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The 3 Benefits of Pressing with a Wool Mat

Taking a slight detour to talk about another amazing tool for the sewing room. Aside from accurate cuts and seam allowances, another place accuracy counts is when pressing. I have been using a Wool Pressing Mat recently and I LOVE it. I can’t believe we thought the ironing board, with a foam pad or a pressing board with cotton batting, was good enough!

Seams pressed on a Wool Pressing Mat
Pressed on Wool

Pressing Matters

The Wool Pressing Mat is a game changer when pressing seams for quilting, and well just about any other seam you need to press; whether quilting, crafting or creating garments. It makes those seams behave beautifully.

Since this quilt is primarily half square triangles, there was plenty of room for error when pressing them open. So this was the perfect time to document how well the pressing mat does when pressing a bias seam.

Nice and Flat Seams
A pile of nice flatly pressed seams

When you use a wool pressing mat several things come in to play. The most difficult seam to press is a bias seam, like the one in a half square triangle block. How many times have you pressed a half square triangle block open, (or any block), on an ironing board, only to discover that you have pressed inaccurately? Maybe not you, but that the block moved and so did the bias of the square. Then when trying to correct the seam, it will not press out or it has stretched the block, or… well is just not right! I know it is difficult to tell when you are pressing a seam or ironing a seam… add steam and it could be worse!

Before you ask, I almost always use steam. I like it.

So to test the wool pressing mat I pressed every single seam of this top using a wool pressing mat. The half square triangle blocks pressed beautifully. Flat and crisp without any distortion.

Bias pressed without distortion
Flat pressed bias seam on a Wool Pressing Mat

Three ways a Wool Pressing Mat makes for a great pressing surface

1. A Wool Mat has a grip-naturally

When you press on a wool mat, the wool holds the fabric in place, while you gently press. The fabric or block does not slide or slip while pressing. In this case, the white half was on the mat while I opened the color side to press flat.

2. A Wool Mat has moisture-naturally

Wool naturally has a bit of moisture in it, so you get a slight benefit even without pressing with steam. However, if you like steam, it absorbs the steam so the heat and moisture from steam work from the top and the bottom. The pressing mat may become warm and or damp, and if pressing on a cutting mat or on other sensitive surfaces, may cause damage.

3. A Wool Mat gives-naturally

The reason you get such a crisply pressed seam is that the wool gives a bit, unlike pressing on a padded ironing board or pressing board, (cotton batting compress firmer than wool). And if you are a turned applique fan, you won’t believe how nicely your applique flattens without creating puckers and tucks!!

** Tip-

If you have a preference to which side to press the seam to, place the block (half square triangle block in this case), on the pressing surface with the light fabric on the bottom, (or the side you want to press the seam ‘away’ from). Set the seam, (before opening the block, press the line of stitching), next gently lift open the block and using light pressure nudge along the entire seam to open with the iron. You always have better control of the seam when you press from the top.

Pressing a bias seam on a Wool Pressing Mat
Lay the side you want to press the seam allowance away from on the Wool Pressing Mat

I also pressed all the joining seams on the wool mat and it lays perfectly flat! Do I like a pressing mat? Absolutely! And so will YOU! It solves several pressing issues, such as stretching and distortion, adds padding for pressing turned edge applique or embroidery, and enhances the power of the iron with or without steam. The wool pressing mat is 100% natural, felted wool. Environmentally friendly and even more, helps you to create with even better results. Several sizes of Wool Pressing Mats are in stock. Look for your favorite sizes 4 1/2″ Square, 8 1/2″ Square, 13 1/2″ Square and the 14×19″ Rectangle Pressing Mats at I Have A Notion™.

Have you tried a Wool Pressing Mat? Did you like it? Did you have the same experience as I? Please share your opinion in the comments. I would love to hear your thoughts.

This post is a continuation from “Using the Tools” and where this quilt top started.

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Using the Tools

I started this post on using Quilters Select Rulers because I had an opportunity to show them off in February. Once I figure out what to say, I think about supporting pictures and that leads to more things to say, and then more pictures, which makes for more post parts. So I will break it up into smaller chunks.

My Style

I really like simple and straight forward, and I hope you do too. I want to share the (my) creative process with you as well as the products “I” use so you can feel comfortable with the products available at I Have A Notion™ (new and old) for creating. Most of what I make is off the cuff (no pattern)! It most often starts with an idea… a spark… an opportunity to explore! And this could be a whole other blog post… or many!

Half Square Triangles Quilt
Using Quilters Select Tools to make a quilt!

Quilters Select

I started down the road to this quilt (it is still a top, so not yet technically a quilt), while getting ready for a “One Stop Shop Hop” in February. The idea was to let shoppers try using Quilters Select products, (mats, rulers and rotary cutter) so they could judge for themselves the features and benefits.

Due to space limitations at the Shop Hop, I took some 5” precut WOF (width of fabric) strips and let interested parties sub-cut the strips into 5” squares. Mostly this demo was about the ruler benefits, but the cutter and the mat are also pretty awesome.

Quilters Select Products,Ruler for Sub-Cutting WOF, Rotary Cutter and Cutting Mat
Sub-cutting from the white 5″ strip

Non-Slip

When using the Quilters Select ruler, the non-slip coating on the back of the ruler grips the fabric. The ruler really does not slip.

The Non-Slip aspect of the Quilters Select Ruler
The non-slip coating on the back of the ruler makes it easy to make precision cuts

Cutting LInes

The cutting lines of the rulers (are thin and do not interfere with the ability to line up). In the picture below, I have my old favorite ruler lined up next to the Quilters Select 5” square. What did I like about the old ruler? I liked the narrow solid lines and the even thinner dashed lines. However, the Quilters Select rulers have even thinner lines and allow for more accurate cuts, no dilemma about which side of a line to use. See photo below.

Comparison of ruler lines
Previous Favorite ruler on the left – Quilters Select on the right

The Angles

Angles of the rulers are in two places, even the 5” square has two sets of angle lines! So you don’t have to flip and flop a ruler to use an angle. The line I needed was never where I needed it, causing me to turn the ruler several times until I figured it out. **Note that even the 5” square has two sets of angle lines! So you don’t have to flip and flop a ruler to use an angle. The 5″ square is the smallest of the Quilters Select Rulers. See Photo above.

Frosting

The frosted tinting (yellow allows you to see the edge of the fabric better, regardless of the print or color of the fabric). My old ruler (on the left in the picture above), was also frosted, clear. I liked it for the same reasons. And again see above photo. The shade of the tinting varies from a pale yellow to one a bit darker.

Stacked

Stacked measuring numbers. If you look at the ruler in the photo, there are 2 sets of numbers on each full inch line. They grow from the right to the left, and in reverse on the lower numbers (white arrows). Making it so these rulers can be used from either side. It also makes it easier if you are left-handed, skips the math!!! You can also see the stacked number system on the Cutting Mat (red arrows).

The Quilters Select Stacked numbers

Making the Quilt

I brought the quilt squares home and paired a 5″ colored square to a white one, drew the 2 stitching lines and set about making 256 half square triangles. Stitched and cut the squares in half, and then pressed open.

Stitching the squares to make half square triangle blocks
Stitching the squares to make half square triangle blocks

Summary

In short, I love these rulers. The cutter will take a little getting used to, I have been using an Olfa since 1984 (still have my first one). The weight is the biggest difference, and cutting angle is a little different too, but not as radical as some of the other “improved” rotary cutters. I also like the mat. I did discover that the Quilters Select “Trick” only works on the Quilters Select mat and did not work on the rougher surface of the Olfa mat. You can find the Quilters Select Products here

Next up we will talk about pressing the half square triangles, trimming, and putting the top together. Beth