One thing I love about quilting is that no matter how long you have been sewing, there's always a new technique or different approach to learn. You may be thinking that you have pressed thousands of seams over the course of your quilting career so you don't need a tutorial on how to press seams in a quilt.
And the truth is, you're right! You may not need this pressing tutorial, but it's always fun to see how other people do things, right? Over the course of 19 years and well over a hundred quilts, I've stumbled upon a system of pressing seams that works really well for me.
Take a look at this video and tell me what you think! Is this how you press seams in a quilt too?
The Perennial quilt pattern is featured in the photo above and can be purchased here!
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Press Seams in a Quilt Supplies
In this tutorial I use a few tools that are really helpful in getting an extremely flat, semi-permanent press to your seams.
To get a fantastic press, you just need an iron that gets hot. I have owned a range of irons from a very cheap second-hand one to the nicest iron on the market. (It truly is amazing. More on that in a future blog post.)
Before getting my LauraStar rocketship ironing system that can drive me to the grocery store and babysit my son (I kid...kind of.) I owned an iron that would leak water if I ever tried to use the steam setting.
That crummy iron trained me to rely on a spray bottle of water to steam my fabric and since then I have found that to be a very successful way to extend the life of a cheap iron. It seems like these days regular irons are not built to last more than a couple years and the steam function is a big culprit as to why that is.
Solution? Don't use the steam function. Get yourself an inexpensive spray bottle and save the life of your iron.
In the video I am using my very adorable pink Oliso mini iron. If you use the coupon code SUZYQUILTS20 you get 20% off and free shipping!
The Grow quilt pattern is featured in the photo above and can be purchased here!
You can use a regular ironing board or transportable ironing surface. In this video I use a 17" x 24" wool pressing mat. Read more about the pressing magic of wool pressing mats in this post – An Honest Review of Wool Pressing Mats.
The Reflections wall hanging pattern is featured in the photo above and can be purchased here!
It's time to fish out that weird hunk of wood from your grandma's sewing basket. It has a purpose. That hunk of wood is called a tailor's clapper and simply by placing it on a hot, steamy seam and letting that seam cool, you are creating a semi-permanent crease in the fabric. That seam will be so wonderfully flat, even if you fold it up and throw it in a corner, it will stay pressed.
For more information on this tool that will help you press seams in a quilt, check out this post – 8 Things You Never Knew About the Tailor’s Clapper.
You can bring the steam any way you want – a spray bottle, the steam function on your iron, a retelling of 50 Shades of Grey. It's up to you. It doesn't matter as long as you've got it.
How to Press Seams in a Quilt
This tutorial shows you how to press seams to the side. If you would like to press your seams open, the same rules apply except for Step 3. I'll mention this again, but in Step 3, instead of finger pressing to the side, finger press your seam open. Aside from that, the instructions are the same.
The Tail Feather quilt pattern is featured in the photo above and can be purchased here!
1. Lay fabric out with the dark side facing up.
Once you have sewn two fabrics together, figure out which of those fabrics is the darker one. Place your fabric on your ironing surface with the darker fabric facing up.
2. Set your seam.
After sewing a seam, press it with a hot iron so you set the stitches in place. If you start stretching the seam open with the side of your iron right out of the gate, those stitches will stretch along with the fabric. This is how warping happens.
3. Finger press the seam open.
With your cute little fingers gently open up the seam and press it so that it's creased at the seam. This is important because it creases the fabric in the right direction without applying heat or steam, which can cause stretching.
If you would rather press your seams open than to the side, finger press your seam open, then follow the rest of these instructions.
4. With a hot iron, set the seam open.
Use your iron to further crease what your fingers just did. This is where a lot of people stop and call their pressing finished. However, if you want to get amaaazingly flat seams that will stay flat forever, I have two more steps for you.
5. Create steam on your seam.
Time to get steamy, people! Crank up the HEAT! Either with a spray bottle of water or the steam function on your iron, blast that steam! Well...blast is a bit forceful, let's say, gently mist that steam. 😉
6. Let the steam cool underneath the tailor's clapper.
Time to whip out your tailor's clapper! After getting your seam all hot and steamy, place your tailor's clapper over it. You don't need to press hard, just use the natural weight of your hand. After about 8-10 seconds, lift the clapper off. Viola! A perfectly pressed seam.
And that's all there is to it! You are now a pro at pressing seams for a quilt! Did you find this tutorial helpful? Do you have pressing tips you'd like to share? Comment below!