In the world of quilting, one of the ongoing debates revolves around the direction in which seams should be pressed – open or towards the dark fabric. Both techniques have their following. In this blog post, we’ll dive into both pressing seams open and towards the dark fabric to help you make an informed decision for your quilting projects.

Pressing Seams Open:

Flat and Smooth Surface: Pressing seams open creates a flat and smooth surface on the back of the quilt. This can be advantageous when working on intricate piecing patterns, ensuring a level and even foundation for subsequent quilting layers.

Reduced Bulk: Open seams reduce bulk in the quilt, especially when multiple seams intersect. This can lead to a more streamlined and professional finish, particularly in quilts with dense piecing.

Improved Accuracy: Quilters who favor precision often opt for pressing seams open. The flat seam allowances make it easier to match points accurately, resulting in a crisp and polished final appearance.

Pressing Seams Towards the Dark Fabric:

Enhanced Definition: Pressing seams towards the dark fabric can enhance the definition of the pieced blocks. The shadows created by the seam allowances emphasize the design, making it visually more pronounced.

Increased Stability: Seams pressed towards the dark fabric can offer increased stability and durability, especially in quilts that will undergo heavy use. The added reinforcement can contribute to the overall longevity of the quilt.

Easier Quilting: Quilters who prefer to quilt “in the ditch” often find that seams pressed towards the dark fabric provide a natural groove for quilting lines. This can simplify the quilting process and add a decorative element to the finished product.

Quilt Design: The decision to press seams open or towards the dark fabric may depend on the specific design of your quilt. Take into account the complexity of your piecing, the desired aesthetic, and the overall look you want to achieve. I like to press most seams open. I choose to press to the dark side when I am snowballing corners, making square-in-a-square, and Flying Geese units.

Fabric Choice: Fabrics behave differently depending on their fiber content. If your fabric is unique in its weight, thickness, and stretch, do a small test unit  before deciding on the pressing method.

Pro-Tip: My favorite technique for pressing to the dark side is to lay my piece on my ironing board with the dark side up and set the seam with my iron. Then flip the darkside up and over my seam, sending the dark fabric away from me, creating the best press for the piece and a little bit of leverage.

Ultimately, the choice between pressing seams open or towards the dark fabric often comes down to personal preference. The debate over pressing seams in quilting is as old as the craft itself, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Each method has its merits. The decision should be based on the specific requirements of the quilt pattern you have selected and your personal quilting preferences. Experiment with both methods on small samples to determine which one aligns with your quilting style. Whether you choose to press seams open for precision or towards the dark fabric for enhanced definition, the key is to enjoy the quilting process and create a finished product that brings you satisfaction. Happy quilting!