Press For Success In Piecing Your Quilt


Ideally, pressing will make your quilt look its best and make the quilting easier. This article includes some cool tips on a hot topic.

Rating: 5 Ratings
Your rating: Sign in to rate

Press For Success In Piecing Your Quilt

Ideally, pressing will make your quilt look its best and make the quilting easier. This article includes some cool tips on a hot topic whether you are sewing Patchwork of the Crosses (POTC) or any other quilt block.

Press For Success In Piecing Your Quilt


Press both to one side

The first choice is always to press both seam allowances to one side. This is the traditional method of pressing quilt blocks for several reasons:

  • It looks better from the front.
  • It is the best way to distribute the bulk, especially in intersections where many seams come together.
  • It makes a stronger seam than one that is pressed open.
  • It may prevent some types of batting from migrating out between the stitches.
  • It reduces the likelihood that the stitches will show when there is tension on the seam.
  • It makes it easier to stitch perfect intersections when joining rows if seam allowances are pressed in opposite directions, so they butt up against each other.
  • It allows quilting in the ditch on one side of the seam without any extra layers.
Press both seam allowances to one side


3 big No-No's

  • Pressing seams open.
  • Pressing quilt blocks with steam.
  • Sliding the iron instead of lifting and lowering, especially if there is bias on the outside edge.
3 big No-No's



GFG (Grandmother's Flower Garden) is one of my favorite examples.

It might look confusing at first glance, but pressing this way is simple and elegant—when you focus on one intersection at a time.

Grandmother's Flower Garden


Focus your eye on the intersection (circled). Press all of the seams clockwise around the first intersection, and touch it with the point of the iron.

press clockwise


Next, focus on an adjacent intersection. One of the seam allowances is already pressed, determining that the seams around that intersection must all be pressed counterclockwise (each circled).

The next intersection will be clockwise, and so on. Practice on a single flower. Pressing this way is easy, one intersection at a time.

If you press all of the flowers identically, it will work perfectly across the whole quilt top.

press counterclockwise


Works For Any Hexagons

This method works for any hexagons. It is an advantage to be able to press this way. There is VIDEO showing this method on the Main Hexagon Page.

How To Press Quilt Blocks


I like using hexagons for an example, but any hand pieced block can be pressed this way because we only sew crosshair to crosshair.

It works no matter how many shapes intersect: 3, 4, 5, 6, 8.

How To Press Quilt Blocks


Machine Piecing

For a machine pieced block, you may have to release a couple of stitches in the seam allowance to allow the seam allowances to be pressed around the intersection because we usually sew edge to edge when we machine piece.

Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses (POTC)


Precision Tips

1. Iron lightly from the wrong side with a hot, dry iron and finish on the right side to avoid creating folds or tucks.

2. Normally, it is best to "press to the dark" but there are exceptions. Inklingo Design Books ($10 or free) include detailed pressing strategies for Double Wedding Ring, Dresden Plate, Drunkard's Path, Feathered Star, Hexagon Quilt, Hunter's Star, Storm At Sea, Sunflower and Winding ways.

3. Start by pressing the seam flat, as it was sewn, to set the stitches (sink them into the fabric) whenever possible.

Quilting Precision Tips


4. If you are pressing to the dark, press two layers together to set the stitches with the dark fabric on top, then lift the dark fabric and press it to the side with the side of the iron.

Press To The Dark


5. If you have found it necessary to press a seam open for some reason (why?), the stitches should be closer together than normal. The stitches are more likely to show, so it is important to use a matching thread color.

6. Use a pressing roll or the edge of the ironing board to press some intersections without affecting others.


7. Use a toothpick to hold seam allowances in position, so you can keep your fingers away from a hot iron. If you decorate your toothpick with a pretty button, it is easier to pick up and won't roll away. (You should not use steam on any quilt block but if you do the toothpick could save your fingers.)

Custom toothpicks are a handy quilting tool


8. One of the best pressing tips in the history of quilting (above) comes from Ami Simms. I love seeing Ami's newsletters in my InBox because she has a talent for seeing the funny side of things. If you subscribe to Ami's Newsletter and you are not completely satisfied, you get DOUBLE your money back. (And it's free.) (Photo used with permission.)

Ami Simms' pressing tip


9. There are many pressing diagrams on the blog. For example, if you search the archives for Castle Wall (above), you will find step by step illustrations.

Castle Wall looks complicated but you can do it. The trick is to focus on one intersection at a time.

How to press Castle Wall Quilt


10. If you are a visual learner, the two hour DVD lesson in Quilted Diamonds 2 is a great way to learn all the fine points.

Quilted Diamonds 2


There is also a whole chapter on pressing and trimming in The Inklingo Handbook. If you buy it first, you can use the $10 coupon code to buy Inklingo shapes to print on fabric.

Double Wedding Ring Pressing Guide


By the way, Inklingo Design Books include detailed pressing instructions too. Double Wedding Ring even has a unique pressing guide to print and use at the sewing machine.

Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses (POTC)


In all cases, the pressing instructions will make your block look its best from the front, and in some cases the detailed notes and illustrations will also make it easier to sew.

For example, when you sew by machine, the direction in which the seam allowances are pressed should ensure (1) that they will not bunch up under the needle and/or (2) that they will butt against each other to make it easier to get a good intersection.

print hexigons


When you print hexagons on fabric, you have a line to cut on and a line to sew along, so the sewing is easier and more precise.

That makes it even easier to press for success.

Print hexagons on fabric with your Inkjet


Check This Out!

Check out the most popular tool on QuiltingHub. Use the search 'Map Of Resources' or the 'Resources Trip Planner' to the right (or below).



The layer in the middle of a quilt sandwich between the Top and Backing layers consisting of wool, polyester, blends, silk, or cotton.

Same As: Stuffing, Filling, Wadding, Filler
The direction of a piece of woven fabric, usually referred to simply as "the bias" or "the cross-grain", is at 45 degrees to its warp and weft threads. Every piece of woven fabric has two biases, perpendicular to each other. Non-woven fabrics such as felt or interfacing do not have a bias.

Same As: Cross-grain
The basic unit of a quilt top, usually square but can be rectangular or other shapes. Blocks can be pieced, appliqued or plain.
Double Wedding Ring
Arced pieces of squares sewn together to form interlocking rings or circles.
In The Ditch
The process of quilting just next to the seams of a quilt, block or to the very edge of an applique area.

Same As: Stitch In The Ditch
Moving a hot iron while it has contact with fabric. Often ironing can stretch and distort fabrics and seams. A better alternative is to press, where you just lay the hot iron down and lift straight up from the fabric.

See Also: Pressing
Machine Piecing
Sewing patches in a quilt block together using a sewing machine instead of sewing them together by hand.

See Also: English Paper Piecing, Assembly Piecing, Chain Piecing, Paper Piecing, Hand Piecing, Piecing
The basic method of making a quilt by sewing many small pieces of fabric together.

Same As: Piecework
Method of using an iron to press seams and blocks. This means simply pressing downwards on the seam with the iron from above and not moving the iron back and forth which can distort the block or seam.
Picking a hot iron up off your fabric or quilt top and then putting it down in another place to remove the wrinkles. When you press your fabric, you do not slide the hot iron.

See Also: Ironing
Quilt Top
The top layer of a quilt Sandwich.
Seam Allowance
The width of fabric left to the right of a sewn seam. In quilting this is traditionally 1/4 inch. For sewing garments it is usually 5/8 inch.
A large central star, made up of diamond shaped fabric or a square with right triangles, to form the star points from the center out.
Linda Franz

Linda Franz is the inventor of the amazing brand of Inklingo. It has revolutionized piecing and accuracy for the entire industry. Check out her brand page by clicking Inklingo

Is your brand a member? Are you getting the visibility your brand deserves? See member benefits.

Search Articles
Map Of Resources Near
Resources Trip Planner