All About the Bulk, Part II

Spinning to Reduce those Unsightly Bulges!

“Seam spinning,” (aka “seam fanning,” or “seam popping”) is a relatively simple technique that should almost completely eliminate the bumps that can occur at the seam intersections in your quilt design. This technique, if done properly, will help to ensure that your quilt top will lay smooth and bulge-free.

After you have nested your seams (see blog post from 12 June 2020), your seam intersections should look almost perfect. Even so, there may still be some remaining bulk at those intersections and you can eliminate these residual lumps by spinning your seams.

You can “spin your seams” in three easy steps. The first step involves creating the blocks that you will subsequently sew together, creating a seam intersection in. Looking at Figure 1, you can see that I first sewed two “two squares” together with black thread. I then nested those seams and sewed those two resulting blocks together with white thread, creating a four patch with a seam intersection at the center. Observe that the white thread seam overlaps the black thread seams, “locking them in”. I then opened the block and laid it down, seam side up. Please note that the black seams lay down in opposite directions, and the white seam sticks up.

Figure 1

Next, I gently tugged the seam apart at the intersection to cause the ends of the black threads to come undone, but only to, but not through, the white horizontal seam. You may need to use the point of your seam ripper to accomplish this (Figure 2).

Figure 2

With the black threads out of the way, the seam allowances lay flat around the intersection point. (Figure 3). Finally, I pressed half of the long seam in one direction and the other half in the other direction, and, as a result the seam intersection now lays almost completely flat.

Figure 3


We all know that there are no hard and fast rules in quilting except, of course, safety rules, like how to properly use a rotary cutter. Rules or no rules, though, none of us want lumpy, unsightly quilt tops. Our last two blog posts have described some general guidelines and techniques that might help you eliminate bulk and achieve a flat quilt top with near-perfect seam intersections. Whether you press the seams open or to one side and whether you spin the seam intersections or not, you need to do whatever works for you and the pattern you are making.

Do you use any other tricks to eliminates those "speed bumps"? We’d love to hear about them!