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how to impress
when pressing
rmusic1
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rmusic1
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Date: 2/15/12 5:44 PM

I am going to firstly confess to not being massive fan of ironing. I have made some strides in the right direction when it comes to dress making. In fact, I would say I easily spend more time with an iron when dressmaking than I ever would with the every day washed clothing. My wardrobe is, partly, based on stuff that does not need regular ironing.

However I have noticed now that I have been doing dressmaking for about 2 years, I have become a lot more confident in many things, but pressing has some way to go. I know this can make a real difference with the final look. I do press as I go. But still, many other people's finished garments have a more "polished" look.

I feel this is holding me back from putting the finishing touches to all my hard work modifying the pattern, cutting out, and sewing the pieces altogether.

So, am I alone in this? have you any tips to make me better at pressing? I have taken the time to make my own sleeve ham and kidney ham (really worth it). Feel free to look through my existing reviews in order to assess my technique (or lack of.....).

jynclr
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Date: 2/15/12 8:27 PM

Excellent question! Thank you for posting. I'm interested in the responses.

------
Evelyn: Pfaff Creative Performance
Helen V: Babylock Companion BL1550

Erica B.
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Erica B.
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Date: 2/15/12 10:27 PM

The type of iron (hopefully you're using an industrial type) makes the difference. IMO, you just can't get that finished look from a regular household iron. And using a pressing cloth on different fabrics also makes a difference.

Check out this video from Threads.

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Erica B.
Birmingham, AL
http://www.ericabunker.com

NhiHuynh
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NhiHuynh
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In reply to rmusic1


Date: 2/16/12 0:50 AM

rmusic1 I looked through your reviews and I'm very impress with how many different types of garments and fabrics that you've sewn with.

I do think pressing is important. I also think that working within your "sewing style" is equally important. If you don't like pressing I would recommend using fabric that are naturally less prone to wrinkling. If you store your fabric folded up and it unfolds with a million wrinkles stop there and don't use it. I think in some of your garments the fabric is working against you.

In terms of pressing tools, I don't think you need too many tools to get good results. Instead of a ham you can roll a towel into the right shape. I have two hams but find that a lot of time they're not the right shape anyway. A ham like thing will help you press only in the areas that you want and don't cause more wrinkles or impressions/seam ridges. These are great for curves that you can't do as well on a flat surface like the bust and hip areas.

A pressing cloth is important to minimize damaging the fabric with the heat (scorching, that ironing shine, melting etc). I use a piece of silk organza from my stash. It's cheap, see through and can take a lot of heat.

You should have a reliable iron. Heats to the right level per the setting it's at. If you have a steam iron it shouldn't do that awful spitting thing. I have a dry iron and use a spray or wet press cloth but most people use steam irons.

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I finally have a blog. www.detectivehoundstooth.com :)



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Date: 2/16/12 5:57 AM

I, too, have a dry iron. I have an old (ancient, goodness is it old) one and a modern reproduction-and one cast iron I could heat on my stove, that for the record, I do not use). The old one is slightly heavier, but both make ironing easier due to the weight. And I like controlling my steam amount and the sole plate left marks when I pressed with a steam iron.

Biggest tip is pressing cloth and just doing it. It took me a while to really get it through my head how important pressing is through the construction and then a final pressing after it's all said and done. Don't skimp on the pressing while you're sewing (don't go to fast, or whatever) and at the end, press it like you're going to show it off at Neiman Marcus, and have it look as perfect as you can make it at that time.

I think we have a different perception of our own work compared to others. Your ironing may be perfectly fine, but you know you made it and therefore it looks off to you. With all the easy care fabrics we have today, and your wardrobe being a lot of stuff that doesn't need ironing, it sounds like you may just need tools that work for you and a less jaundiced eye.

Of course, one of the problems with dressmaking I've found, is that I do iron the rest of my clothing, even the RTW because I got so used to the clothes looking a certain way when I make them, which may be what is happening to you: comparing un-ironed RTW then looking at something you made, and then others (and you haven't spent the hours with someone else's project) and going "wait..this isn't right" when it probably is done well.

CraftAddict
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In reply to rmusic1


Date: 2/16/12 8:59 AM

I am not a fan of ironing either so you are in good company. However, I quickly learned that PRESSING is a fundamental part of sewing. As a beginner sewer I was guility of only wanting to sew and sew and sew and sew some more. I'd rather sew than iron. But to get that polished look you're seeking, you really have to press every single seam you sew. Now, when I go in my sewing room, I turn on the iron before I even turn on the sewing machine because I know I'm going to need it. I was watching a singing competition on tv last year and I could immediately tell that one of the contestants skirt suit was homemade because her seams weren't pressed.

Also as others have mentioned, a good iron makes a lot of difference. I just upgraded to a middle-of-the-road iron and OMGoodness! It almost made me WANT to iron......almost.You can get irons for as much as $200 or more. I got one in the neighborhood of $80. It's a decent iron. And certainly better than the $30 black & decker iron it replaced.

Other than that I guess I would say try to choose fabrics that don't wrinkle so much. I was watching a webcast on sillouttepatterns.com the other day and she mentioned interfacing wrinkle-prone fabrics with fusible tricot to reduce wrinkling. I've not tried this yet so I can't confirm or deny that it works.

rmusic1
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rmusic1
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Date: 2/20/12 6:38 PM

thank you for all the great responses. I have been away this weekend so haven't had a chance to reply earlier.

I think one of the problems is that I am scared to use too high a temperature and too much steam in cases it damages the fabric. My tutor keeps telling me wool is quite resistant, as long as you use a good pressing cloth.

So how high can you go in terms of temperature and steam with different fabric types? I know some things like taffeta and silk are very vulnerable to water spotting.

I bought an iron which has a good amount of steam. It has a cord and doesn't really spit, which is good. I bought it after reading lots of reviews.

a7yrstitch
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a7yrstitch  Friend of PR
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In reply to rmusic1


Date: 2/20/12 7:10 PM

Some things I usually do..........

Test the temperature; too hot is bad,.....too cool is bad too as the starch and fabric don't work well together and it feels like the iron is doing more abrading than ironing.

Press most seams closed and flat before pressing open. I often take this a step further. If the seam is to be pressed closed, I press closed, then open, then closed again. Really crisps up the seam.

Most of what I shape with gathering (darts, etc) I try to press as closely to shape as possible before sewing into the garment.

Whenever possible within a project; say for example, on a collar, stitch a seam, then press before stitching an intersecting seam. Sometimes, pressing along the seam line of an intersecting seam before sewing to add to crispness before turning.

And/or when looking at an ordinary collar sewn on three sides, clip the seam allowance minimally first on just the collar underside. Tuck and press the seam allowance in towards the collar. The long length of the seams can be pressed open, but in shorter areas tucking and pressing as if you were carefully folding the ends on very nice gift wrap. Then finish grading, trimming and turning. The collar will be crisper with less effort.

Know when to use pressing cloths, above, below and in combination so seam allowances, hems and other details do not read through the fabric.

Experiment with starch, sizing, steam and dry ironing to find the best combination for your fabric, project and wearing conditions.

Know when you do and do not want the hem to be crisp. Some hems are meant to be turned only, not crisply and sharply pressed.

Let the fabric rest after ironing (like baking). Whether pressing in construction details or pressing a garment to wear, I've found that everything holds better if it is allowed to not only cool, but to set for quite some time. The difference was big enough that I stopped doing any last minute pressing in the morning for wearing that day. On projects with multiple pleats I like to let them set up at least overnight. No supporting evidence on this, just seems to work.

If you have a heavy hand with the starch put an old sheet out on the floor to cover your spray area.

Best wishes.

------
I have no idea what Apple thought I was saying so be a Peach and credit anything bizarre to auto correct.

NhiHuynh
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Date: 2/20/12 10:10 PM

On the temperature I start off lower and work my way up until it's doing what I want it to. If you're really cautious just test it on a scrap of fabric. Write that setting down on a index card and staple a fabric swatch to it. You can refer to it while sewing and afterwards.

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I finally have a blog. www.detectivehoundstooth.com :)

rmusic1
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rmusic1
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Date: 2/23/12 5:36 PM

I think I have to detach my conviction that I should press at the temperature I iron. The two things are not the same, so I shouldn't be quite so nervous especially if I use a press cloth.

I really like the suggestion to gradually increase the temperature until it has the desired affect. I will check this thread again next time I need to press a project.

Unfortunately that's going to be sooner than I would like as I am making some trousers. Ah well, only 4 darts, so not too bad.

Thank you call once more, it's been really interesting reading.

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