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6 Pressing Tips For Perfect Seams

by Jennifer Houlden

Yesterday I had a great time playing with the TrueCut ruler and rotary cutter but today I need to get some sewing done so that this little table runner will actually be completed by the end of the week. How do you press your seams? What tool do you use? Today along with getting some sewing done I’m going to talk about 6 pressing tips for perfect seams.

Tools for Pressing

Do you have a favorite pressing tool? My favorite tools are an iron or finger presser.

Finger Presser

The finger presser from Unique is a wooden tool with a flat bottom to run along the seam. Some benefits to this tool is that it doesn’t distort fabric, it’s great for the cottage if you do not have power and it’s small and fits into your sewing kit easily.

A drawback of the finger presser is it takes longer to press the seams but in my opinion does a wonderful job which out ways the time factor.

Wooden finger presser

As well, a hard, flat and non flexible surface is required for optimal results like a cutting mat.

Finger presser in action

Iron

I have this amazing little travel iron called the Goiron, I’ve seen many other quilters with it at classes and retreats and thought, “Isn’t that a cute little iron!” I normally don’t take an iron to class or retreats but now that I have this great little travel iron I’ll be taking it to class and retreats with me, not to mention using it in my studio.

As well as being cute it’s very functional.

Goiron and accessories

Features of the Goiron

Some of the features include:

  • three temperature settings – low, medium and high
  • heats up in 30 seconds
  • steam with a 40 ml water reservoir
  • ergonomic handle
  • non-stick sole-plate
  • only 400 watts – the low wattage will make it perfect for when I go to the cottage to sew once we have a solar power system as the 400 watts won’t drain the batteries like a full size iron
  • dual voltage which means it can be used anywhere in the world

Plus it comes with a carry pouch and fits perfectly into a suitcase or sewing bag.

Top of iron

Sewing the strips together

To create the checkerboard background make two sets of strips alternating the two different fabrics. Each set will have 3 strips of one fabric and 2 of the other fabric – so a total of 5 strips in each.

One strip set completed

Now that I’ve sewn the strips together I’m heading back to the cutting table to sub cut the strip sets into 5 – 3½″ x 15½″ for a total of 10 strips.

Strip sets sub cut into strips

Pressing Tips

1 – Set the seam

Set the seam first by pressing the seam with the two pieces lying RS together as they came off the sewing machine – this will set the stitches and fabric allowing for a flatter seam.

Setting the seam

2 – Press to the darkest fabric

Try to always press the seam towards the darkest fabric. By doing this it will ensure that the seam allowance does not show the dark fabric through a lighter fabric.

Seamed pressed the dark fabric

3 – Press from the middle

When pressing long strips, rows or borders start in the middle of the section and work out one way to the end of the seam then return to the middle and work out the other direction to the end of the seam. This will help to eliminate waves in the seams so that your seams are not wonky – nobody likes a wonky seam.

Press long seams starting in the middle

Making the checkerboard

To make the checkerboard alternate one strip from the first strip set with one from the second. Here they are all laid out ready for sewing together.

Checkerboard made

More Pressing Tips

4 – Butting seams – press in opposite directions

When seams need to butt together it’s best that the seams have been pressed in opposite directions so that they’ll nest together – this helps ensure the join of the two seams on the top of the quilt will be perfect. Since I’m making a checkerboard background for this table runner, and hopefully you are too, the seams will be nesting together. By pressing all the seams towards the darkest fabric it ensures that the seams will be opposite when the pieces are placed together on this little project.

Nested seams

5 – Press towards the least bulk

Press the seam to the side with the least amount of bulk if there are several seams in the area. Sometimes this may mean that you have to press the seam towards the lighter colored fabrics which is okay if it means that the seam is going to lie flatter.

Pressing seams open may also help to reduce the bulk. Extra bulk from seams can also cause problems when quilting, such as skipped stitches, teeny tiny stitches due to the foot getting caught up on the machine and unwanted bulges.

6 – No Steam

Use a dry iron when pressing seams. Steam can distort and change the shape of the fabric especially cotton. If there is distortion in the seams there will be distortion in the finished block which in turn results in distortion in the quilt. It’s a domino effect.

Do I ever use steam? The answer to that is yes. I use it when I’m pressing my fabrics prior to cutting and when the piece is finished to give it a nice crisp and flat look.

The image below has had no steam applied to it. I just followed these great tips for pressing.

Perfectly pressed and matched seams

The checkerboard top is all sewn together with perfectly pressed seams thanks to these six pressing tips for perfect seams. I can now move onto the applique. Tomorrow I’ll be looking at creating some applique shapes for the top of the runner and highlighting another super tool I found at my favorite fabric store. I’m not going to tell you what it is – you’ll have to tune in and find out. Trust me it’s a real cool one. Happy Quilting!

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7 comments

Patty Ryker October 8, 2016 - 4:14 pm

This is Oct. so a little late in reading but I have a Go Iron, absolutely the best thing next to the rotary cutter. I love mine. And thank you for the great tutorial.

Reply
QuiltShopGal January 21, 2016 - 11:21 am

Great post. I’ve been researching irons, but haven’t had a chance to check out the Go Iron. Do you know how hot it actually gets?

QuiltShopGal
http://www.quiltshopgal.com

Reply
Carla A. Canonico January 21, 2016 - 11:28 pm

The Go iron has dual voltage 100v – 240v, heats up in 30 sec. Although I’m not entirely sure how hot it gets, it gets hot enough to iron seams. There is steam as well, and it’s great for taking along on trips and quilting retreats. It takes up the entire surface of your hand. Cool!

Reply
Vivian Smereka January 9, 2016 - 9:50 am

I thought I knew how to iron but never dawned on me to start pressing a seam from the middle. Wow, that probably what has been causing me grief. Wonderful presentation.

Reply
Jennifer Houlden January 12, 2016 - 12:42 pm

Vivian, pressing from the centre out really does make a difference especially when the seams are really long like on borders or full WOF strips. Happy Quilting Jen

Reply
Pamela Hart July 14, 2015 - 3:55 pm

Could you please tell me where to purchase the Goiron you featured yesterday.
Thanks do much I could not find it any where online

Pam

Reply
Carla A. Canonico July 14, 2015 - 11:21 pm

Hi Pam,
The Goiron can be found at your local fabric or quilting store. If they aren’t already carrying it, ask them to bring some in. The distributor is H.A. Kidd Company Ltd. Super useful pressing tool!

Reply

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