Is there a difference between pressing and ironing? You bet there is!
Ironing, a technique most associated with clothing, involves sliding the iron back and forth on an item. Quite often steam is used to aid in ridding the garment of wrinkles.
Pressing is lowering a hot iron onto the fabric, applying light pressure, and then lifting the iron up. Then move to the next area to be pressed and put the iron back down on the fabric. DO NOT slide the hot iron across the fabric. Sliding the iron can cause the fabric to become distorted. Just: lower - press - lift.
In order to create a quilt that lies flat and straight, pressing is very important. Each seam needs to be pressed as you progress thru the quilt making steps.
After sewing pieces together, first press the seam together from the wrong side of the fabric to set the stitches and eliminate any slight puckering that may have occurred during sewing of the seam. Next, from the right side of the fabric, press the seam toward the darker fabric (unless the pattern instructs otherwise). Pressing from the front helps eliminate the chances of pressing a fold or pleat in the seam. Seams are rarely pressed open and would be designated by pattern instructions.
Steam or no Steam?
A personal preference!
Some quilters feel that using steam can lead to distortion. Others like the sharp finish that steam produces.
Try pressing with and without stem to decide the method you prefer.
When paper piecing, a dry iron should be used so the paper is not distorted thru moisture.
Lavender Linen Water
Make ironing a joy of the senses - try this:
2 cups distilled water (MUST be distilled water)
2 ounces of vodka
15-20 drops of 100% Essential Oil of Lavender
Mix together, use in your iron, and store leftovers in the fridge.
NOTE: Must be exactly as described - do not use perfume, crafting scents, etc.