Nesting Seams…and a story of an imperfect quilt

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What is nesting seams? How to get perfect corners on quilts.

Almost ten years ago when I started sewing, I read a sewing tip. It recommended always splitting seams and ironing them flat. This method protects thread the best and prevents wear and tear and possible breakage of seams.

For almost ten years, I ironed all my seams open. It was tedious work, but I knew it would make for the best quality quilt. (Even though I had a terrible time getting my corners to line up well.)

What is nesting seams? How to get perfect corners on quilts.

Since learning much, I have discovered there are times that ironing all your seams open is appropriate and helpful. But I have also learned about nesting seams and the glorious flawless intersections the nesting skill creates.

Before I go on, I want you to see the difference between seams that are nested and seams that aren’t. 

Look at the below quilt. (I still regret ever selling this quilt with the most precious Posy fabric ever. But alas, I did.) Do you see how the seam is just slightly off? Maybe click on the image so it blows up larger on your computer screen. The seam is not off much, but it is definitely not perfect.

What is nesting seams? How to get perfect corners on quilts.

Now look at the below picture. This is a pillow I made for my Etsy Shop after learning how to nest my seams. Do you see how all the corners are truly corners. I’m not going to say they’re flawless or absolutely perfect in every way, but THE CORNERS ALL LINE UP! Do you know how many years I quilted wondering why I just couldn’t figure out a basic principle of sewing? My husband and I had discussed my somewhat type B personality over and over again and just wondered if I didn’t have the perfectionism in me to really be a good quilter.

It was all about nesting seams. Something so very simple that I had not discovered yet.

What is nesting seams? How to get perfect corners on quilts.

After finishing a quilt last fall (around October 2016), I grew rather frustrated. I had bought a pattern, purchased fabric, cut everything as precisely as I knew how, and none of my points lined up. It really was quite defeating. I used it as an opportunity to pull out some quilt books my mother-in-law had gifted me years ago for Christmas. I had to kind of start over on this quilting hobby because something wasn’t going right.

That’s when I learned about nesting my seams. (You may be witnessing via Instagram and this blog that my quilting journey has picked up steam in the last twelve months since I finished that defeating quilt.)

What is nesting seams? How to get perfect corners on quilts.

Learning to nest your seams, my friends, is a quilter’s best friend. If I had to give you four tips for a great quilt, they’d be:

1. Buy high quality fabric.
2. Cut your fabric accurately.
3. Nest your seams.
4. Sew a perfect quarter inch seam allowance.

Yes, nesting seams is in the top four of what makes for a great quilt. It’s that important.

What does it mean to nest my seams?

Nesting seams is simply ironing one row of seams one direction and ironing the next row of seams in the opposite direction.

What is nesting seams? How to get perfect corners on quilts.

Do you see in the picture above how my seams are ironed opposite each other from row to row?

Here’s a closer look:

What is nesting seams? How to get perfect corners on quilts.

What is the benefit of nesting my seams?

Nesting seams allows the fabrics to nest together at the intersections. Your corners will line up SO MUCH BETTER if you take the time to nest your seams.

So now you’ve ironed your seams in opposite directions, right? Line up your seams kind of like a puzzle piece until they nest together like in the below picture. The seams almost lock together to create a perfect corner.

What is nesting seams? How to get perfect corners on quilts.

Is it difficult to nest my seams? 

No, it isn’t difficult, but it does take some additional brain power. Before piecing all your blocks, you have to think through your quilt seams. Many quilts patterns that are available for purchase now include instructions on which ways to iron your seams. The author does the work for you. If you are sewing quilts without patterns, just think through at the beginning how you can iron your seams to end up with the most nesting.

For these nine patches, I am always ironing the middle row seams toward the outside. The top and bottom rows get ironed toward the inside.

It’s a simple process with simple blocks. It’s a more complex process with more complex blocks.

What is nesting seams? How to get perfect corners on quilts.

Maybe this is one simple change I can encourage you to try as your own quilting journey unfolds.

What is nesting seams? How to get perfect corners on quilts.

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