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The Importance of Pressing and How to Press


How to Press

Good pressing is important to good dressmaking and quilting.  A professional finish can be achieved only by constant and correct pressing in the right way. Press as you sew! No matter how great a garment was made it can still look homemade if it has not been well pressed.

You will want to press with the tip of the iron to get into small places. Try not to stretch or pull your fabric when ironing.  Sometimes if you pull or stretch and use steam you can permanently stretch the fabric out of place. Press on the wrong (or ugly) side of the fabric when ever possible, especially when pressing seams, darts, and pleats. NEVER press over pins.  Most dress makers pins have a plastic head.  If you press over the pins, they can melt and get onto both your iron and your project. Pins can also scratch your iron, which can leave a mark on your iron and snag your fabric.

Do not over press fine fabrics. Most of them have a soft looking appearance and flow on the body, so you do not want them to look hard or over pressed.

When pressing curved areas use a pressing cushion or tailor's ham. PRESS as you sew! I am constantly advising my students of this. The best looking garments in the end have been pressed, pressed, and pressed after each sewing step!

Pressing is not just pushing a hot iron along fabric to smooth it, it must be held long enough to set the fabric in its new position. Pressing is a combination of pressure that you put on the iron by the strength of your arm when it needs it, heat temperature suitable for the fiber, not the fabric, and moisture provided by a steam iron for thin and lightweight fabrics.  Always use a cloth when pressing on the pretty side of the fabric. When pressing curves, and sleeves use a pressing cushion. 

ALWAYS do a "test" pressing job to a scrap piece of fabric that you will be making your garment out of. During the sewing of the garment most pressing will be done on the wrong side or ugly side of the garment. In addition to pressing as the garment is made, a final pressing job should be done once the garment is complete, and then hung up and not touched for at least a day.

Recommended Pressing Ham and Iron for Your Sewing Room



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