Steam or No Steam

To Steam or Not to Steam, that is the question…

This is a surprisingly controversial topic within the quilting community. Some quilters love to use steam, while others would never even consider it.

For those of you who are on the fence, below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using steam when you press the fabrics you use in your quilting projects.


  1. Steaming facilitates the rapid and near-complete removal of wrinkles in fabrics both before, and after, your cutting and piecing activities.
  2. The crisp and wrinkle-free fabric that steaming produces enhances your ability to precisely and accurately piece together fabrics.


  1. The use of steam can cause distortions to the shape of pieced blocks, especially those with bias seams.
  2. Steaming may cause the fabric to bleed or shrink.
  3. Your iron might leak water, which can stain your fabric.

In my own experience, I have found that it is almost always best to use a dry iron during the construction of blocks. However, I have found that steam can be useful to smooth out those challenging seams that dry pressing does not entirely flatten, particularly seams with a lot of points. In those cases, you might consider using a shot of mist from a spray bottle to completely flattening those pesky seams. If you do decide to use mist during your pressing activities, you can use water or one of the many products that facilitate the process of removing wrinkles from fabric—more on pressing sprays in a future blog post.

Finally, whether you elect to steam or not, the most important thing to remember is to PRESS and not IRON! Up and down, never side to side.

What is your preference…steam or no steam?