Well having sorted all my scraps into sizes, I wanted to do something with the smallest 1 in wide ones.
There seemed to be an awful lot of them, well to me there did, being new to patchwork and quilting (about 2 years or so I guess). I thought I’d make them into squares and then decide from there what I was going to do with them.
I started sewing a long strip to a short strip, not really paying too much attention to the patterns, just making sure that they weren’t the same and didn’t clash, in my opinion. I did find the light green with the pink, orange and white dots kept slipping and I eventually realized it was because it was a glazed cotton – even though these strips are only 1 in wide I had to use pins to keep them in place with the other fabric!
I had ordered them so I could easily choose ones to put together that didn’t have the seams matching.
And here they are all sewn together into the 6.5in squares. All the fabric only made 2 squares, though I did have some strips left over. I was amazed how much fabric it took, but when you think about it, it takes twelve 1 in strips for each block, as there is half an inch taken up with the seams.
I was making some rail fence blocks for a block swap, so I decided to make 2 of those to go with the strip blocks to at least make a 12.5 in square.
Here’s the back. Because of all the seams the 1 in pieced blocks are actually a double thickness of fabric, which I hadn’t even thought about when I started.
To press open or not? And which thread?
I prefer to press seams open whenever I can. I do not believe it makes them weaker. I sewed garments and soft furnishings for over 40 years and not one of the seams I pressed open ever came apart, even the ones on the seats of trousers! It makes the whole block flatter and more pleasing to my eye, and for me much easier to quilt.
It’s my belief that seams were pressed to one side many years ago because of the battings/waddings that were used, so that they wouldn’t migrate through the seams. Today there are all sorts of battings/waddings and improvements in manufacture, so I don’t see that as a reason. In fact I made a patchwork dog bed as my first quilt, and used basic polyester batting, and pressed open seams – nothing has migrated through it, and it is still all intact, even though my dog turns circles around it many times before laying down, and it has been washed over and over, with no special treatment.
It is though much easier and quicker to press seams to one side, rather than pressing open and I suspect this is one of the reasons why it is so popular, together with the advantage of being able to butt one seam up to another to match seams when piecing. However I have the same results using a pin through the seam of both pieces, so I guess it’s what you get used to.
Today we have much stronger threads – again I do not believe you have to use cotton, though I do prefer it, especially in my vintage machines – it just sews better. For the modern ones it doesn’t make any difference between cotton or synthetic, so it’s more a case of finding a colour I want, whether matching or contrasting or whether I have to consider any high heat use, or pressing of whatever I am making.
I’d be interested in hearing what other people think. Do you have a preference for seam pressing or threads?