Learning to press quilt blocks has its advantages. Not only do your skills of quilt-making improve very soon but when pressing seams as you work, you get rid of fabric bits that get lost in the allowances. These cause distortions and make your blocks look smaller than the desired block size. Do you want that?
You also realize that by pressing block seams with care, you save time because you will find that your quilt blocks fit beautifully and assembly is as easy as pie. As you go further into quilt-making, you’ll realize that learning to do a perfect job of pressing quilt block seams also helps you master the ¼-inch seam allowance.
If you are interested in learning to be a perfectionist in pressing quilt block seams, read on:
Press the seams
Remember to press the seams, not iron with a heavy hand. Let the weight and heat of the ironwork on the seams, pressing all the way. Don't work the iron up and down the fabric vigorously because this harsh movement will make the seams lose shape.
However, when you press large swathes of fabric, you can increase the movement on them. You might also feel the need to have a seam allowance with the side of the iron or its tip. However, ensure that you don’t pull hard and with too much gusto or the material will stretch.
Usually, quilt blocks come in a variety of color combinations. Often, they are in dual colors—light and dark. They could also be in a variety of shades—light, medium, dark, etc. By pressing the seams on to the darker material, you avoid letting the dark material show through the former in the seams.
Set Your Iron to “Cotton”
Set the patchwork to be ironed on your ironing board, face-up, the way it was sewn. Place your iron on the closed unit to set the seam. Once the iron cools a little, turn the material onto its other side. With your fingers, fold it at a distance from the bottom fabric but along the seam line.
With the side of the iron on the lower part of the material, work your way towards it and along with the seam allowance. Take care not to pull the material and be rough with it as it could get out of shape. Press the seam flat using the weight and heat of the iron. Finish pressing the seam by alternately raising the iron and lowering it along the length of the seam.
Now, turn the fabric over and press from that side so that the job is complete. You might find some unnecessary fiber in your way. Remove them when you find them and keep examining the material from the front to see that it is neat.
Always Use a Dry Iron
While still on irons, remember to always use only a dry iron. Though some die-hard quilters love to use a steam iron, yet others would never. Most people prefer to use a dry iron, though you might need some steam to work out the seams which have several points. An option for steam is to use a spray bottle. The mist will help to give flat seams.
Take care that you don’t use a Teflon-coated iron that comes whose ironing board cover is heat-reflective. The Teflon-coating will reflect both steam and heat and will prevent them from penetrating the fabrics.
Smooth Seams with Finger Press
Smooth seams for small shapes can be achieved by using the finger press method with the opposite side of your fingernail on the inner side of the seam. Once you do this, you can make sure you’ve got a smooth seam by pressing it with an iron.
If You Need to Press Seams Again, Go Ahead
Inadvertently, you might have pressed the seam wrongly. If this is so, press it in the same shape as it was sewn. Once again, set the seam from the underside and let the iron cool. Then, start again.
Get Rid of Lumps
As you press seams down, you might notice that many of them converge at one point. If this happens, press them “open”. This means that you need to spread the two pieces that have excess fabric at the seam and let each of them lie flat on their sides. They will no longer look puffy or bulky and the seams can easily quilt through.
Press a Bias Seam
Using your iron, press a bias seam at a 45-degree angle along with the and press along the grain of the material, lengthwise and crosswise. When you’re working with half-square triangles and flying geese shapes, this tip is a boon.
By following the above mentioned steps and tips, you can get precisely-pressed seams that make them stand out in your exercise to create a quilt.