Pressing Fabric

One of the biggest reasons I like working with fibers such as silk, wool and linen is because I get to iron them. Crazy, no? I love ironing. It’s strange, I know, considering it’s the bane of many people’s very existence. It’s something that I’ve always loved. It’s very calming and stress relieving. My sister says the same thing about crochet. There is something very therapeutic about doing the same motion over and over again. Today I thought I would discuss how I press fabrics.

I’m working on a dress. It’s my birthday next week and I’ll be quite naked if I don’t have a dress out of this fabric. This is a silk shantung that I bought at an outrageous sale at Joann a few years back. I believe this to be a home dec silk that was intended toward curtain use. It was $6 a yard and you really can’t beat that. Not only that, but I love the print and I’m totally not above making a dress out of curtain fabric. Call it a Scarlett O’Hara trait if you will.

When I got back into the joy of sewing about 6 years ago, I would buy my fabric, pre-launder it and then press it by folding the fabric in half and pressing a crease down the center, you know, the way it comes on the bolt. After turning out a few garments, I noticed that when you press the fabric in this way, that pressing line down the middle of the fabric yardage never goes away. Not even after washing it. Not even after trying to press it out. This is especially noticeable on pattern pieces that are cut on the fold. Do you see where I’m going with this? Isn’t it weird how all these little things – pressing the fabric right, lining up seams, lining the buttons straight, etc., – end up making a big difference in the final product?

When I go to press a piece of fabric now, I begin at one of the raw ends and drape it over the ironing board as you see above with the selvedge going vertically across the board. It’s single thickness or in other words, I don’t press a permanent line down the middle of the fabric. I press down one side and then do the other. Make sense? When I press, I press in a vertical motion beginning at the small end of the ironing board and slowly working my way across the fabric horizontally to the larger end. The vertical motion of the iron across the fabric really gets the fibers to lay down flat and makes for an even better press in my opinion. When I go to press the final garment that’s when I press horizontally rather than doing the vertical motion. A good press job goes a really long way.

And if you are curious, I use a Black and Decker Classic. It’s a basic iron. I do hope someday to have a steamer, but this little workhorse of an iron actually does really well. Pretty good steam, gets quite hot and has an all metal plate, rather than those horrific teflon plates (that don’t get that hot and over time, the teflon flakes off, not to mention teflon is seriously bad for your health!!!).

Any more ideas? How do you press your fabrics? Here’s my wish for your sewing day: May your iron always have steam….





12 thoughts on “Pressing Fabric

  1. i use that exact, iron, and i love it. i actually had the vintage version of it in LA, and was so psyched to see its re-release when i landed in NY without my iron! great pressing tips– but, how have you solved cutting something on the fold without having a true sharp fold? doesn’t it make the pattern off, if you know what i mean?
    i can’t wait to see what birthday fun you make out of this gorgeous stuff…

  2. I use the same iron too! And I do like ironing, but it drives my husband crazy to have the ironing board out for some reason. I’m just trying to do a good job on my sewing project and he’s trying to put it away every 5 minutes. Can you believe that!

  3. I love pressing as I sew, but other than that I mostly hate it… Especially pressing big uncut pieces of fabric. Not sure why, as my mom feels just like you do!

  4. Love that fabric and can’t wait to see the dress! Happy almost birthday! I’m only so-so on ironing even though I have an awesome Rowenta iron…seems like drudgery to me! But I love the smell of the process and sometimes add a little bit of lavender to the steam water…bliss. xoxo Beth

  5. Ironing isn’t one my favorite parts of sewing but making garnments out of curtains (and sometimes tablecloths) is just that. This fabric looks absolutely beautiful! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  6. I’m with oonaballoon – I had an old black and decker that was my great grandmothers and when I moved and had to leave it ebehind, I bought a new one. It heats up superfast and always gets the job dones for me.

  7. Happy coming up birthday to you.I am a new sewer and have just made some purchases at trim fabric found from your fabric list. Thanks
    for that. I got some home dec silk from joann some years ago too at 6$ and made skirts for the kids and a duvet cover 🙂

  8. Oh oh oh, my iron DOESN’T have steam any longer! Well, not by the touch of a button, which I didn’t realize I used that often until I couldn’t use it any longer. I have the same iron my mom sent me away to college with in 1995, so I am loath to shop for a new one!

  9. When I first started learning to sew at the age of 9, pressing the seams and fabric was something that I loved because of the smell. Silk smells one way, wool smells another way, and cotton/linen smell different again. I must say it’s one of those things that’s stuck with me, and I enjoy the pressing part of garment construction. I also like to see the wrinkles disappear if I’m ironing clothes that have just been washed.
    Happy BD!

  10. Pressing is one of my favorite steps in sewing too! (Sewing only though… we aren’t going to discuss the pile of clothes and my husband’s uniforms that I need to press. *looks innocent*) I pretty much press the same way you do; and I agree about the center line pressing! I’ve only recently really made an effort to resist pressing that fold, but man–does it make a difference!
    ♥ Casey

  11. Happy dance here because I do something that one of the sewing-blogger-gurus recommends!
    I press my laundered fabrics just like this too. And every time I wish I had a longer ironing board so I could press selvedge to selvedge.

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