Class 130 Lesson 4: Pressing Seams

The first time I went to quilt group at the local library, I didn’t know what job to pick because apparently “dedicated cheerer on-er” is not a job. I was not so confident to sew seams or cut into fabric, so I somehow found myself at the ironing station.

I quickly found out it is not the ironing station!

Quilters do not iron their seams, they press them. There is a difference, and there is a correct way to go about it! And there is also a Harriet way to go about it…

  1. Set the stitches
  2. Open the pieces
  3. Starch
  4. Press the seam with the allowance on the edge of the iron
  5. Press over the seam

The best Harriet secret is to use starch. Before you pick up the iron, pick up the starch. Every time. I love this. I love this especially because it’s like magic. You can take a perfectly normal starting out quilter like me, apply starch, and the next thing you know, your quilt tops are getting crazy compliments from everyone at the fabric store! “My what nice flat seams you have!”


There are worse addictions to have.


I also love this ironing board topper I made using this tutorial. I went into Home Deopt, had them cut me a big piece of plywood (I chose treated because of how much heat and moisture it would have to hold up to) and scrummaged through their scrap lumber for the braces. I found muslin and batting at JoAnn’s. A couple screws and a bunch of staples later, voilá!


I still station myself at the pressing station during quilt group. There is something so satisfying and meditative about pressing fabric. It’s a little break that makes for magically beautiful blocks. Everything looks better pressed!

What about you? Do you agree there is a difference between ironing and pressing? Do you use starch? Do you like pressing or do you find it a chore?

This post is part of a series where I work through Quilter’s Academy, a book by Harriet Hargrave & Carrie Hargrave. See archives for the rest of the series.



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