Top Ten Pressing Tips
1. PRESS, DON’T IRON
Are you confused about the difference? Ironing involves moving the iron while it is in contact with the fabric, which can stretch and distort fabrics and seams. Pressing means picking the iron up off the surface of the fabric and putting it back down in another location.
2. SET YOUR SEAMS
Before pressing a seam open or to one side, first just press the seam as it was sewn, without opening up the fabric pieces. Doing so helps meld or sink the stitches into the fabric, leaving you with a less bulky seam allowance after you press it open or to one side.
3. LET THEM COOL
Once fabric pieces have been pressed, let them cool in place. This prevents distortion of bias edges.
4. FINGER-PRESS FIRST
Finger pressing isn’t a substitute for using an iron, but it does temporarily press a seam in one direction or another. It’s a good method to use if you’re unsure which way a seam eventually will need to be pressed.
5. AVOID SEEING SEAM SHADOWS
Generally speaking, press seams toward the darker fabric to avoid creating a shadow on the lighter fabric. If pressing toward the lighter fabric is a must, trim the darker fabric seam allowance by 1/16" after the seam is sewn to prevent any shadows.
6. BEGIN AGAIN
If a seam allowance has been pressed the wrong way, return it to its original unpressed state and press the unit flat to remove the crease. Allow the fabric to cool, then press the seam in the desired direction.
7. KEEP YOUR OPTIONS OPEN
When multiple seams come together in one area, press them open. This helps distribute the fabric bulk evenly, eliminating lumps and making the seams easier to quilt through.
8. AVOID CRUSHING RESULTS
To prevent flattening your appliqués, turn an appliquéd block facedown on a terry-cloth towel for pressing.
9. KEEP IT STRAIGHT
Straight seams should be pressed from the right side of the fabric with the iron parallel to the straight of grain. This helps avoid pressing tucks and pleats into the seam.
10. FOLLOW THE GRAIN
A bias seam should be pressed with the iron at a 45-degree angle to the seam and along the straight of grain to prevent distortion.
Practice Your Pressing
Need to practice your pressing? These projects will give you lots of opportunities to get it right!
Quilt Designer: Verlinda Magby of Oklahoma Quiltworks
Quilt Name: Springtime In Oklahoma, Quilt Sampler, Spring/Summer 2006
"Springtime In Oklahoma" will give your iron a workout. With its long strips, blocks with intersection seams, and half-square triangles on the bias, you’ll be pressing like a pro in no time!
Quilt Designer: Leslie Main and Valerie Witte of Country Traditions
Quilt Name: Through Thick and Thin, Quilt Sampler, Spring/Summer 2005
Utilizing a zigzag border and folded triangles, "Through Thick and Thin" will reinforce the need to pay attention to how seams come together, as well as remembering that in pressing, you need to pick your iron up and put it down in another area for the best results.
Quilt Designer: Barb Zawistowski of Quilt Cottage
Quilt Name: Circle of Pineapples, Quilt Sampler, Fall/Winter 2004
Whether you construct "Circle of Pineapples" using wool or traditional appliqué, you’ll remember the importance of not crushing your shapes. Prevent them from going flat by laying them facedown on a terry towel when it’s time to press.