To Nest or Not to Nest

I got a question about nesting seams from a guild member the other day. She wanted to know whether she should nest seams or not. Nesting seams has a purpose. You don’t just press seams open because the Modern Quilt Guild or someone else says you should.

Press seams open when you want to reduce bulk. This is often used in garment sewing.

Nesting seams is used to line up your seams. You will get better and easier precision if you use this technique. Caroline of SewCanShe writes on her blog post “Nesting your seams will help you get your perpendicular joints matched up and with practice the intersections will be perfect looking…. most of the time. :)” People say they don’t care if their seams are aligned. I care and so I nest seams unless there is so much bulk that it is impossible.

If you press seams open you are also in danger of developing holes in the quilting process. I press my seams open when I make pieced backs to reduce bulk. When I press my seams open I backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam line to prevent holes.

Sometimes, like in a Four Patch block, there can be quite a bit of bulk in the areas where the four patches meet. You can ‘pop’ the seam to also reduce bulk. Check out the tutorial on how to do this with images illustrating the technique.

I find it easier to get good precision when I put my quilts together using ‘Chunking’. Check out the tutorial.


  • American Quilting “Pop the Seams”tutorial
  • Patchwork Posse Nesting Seams and Other Tricks – good information and some pictures that illustrate the topic.
  • Quick Tips for Quilters – nesting seams tutorial
  • SewCanShe Nesting Seams Basic tip tutorial

And many others


The creativity posts I have been posting on Fridays will return soon.