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Quilting and Pressing

Ironing tools

The only people that like to iron these days are quilters.  They love it.  It is not ironing, it is pressing.  It is only after pressing your patchwork that you can see how truly beautiful it is.  Perhaps that is why they quilters tend to overdo it.

Too much pressing causes problems.  If you press too much, you can cause ridges in the front of the fabric from the seams in the back of the fabric.  If you drag the iron along the fabric, instead of just pressing down, you can distort the fabric.

Basically there are three rules when pressing patchwork:

1. Press toward the dark when possible

2. Press so that your seams nest

3. Press to distribute the bulk in the block as evenly as possible

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to keep to all of these rules.  You have to choose the ones that are most important for your patches.  Here are some things to consider:

Pressing toward the dark is done so that dark fabrics do not show on the front side behind light fabrics. 

Nesting seams turn in opposite directions when two seams meet when sewing blocks together.  It distributes the bulk of the fabric and keeps the patchwork smoother on the surface.

The seams in the block should be as evenly distributed as possible to make the block flat.  Sometimes a lot of pieces in a block meet in one place, such as in the center of a Pinwheel quilt block. Sometimes you have to remove a few stitches so that you can turn a seam in two directions.  Occasionally you may want to press seams open, although it will weaken your quilt.

Always press from the front first.  Place the dark fabric on top, and gently move the iron so that the seam turns up.  If you iron from the back, you may get puckers in the front that you will not be able to remove.

If you are designing your own quilt, you need to think about the seams before you start sewing and which way they will go.  That is probably one of the hardest parts of designing your own quilt.

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