Quilting Lessons: The Basics of Nesting Seams

Quilting squares, particularly pre-cut charm squares, are one of my favorite ways to construct a quilt top.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working on a quilt that marries the ease of charm squares with the efficiency of chain piecing. Using Allie Heath’s Graphic Cross Quilt from Modern Patchwork Winter 2014 as inspiration, I leapt into my own cross quilt variation.

While there are tons of quilt blocks and approaches to constructing a cross quilt, one of my favorites when using pre-cuts is a nine patch block. Since the design I was working with had an extra row between the plus shapes, it was more of a twelve patch block.

As I was pressing my pairs of chain-pieced squares I had a brief moment of panic which way should I be pressing? For the rows where there was a black square and a white square the answer was easy, to the dark side. But for the rows that were all black or all white, I had to think it through. After some research, I discovered that nesting the seams would do the trick.

Here is a brief tutorial on nesting seams from Liz and Elizabeth Evans’s quilting book, The Simple Simon Guide to Patchwork:
How to Nest Your Seams
by Liz and Elizabeth Evans

The term nesting seams simply means aligning the seams of each row so that they not only line up nicely but seem to almost fit together perfectly like a puzzle piece. This is done through a combination of pressing, pinning, and stitching.

The example below shows the directions seams are pressed, block by block, row by row in a Nine Patch quilt block.


1. In row 1 of your block, the seams are pressed in opposite directions, away from the center block.


2.In row 2 of the block, the seams are both pressed in toward the center block.


3.Row 3 is the same as row 1: the seams are pressed away from the center block.


4.When joining the rows, again, alternate the direction of the pressed seams. Here, the row seams are both pressed away from the center row.

Learning this trick helped me so much, and there are many more basic quilting lessons for beginning quilters and experts alike in this book. For more quilting tips and techniques on everything from cutting to binding, be sure to order your copy of The Simple Simon Guide to Patchwork Quilting. Or download the eBook to start creating any one of the 21 patchwork projects featuring seven quilt blocks.

Happy Quilting!

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