3 Tips For Ironing Quilting Strip Sets

I’ve compiled the best tips for ironing strip sets

If I had a best friend in quilting, it would be the strip set. I know what you’re thinking, really? A bunch of strips? Seriously? Why not something more exciting.. like the magnetic pin cushion, or the clapper (okay maybe not this one), or even, the magically disappearing ink pens?!

Let me explain why I love strip sets while quilting.

Quilt Strips are Versatile

They are incredibly versatile. It’s the building block for so many amazing quilt designs. They can be turned, sliced diagonally, used for corners, centers, literally anything!

I use them in the Siracusa, Oristano, and Capri Patterns (okay most of my patterns!)

Strip Sets Save You Time

If you know how to be tricky, strip sets can save you so much time! Anytime I see quilters sewing individual squares together, I automatically think, “could they have done that with strip sets?” And most of the time, the answer is yes.

But not everyone knows this magic! Or is comfortable making them. Let me start by dispelling some of the fears surrounding strip sets. One of the biggest complaints that I hear is how finicky they can be when ironing.

So let’s go through some tips on how to keep those strip sets straight as a pin. And hopefully by end, you’ll love them as much as I do!

Quilting Strip Sets Tip #1: Press, don’t Iron

I know what you’re thinking, uh, that’s the same thing. Those are literally synonyms. They are, but there is a technical difference, and you’ll see why it matters. So what is the difference between Pressing and Ironing?

Pressing:

  • Not a lot of movement
  • Spend more time in one spot (be careful of burning!)
  • Doesn’t use stretching or pulling
  • Firm pressure

Ironing:

  • Lots of movement, like how you’d iron a shirt
  • Manipulating the fabric to be in place

Moral of the story: less movement = better

Pressing (rather than ironing) is a great way to prevent wonky seam allowances.

Quilting Strip Sets Tip #2: Iron Crosswise on your Ironing Board

I found this tip while prowling old quilt forums for quilting secrets. Many quilters swore by this method. This is generally how I iron strip sets. Lay the whole strip set so that the seams are perpendicular (rather than parallel) to the ironing board.

There is something to be said about the effect that gravity can have on the fabric, which may encourage it to stay straight.

In defense of the parallel pressers, some quilters found a lot of success by drawing a long parallel line on their ironing boards and using that to align their strip sets while ironing.

So pick a team and see which one works best for you!

Quilting Strip Sets Tip #3: Starch your strip sets

Strip sets are my best friend, but starch would be our late night pizza parties. I love this stuff, can’t get enough of it. Find a brand that works for you and your particular quilting needs. 

I use Faultless Luxe Finish, and to be frank, I’m not a huge fan of the smell BUT I do love how stiff my fabrics finish. Seriously, if you like stiff strip sets, this is the stuff for you.

Using starch can help maintain those long beautiful lines, no curves here!

Other Tips:

Set your seams

This involves ironing your seam before folding it open (so you’re ironing the wrong sides). This can help the stitches “settle” into the fabric more before flipping it open and pressing to one side (or open, you do you).

Avoid Steam

Steam can wrinkle fabric pretty easily or distort it which is exactly what we’re trying to avoid with strip sets. They are delicate little things that only need a little bit of starch from a hot, dry iron. 

Well I think that about covers a lot of the strip set ironing basics! Remember the more strip sets you make.. the better you’ll get at ironing them. And if you’ve haven’t been converted yet, call me when strip sets are also your best friend too. We can all have a pizza party together.

Any tips I forgot? Pop in the comments below!

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