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the question on pressing seams

the question on pressing seams

Old 06-08-2020, 05:36 PM
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I have a friend who ..on pressing all her seams open. I explained to her there is more strength and durability if she presses her seams to the dark side...or even to just one side depending on her block..... she absolutely will not do it... hense, her seams pull completely pull apart when I am quilting it. Yes, I probably have it pulled a bit too tight, but I have never had any issues, except with her...... what’s a quilted to do?

Last edited by QuiltnNan; 06-09-2020 at 03:16 AM. Reason: shouting/all caps
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Old 06-08-2020, 06:32 PM
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It sounds like her stitch length is too long as well. Maybe it's time to stop quilting for her?
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Old 06-08-2020, 06:41 PM
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I agree. You are not being forced to quilt for her. Explain why you will not be quilting for her in the future.
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Old 06-08-2020, 06:57 PM
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I prefer seams pressed to the side too. But I suspect there is something more wrong if her seams are coming apart while you are quilting the top. Perhaps as Susie suggested her stitch length is too long, or perhaps her thread is not good quality.
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Old 06-08-2020, 07:58 PM
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I also think the problem is probably that her stitch length is too long. In the past year, after watching a Leah Day video and reading several articles on the subject, I started pressing my seams open, and I now prefer to do it that way. But I also started using a much shorter stitch length, and my seams are plenty strong - I can tug on the fabric on either side of the seam and not see daylight.

Perhaps instead of trying to get her to press her seams differently, you could suggest she try shortening her stitch length.

Last edited by QuiltnNan; 06-09-2020 at 03:20 AM.
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Old 06-08-2020, 08:23 PM
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I mostly press to the dark side but others like to press open. If you still want to quilt for her, ask here to decrease her stitch length so the seams are tighter. After washing, the seams do close when the quilt shrinks a bit. Also avoid stitch in the ditch quilting designs as there really isn’t a ditch to quilt it. Good luck!
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Old 06-09-2020, 03:12 AM
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There is no difference in strength or durability regardless if pressed open or to one side. There are still only two pieces of fabric being joined, and being pulled from the same angle. The seam allowances are just floating either way and not adding anything to to the seam. You may not notice the seams as much if pressed to the side because when ironed the edge is not as crisp and it can hide stitches, but not strengthen them. It adds bulk, but no strength.
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Old 06-09-2020, 04:07 AM
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I quilt my own quilts on my longarm, and I also press open my seams, but I also shorten my stitch length, and I have never had a seam pull apart. Perhaps explain to her that she needs to shorten her stitch length. There are many many quilters who press their seams open, either for preference or because the pattern is best suited for it, I don’t think it’s the technique, but the maker.
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Old 06-09-2020, 05:03 AM
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There also might be a slight stitch tension issue. Depending on the size of quilt pieces I press open or to the side, especially when making triangle units.
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Old 06-09-2020, 05:14 AM
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I press open and I have for decades. I have reasons for pressing open. I usually try to be gentle when discussing this, but the seam is every bit as strong whether it is pressed open or to the side, you are simply as wrong about your view as you believe your friend to be. While there are advantages and disadvantages to pressing open the seam strength is not one of them. I can show you my beginning quilts from 40-50 years ago to show you that the seams have been great all this time, those quilt fell apart due to lack of quilting holding down the solid pieces of fabric.

(edit: One of the reasons for pressing to the sides is due to low quality of fabric, not the seams. During a particular part of American history, the quality of fabric was rather low. Happens that period led up to what we think of quilts being today, 1900 or so. The people who learned to quilt in the 1930s learned from people who were dealing with unstable fabrics.

Most of today's fabrics are made differently, we buy "quilt shop quality". We, most of us, use machines. I believe folded seams are an artifact left from hand quilting and have no relevance to me using a machine and, of all things, irons. Big difference for me as a modern quilter and someone in a cabin with a hunk of metal that has to be heated on a wood stove.

My quilts are designed to be machine sewn, machine quilted, and machine washable.

Final thought -- if you took home ec when I did, you certainly learned to make all your clothing (pre-serger) with open seams. Trust me, through wear and laundering, they get a lot more stress than our quilt seams do and they hold up just fine.)

When we press open, we need a small stitch length. We need that same small stitch length if you do the modern techniques were you sew two pieces together first and then sub-cut the units. What I've noticed is basically all machines with a default stitch, that default stitch is way too long for quilting. On my Bernina, the stitch defaults to 2.5, I usually sew at 1.8 or less. To compound matters, when my machine starts it takes a couple little starting stitches smaller than the rest. For vintage machines, in terms of stitches to the inch, you should basically never be less than 12 stitches to an inch for seaming. Sure, denim or maybe some other things may come up.

For all quilting and whether you press to the side or not, a seam should not come apart easily, you should never lose entire stitches. To test, sew together two pieces of fabric. Tug gently at the start of the seam. No full stitches should ever come out. A slight loosening/a V is ok but not quite ideal.

I had a friend and she always had so many problems putting on her bindings, that was because she using something more like 8-10 stitches per inch. Yes, all her ending seams caused issues, they all came undone. But it wasn't because she was pressing open because she is presses to the side... She complained she couldn't see the stitches to take out mistakes if she made them smaller, I get that I don't see well either. But she was trading possible problems for guaranteed problems every time because of her "big stitch fix".

Last edited by Iceblossom; 06-09-2020 at 05:24 AM.
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