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Forum > Sergers, Coverstitch and Blindhemmers > Sergers, Pressing, and that "RTW" look ( Moderated by CarolynGM, Deepika)

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Sergers, Pressing, and that "RTW" look
When do you press, and how?
Advanced Beginner
Member since 11/1/10
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Date: 3/25/12 2:57 AM

I've been reading a lot lately on the importance of pressing for a good looking finished/RTW appearing garment. Generally, they say to sew, press each side flat, then open up the seam and press the allowances to either side of the seam.

But what if you're using a serger? When do you press then? Can't press open, so which side do you pick?

rag doll
rag doll  Friend of PR
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In reply to kittiecat <<

Date: 3/25/12 6:44 AM

I press to the back of my garment usually.

If I'm doing a garmet like a simple T shirt that I know fits I just use the 4 thread serger and press to the back.

If I need a wider seam for a woven fabric, which is fairly fitted I then use a 5/8" seam allowance stitched with the sewing machine and then neaten off the raw edge with the serger set on only 3 thread. I leave (in most cases) all of the 5/8" seam allowance so that when I press the neetened seam towards the back it has a bit of oomph if you know what I mean and will lie flat against the body.

I usually plan my sewing so that I pin as many seams as I can before Sitting at the machine to sew them. All of the seams that can be sewn before they intersect another can be then serged before you press or just pressed if only serged.


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JKimes  Friend of PR
Texas USA
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Date: 3/25/12 9:19 AM


I was just working with a student yesterday and showed her how I press.
First of all, I press everything:
If the paper pattern is wrinkled, I press it with dry low heat before I lay out the pattern.
If the fabric is wrinkled, I press it, too.

During construction, I press every seam after sewing in 3 steps:
1. Flat (to meld the stitches)
2. lightly from the wrong side--seams toward center back or center front in most cases
3. Firmly from the right side with as much steam as the fabric can handle. I gently spread the seam with one hand and use the point of the iron to push the top layer flat. This avoids the crease you often see over a seam.
If the fabric is one that gets shiny or light so the threads would imprint on the right side, I'll use a silk organza pressing clothing--you can still see what you're doing and the silk can take really high heat.
If I do any edge or top stitching, I press after that as well.
I attended a garment critique workshop in October, and they told us that pressing was one of the biggest issues they saw when judging garments, even for professionals.


Juliette near Austin, TX
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mary in FL
mary in FL  Friend of PR
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In reply to kittiecat <<
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Date: 3/25/12 9:33 AM

If you press as you go, your garments will look BETTER than RTW!

from Daytona Beach, FL

auntie bellums
auntie bellums  Friend of PR
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Date: 3/25/12 8:37 PM

Press, press, press. Not finger press, press. I know it seems like a waste of time to some, but if you want it to look right, it's just got to be pressed.

As for serger seams, side seams to the back, shoulder seams to the back. However, if I'm making something where two pieces are being sewed together and there is a serger seam in the middle, like the crotch in pants, I press one of those seams to the left and one to the right so I don't have four layers a fabic to contend with.

It's not your mamma's sewing.....It's your great grandmamma's

clothingengineer  Friend of PR
Connecticut USA
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Date: 3/25/12 11:37 PM

With woven garments I first sew the seam on my regular sewing machine, press the seam allowances apart from both sides, then serge them together with the 3 thread overlock. When I sew knits on the serger I usually press the seam allowances to the back.

-- Anne

Mrs.Moos  Friend of PR
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Date: 3/28/12 11:17 PM

I think that a GOOD PRESS is highly under rated! I have bought clothes from discount places that look pretty bad but with a good pressing, they look much better. When you press as you sew, usually the items look BETTER than RTW-leaving you open to people wonder if you made your clothes because they look SO GOOD!
BTW, I sew/serge, press flat and then to the back.

Janome 6500P, Babylock Eclipse SX, Janome Coverpro 1000, Babylock BLCS, Juki 654, Juki 735, Janome 1600PDB, Brother ULT 2002D, Babylock Spirit, Brother 770

LynnRowe  Friend of PR
British Columbia CANADA
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In reply to kittiecat <<

Date: 3/30/12 11:07 PM

If you want the RTW look, you gotta press every seam before crossing it. There is no way around that.

I press serged seams as:

-shoulder seams to the back
-side seams to the back
-hem areas; snip the serged seam where the hem crease is, and press the longer seam to the back, and the hem area of the seam to the opposite direction to reduce bulk and make a beautiful flat hem.

Press each side of the serged seam flat, to meld the stitches, then press to whichever side.

I heart Panzy, Pfaff Creative Performance, the sewing machine love of my life!
And Baby (Enlighten serger), Victor (BLCS), Rupert (Pfaff 2023-knits expert) Ash (B350SE-Artwork), Kee (B750QEE-Panzy's BFF), Georgie (B560-Kee's baby sister) and the Feather-Flock!

Most of all, I heart Woo (HimmyCat). Until we meet again, my beautiful little boy. I love you.

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