Shattered Star Quilt Along: Week 5 – Pressing Matters + Nested Seams
Last week we dove into small piecing and how to combat your sewing machine ‘eating’ your fabric!
If you missed those quilty tips, you can find them here.
Suffice to say, we’ve spent a lot of time focusing on your pressing habits throughout the Shattered Star Quilt Along. The small piecing you tackled in Week 4 really highlights why pressing is so important as those little pieces can easily get distorted if you iron instead of press them.
LESSONS LEARNED TO DATE
I’m thrilled to hear the tips and tricks I’ve shared so far have been helpful to you! In case you missed any of the lessons, you can circle back and revisit them here:
Who knew fabric and seam pressing were so key to quilty success, right?! But your pressing habits have a huge impact on your quilting results, which is why for Week 5 we’re diving into more pressing matters and pulling those Shattered Star blocks together! Let’s dive in.
*This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
For Week 5 of the Shattered Star Quilt Along you’ll need the following tools and notions to tackle your Shattered Star quilt blocks:
- You’re pieced Shattered Star Block Units – mine feature a combination of Little Town fat quarter bundle paired with AGF PURE Solids in: *Flamingo, *Smooth Pebble, *Icy Mint, *Spruce and *Zambia Stone.
- *Sewing machine – I sew on a Juki TL-2010Q and use a 2.0 stitch length when piecing.
- *Thread for piecing – this is my go-to
- *Pins (optional) – but if you’re just starting out, pinning reduces shifting which leads to more accurate outcomes.
- *Scissors for snipping your threads
- *Ironing board or wool mat - save 10% at The Felt Store with code: SHANNONFRASER10 (now until December 31, 2020) - Canada & US.
- *Tailor’s clapper – this is optional but works great if you prefer working without steam.
- Shattered Star Quilt Pattern
WHAT ARE YOUR PRESSING OPTIONS?
So, what are your pressing options? As with most things in quilting, there’s a few ways to tackle a task to get to the same end result. Pressing is no different.
Your two options are: pressing to the side and pressing open.
PROS OF PRESSING TO THE SIDE
Pressing to the side is my preference, for two main reasons.
First, I find it less fiddly than pressing them open. Ha!
Second, I love to press my seams so they nest because I find my blocks ‘lock’ together increasing my accuracy.
I’ve heard it said seams pressed to the side increases the strength of your seams. I’ve also heard this debunked. And I haven’t done enough research to really say which is correct. What I can say is that I’ve never had a seam pop open when I’ve pressed to the side, but I have when I’ve pressed open. Try it out for yourself and see what approach works best for your quilting style.
CONS OF PRESSING TO THE SIDE
As with most things in life, there are some drawbacks to pressing to the side.
It leads to bulkier seams. This creates more problems for you (or your long armer) as the machine encounters this ‘bump’ that bulkier seams create. Definitely annoying whether you’re quilting with your walking foot or free motion quilting – the bumps are quilty hazards.
Not to mention you feel them as you run your hand over your quilt. So, if an even hand feel is important to you, then consider pressing your seams open instead of to the side.
That’s the only drawback I can think of! And the main pro of pressing your seams open!
I find myself using a combo of both pressed to the side and pressed open – it just depends on the type of block I’m working on and where it’s fitting into my quilt design. But my go-to is pressed to the side.
There’s no right or wrong approach. I always recommend trying both and seeing which one works best for you. I enjoy the process of pressing my seams to the side more than pressing them open; enjoying the process is as important to me as the final quilt result. Something to keep in mind for your own quilty practice too!
HOW TO NEST YOUR SEAMS
In case you’ve never heard ‘nest your seams’, I’m happy to report it couldn’t be easier 😊
All it entails is pressing your seams to the side and alternating the direction you press so that when you join your blocks the seams are pressed in opposite directions allowing them to ‘nest’ with one another.
You’ll see in the video below I like to refer to this as “smooshing them together”, yup, I’m sharing some uber professional quilty language with you today – ha!
But it makes the point – you want those seams to be as close together and then you pop a pin in it (optional, but recommended) to hold it in place until you can stitch it together.
When I type it out, it sounds way more complex than it is, which is why the video will help you see just how easy peasy this basic quilt technique really is.
Plus, did I mention how fun it is?!
I know, total quilt geek over here, but hear me out.
You’ve spent all this time pressing, cutting and piecing with care, and that care is paying off at this very moment. Because now everything is just going to ‘nest’ together or as I like to say “lock” together.
By nesting your block together this way, it aligns everything nicely. So, all you have to do is gently lay your two halves together, let the seams nest up and complete that final central seam.
It’s like quilty magic when everything just lines up!
WHY ARE MY SEAMS NOT LINING UP?
If you find that some of your seams are not nesting, it could be due to a number of factors, but the main culprits are usually:
You ironed instead of pressed
I know, I know, you’re probably thinking “Shannon, quit harping on the whole pressed vs ironed.”. I just want to drive home the importance of this in your quilting. From my experience, my quilt blocks keep their shape and my blocks line up better when I started pressing.
You haven’t stitched with a consistent SA
Whether you opt for ¼” or scant ¼” seam allowance doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you’re consistent. Things stop lining up if on some seams you use a ¼” and others you use a generous and/ or scant ¼”. Too generous leads to blocks that are too small and you’ll be ‘pulling’ to get them to fit (putting strain on your seams). If your seams are on the smaller side, your block will be larger than the rest and could cause your fabric to pucker.
Next up is nesting your seams. Above I shared that pressing my seams to the side allows me to nest my seams. This is such a genius technique to have your blocks lock together. See it in action in the how to nest your seams video.
What I love most about our community is how inspiring it is. There are so many techniques and styles to explore and bring your own flare to. Which is why I love perusing magazines! And Love Patchwork and Quilting Magazine is up at the top of my list. LPQ is generously giving away an Annual Digital Subscription to one lucky winner!
Plus, once you’ve been inspired by the modern projects in LPQ, you can use this Ombre Fairy Dust Fat Eight Bundle that FabricStork has pulled together for you! I love being able to support small fabric shops, especially when they’re run by super sweet people like Nuria! FabricStork has lots of gorgeous bundles for you to stock up on!
To enter the giveaway, you must:
- Be a Shattered Star QAL newsletter subscriber. (sign up here)
- Be following @lovequiltingmag, @fabricstork and @shannonfraserdesigns on Instagram
- Post a photo on Instagram of your Shattered Star Blocks between November 9, 2020 and November 15, 2020 at 11:59pm.
- Instagram account must be public.
- Tag @lovequiltingmag, @fabricstork and @shannonfraserdesignson Instagram
- Include the hashtags #shatteredstarquilt #shatteredstarqal
Week 5 giveaway is open to USA and CDN residents only. Sorry my international friends.
Don’t forget, this is prime opportunity to chain piece your Shattered Star blocks together for nice quick efficient piecing!
Happy quilting 😊