Since I started posting daily to Instagram at the start of the year, I have been looking at a lot of posts by other quilters, because the Instagram algorithm is so great at identifying what you're interested in. And while I have seen a whole lot of wonderful work, I've also seen a lot of photos that make me cringe.
Specifically, photos where people have apparently lost the use of their irons. It's obvious that if there was any pressing at all during construction of the blocks, it was slapdash. I can imagine what these quilts are going to look like after quilting and finishing, and the picture isn't pretty.
|All photos from other people's |
When I teach quilting I give my signature spiel in which I say I don't care about almost all of the quilt police rules. Don't care if your seam allowances are 1/4 inch. Don't care if your points match at the seamlines. Don't care if your blocks are exactly square, or if your seamlines are exactly straight, or your quilting stitches are all the same length. But there is one thing that I REALLY care about, enough to make up for all those that I don't bother with. I care that you press obsessively and thoroughly, that you press every seam open before you cross it with another seam. that you press every block perfectly before you trim it to size and join it to others.
It's particularly important with curved seams; even if the two pieces don't match exactly you can usually coax them into perfect alignment with a spritz of water and a hot iron to urge the bias threads into obedience.
What disturbs me even more about these unpressed blocks and entire tops that people are so proud of that they post them to instagram is that many of them have made their pieces in workshops with (presumably) qualified teachers.
I don't know how online quilt instruction works, but I would hope that teachers are asking their students to send photos, and that they are pointing out pluses and minuses of the work. And how could teachers possibly overlook the glaring lack of pressing?????
I would hate to think that the teachers don't notice, or that they notice but don't care. In my opinion any teacher who approves of work like these examples should lose her teaching license. Oh wait, you don't need a license to be a quilt teacher, anybody who stays one block ahead of the rest of the class can promote herself as a guru and apparently attract lots of people willing to pay to "learn" from her.
I just read an instagram post, complete with photo of unpressed blocks, in which the author adorably tells us "Okay here's all the secrets to making an improv quilt."
Secret #5 reads: "Iron the seams once in a while but only when your butt starts falling asleep and you have to stand up."
I know this is meant to be charming and humorous, not really serious, but it helps spread the idea that pressing is optional, that improvisational quilting = sloppy quilting. And that makes me crabby. Way more than crabby, if you must know.
Want to learn how to press your quilts in progress? Check out my tutorial here, and then read on for curved seams. Take my word for it, if you learn to press properly, and more important, if you make yourself do it all the time, your quilts will look vastly better and it will be vastly easier to work with them.
Now to figure out how to get the word out to all those people on instagram!