Pressing seams open or to the side

Interesting topic, one that many have commented on in the blogosphere recently, and I definitely have an opinion–based on my own experience. A recent post by another blogger promoting quilting seams pressed open inspired this little discourse. I have tried both ways and definitely do not like pressing seams open for any of my quilting work.

The primary reason that I don’t like pressing seams open is that it makes the seam intersections much harder to match. And if there’s one thing that really matters to me, it is having points with real points and seam intersections that intersect perfectly. When seams are pressed to the side and pressed in the correct direction, every seam alternates and there is no more bulk in the seam intersection than if the seam were pressed open. In addition, pressing to the side allows seam intersections that can be twirled and that twirl assures the reduced bulk as well as perfect intersections. My quilt tops are as pretty on the wrong side as on the front and that is because of the attention I give to pressing and twirling seam intersections. The nice thing about the wrong side is that there are so many tiny little pinwheels in the seam intersections.

Another reason for pressing seams to the side is that seams pressed open leaves the entire seam vulnerable to strength only from the stitches themselves. It’s very hard to repair a quilt with seams pressed open.

Seams pressed open also prohibit the detailed definition that stitch in the ditch quilting gives to beautiful custom quilting work. There can be no stitch in the ditch with seams pressed open. One can stitch to one side or another of the seam, but the stitches show and the thread must match perfectly as opposed to stitch in the ditch which is virtually invisible.

Here are a couple of examples of seams pressed to the side with intersections twirled. The orange and purple quilt was made in 2007 and the yellow and white is one in progress:

blue and purple - seams alternated and twirled
Pinwheel Back-seams twirled


Pinwheel Block - pressed


And here are some photos from the hospital after Ezri’s surgery. She has come through incredibly well and is now in that long and arduous healing process. It’s hard for a child as they don’t often sit still like adults do. Thus, we’re hoping she’ll sleep late in the mornings, take long naps in the afternoons, and fall asleep early at night. She’s going back to pre-school this morning for a short morning. She has been very excited to go back to school and see her friends. You can see that she and her sister are very attached – the first things they said to each other was how much they missed each other after Ezri’s full day of surgery and two days of sleeping afterward.



In the healing gardens at St. Joseph's Hospital


And a couple of photos of the Grand Canyon – it’s so magnificent – Ted and I took a quick day trip up before flying home.

Grand Canyon 1


Grand Canyon 2


Grand Canyon 3

One Reply to “Pressing seams open or to the side”

  1. First, Ezri…I’m amazed she is already ready to go back to pre-school. Good for her. Strong little girl with a great can-do attitude.

    Your pressing and points look fantastic to me. Wish mine looked as good. I’m with you on pressing seams, but can see a point on certain 8 pointed stars for pressing open (haven’t yet tried it yet). Sure seems like many young quilters are learning to press all seams open, which I find interesting.

    Lastly, glad to hear you were able to take a day trip to the Grand Canyon. Nice break.


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