Secret to Success: Trimming and Pressing

You will often hear the phrase “There are no quilting police”.  While this is true there are still some basic rules that will definitely help you have a better finished product.  Choose to follow them or not, but the results are worth a little extra effort.

When I was teaching my wife to quilt it was a trying experience for a newly married couple to endure.  She was very interested in learning.  She had picked her fabric and her pattern and was ready to go.  I reviewed the instructions prior to her starting.  I noted that there was no trimming or pressing instructions included within the pattern.  I suggested she trim her Half-Square Triangles after certain steps.  She said if it was important it would be included.  Well, when it was time to start putting blocks together, she was a bit frustrated when things didn’t go together quite right.  For her next quilt she realized the value in trimming and pressing.

Here I present some tips to help you trim and press better.

  1.  Use the right ruler for the job.  One of my favorites is a 6″ x 14″.  Line the edge of the ruler with the points, which should provide a 1/4″ seam allowance.20170207_190924
  2. The other #1 tip is to always be sure to use a sharp blade.  The Olfa Deluxe rotary cutter is one of my favorite and super safe if you have little ones in the house.  It always closes.20170207_190942
  3. Pressing is very important, and it is a two-step process.  Press once, with the piece flat, to set the stitches in the seam.  20170207_191158
  4. Then open the HST and press the piece open.  Here I chose to press toward the dark side.  It helps the allowance to not show through quite as much.  BTW, I love my OlisoPro Iron.  It is great for quilters as it will stay on for 30 minutes.20170207_191212
  5. Just like chain piecing, I like to “chain” press.  20170207_191337
  6. Trimming as you go is a key to success.  Here I am using a 6 1/2″ square ruler.  The 45-degree line is a quilter’s best friend when it comes to squaring-up quilt units.  20170207_191436
  7. When trimming 3-triangle units or Quarter-Square Triangle units, you need to use the measurements within ruler, along with the 45-degree line of the ruler.  Notice how the 2 1/2″ mark is centered in the block along with the 45-degree mark is aligned with the diagonal seam.20170207_194442
  8. Flip the unit and use the same 2 1/2″ marking to square up the unit.20170207_194501
  9. While the trimmings don’t seem like much, they can add up.  Imagine the extra bulk that would have been added to my finished product if this had not been trimmed away.  But the extra effort paid off with blocks that fit together nicely in the finished product that will be unveiled in a future post.20170207_200856

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