Saturday, July 8, 2017

Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Why I Should Have STARTED With a Pressing Plan

Good morning and Happy Saturday!  Check out this lovely HOLE in the center of my bear paw block.  Nice, right?

There's A Hole In My Quilt Top, Dear Liza a Hole!
Up until yesterday, I had four of these holes at the center of every single one of my bear paw blocks, as well as holes at the four corners of most of my sashing star blocks.  When I started making this quilt several years ago, I just started sewing and "pressing to the dark side" rather than making a pressing plan. 

The goals of a pressing plan are:
  • to reduce bulk
  • keep points crisp and sharp, and
  • create the flattest possible quilt top sans thick, knobby bumps where too many seam allowances stacked up, and
  • most importantly, to create nesting seam allowances wherever possible for perfectly matching seam intersections.  
(If you're following a pattern that includes pressing instructions, the pattern designer has already done this for you).  I realized the error of my haphazard ways after sewing this quilt top together, and came up with a delusional plan to fix it (late one night when bad decisions are made and it's best to leave the studio!).  I just popped the seams at all of the offending intersections so I could press the seam allowances in different directions.  Now my quilt top was nice and flat, but there were a bazillion HOLES in it!

See?  I ripped out the stitching to free the seam allowance.
I couldn't leave it that way (although I was tempted to!), because those holes were hazards waiting to trip up my presser foot during the quilting process, and then RRIPPP!!  It was piddly, fiddly, annoying work, but I did restitch all of those blocks closed and repressed the quilt top yesterday and it's so much better now.

The Final pressing Solution
See how I ended up pressing those intersections where my sawtooth star, sashing and bear paw block comes together?  I split the difference and pressed them into little squares.  Who knows whether the mythical Quilt Police would approve, but it's nice and flat and looks good (to me, anyway) from the right side:

Same Sawtooth Star, from the Right Side
One More, 'Cause They're So Cute
After that, I added my inner white borders:

Pinning Borders, Easing Top Slightly to fit Border
Ever since I started thinking about teaching new quilters, I've had a different mindfulness to my quilting.  I typically would be thinking ahead to the next steps, or even to the next project, but now I'm more focused on what I'm doing in this step, this moment, thinking about how I'm going to teach it to someone else. 

A lot of quilters struggle with keeping their quilt edges flat and square, especially if they have multiple borders.  I deliberately included the sashing strips and border in my class project so I can teach them how to do those steps successfully. 

I did talk with my dealer and she agreed that I could teach this as a two-day class, which I feel much better about.  I'm going to continue to think about ways to streamline the process and divide things up, and will probably put together a couple more sample tops as I do that.  I'm also going to corral some family members as guinea pigs and attempt to teach them the project in the allotted class time. 

My stitching has lagged behind a bit this week due to an unfortunate illness afflicting my 2nd floor air conditioning, turning my studio into a sauna.  It's fixed now, but I'm headed out of town after church tomorrow and that's the perfect opportunity for my 'Nina 750QE sewbaby to go in for her annual wellbaby visit.  I think there's an update that I haven't downloaded, too.  Then, when I get back, she'll be in tip-top shape and ready to sew up a storm! 

Enjoy your summer, and happy stitching, everyone!


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

wow I'm supposed to have a pressing plan!! LOL - I can tell I am a lot more casual about putting a quilt top together then you are . If I had seen those little holes after all the sewing was done I would have done a little hand applique hand stitch - I really rarely ever think in advance on how it will be pressed as I am putting a block together if I need to change the way I am pressing something I do but it all works out in the end

Podunk Pretties said...

I feel your pain. I can design quilts all day long but getting the pressing directions right gives me fits. For some reason my quilty mind doesn't see pressing issues in advance.

Janice Holton said...

What a great idea to get non-quilty family members to teach your class to! That ought to be interesting. Perhaps entertaining? And probably fodder for a whole other blog post! :)

Diane in TX said...

Good grief, how did those little holes happen? So frustrating, I understand. Wonderful that you had the patience to go back and fix them all. The top is gorgeous and well worth the work. Your pressed flat squares are ingenious solution. I struggle with pressing seam allowances to nest and keep points sharp too. So annoying to have to rip and resew seams to be able to press them flat.
Love reading your blog, it is the first place I go every morning, and all of your adventures: great ideas and inspirations in every post.
Diane in TX

greg @ grey dogwood studio said...

I have learned to not always trust the pressing instructions. I've found that they often create more bulk, or they sometimes result in seams that don't nest, and that drives me CRAZY! I use the instructions as a guide but go with my own instinct. Also, I usually press toward the dark, but other times towards the light if that helps the nesting. And sometimes I press to one side and sometimes I press open. And then sometimes I'll even open a few stitches with my seam ripper like Carrie Nelson. LOL have I confused you?!

Rebecca Grace said...

Thanks, Diane. Those holes are my own fault and I own them! I ripped them there on purpose, had to do it in order to release seam allowances that I had pressed in the wrong direction and then stitched over with subsequent seams. Live, learn, laugh -- and grab a seam ripper!