I have been reading a lot this last week, and I have learned a lot about pressing while sewing.
When I first started sewing, I didn't even own an iron! Quilts were one of the first things I started sewing, and I quickly learned the importance of pressing. I learned to carefully press my seams to one side or the other, BEFORE sewing across them again.
I noticed that in garment construction, it is often advised to press the seams open, and I learned that I want to carefully press each piece before and after sewing. But this week, I learned that it is often advisable to press directly over the stitching on seams, before ironing them open, to set in the stitching. I think I understand that this is particularly important with knits.
I also learned this week, that accessory pressing equipment can be incredibly useful, especially when pressing seams, especially if those seams are curved. I am trying to make a shaped bodice for a special holiday dress, and I was having some trouble. I finally realized that what I needed was a pressing ham. It seemed like something I should be able to make, so I set to googling.
I found this page, which has instructions for making a ham, a seam roll, a pressing mitt, and even wooden press tools. I made my ham with a felted sweater for the wool side, and a piece of cotton canvas for the cotton side, stuffed with wool and cotton scraps:
Then I made a seam roll, using two Rolling Stone magazines as the base, which I totally covered with electrical tape wrapped around, followed by a felted wool sweater sleeve, and then I wrapped the whole thing with another piece of cotton canvas (from a thrifted curtain), and hand sewed it closed.
That is my ironing board they are sitting on; I finally made a 2 sided cover for my hanging ironing board:
It is a little loose right now, because I am completely out of cotton batting, which I want to use to make this a padded cover. So I left it a tad bit loose and did not serge or finish the seams....it works fine for now, but I will finish this when I get some more cotton batting. I made a drawstring casing at the bottom, because it has to open enough for the hinged part when it folds down, but then it narrows when it is folded close, as above.
I wanted to make one more piece of pressing equipment, though. I often need a "press cloth," especially when working with interfacing and fusible web. I also learned in my reading this week that it is handy in pressing certain fabrics (linen is an example) that will develop a "sheen" if pressed directly. I had seen teflon press cloths in the fabric store, but have just used a fabric scrap when I have needed one in the past. I googled press cloth, and discovered that cotton works perfectly, and that the customary size is 14" by 24." I had a super soft organic tshirt in my stash that had a set in stain on the front; I decided this would be perfect. I used the pinking blade to cut it to this size, and now I have a very nice "official" pressing cloth to complete my DIY pressing supplies.
They sit cozily together at the back of my table underneath the board:
These make me happy to press as I sew! If you plan to sew clothing, you will need pressing equipment, too. These things are super easy to make and will make your pressing chores easier.
I will be back soon. Until then, Happy Sewing!