Do You Seam Open or Closed?

Are you an open or closed seam presser?  It seems like the debate continues.  I stand on both sides of the aisle because I believe each project is unique.  Never feel closed minded – open your mind to the possibility that each project requires its own decision.

For example,  the aquarium quilt project I am doing now is as a piece of wall art.  I want the finished piece to be as flat as possible so the quilt lays right up against the wall. Pressing the seams open is one of several ways to achieve that goal.

My block is a half square triangle, which means right away there is a seam running down the middle of the block.  When I join that block to a second block, there are now four pieces of fabric meeting in one place.  When I sew a row together, there are now 10 to 16 pieces of fabric that all junction in the same spot! If all the those seams were pressed to one side, even if they were pressed in opposite directions as often as possible, there would still be a lump of fabric at the junction.

HST seams
6 pieces of fabric meet when the blocks are sewn together.
HST seam
Anywhere from 10 to 16 pieces of fabric meet in the same place

I am quilting 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch away from the seam and am using the seam line as my guide and not as part of the quilt design. I want the seam line to be as flat as possible so my guide doesn’t waver.

Seam line is used as a guide

Thus, seams pressed open is the best decision for today’s project.  Who knows what tomorrow’s project may bring.  A sneak peek in my aquarium.



  1. Love your aquarium! I am a big fan of octopus! I mostly press seams to one side, and when I have bulk where seams meet, I spin my seams so they lay flatter. I am not opposed to pressing seams open though, and have done it when it was necessary.

    • I learned to sew on a vintage sewing machine, from late 1950s I think. My niece has it now to remember the Grammie my business is named after.

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