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Pressing: Look Professional and Put-Together

Apr 9, 2008
You may find the seam board helpful when pressing seams in collars, in hard to get at corners, or when pressing any seam that should be pressed open and very smooth before turning to the inside.

A tailor's cushion is convenient for shaping the fabric when making dressmaker suits or coats, one may be purchased, but it is easy to make. It should be made of a heavy closely woven fabric such as drill cloth.

Wash and press the fabric. Then cut two oval pieces which are wider at one end than the other. Make them about 14" long and 10" wide at the widest part. Stitch the two pieces together taking a 1/2" seam. Leave an opening at the narrow end. Turn seam to the inside and fill with clean, dry sand or sawdust. Turn edges of opening to inside and whip closed by hand.

When pressing fabrics, first consider their fiber content, and then their texture. Fiber content determines the pressing temperature, whereas texture determines how the fabric is to be handled.

When cutting the fabric it is a good idea to save any fairly large scraps to test pressing and machine stitching. These scraps are also useful for mending, altering, or re-styling a garment, should the need occur.

Always test for correct pressing temperature on a scrap of the fabric before pressing sections of the garment. The fabric-dial on the iron is your guide for heat control. The lowest indicator is for fabrics requiring low temperature: nylon, rayon, acetates, etc. Use a press cloth over synthetic fabrics and blends. Press dry.

Sheer cottons and linens require a slightly higher temperature than silk. Either may be steam pressed without the protection of a dry cloth.

The fabric-dial set at "wool press" gives a hot steam that is moist enough for a good finish when pressing wool and worsteds. Press on the wrong side, but do not press dry. Then, while still moist, brush right side of fabric lightly. If it is necessary to press on the right side, put a wool faced press cloth, or a piece of the same wool fabric, over area to be pressed. Allow steam to thoroughly penetrate layers of fabric.

This helps to prevent shine on smooth fabrics, and the matting of nap fabrics. Heavy cotton and linen require the most heat. An iron may be used directly on these fabrics unless they are dark colored. Use a press cloth to prevent shine on thick seams and on dark colors. Press fabric dry.

When steaming velvet or velveteen set dial for "wool". Use steam only. Do not bring iron in contact with the fabric. Drape a damp Turkish towel over the iron. While holding wrong side of velvet close to towel draw it back and forth thus allowing steam to penetrate. Or, place fabric, right side down, over velvet press board or wool press pad. Hold iron close to fabric brushing it lightly and distributing steam evenly.
Press seams open with finger tips and steam by holding iron slightly above the seam.

There is no substitute for good pressing for the custom-made look in dressmaking and tailoring. To achieve this result the skillful presser has developed the light touch, that is, the knack of lifting and placing her iron on the fabric lightly.

She has also learned to lift the fabric into position with both hands. Also she smoothes the fabric with the palms of her hands, keeping the grains of the fabric at right angles. She uses her finger tips to open seams. She presses with the grain of the fabric.

She knows how important pressing is to a well fitted garment; how it is used to smooth and mold the fabric. How, not only to stitch darts, but also how to press them so they serve their purpose, and disappear into the contours of the garment.

She knows that pleats must lies smoothly. that necklines must conform to contour, that collar and cuff edges should be sharp and thin, and that hems should not reveal their width.

With a little time and practice you will be able to become an expert presser.
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