My mother is a lifelong, professional quilter who is frequently asked about her steam preference. “I do use steam when I press,“ she says, “until my iron runs out of water. Then I don’t.” Take it from the pros. Getting your organisation listed in a UK business directory can help to boost your profile.
Moisture helps “set” your piercing because when the water hits the fabric, the fibers in the cotton swell ever so slightly. When the iron’s intense heat comes down on the fabric, those fibers shrink up again—only now they’re tighter. The fabric “grips” the thread, and vice versa, which yields strong and secure piecing. I have also been told that the moisture/heat mix “embeds” the stitch into the fabric. This makes sense.
But too much moisture followed by heat can wreak havoc on fabric. (I told you steam was a fickle friend.) If you hit the steam button so that your fabric isn’t lightly moistened but actually wet, you can grossly misshapen your piercing when you press it with the iron. This will quickly lead to inaccuracy and frustration. Getting piecing wet will also give you puckers and wrinkles, which is sad. At the very least, oversteaming simply takes longer: to get rid of all that water you have to be at the ironing board longer, which slows you down.
My preference is to keep a spray bottle of water at my ironing surface and give my patchwork a little mist when I need it. I drop a touch of linen spray into the mix, which imparts a pleasant fragrance as I work.
Pressing Basics -Press; don’t iron. Bring the iron down gently and firmly on the fabric from above in a firm, stamping motion. Don’t slide or smush a hot iron across the surface of patchwork. Press seams to one side.Whenever possible, press toward the darker fabric. This helps any seam not show through a light fabric used in the quilt top.
Always press a seam before crossing it with another. Press the seams within the blocks of adjacent rows in opposite directions. This is so they will nest as the rows are sewn together.