there are two types of sewers: those who press, and those who don’t.
i must confess, in my early days of garment sewing, i fell squarely into the latter. why would i want to press anything? i hated ironing and i didn’t see a point in spending nearly half my precious sewing time smooshing a bunch of seams that were on the inside of a garment, aka, no one was going to see them anyway.
sadly, i can’t pinpoint the exact moment that i had my “A-HA, PRESSING!” revelation, but suffice to say i have turned a complete 180 as far as my iron is concerned. i am a pressing fiend, y’all. i have developed a love affair with my iron and my finished projects have never looked better. properly pressing really is the key to having a gorgeous handmade garment – as opposed to “homeade” (and probably sewn up with quilter’s cotton, yeeech).
this is my iron – a rowenta steam iron. i thought i was doing pretty good with my $40 walmart special deal i found during one of my end-of-the-school-year dumpster diving extravaganzas, but the rowenta was like a sweet revelation of hot steam and pure power. you haven’t really lived until you have pressed a seam with an iron that could melt your entire hand off, i’ll tell you what.
this is one of those pressing tools that is wonderful and helpful and confuses the crap out of everyone who looks at it – they think it’s a doll’s ironing board (same people who think my rotary cutter is for pizza. what kind of friends am i inviting into my home, anyway??). it’s actually a sleeve board, and incredibly helpful for, well, pressing & easing in sleeves. i like to use it for a multitude of pressing goodness, because the small size is really convenient. i found mine at a thrift store for $2 – which explains the goofy/dirty cover (the cover i’ve been meaning to change for 2+ years.. ha!).
the tailor’s ham is my favorite pressing tool. it is absolutely necessary for pressing curved seams/darts without making a bunch of funky pressed wrinkles in the process. you can use it for shaping – put your sleeve head/shoulder pad/gathered whatever on top and steam the hell out of it and let the magic curves do their magic curve stuff.
not pictured: the ham’s fraternal twin, the seam roll. this is great for pressing seams open so you don’t get a ridge on the outside of your fabric. i don’t have one yet, but i plan on making one, along with my very own tailor’s ham (i’m borrowing my mama’s :3). did you know that home depot will just give you a gigantic bag of sawdust if you ask nicely? i batted my eyelashes a lot and returned triumphant with an entire grocery bagful. score for me!
my new favorite – and most obsolete – pressing tool: the clapper. ooh i love this thing. the bottom is weighted so you can steam press your seams and then clap (ha ha – get it?) this contraption on top and hold it down for 15 seconds or so. the wood holds the heat it while you press down so your seam ends up nice and flat. i wish i had this while i was making my coat! the points at the top are for pressing tiny fiddly areas, like shirt collars. i just bought this thing over the weekend and i’ve been geeking out over it since. LOVE.
another important pressing tool not pictured: your press cloth! you can use all kinds of things for this – the most common are muslin, white cotton, cheesecloth, & silk organza. it’s good to have one of each on hand for different fabrics. press cloths are great for protecting your fabric from scorching while you steam the everloving shit out of it. i prefer to use silk organza, personally – the sheerness helps me to see what i’m doing, and anyway, silk organza sounds all fancy and makes me feel good about myself. ha!
i also keep a spray bottle full of water on hand – this is good for lightly spritzing your fabric before you apply fusible interfacing (using your press cloth, of course!). it really makes a different between bubbly interfacing and smooth perfect interfacing.
almost done! i just have to stitch down the midriff facing, insert the zipper, face the armholes, and hem the whole shebang. of course, it’s 30 degrees outside right now so it might be a couple months before this little guy gets some wearing action. that’s what i get for sewing summer clothes in january. sigh.