Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tip Tuesday! - It's a Pressing Matter!

Welcome to
"Tip Tuesday!"

I love learning new things and then sharing that knowledge with my quilting friends. So, every Tuesday I'll provide some tips, hints, tricks, tutorials, shortcuts, etc. that I've learned over the years and share them here on the blog. 

"Tip Tuesday" will be a collection of information about a wide variety of subjects garnered from a large variety of sources.  I am not an expert by any means and do not take credit for being the great wizard behind all of these hints and tips. I will gladly give credit where credit is due whenever possible.
These tips will be archived and accessible to you just by clicking on the "Tip Tuesday" tab above. 

Read, enjoy, and be inspired! 

Press vs. Iron

a steamy and hot discussion! :-)

I was recently asked why I was obsessed with ironing while I quilt. Well, first of all, I'm NOT obsessed and secondly, I don't iron. I press (usually). There is a difference!

Pressing is using the weight of the iron and its heat to remove wrinkles and flatten seams. Pressing is lifting the iron up and down, while ironing is moving the iron back and forth. Generally, quilters press, not iron; especially when working with pieced units of blocks.

Proper pressing techniques can help you achieve seams that lay flat, are accurate and square. Your blocks will look sharp/crisp and putting them together will be easy peasy!

I tend to press my seams to one side, although I've recently found some blocks that just work better when they are pressed open. (That is a Tip Tuesday topic in it's own right, and one that can create some heated discussions.  :-\ )

Here's my pressing routine (although it's not the only way to press, it's my usual way.)

Before pressing a seam allowance to one side, I place the sewn unit on an ironing board -- unfolded, just the way it looked after being fed through the sewing machine.
I place a hot (not scalding!) iron on the unit. I do not move the iron back and forth much, it at all. I simply allow the weight of the iron and its and heat do the work. This step sets the seam. 
What does setting the seam do? 
It sinks (or sets) my stitches into the fabric and really allows the seam to be pressed flat. It flattens puckers or wrinkles that might have occurred when patches were sewn together, which can be caused by tension issues or uneven stitches.
I also set my seams before I press them open. This helps ’set’ the threads into the fabric and will ensure that extra fabric doesn't get caught up in the seam.
Check out the link below for a number of responses to the "Why should I set my seams?" question. This was a discussion on The Quilting Board, to which I am a member.
Setting the Seam...Why?
Jo wrote: 
Setting the seam from the back, then pressing it to one side from the front accomplishes two things that I've experienced: 1) It seems to "nestle" the thread into the layers of fabrics, and 2) The seam is now warmed and very pliable to send that seam to one side or the other when ironing from the right side . . . no overlaps or little tucks at the seam. 

You'll find that your measurements stay very true as well.

Jan wrote: 
You know how sometimes you run your fingernail down a seam to ease the sense of 'gathering' or along a fold of a piece of paper because it makes it "sharper"? That's why I "set the seam" before pressing the block/strip open. Just makes it look a bit neater and easier to abut the seams when joining to another section or clock

PaperPrincess wrote: 
You can try this. Sew 2 patches together, now just unsew them by clipping the stitches from one side or the other. Should be pretty easy to grab the stitches with your seam ripper. Now sew them together again, and this time set the seam. If you try and unpick the seam it will be more difficult because the thread has embedded itself into the fabric a bit.

Now my fellow quilters, go press on and create those masterpieces!

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