Ah, the humble and yet ever-so-essential Half Square Triangle (or HST as you'll commonly see it referred). Alone it is a wonderful unit, and together with other shapes, amazing wonderful blocks can emerge. The lovely thing about the HST is there are ...

 

Exploring the Basics: Seven Ways to Make Half Square Triangles and more...

Exploring the Basics: Seven Ways to Make Half Square Triangles

 

 

Exploring the Basics 012220

Ah, the humble and yet ever-so-essential Half Square Triangle (or HST as you'll commonly see it referred).  Alone it is a wonderful unit, and together with other shapes, amazing wonderful blocks can emerge.  The lovely thing about the HST is there are SOOOO many ways to make it!  Let's look at a few!

Note: this post contains some affiliate links.  Clicking on the links to explore and/or purchase items does not impact your cost.  I use the small affiliate income to offset the cost of running this website and blog.

HST 2 QST

Use (2) HSTs

A tried and true method, this method begins with two different HST units cut from a square.  

HST 2 HSTs Step 2

How to do:  With RST (right sides together), match up the long diagonal cut side.  Sew with a 1/4" seam allowance.  Open and either press to the dark side of the HST unit, or (my preferred), press the seam open.

Positive: This gives you completely flexibility regarding what fabrics the two sides are made from.  

Negative: The two inside sides of the HST are exposed bias, which means they can stretch and cause your HST unit to curve along the seam

Math: While the general rule is 7/8" larger than you want to end (ie 2 7/8" square, cut in half corner to corner for each HST segment, to yield a 2" finished, 2 1/2" unfinished HST unit), I tend to round up to go up 1".  What this means is if I want a 2" finished HST unit (2 1/2" unfinished), I will begin with 3" squares. It ALSO means I will need to trim down. I'll address trimming toward the end of this post.

 

HST 2 squares

Use (2) Squares

HST 2 squares step 2

How to do:  With RST (right sides together), match up the two squares.  Draw a line corner to corner. Sew with a 1/4" seam allowance on EACH side of the drawn line.  Cut along the drawn line.  Open and either press to the dark side of the HST unit, or (my preferred), press the seam open.

Positive: This stabilizes the long bias seam, making your HST unit much straighter.  

Negative: You will have two HST units of the same fabric combination.  I know - doesn't sound like a negative unless you don't NEED two HSTs that are identical.

Math: While the general rule is 7/8" larger than you want to end (ie 2 7/8" square to yield a 2" finished, 2 1/2" unfinished HST unit), I tend to round up to go up 1".  What this means is if I want a 2" finished HST unit (2 1/2" unfinished), I will begin with 3" squares.  It ALSO means I will need to trim down. I'll address trimming toward the end of this post.

 

HST 4x

4 at a Time

How to do:  With RST (right sides together), match up the two squares.  Sew with a 1/4" seam allowance around the entire perimeter of the paired squares.  Cut the sewn pair corner to corner TWICE.  Open and either press to the dark side of the HST unit, or (my preferred), press the seam open.

PositiveA quick, non-template method for creating multiple HST units of the same fabrics  

Negative: You will have four HST units of the same fabric combination.  I know - doesn't sound like a negative unless you don't NEED two HSTs that are identical. And then there's the math.....

Math: Begin with your desired UNFINISHED (raw edge) size.  Divide the desired unfinished size by .64 to determine what size squares to begin with.  Hey, I didn't say you'd like the math - just sharing! For example, to get a 5" unfinished (that would 4 1/2" finished), divide 5" by .64.  Result is 7.8125. Round up to 8".  Yup - you will need to trim (not a bad thing!).

 

HST 8x

8 at a Time

How to do:  With RST (right sides together), match up the two squares.  Draw a line from corner to corner.  Draw a second line corner to corner on the opposite corners (you should have an "X" on your paired squares).  Sew with a 1/4" seam allowance on EACH side of ALL drawn lines. Cut along all drawn lines.

HST 8x Step 2               

Cut the resulting triangles in half at the center.  Open and either press to the dark side of the HST unit, or (my preferred), press the seam open.

HST 8x Step 3

PositiveA quick, non-template method for creating multiple HST units of the same fabrics  

Negative: You will have eight HST units of the same fabric combination.  I know - doesn't sound like a negative unless you don't NEED two HSTs that are identical. And then there's the math.....

Math: Begin with your desired FINISHED size.  Add 1" to the desired finished size.  Multiply the result by 2.  The result with be the size squares you need to use.  For example, to get a 3" finished, add 1" to 3".  3 + 1 = 4.  Now mutlply by 2.  3 + 1 = 4.  4 x 2 = 8.  Begin with 8" squares.  You may need to trim (not a bad thing!).

Feeling discouraged because of all the math?  I know - me too!  But all is not lost!  There are some awesome templates to give you great HSTs with NO MATH!  Woot woot!

Triangles on a Roll

HST TOAR

How to do: Triangles on a Roll, just like it sounds, is a roll of paper that has preprinted templates to make a  specific size HST.  Triangles on a Roll are available for many different standard finished sizes.Determine the desired finished HST size.

Determine the number of HSTs needed.  Note - the number of HSTs produced per row of paper will vary depending upon the size.  In my example pictured above, I can get (4) 2 1/2" finished HST units per row of paper.  Cut the fabric to the size specified on the template paper.  Cut the paper to size (ie how long/how many rows do you need).  With RST, pin the paper template to the cut fabric.

HST TOAR Step 2

Sew along the lines, as directed.  NOTE:  I shorten my stitch length, just as you would with paper piecing, so that the stitches won't pull out when I remover the paper.  Cut along the cutting lines. CAREFULLY remove the paper.  Open and either press to the dark side of the HST unit, or (my preferred), press the seam open.

PositiveA quick method for creating accurate multiple HST units of the same fabrics  

Negative: Triangles on a Roll is size specific, so you will need to purchase a roll for EACH size HST youneed.  Each roll will produce a LOT of HSTs, however (exact number varies based on size). You will have multiple HST units of the same fabric combination.  I know - doesn't sound like a negative unless you don't NEED multiple HSTs that are identical. And you will have to remove the paper on EACH HST.

Math: There isn't any!

Want Triangles on a Roll?  Get them here!

 

HST Thangles

Thangles

How to do:  Thangles are paper strips that provide size specific templates for piecing HSTs.  Like Triangles on a Roll, they are size specific.  However, Thangles are short paper strips, which some find easier to work with.  Determine the desired finished HST size.  

Determine the number of HSTs needed.  Note - the number of HSTs produced per strip of paper will vary depending upon the size.  In my example pictured above, I can get (4) 3" finished HST units per strip of paper.  Cut the fabric to the size as specified on the template paper.  With RST, pin the paper template to the cut fabric.

HST Thangles Step 2

Sew along the lines, as directed.  NOTE:  I shorten my stitch length, just as you would with paper piecing, so that the stitches won't pull out when I remover the paper.  Cut along the cutting lines. CAREFULLY remove the paper.  Open and either press to the dark side of the HST unit, or (my preferred), press the seam open.

PositiveA quick method for creating accurate multiple HST units of the same fabrics  

Negative: Thangles is size specific, so you will need to purchase a packet for EACH size HST you need.  Each packet will produce a LOT of HSTs, however (exact number varies based on size). You will have multiple HST units of the same fabric combination.  I know - doesn't sound like a negative unless you don't NEED multiple HSTs that are identical.  And you will have to remove the paper on EACH HST.

Math: There isn't any!

Want Thangles?  Get them here!

 

 

HST Template

Sunday Best Quiltworks Template

How to do:  Sunday Best Quiltworks' templates are plastic template sheets that, like other templates, are size specific templates for piecing HSTs.  However, because they are templates, you only need to purchase your desired size (or sizes) once!  

Determine the desired finished HST size. Determine the number of HSTs needed.  Note - the number of HSTs produced per template will vary depending upon the size.  In my example pictured above, I only wanted a few HSTs, so I cut my fabrics to a bit larger than needed to produce the desired number of HSTs. Cut the fabric to the size needed for the number of HSTs, plus a bit extra for pinning room.  With RST, pin the template to the cut fabric.

HST Template Step 2

Using a chalk marker, water erasable marker, or sewing/quilting pen, draw along the marked template lines.  Remove the pinned template.  Sew along the lines, as directed. Cut along the cutting lines. Open and either press to the dark side of the HST unit, or (my preferred), press the seam open.

PositiveA quick method for creating accurate multiple HST units of the same fabrics  

Negative: The templates are size specific, so you will need to purchase a template for EACH size HST you need.  Each template will produce unlimited numbers of HSTs. You will have multiple HST units of the same fabric combination.  I know - doesn't sound like a negative unless you don't NEED multiple HSTs that are identical.  

Math: There isn't any!

Want Sunday Best Quiltworks Templates? Visit their website (non-affiliate link).

 

Trimming

Regardless of method, I strongly recommend trimming up the half square triangles (HST).  While in some instances you may only be trimming away a few threads, accurate units yield accurate blocks, which in turn yield accurate quilts.  And don't we all want the best looking project possible?  Yup!

HST Trim 1

Using your favorite square ruler or trimming tool (mine is the Tucker Trimmer by Studio 180), place the half square triangle (HST) under the ruler, matching up the diagonal seam with the 45 degree line on the ruler.  I'm trimming this unit down to 5" unfinished.  Note that the raw edge UNDER the ruler goes beyond the 5" line.  This is important - I want to trim ALL sides.

With your favorite rotary cutter, cut along the right and top side of the ruler (leftys, your blocks and rulers will be oriented opposite this, and you will trim along left and top).  Make sure you have good cut, and remove the trimmed edges BEFORE moving your ruler!

HST Trim 2

Rotate the trimmed block 90 degrees, so that the trimmed sides align with the desired cut size (in my case, 5"), and the seam lines up with the diagonal line on the ruler.  Trim away the excess to the right and top.

Want the Tucker Trimmer?  Get it here!

HST Final

The result? A practically perfect in every way half square triangle!  Ta da!  Totally worth the time!

Head over to Kate's blog.  She will have some wonderful tips and suggestions to improve your HST game as well.

Like what you see here, and want to hear more from Tamarinis? Like me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram, and sign up for my newsletter at www.tamarinis.com!  Following is one way to demonstrate your interest in my projects, patterns, and partnerships.  Your comments are also GREATLY appreciated, and provide valuable feedback regarding what inspires you, as well as what you'd like to see explored in future posts.  And did you know?  I travel and teach!  Contact me to schedule a trunk show and/or workshop!

 

Adventure in Color Quilt Along: Quilt Fabric Requirements

Luminous Quilt Fabric Amounts graphic-1

Are you getting excited about the new Adventure in Color Quilt Along?  I know!  Me too!  Don't forget - the first block will be available on January 29th.  You can purchase it on my website or on Kate's website.  And if you are an international customer, we will have the downloads available on our Etsy shops.  So everyone can participate!

But before Block One is available, you still have time to go shopping!  You'll find the general information page AND the quilt fabric requirements page on my website - under the Classes and Programs tab.  Just open the drop down and click the Adventure in Color Quilt Along link.  Or just click here!

The Quilt Along page has links for:

  •  PDF of the FAQs and
  • a link to my ETSY shop
  • PDF of General Instructions Page
  • PDF of the quilt fabric requirements
  • PDF fabric chart

 

Luminous Dusk

Here is my version of Luminous in Dusk, echoing the colors of the coming night.  Jump on over to Kate's blog to see her lovely version in Dawn.  It is stunning!

Looking for a kit?  Marlene Oddie of KISSed Quilts has kits available!  You can find them here.

 

Northcott Toscana Fat Quarter Prize

Are you feeling lucky?  I hope so!  The fabulous folks at Northcott have provided a lovely stack of fat quarters in their luscious Toscana line - and a lucky winner from my blog AND from Kate's blog will each win a stack!  Just use the Gleam widget below to win!  Good luck!

Quilt Along Schedule

Jan 1- Introduction and FAQs

Jan 15- General Information handouts including quilt fabric requirements and fabric chart

Jan 29 - Block 1

Feb 19- Block 2 

March 4- Block 3

March 18- Block 4

April 1- Block 5

April 15- Block 6

April 29- Setting

May 13- Check In and Bonus pattern. PDF patterns go away!

May 20- Other Versions

June 3- Quilting suggestions

Sign up for the Adventure in Color Quilt Along Newsletter here.

Kate and I look forward to sharing this Adventure in Color with you.  Oh - and we have some amazing sponsors that are providing awesome prizes during the quilt along (for US participants only).  You'll want to check back with each installment for a chance to win fabric, thread, batting, and much more!  No, you don't HAVE to be making the quilt (but let's face it - you're gonna want to make it!).

AIC Sponsor Page

Like what you see here, and want to hear more from Tamarinis? Like me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram, and sign up for my newsletter at www.tamarinis.com!  Following is one way to demonstrate your interest in my projects, patterns, and partnerships.  Your comments are also GREATLY appreciated, and provide valuable feedback regarding what inspires you, as well as what you'd like to see explored in future posts.  And did you know?  I travel and teach!  Contact me to schedule a trunk show and/or workshop!

Adventure In Color Quilt Along Fabric Giveaway

 

Exploring the Basics: How to Achieve the Perfect 1/4" Seam

 

How to achieve the perfect 1/4

Quilting is fun.  It is relaxing.  Quilting is an artistic expression of one's thoughts, feelings, emotions.  It is an escape.  But let's be honest - to successfully complete MOST patterns and projects, there is one teeny tiny aspect that demands absolute perfection.  Absolute.Perfection.  

That is the 1/4" seam.  For all those pieces to come together in perfect harmony, the seams that join them must be accurate. Ah....the stress is rising now!  But fear not, dear quilting friend.  With practice and attention to detail, it can be achieved!  Really!

Let's look at some of the tools of the trade that will help you get those perfect results you are striving for.

Sewing machine guide

Sewing Machine Guide (similar item available here)

This tiny little tool helps you ensure you are getting an accurate 1/4" seam when sewing.  How do you use it?

How to achieve the perfect 1/4

Easy!  Place the guide under your presser foot, aligning the edge of the guide with the edge of your presser foot.  SLOWLY...S..L..O..W..L..Y lower your needle.  If your needle does NOT go into the 1/4" hole, you need to manually move your needle until it DOES line up with the hole.  Once aligned, you can now sew using the edge of your presser foot as your guide for a 1/4" seam.  See? Super easy!  And yes, you can use it for other seam widths - it has marking for additional wider and narrower seam widths.

How to achieve the perfect 1/4

1/4" Sewing Feet

Many sewing machines have their own 1/4" foot, which simply means that when placed on the machine, the needle is 1/4" from the edge of the presser foot.  While the two presser feet pictured above LOOK very different - one is much wider than the other - they are actually both 1/4" feet.  The important part is not the overall width of the foot, but rathe the distance from the needle (which will fall in that open slit area) and the right edge of the foot.  FYI - both of the above pictured feet are for a Janome - one for a 6500, one for a Memory Craft 9450.  Yours may look different - but if it is a 1/4" foot, the distance between the slit and the edge of the foot will be - wait for it - 1/4".

How to achieve the perfect 1/4

Machine Settings for your 1/4" Seam

Your machine MAY have a setting for a 1/4" seam.  Pictured above is the setting for my machine.  This setting assumes I am using the 1/4" foot (pictured earlier) and positions the needle so that it will sew with an accurate 1/4" seam.  

Some machines do not have a 1/4" setting, but instead allow you to move the needle position to the left or right to change the seam allowance.  Pull out your manual to check what is recommended for your specific machine.

Exercise to Test Your 1/4" Seam

Here is a simple exercise to test your seams!  Cut (2) 2 1/2" strips from a dark fabric and (1) 2 1/2" strip from a light fabric.  Your strips can be ANY length.  Any length (ok, not 2" - let's not go crazy here).  Feel free to use scraps!

How to achieve the perfect 1/4

Sew the three strips together, placing the light strip between the two dark strips. Press to the darker fabric.

How to achieve the perfect 1/4

Check your strip set.  How wide is it?  It SHOULD measure 6 1/2".  Your center strip SHOULD measure 2", with each of the outside strips measuring 2 1/4".  How did you do?  If you are off, turn it over and measure those pressed seams (and don't forget to check your pressing too!).

If you were off, keep practicing.  Pay close attention to all of the details.  Everything matters - from the cut sizes of the strips (are they an accurate 2 1/2" wide), to the seams (are they an accurate 1/4"), to the pressing (did you get a nice flat seam, or do you have some "pleating").  You WILL get there!

How to achieve the perfect 1/4

Why 1/4" Seams Matter

Above is a close up of a pieced block.  In the picture, you can see the seams of a flying gees unit AND the seam between that unit and another unit.  See those diagonal seams of the flying geese unit?  If they are accurate, then where they cross each other at the top will be (you guessed it!) 1/4" from the raw edge.  When that unit is sewn to another unit, the point of the flying geese will go right to the edge of the seam.

How to achieve the perfect 1/4

The unit will look like this - a perfect point that comes right up to the edge of the seam, but stays nice and crisp!  I LOVE It when this happens!  That's my goal.  Each. And. Every. Time!

The quarter inch seam can sound challenging, but like any skill, it can be mastered.  You can do this!  Use the tools at your disposal, practice, practice, practice, and breathe!  You've got this!

Head over to Kate's blog.  She will have some wonderful tips and suggestions to improve your 1/4" seam stitching game as well.

Like what you see here, and want to hear more from Tamarinis? Like me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram, and sign up for my newsletter at www.tamarinis.com!  Following is one way to demonstrate your interest in my projects, patterns, and partnerships.  Your comments are also GREATLY appreciated, and provide valuable feedback regarding what inspires you, as well as what you'd like to see explored in future posts.  And did you know?  I travel and teach!  Contact me to schedule a trunk show and/or workshop!

 

Adventure In Color Quilt Along - The Big Reveal

Luminous Quilt graphic

What is on your New Year's bucket list?  Perhaps you are looking for a fun new project?  Or you want to hone your piecing skills.  Maybe you are looking for your next quilt along.  If any of those items are on your "to-do" list for 2020, Luminous - An Adventure in Color Quilt Along is for you!

Felix and Luminous

Kate and I (and of course Felix, my ever present Quality Control Inspector) would like to invite you to join us in our Adventure In Quilting Quilt Along.  It is a star studded adventure that will run for six short months, but will be sure to entertain and delight you!

Luminous Crop 1

Kate and I have each created our own version of Luminous, the Adventure in Color quilt for this quilt along.  We played with color, because as you know, color can have a HUGE impact on the overall look of the quilt.  I think you'll enjoy the two versions - Dawn and Dusk - that we have to offer during this project.

Luminous Crop 2

The full details are listed below.  As we did with our Road Trip Quilt Along, we will take turns posting and sharing tips for working with the blocks, talk about colors, and give some background on the block names (hint: they are each named after a goddess).

Luminous Crop 3

You'll want to head over to my website or Kate's and sign up for the Quilt Along Newsletter so that you receive reminders when the blog posts are live.  The blog posts will contain the link to the website (or Etsy site if you are an international quilt customer) to get that week's pattern.  While you are there, feel free to sign up for our newsletters as well, so that you know all of the current happenings for Tamarinis and Seams Like a Dream Designs!

Luminous Crop 4

Quilt Along Details

Each block will be available on both sites on the scheduled day by 8am MT. The blocks and the setting will be only $3.00 each during the Quilt Along. Once a block has been released, it will stay available through May 13, 2020.

If you would prefer to purchase all the blocks and the setting at once, the full PDF pattern will be available starting Jan 29th for $24.00. It will be available thru May 13, 2020.

After May 13th, 2020, the blocks will no longer be available individually or as a full pattern in PDF format. The pattern will then be available as a full printed pattern at the full price of $28.

For any customers living outside the US, the patterns will be available in our ETSY shops.

I have a Quilt Along page set up here with a PDF of the FAQs and a link to my ETSY shop.

Luminous Dusk

Here is my version of Luminous in Dusk, echoing the colors of the coming night.  Jump on over to Kate's blog to see her lovely version in Dawn.  It is stunning!

Quilt Along Schedule

Jan 1- Introduction and FAQs

Jan 15- General Information handouts including fabric amounts and color charts

Jan 29 - Block 1

Feb 19- Block 2 

March 4- Block 3

March 18- Block 4

April 1- Block 5

April 15- Block 6

April 29- Setting

May 13- Check In and Bonus pattern. PDF patterns go away!

May 20- Other Versions

June 3- Quilting suggestions

Sign up for the Adventure in Color Quilt Along Newsletter here.

Kate and I look forward to sharing this adventure in color with you.  Oh - and we have some amazing sponsors that are providing awesome prizes during the quilt along (for US participants only).  You'll want to check back with each installment for a chance to win fabric, thread, batting, and much more!  No, you don't HAVE to be making the quilt (but let's face it - you're gonna want to make it!).

AIC Sponsor Page

Like what you see here, and want to hear more from Tamarinis? Like me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram, and sign up for my newsletter at www.tamarinis.com!  Following is one way to demonstrate your interest in my projects, patterns, and partnerships.  Your comments are also GREATLY appreciated, and provide valuable feedback regarding what inspires you, as well as what you'd like to see explored in future posts.  And did you know?  I travel and teach!  Contact me to schedule a trunk show and/or workshop!

 

Exploring the Basics - Pressing Matters

Pressing Matters

Pressing matters.  A pun?  Or a statement of fact?  Well....both!  Actually, pressing is a matter I take VERY seriously!  Really!  I'm pretty accepting of most things.  I know that, given time and practice, beginners will improve their cutting and piecing skills.  I embrace that there are multiple styles of piecing, appliqués and quilting to suit all tastes.  I relish the fact that fabrics come in a huge array of colors, weights, weaves and prints.  But...pressing?  It must be done.  It must be done in the proper order.  It must be done well.  It.Must.

IMG_5046

As with most things, there are some basic tools for pressing.  Yes, you need a pressing surface - an ironing board, a "big board" (sold by several different companies, and the name is pretty self explanatory - it is a much wider board designed for pressing).  But beyond that:

Iron:

The brand and style may be a matter of preference, but there are some features to consider when selecting your ideal iron.

  • Steam - does the iron have an adjustable steam setting?  
  • Water - does the iron require tap water or filtered/distilled water?  This will impact if you are able to fill the reservoir directly from the tap or if you have to purchase water.
  • Sole plate - is it non-stick?  How many vent holes are on the sole plate?  And where are they located?  This may seem like an extremely picky detail - until you are trying to steam a tight corner or tiny seam and  discover that there aren't any vent holes near the tip of the iron.
  • Cord length - how long is the cord?  And does it rotate easily?

For me, my Oliso is an ideal choice.  I can use tap water in the reservoir, there are generous steam vents, the cord is extra long, and it rotates easily at the base of the iron.  But probably my favorite feature is that I can leave the iron flat on the ironing surface and the sensors will raise the sole plate up off my ironing board when not in use.  It seems like a little thing, but not having to tip the iron up and down during serious ironing sessions is a marvelous thing!

Pressing Cloth:

The term "pressing cloth" is a fancy term for a simple piece of cloth used to protect your ironing surface.  I talked in project prep about ensuring you have a clean ironing surface.  Constant use of a pressing cloth can keep your ironing surface clean longer.

My pressing cloths are simple squares and rectangles of muslin.  They may look awful - stained and discolored, but that is due to heavy, constant use.  I wash them when they become heavily soiled, but over time they will discolor.  

I use a pressing cloth when:

  • paper piecing to prevent the ink from the paper piecing pattern from transferring to my ironing surface and then onto other fabrics.
  • sprizting fabrics with Best Press, a sizing alternative (more below on Best Press)
  • applying steam and/or spraying with water

Sizing, Starch, or Something in Between:

There are strong opinions on this subject, and I'm not trying to ruffle feathers or dispute someone's staunch opinion.  Many like to spray their fabrics with a fabric starch to add stiffness to the fabric.  Others prefer a sizing, which will add a bit of body and improve the fabric's hand (the overall feel of the fabric).  Best Press, IMHO, is something else altogether.  

It doesn't add a lot of stiffness, and doesn't seem to build up on the fabric surface.  I like it because it helps release wrinkles while helping me get a super flat seam (something I am obsessed with!).

Choose what works best for you, but often you will find you need a bit of help coercing the fabric to behave.

Some other basic tools I keep handy at the ironing board:

  • Small sharp scissors for trimming stray threads and snipping seams
  • Seam ripper - hey, you always seem to need one, right?!
  • Felt pressing mat
  • Silicone pressing sheet to keep fusible off my ironing surface

Pressing Seams:

Many of us have heard press to the dark.  But do you know why?  Pressing to the dark means that the seams from the two fabrics are pressed to the darker of the two fabrics to help prevent shadowing.  Shadowing would be, much like it sounds, what occurs when a darker fabric can be seen behind the lighter fabric.

But what about beyond pressing to the dark?  With most quilt blocks, during construction you may be instructed to press so that the seams are opposing.

IMG_3622

In the image above, I am making an hourglass or quarter square triangle block.  The two HST units are placed right sides together.  While you can't see the bottom unit, you CAN see a portion of the pressed seam.  For BOTH units, I have pressed to the dark - to the darker orange.  When the two HST units are placed together, dark to light, light to dark, the pressed seams are opposing, or going in opposite directions from each other.  

Why?  This reduces bulk.  It also helps the seams lock together, making it MUCH easier to match up the seams and get a great looking block.

IMG_3627

So far so good.  But let's take it a step further.  By opening up that center seam intersection, rather than pressing to one side, the bulk is reduced and the unit lays MUCH flatter.  How do you do that?  Remove the two or three stitches above the seam allowance on both sides of the intersection and then open the seam out so it looks like the picture above.  Yes, you will have to repress some of your seams, but that's ok.

IMG_4003

Here's another hourglass block - and look how flat that block is!  It makes it even easier to trim down because your ruler can lay nice and flat on the block and doesn't rock back and forth.

Another great rule of thumb is to let a pieced seam lay flat when pressing.  A seam with additional piecing, or additional seams in it, will not want to bend as easily.  And really - think about it - when you press to one side, you are bending the fabric in a particular direction.

IMG_4130

Look at the flying geese block above.  That seam with the light blue point in it is laying nice and flat - because I pressed to the next unit.  Now wait a minute, you may be saying.  The bottom of that top flying geese unit has seams at the two ends.  Yes, it does.  But because they are at the edge of the block, it will have less impact on the block than that point RIGHT.IN.THE.CENTER.  Ah - but what about the open seam at the bottom of the block?

Confession time - before I became a Studio 180 Certified Instructor, I almost never - I mean practically NEVER - pressed a seam open.  But Deb Tucker converted me.  I press MOST of my seams open now.  Really!

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Shorten your stitch length just a bit.  A tiny bit.  Don't go crazy here!  And then press your seams open.  I think you will be amazed and impressed with how flat your blocks look, how amazing your units come together, and what a difference it makes in your overall project.

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Proof positive - nice flat seams and practically perfect intersections.  It's worth a bit of extra effort!

Head over to Kate's blog.  She will have some wonderful tips and suggestions to improve your pressing game as well.

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