Ironing Seams :(

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okieLinda wrote
on 22 May 2009 10:54 AM

I have one pet peeve , well thats a lie, I probably have hundreds but I see women ironing little 1/4 inch seams like someone is going to look disaprovably at them and it drives me crazy , The Quilt Police will not arrest you if you dont iron perfect !!! I lived in the days when everything was ironed and it wasnt fun , it isn't in quilting either,whats more most isnt needed, you need to iron the tops before quilting but the fabric seems are going to mush where they want to anyway fabric has a  mind of its own and I won't spend more time ironing than quilting no matter what the Quilt Police say :) Am I alone on this one :)    Linda

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Muppin wrote
on 22 May 2009 12:24 PM

When I first started quilting, I never ironed seams, but I do notice a difference in piecing accuracy if I iron.  Now I'm a "iron to one side" kind of girl, and mostly just make stuff lay flat.  Even that has improved my accuracy.  I guess some folks just want to make it as perfect as they can and take their time, but that's not for me in most cases!  :)

Cheryl / Muppin

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createandsew wrote
on 23 May 2009 6:35 AM

I agree with Muppin - there are some advantages to at least consider pressing (not ironing) seams.  If you press them as you go along, it is less tedious and can help your piece stay on track and squared.  Design wise, for example,  you can slightly raise or lower a particular block, circle, whatever, by the direction you press the seam underneath it, that is, lifting or recessing it.

I think there is a greater fear of Quilt Police than the reality of their existence!  I belong to several quilt guilds and the police are small in number - just like you learn to slow down near certain stretches of road to avoid a speeding ticket, there is a way to selectively avoid the criticism of the self proclaimed expert. Besides, what I do is for my enjoyment and sometimes my standards are hard enough for me to handle, so I have learned not to worry about the outside influences! lol 

Thanks for introducing this topic!


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okieLinda wrote
on 23 May 2009 6:56 AM

I thought it the topic no one talks about , I too believe in making the top look good showing the points and getting it all good looking  before quilting but opening every little seam and pressing with the little centers splayed out makes me scream, Every top is differant in what it takes to get there , but I find in the long run weather the seams go this way or that inside the sandwich is there own choice, One thing I do alot is block the top , wet it down and put it up on the design wall to just let all the fabrics have a time to get along with each other and dry , I find that that does more than anything eles I can do ,

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Jody Johnson wrote
on 23 May 2009 5:35 PM

When I make a traditional quilt which is not very often these days, I press and press and press my seams/blocks over and over. I am also a huge proponent of starching the living bejeezes out of my tops. I never used to but since I have started my piecing accuracy has increased 10 fold!

When it comes to my art quilts however, I do not do this and leave the pressing to the end usually. I do use starch to form my fabric around my templates and stabilize the top for machine quilting. I don't hand quilt so I don't know if starching would be a benefit or a drawback for this method of quilting.


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Carol DK wrote
on 24 May 2009 11:11 PM

I try only to use my iron for quilting. It does help me most of the time, but if I can get away with it I like to press only, w/o the iron. I find that if I try too hard to make the seams perfect, it takes the fun out of the whole thing and I am less accurate that when I let it all 'flow'. Just me, trying not to add stress to my fun time. Happy quilting! ;)

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on 25 May 2009 9:16 AM

Uh, yeah. I tried it. I don't it very well.  I can't get the 1/4" seam very straight and it aggravates the bees out of me, so I always end up doing something else with my edges.  The Quilt Police would have thrown away the key with me already.

Belinda aka crazyartgirl


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okieLinda wrote
on 25 May 2009 10:56 AM

lol . I'm glad Im not the only one that finds ironing ..... crazy , I really would'nt mind if it impoved it but it doesnt at least in my quilts,

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Krys2 wrote
on 28 May 2009 9:28 PM

The act of Ironing really depends on what I'm doing, but I do use the iron a lot, if that makes sense.  I do a lot of finger pressing until construction gets to a certain size, and then press with the iron if needed. If it's something machine pieced, I absolutely have to iron (and starch sometimes) because my construction skills are actually rather sloppy and that's the only way I can see to get it trimmed correctly to continue. I'd rather have a larger seam - can always cut it down to 1/4 inch if it really matters, after all. (Machine piecing is not, repeat not, a favorite exercise.) And I iron the seam to whatever side seems best for the bulk, not necessarily to the darker fabric. Some of my art quilts end up needing some kind of heat setting, so the iron comes back into play then, too.


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mary j3 wrote
on 28 Jul 2009 10:49 AM

Ironing? When it's 107 outside and the house is "cooled" to 85 degrees??? ha, not on your life.  Since most of my art quilts are under 3 feet...I use the Clover little mini craft iron for the hard to bend seams. Otherwise, I finger press.  It's all about staying cool.  mary j, fresno, CA

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on 28 Jul 2009 7:57 PM

Well, I seem to be in the minority on this thread - I love my iron - er- irons!  I used to have a set up at a former house where the ironing board was down level with my sewing cabinet, so all I had to do was pivot my chair to press seams.  I don't have that set up now, so I do spend time popping up and down to do to the iron - it really doesn't bother me - I guess I consider it part of my exercise ;)

Actually I think pressing seams as I sew makes everything lie flatter and line up.  It really depends on the effect that you are going for.  Art quilt doesn't necessarily mean rough or ravelly edges.  There are scads of amazing art quilts that are engineering/illusionery feats of wonder that can't be accomplished without judicious pressing.  And then there are the free-form, fun, playing with materials art quilts that can be a joy just for the process. 

So press away or not - depending on the look you are going for!

Denise in Mendota, IL

My blog

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thegrita wrote
on 29 Jul 2009 2:53 AM

I just made myself a pressing board two weeks ago and it has removed from me the up down to ironing board and back again for the most part. I iron alot with fusings and just having a 18 in sq board that i pick up and put on cutting table and iron has worked wonderful.

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Whidbey2 wrote
on 29 Jul 2009 10:41 PM

I don't piece at all if I can avoid it but I do use my iron a lot.  I hand applique and turn all my edges in with the iron ahead of time with loads of starch.  I also do a lot of fabric painting and setting the color with my iron.  I think if I had to give up my sewing machine or my iron I would give up the sewing machine.  Believe me it isn't because I am a neat freak  but rather a need a need to get all those poky ends under control before I start to spend all that time hand appliqueing. 

I once saw a very intricately pieced quilt hanging in front of a window and was amazed at the perfect 1/4 inch seams shadowed in the light.  I knew right then piecing was not for me.  The inside of my quilts will never look better than the outside.

Fun topic

thank you


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QE2 wrote
on 30 Jul 2009 7:12 AM

I, too, don't mind ironing.  I find it helps keep things accurate and perhaps gives me time to think before I run off in a wrong direction.  I don't fuss over which side as somtimes things shift and sometimes I've even ironed them open. 



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robbieklow wrote
on 30 Jul 2009 9:33 PM

I've been quilting for so long that when I first started the discussion was whether you should iron the seams open or iron them to one side, it was a given that the seams would be pressed. I pieced for a long time before I started making fused quilts, and I got good at figuring out which way a pressed seam should lie in order to make the corners match. I still press my seams, to one side, towards the darker fabric if I can. I just finished a quilt top, using two different fabrics for the background, and was careful to press the seam even though it was going to be invisible, because fused shapes covered the whole thing up. But I wanted it to lay flat.

I already have a big pressing surface, an old dining table covered with two layers of cotton batting and one layer of black canvas, so pressing is just a habit.  But it gives me some satisfaction to press seams and admire how flat things lie. I always press a seam before another seam crosses it.

To each his own, and if you can't tell the difference, then why bother? But I do feel I can tell the difference, at least on my own work.






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