Easy pressing tips for a perfect square rail fence blocks

If making a quilt is new to you, you may wonder about this constant back and forth between stations; cutting, sewing and pressing. I call it the trifecta of quilting. Each is an integral part of constructing a beautiful quilt, one which will hopefully be well-used and well-loved forever.

Pressing Makes Perfect

Yesterday, I gave you the cutting instructions. The next step in creating this striking Banyan Classics rail fence quilt is to press your strip sets, and, as mentioned in the title of this segment, pressing makes perfect.

Press seams flat as they were sewn to “set” the seam before pressing open.

We want our quilt blocks to lay flat and to be square, so the quilt goes together easily. Good pressing techniques will help ensure that happens.

In general, when constructing a quilt, we’ll press our seams to the darker fabrics to avoid a shadow showing through the lighter fabrics. This isn’t always possible, however, and, at the end of the day, it often really doesn’t matter. The Quilt Police were thrown out of office years ago! To make things easy, press each seam allowance away from strip 1.

Press seam allowance away from strip 1.

Flat, without distortion is the main goal and achieved by PRESSING the fabric with an up and down motion with the iron, not IRONING it back and forth the way it’s done with clothing.

To Steam or Not to Steam

To steam, or to seam, is another of those age-old questions. Personally, I love to use steam when pressing my fabric, but, over the years I’ve learned to respect the steam. Steam combined with pressure and movement can easily distort your fabric, so you need to use it carefully and wisely.

Once you press a strip set, use a ruler or tape measure to check the width. The ideal measurement should be 12½“. If your measurement is close, say 12¼”, or 12⅜” press your strips again taking a close look to ensure there are no little folds in the seams. Again, you want the fabric flat.

Carefully press the seams from the right side of the strip set to ensure the fabric lays flat; using Banyan Batiks Banyan Classics! Free rail fence quilt pattern.

If you’ve repressed your strips and they’re still not 12½”, then maybe you need to tweak your ¼” seaming technique. At the end of the day, it’s really not the end of the world. This is a very forgiving quilt, which is one reason it’s great for beginners.

Measure several of your strip sets and hopefully, you’ll find a consistent measurement, whatever it may be. Maybe your strips are 12″, 12¼” or even 12⅝”. Not to worry; no need to stress. Find your most consistent measurement throughout all your strips and you’ll cut your blocks to that measurement. You want your blocks to be square, which will sew together easily. In this case, consistency is more important than the measurement itself.

Congratulations! You’ve made it through Stripping 101 without getting arrested, LOL! Strip piecing revolutionized the quilt world and has become a staple technique in many patterns, so it’s good to have in your sewing repertoire.

Grab your Banyan Classics strip sets and it’s back to the cutting table we go! Join me tomorrow.

This is part 3 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 2: Quick and easy cutting instructions for a classic rail fence quilt

Go to part 4: It’s hip to be square! Cutting and sewing rail fence blocks

[shareaholic app=”follow_buttons” id=”23735596″]

Related posts

QUILTsocial Giveaway 288: Jungle Rose 12-Fat Quarter Fabric Bundle!

Get your Banyan Batiks Baralla, we’re making a quilt!

QUILTsocial Giveaway 284: Baralla 12-Fat Quarter Fabric Bundle!


Kim Enos February 22, 2019 - 6:21 pm
This is a great explanation of ironing. Such an important step in quilting!
Michael Smith February 25, 2019 - 1:17 pm
Thanks for your feedback, Kim. Yes, I was taught very early on that for the best results sewing and pressing go hand-in-hand. Glad you enjoyed the blogs!
Deb Lebherz February 20, 2019 - 12:07 pm
Love all of your fabrics. Thanks again for all the giveaways.
Michael Smith February 21, 2019 - 10:28 am
Thank you, Deb! Aren't these Banyan Classics fabrics gorgeous?! Love them!
Add Comment