so I can match the seams more easily. It might be easier to press them open for quilt where I don't have to match seams but I would have to break my habit of pressing to the side - not sure I can do that. :?

  21. #21
    Super Member GingerK's Avatar
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    I am just finishing my first OBW. I pressed the seams to the side and had a terrible time sewing the hexagons together (thank goodness this was a cheap-fabric-learning-experience top for my own use) . I went back to the tutorial here, and the person said to press the seams open (guess I missed that the first time I read it). In this case, it makes sense. Otherwise I also press to the side and light to dark.

  22. #22

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    Another reason to press to the side is the batting will not migrate out of the seam. If you use poly batts they beard anyway and it is more of an opening to do this.

  23. #23
    Super Member Annaquilts's Avatar
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    I very seldom press open and it is generally to avoid bulkiness. I think the seam that is pressed open is weaker.

  24. #24
    Super Member Theresa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JenelTX
    Quote Originally Posted by pineneedles4
    Have you ever pressed open the seams? Did you like the results on the finished quilt? What is your experience?
    I'm very inexperienced, but I do remember reading in one of the quilting books I've read that seams pressed open are not as strong as seams pressed to one side. Just something to factor into your decision.
    I don't know if I buy this. Seams for clothing have been pressed open for years. These seams can get a lot of 'abuse', certainly not as much as a quilt. I sometimes press mine open and sometimes to the side. Not sure why I'm so inconsistent!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by clem55
    Since I learned and did most of my sewing making garments, a pressed open seam was a natural. I never had problems matching seam lines where necessasry. When I stasrted making quits, I followed the rules about pressing to the side. For me this seemed to present more problems matching the seams, because no matter, I always seemed to end up with some blocks with the pressed seams going the same way at the joint. I have also noticed at times that while I thought I had the seam pressed flat. I sometimes had a little fold . Those little folds cause a problem if you get too many in a block. I am thinking I may go back to pressing seams open. I really don't understand the " stronger" issue at all. I have a pretty broad rear-end and my pressed open seams have held together darn good with the "pull" they get. LOL
    I'm with you. Started garment sewing too many years ago to count. Always pressed seams open and never had a 'strength' issue with intersecting seams. I tried the 'to the side' pressing when I started quilting and just didn't like the results when matching seams either. I have been pressing all my seams open for years now when quilting. Works much better for me.

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