Products books and links Articles and How-To guides Home

Basic Construction--Pressing Fabric

Since pressing takes place throughout the sewing process, good pressing techniques are as necessary as good sewing skills. At the start, pressing ensures that both pattern and fabric are wrinkle-free for accurate cutting. Through every step of construction, pressing smoothes and shapes a garment.

If you keep pressing equipment near the sewing machine, you'll be less tempted to skip this step. An ironing board, a steam iron, and a press cloth are essential. A tailor's ham helps press curved areas. Other pressing equipment, although less essential, can make the job easier.

PRESSING BASICS

To press fabric correctly, use the following guidelines:

• Press rather than iron. As you've read, the iron slides back and forth when ironing. This can cause the fabric to wrinkle and stretch, which makes pressing a better technique for garment construction. In pressing, the iron is lowered to the fabric, then raised up and lowered to a different spot. The heat and steam do most of the work, so heavy pressure isn't needed. See Fgr. 1.

Pressing 1

• Use the correct temperature setting. Set the temperature according to the fiber content of your fabric; however, don't use the cotton and linen settings for pressing because the fabric could scorch. If your fabric is a blend, use the setting for the most heat-sensitive fiber in the blend.

• Always test fabric for any reaction to heat, steam, and pressure. Press a scrap of fabric and check for damage or marks left by the iron. If the fabric sticks, puckers, or melts, the iron is too hot. Check to see whether the fabric holds water spots. Too much pressure can crush napped fabrics or create press marks on the right side.

• Press on the wrong side of the fabric whenever possible. Pressing on the inside prevents shine on the right side of the fabric. Also, seams can be seen clearly and pressed correctly.

• When pressing on the right side of the fabric, always use a press cloth. Some areas, such as pleats and pockets, may have to be pressed on the outside of the garment. A press cloth pre vents leaving shiny marks on fabric.

Using a Press Cloth 2

[[[Pressing Seams: To press a serged seam, press the seam allowance flat on both sides. Then press the seam allowance to one side.]]]

• Never press over pins. Pins leave an impression on fabric and may scratch the iron.

• Always press seams and darts before other seams are stitched across them. This reduces bulk in the finished garment.

• Press directionally with the grain of the fabric.

This prevents stretching.

• Press seams flat before you press them open.

Press one side and then turn the seam over and press on the other side. This allows the stitches to settle into the fabric. Puckers will be eliminated and the seam will be smoother when pressed open.

Using Strips of Paper 3

• Press curved areas over a curved surface. Use a tailor's ham to maintain the curved shape o the fabric.

• Prevent press marks on the right side of the fabric. Slip strips of paper or an envelope under the edges of seam allowances, darts, and pleats when pressing. This pre vents imprints on the outside of the garment. See Fgr. 3.

• Check the fit of the garment before you press any sharp creases, such as pleats.

• Don't overpress. Avoid heavy pressure and let the steam do the work. Use the tip of the iron in small places. Never press the fabric completely dry.

• When pressing an entire garment, start with small areas. First press the collar, cuffs, and other detail areas. Then press the small areas, such as sleeves and yokes. Finally, press the large flat areas of the garment.

== Wiki Sewing ==

Thread

Thread comes in a wide variety of colors, as well as a variety of fibers and weights. Try not to buy thread just because it's pretty.

All-purpose thread is used for almost any general sewing task.

Cotton and polyester thread is the most readily available. If you are sewing with cotton fabrics (as in quilting), you should sew with cotton thread.

Thread quality will make a difference in the way your machine functions and the strength of your seams. Bargain-bin thread isn't a bargain if a seam comes undone or your machine will not sew properly.

Furthermore, inexpensive thread may be more susceptible to shrinking, which can lead to puckered seams after one washing. Protect your time investment by spending a bit more on quality thread to avoid shrinking thread.

Due to variations in the U.S. and European thread weight labeling system, seeing and touching the thread is your best bet. Use lighter, thinner weight thread for lightweight fabrics and heavier, thicker weight thread for heavier fabric.

Choose thread color to match the background or predominant color on the right side of the fabric. When an exact match isn't available, choose a slightly darker color thread as thread sews in one shade lighter.

FAQ: Does thread age?

Thread does age. Test thread before you use it by stretching a length of it between both hands. If it breaks easily, it will break easily in the garment. Store thread out of direct sunlight and dusty environments to preserve its original quality.

<<== Wiki Sewing cont. ==>>

PRESSING TECHNIQUES

[[[SAFETY: Use special care with an iron. Never touch a hot iron except on the handle.

Keep your fingers and face away from the steam. Don't overfill the iron or the water can boil out. If recommended by the manufacturer, use distilled water.

Always rest the iron on its heel, not flat down on the soleplate. Turn off and unplug the iron after each use. Some irons should be drained of water before storing.]]]

Which pressing method to use depends upon whether the garment area is flat, curved, enclosed, gathered, or has fullness.

Flat Areas Flat areas, such as straight seams, can be pressed flat on the ironing board.

1. Place the garment on an ironing board with both seam allowances to one side. Press the seam line to blend the stitches into the fabric.

2. Open up the fabric and place it over the ironing board. Press the seam allowances open, using your fingers and the tip of the iron to open the seam completely. Check on the right side to be sure the seam is perfectly smooth.

If a seam is to be pressed to one side, on a yoke or waistline, for example, first press the seam flat.

Then press the seam allowances open. Finally, press the seam allowances toward one side.

Curved Areas

Darts and curved seams should be pressed over a curved tailor's ham to maintain their shape.

1. Press darts and seams flat to blend stitches into the fabric. Press the darts only up to the point, and not beyond, to prevent pressing in a crease.

2. Place the fabric wrong side up over a tailor's ham. Press the seams open; then press the darts to one side.

Enclosed Seams

Enclosed seams are on the edge of a collar, facing, or cuff. They should be pressed flat and then pressed open. This creates a sharper edge when the garment section is turned to the right side.

1. Press the seam flat to blend stitches.

2. Press the seam open. Use only the tip of the iron near the point or corner.

3. Turn right side out. Gently push out the corner or point.

4. Press the garment section flat on an ironing board, slightly rolling the seam to the under side. This helps prevent the seam from showing at the edge of the completed garment.

Gathered Areas

Gathers and ruffles should ripple softly below the seam line. The iron shouldn't pleat or crush them.

1. Press the seam allowances together to flatten the fabric above the seam line.

2. Slip the garment over the end of an ironing board. Turn the seam allowances away from the fullness.

3. Press directly up into the gathers with the point of the iron. Hold the seam allowance taut above the gathers by using your other hand to lift it slightly up from the ironing board. This helps prevent folds from pressing into the gathers at the seam line. See Fgr. 4.

Pressing Gathers 4

Shrinking in Fullness

Sometimes you'll need to shrink in the fullness of a hem or sleeve cap.

1. Hold the iron above the fabric to allow steam to penetrate before pressure is applied. See Fgr. 5.

2. Use your fingers to pat out any folds and flat ten the fabric.

3. Press the edge of the fabric to shrink in fullness. Check to be sure the sleeve or hem looks smooth on the right side of the garment.

Using Steam on Fullness 5

FINAL PRESSING

If you press carefully while constructing your garment, only a light pressing will remove any final wrinkles caused by handling. This final pressing should be merely for touch-up. It should never be a cure-all for poor pressing during construction.

Top of Page PREV: Stitching by Hand NEXT: Making Darts Home

Wednesday, 2012-04-04 13:45