I'm a sewing enthusiast in Beacon, New York, with a love of all things retro. This site is all about tutorials, tips, inspiration, and lots of spirited discussion about sewing as it relates to fashion history, pop culture, body image, and gender. My first book, Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing, is now out from STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books! Also look for my line "Patterns by Gertie" from Butterick.
So, when I teach beginners how to sew, I always tell them to press their seams flat (to set the stitches) and then open. I tell them this because 1) it's in the teacher's manual and 2) it seems like one of those cardinal rules of sewing, like don't cut paper with your fabric scissors.
And yet, I must confess: I don't do it myself. Let me clarify: I always press my seams, always. I just press them open only, rather than flat first. Why? Well, readers, I have to tell you: "setting the stitches" sounds like shenanigans to me. What does that even mean? I mean, they're pretty set, right? From, you know, sewing them with a machine? And if they're not "set" (whatever that means), I reckon they'll get set when I press them open.
The two exceptions for me are 1) when students are watching me and I don't want the sewing police to take away my membership and 2) when I notice a little puckering of the seams, I'll press them flat to smooth them.
So, what do you think--is this blasphemy? Do you always always press your seams flat and then open? Or do you agree that this "setting the stitches" thing sounds like a vast sewing conspiracy?
P.S. Also, I got a new iron recently (pictured above). And I realized I haven't written many posts about ironing or irons. Is this something you all would like to discuss or does that actually sound pretty boring?