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Pressing: Why is it so important?

I think that pressing is a very important factor to give your creations a polished and professional look so they won't look home sewn and amateurish. If you are happy with a homemade look and finish, then this blog post isn't for you. But if you want to take your homemade items to the next level, then continue reading.

I love pressing my seams and projects at the right times to give them that polished look. I love when people get surprised that what I am wearing is homemade but looks so professional and it's all thanks to that hot steamy tool. Pressing makes sewing easier.

Pressing is 80% of sewing.

Firstly, I think it’s important to note that ironing and pressing are different actions – and have different uses. How we define them:

  • Ironing is when you slide your iron back and forth on the fabric to removed wrinkles

  • Pressing is when you place your iron on the fabric and then lift it repetitively, rather than pushing or sliding it.

It sounds like a lot of effort, so why bother with it? There are a couple of good reasons why sewing and pressing go hand in hand:

  1. It’s impossible to make your items look polished without a good press. Especially when making tailored pieces and using fabrics like wool or tweed. Seams simply will not lie flat unless pressed, and you cannot achieve clean lines if your seams and hems are bubbling.

  2. Not ironing your fabric before cutting can result in inaccurate cuts, and as a result affect the overall fit and of course appearance of the garment.

  3. There are some techniques and projects you will never master if you refuse to press. For example sewing darts with ease can only be done properly if you press, and you will not get a good pleat if you don’t press it.

  4. Manipulating fabric. You can change the shape of fabric through ironing and pressing. Of course this could be good or bad, depending on whether you meant to do it or not. For example ironing your fabric too much, can stretch it out, but ironing can help fix your mistakes too.

Obviously you need an iron, go with a brand that you will feel comfortable with. I have been using Tefal irons for the last 5 years and have been very happy with them.

Aside from an iron, there are quite a few tolls you can get. I don't think you need too many, I know what it's like to buy all the stuff available when you first start sewing and most likely retailers make try to convince you to buy them when in fact you don't really need it. Here are the few items, I think you will need, especially if you are into dressmaking.

  • Tailors Ham. You could quite easily make a ham, you would just need to stuff it very firmly.

  • Pressing cloth. II just use a white linen fabric that was left over from a project. When using a pressing cloth you need to put it over the area to be pressed, dampen (not wet) the cloth with some water, and then press on and off until the cloth is dry.

  • Hot Hem Ruler. What is it? If you ever came to one of my classes, you will have used one of them when pressing your hems. Since I started using one, my hems have been straighter and neater than ever before.

Some tips to remember:

  • Press your garment as you are sewing. And always press seams and darts either open or to the side before you sew over them. Pressing at the end of your project is not the same as pressing each seam after you sew it. The difference is visible, I promise!

  • Prewash and iron your fabric before you cut it, trying not to change the shape of the fabric too much.

  • Make sure that you are using the right temperature. You’d be surprised how much difference this makes. You can destroy a delicate fabric if you iron too hot, but some things like linen will never look neat unless ironed hot.

  • Test the temperature on a piece of scrap fabric.

Do you have any good ironing and pressing tips?! We’d love to hear them!!

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