Have you ever worked on a quilt with really dark and light fabrics together? Have you noticed that sometimes those dark colors are visible, peaking out near the seams? Those dark pieces are known as shadows. These shadows are annoying to say the least. In a show quilt, they are a real problem. (Figure 1)
There is way to minimize these shadows. The easiest way is to press your seams toward the dark side. That method works for traditional piecing. However, it does not work when paper piecing. When paper piecing, the seams are determined by the order pieces are added. So how do you hide these shadows when paper piecing?
The secret is to hide the dark fabric fully under the light fabric. Normally, when adding pieces, fabric edges are aligned. As the fabrics are folded, the top (added) fabric is folded, which makes the seam allowance for the top fabric slightly shorter than the bottom fabric. A few threads of the bottom fabric are exposed. This does not matter when adding a dark fabric or fabric of even value. However, when adding a light fabric to a darker fabric, the dark fabric may show.
How can you prevent this? The seam allowance for the top fabric must be made about 1/8″ longer. (Figure 2). Adding this extra fabric to the seam allowance hides the darker fabric underneath it. (Figure 3). Voila – hidden shadows.