Tuesday, February 23, 2016

nice and flat - a pressing tip

 i picked up this flat block tip from  alison harrison at cluck cluck sew a while back and it has been working like a charm. so i thought i'd share. alison uses some inexpensive "floppy" books she picked up at a garage sale. i use some old phone books i had lurking in a back cupboard. anything that's floppy with some heft to it, that you don't mind getting warped, will work just fine. because of the heat involved, it's likely over time the book cover will show wear so don't use anything you care to keep tidy.

the technique is really simple: when you've pressed your block, set your floppy book down on top of it and leave while your block cools, 30 - 60 seconds. usually, i lay out the blocks or pieces i'm pressing in a row across my pressing board, and move from one end to another, covering up the pressed blocks as i go. i have a couple of phone books on hand, which makes doing batches easier. usually by the time i've gotten to the end of the row, the first blocks are cool. i can move them out of the way and do another batch, rotating out blocks down the row.

letting the blocks cool completely (or nearly completely) before you move them is key to getting the fabric to retain the shape you want. while hot, the fibers will continue to change shape when moved, so let them alone until they cool.

sometimes, when i have an extra stubborn block with lots of seams, i'll even leave it sitting under the book overnight after i'm done sewing for the day.

also, i prefer to do this before i trim my blocks. i find they hold the final shape much better if i've let them get properly flattened out first.

 these pinwheel blocks for my valentine's quilt have several seams meeting in the middle, which is a lot of bulk. i have yet to master the nesting seams technique, but the floppy book system is working really well to get them nice and flat anyway.

lecien sugar flower collection circa 2010
nice and crisp!

i had a stack i'd used the books on and a pile that hadn't been flattened. the book pile was definitely flatter across the board. once i saw the difference, i went right ahead and flattened all the blocks before thinking to take a photo to share. but trust me, it helps a lot.

happy pressing!


  1. I just recently started doing this little trick, it's amazing how well it works. How did I not know this years ago?....slap on the forehead moment when I tried it the first time. What line of fabric are you using? love those stripes.

  2. I love the pinwheels and the fabric is gorgeous! What is that gorgeous fabric?

    Thank you for the tip! I will definitely try it.

    1. gibbygoo56, you are showing as a no-reply blogger. sorry! the fabrics used in the pinwheels is a lecien sugar flower collection circa 2010. it's been in my stash for a while. i'll be showing more when i get further along with the pinwheels, so you can see more of it then. =)

    2. I was unaware I am a no-reply blogger. I love your site. I LOVE your work. I am so captivated by your Vintage Tangerine Penny Patch quilt that I have been buying fabrics to replicate the look of your quilt. I love looking of it. Its a feast for my soul!
      Beautiful work! Thank you letting me know about the fabric. I appreciate it.

  3. Clever tip and timely for me as I'm about to do some pressing so will try it out!

  4. I do this too, but I use boards that my boys broke earning their black belts :-) Works fabulously!! Of course, that means I always have a stack of (broken) boards under my ironing board....

    happy sewing and pressing ~ Tracy


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