Steam or no steam?
Iron and push or press and lift?
Ironing really shouldn’t be that hard but when it comes to patchwork the technique does matter.
I personally like to use a bit of steam. I don’t press the steam button on my iron but just use the steam as it happens. I really dislike the finish that ironing without steam looks like. Especially because we use 100% cotton for quilts it needs a bit of steam assistance to get the wrinkles out. But this is a choice – personal preference plays a huge role in many of the things we do in this hobby so try both options and see which you prefer.
Ironing clothes to me is a bit easier because you can just push the iron allover your shirt (mind the buttons!) and its in a lot better shape than when you pulled it out of the clean clothes basket. However, your shirt does not require accuracy because you aren’t going to join it up to another shirt. This is where the push v press and lift comes into play.
Pushing the iron can drag the fabric and warp the seam. Meaning your nice straight seam is now a nice curve and won’t match up to his buddy in the quilt. Fine for shirts not fine for patchwork pieces.
Pressing and lifting the ironing gives you far more control. It means you are heating the area that needs to be pressed and lifting the iron away without distorting the seam.
My general rules are:
- Press the seam open or to the darker of the fabrics
- Press the seam and then turn the pieces over and check the front of the fabric to ensure that the seam hasn’t rolled (see photos)
- Press seams in opposite directions to make joining pieces easier. e.g. Quilt with 9 rows of blocks in it, press all even numbered rows to the right and odd numbered rows to the left
- You can always re-iron something
- Sometimes a fabric will tell you which way it wants to be pressed – don’t fight it unless you absolutely have to
- Make friends with your iron, you will be using it a lot. I iron more patchwork fabric than I’ve ever ironed clothes in my lifetime
- Starch is your friend too, use it on tricky to manage fabrics, any time you plan on cutting triangles and anytime you feel a fabric is misbehaving
If you have any questions about ironing please let me know in the comments.