The process of pressing seam allowances can be a little bit confusing and even difficult at times.
And just like with so many other aspects of quilting, there are “rules,” but there are also numerous instances in which the rules are broken.
The following are the guidelines that I follow when pressing seam allowances:
- toward one side
- under the darker fabric
- facing in opposite directions
- toward the patch with the fewest seams
- toward the patch with the least bulky seams (i.e., diamonds with triangles sewn on them tend to be bulky; squares sewn onto squares are generally pretty flat
- the direction that makes your points more pointy – or makes things line up better
- under a patch that you want to stand above the surrounding patches
The reverse side of the Storm at Sea quilt block is shown below, along with a description of how the seam allowances are pressed and a short explanation as to why they are pressed in that manner.
The reverse of a Storm at Sea quilt block, which demonstrates how the seam allowances should be pressed.
|The seam allowances for the center square in this patch are folded away from the square itself. There would have been a significant amount of bulk if they had been pressed toward the center of the square, particularly when the corners were folded on top of each other. Although my first “rule” is to press the seam allowances toward the darker fabric, if doing so would result in an area that was too bulky, I press the seam allowances in the opposite direction so that the quilt will lie more flat.|
|This region seems to be experiencing some confusion! It can be found directly beneath the top right corner and demonstrates seam allowances that have been sewn and pressed in opposite directions. This will also make it so that your quilt can lay more flat.|
Being completely arbitrary is required in some situations. In general, I came to the conclusion that I wanted the large diamonds to be pressed in such a way that all of the seam allowances would be moved away from the diamond’s center.
|This is an illustration of pressing the seam allowance to make the points more pointy.|
If you fold the seam allowance in one direction, rather than the other, the points of the six triangles that come together in the center of the design will often have a pointier appearance than if you fold the seam allowance in the opposite direction.
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