When sewing, the iron is one of your most valuable tools. I know that extra step may seem like a pain, but pressing as you go will always make your sewing experience easier and result in a much more polished finished product.
Where to begin? I could write an entire book about ironing… seriously. So lets just start with the basics.
To help minimize the possibility of water marks, fill your iron with distilled water. This is important to prevent mineral build up and also to extend the life of your iron.
When you start a sewing project, iron your fabric before you lay it out to cut. If you are working with a natural fiber, such as cotton or wool, and have not pre washed, use steam when ironing to help shirk the fabric before you cut it out. This does not eliminate the need to pre wash, but it will work in a pinch.
It is always a good idea to test your iron setting on a scrap of fabric before you begin, to ensure you are using the appropriate settings for your fabric.
Now, that you have a few tips to start you off, lets get down to the tools. There are lots of tools to make your ironing experience easier.
The very first tool you should know about is the press cloth. A press cloth is a piece of cloth placed on top of your good fabric before you iron. This way the iron will not come in to direct contact with your fabric. This is especially important when working with delicate and synthetic fabrics. A press cloth protects your fabric from burning, melting, water marks and any gunk that may be on the face of your iron. Press cloths are often muslin, but it is good to have a few kicking around in different weights and absorbencies. Using a press cloth that is similar to your fabric is ideal.
A tailors ham is used for pressing curves, great for getting that point out of the end of your dart or shaping a princess seam. Place you curved seam or dart on top of the ham and roll your iron over it, if your fabric allows it, use steam to help set the curve.
This is used to slide into narrow opening, such as sleeves, to help press the seam without creasing the fabric in unwanted places. Also, if your seam allowance is leaving dents on the right side of your fabric when you press it, press on top of a sleeve roll. The curve of the sleeve roll allows you to only press the seam itself and not everything around it, so your seam allowance won’t show through. A sleeve roll is an easy tool to make at home. Simply roll up a magazine in a piece of fabric and tie the ends.
Also used to press narrow spaces, but because it is flat you can get a bit more leverage, Great for hemming pants. and pressing cuffs.
A hard wood pressing tool that is two tools in one!
The narrow side functions as a tiny ironing board for those pointy and hard to reach places, like collars and cuffs.
On the other side you will find the clapper. This used to apply pressure to steamed seams to help set them permanently. Press and steams your seam, then using the clapper, apply pressure to the seam. Hold the clapper in place until the fabric has cooled.
Needle board/ Velvet board
When pressing velvet, corduroy or other napped fabrics, a flat ironing board can crush the pile. A needle board is a mat with a bed of small needles sticking up from it. Place your fabric, wrong side up with the right side against the needle board to press.
These wooden tools are essentially dowels cut in half. They are used for areas that are too narrow for even a sleeve roll. They can also be used to iron a seam without leaving a dent on the right side from the seam allowance.
Now that you’ve got all the tools, pressing your sewing projects should be a cinch.