Today we are taking a tour behind the seams (literally)! I want to spend some time on a topic I used to hate as a beginner: pressing while sewing. It is very important to incorporate pressing while sewing as opposed to pressing after finishing sewing. There are so many components to a garment like facings, seams, darts, lining etc. and its very hard to get inside the garment and press it correctly after the fact, Pressing as you sew will not only make your garments look professional but it will also make the construction process a lot easier as the fabric will behave and co-operate. Think of pressing as sculpting the fabric to comply. Heat and steam are your best friends when it comes to sewing!
I have documented how to correctly press a seam in three easy steps below. Pressing will take your garment from homemade to professional. Before we get started, I want to show you what a beautifully pressed seam looks like:
In my many years of sewing , I have noticed that a lot of sewists tend to skip over this very important step. Why? Because as creative people we are eager to get finished and see the end result. But in sewing garments, there is no such thing as instant gratification. To demonstrate the importance of pressing every seam while sewing, I have sewn up two miniature size bodices cut from the same pattern. On the garment on the left, I pressed the princess seams after I sewed them up . On the right is the exact same garment, without the pressing. As you can see on the right, the seams are very 3- D and wrinkled. We want our seams to look more flat and wrinkle free as we are sewing.
Given that sewing is such a long process from getting inspired, to sourcing the fabric, to either pattern making or buying the pattern, cutting the pattern, cutting the fabric, sewing it up, making final alterations etc before you can actually put it on, what’s another step right? If you have sewn up even one garment and ignored the pressing step, I want you to repeat after me: “Pressing is an integral part of sewing, I will press EVERY dart and seam after I sew it”. Trust me, sewing and pressing must go hand in hand, they are eternal soul mates. Details below on how to correctly press a seam…
Pressing any seam is a three-step process.The technique is essentially the same for a curved seam, but you want to press the curve using a tailors ham or seam roll.
Step 1: With the right sides of the fabric facing each other, press the seam while giving it steam. The steam will loosen up the fibres in the thread and in the fabric and allow them to relax, getting rid of any puckers or wrinkles.
Step 2: With the right side of the fabric facing the ironing board and wrong side facing the sky, finger press the seam allowance towards the desired side and then press it while giving it steam.
Step 3: With the right side of the fabric facing the sky and wrong side facing the ironing board, press once again using steam. In this step, you want to ensure that there is no fabric overlapping on the seam. To ensure that, pull the fabric taut while pressing as shown below:
Optional Step (For difficult fabrics or heavy fabrics)
If you have a fabric that does not respond well to pressing, or if you want really crisp seams, you can use a tailors clapper as the final step. To use tailors clapper, you can steam press as shown above and then press the seam with the clapper. The clapper absorbs the excess moisture and locks in the heat. It helps flatten the seam and you will have a crisp seam in the end.
Here is the final seam.
I hope this helped you learn something new about the importance of pressing! Happy Tuesday and I would to hear about what you are working on next 🙂
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