Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Where to Improve

While working on this jacket, I realised that I needed to improve my pressing skills. Being an impatient sewer, I want to "get through" the steps to see something emerge that looks finished. As a friend once said "if we enjoy sewing so much, why do we always say 'thank goodness, that's finished?'"

I need to take more time to press. I read on someone's blog recently, but can't find it now to give the link, that we should expect to spend more time pressing than we do sewing at the machine. And she commented that, in factories, workers who do pressing are paid more than those who sew. I have heard that before, and it reflects the importance of the skills.

I recall visiting a friend years ago; she had just completed a jumper for herself. My first impression was how "home-made" her garment looked. I knew immediately that she had sewn all the seams and did not press as she sewed, but pressed the garment at the end. The result was a finished jumper, but how bad it looked! I didn't say a thing, but registered that she was only doing half the required work to make something look good.

So today I resolved to spend more time pressing. Exactly like all the many books I have read: press the seam as sewn, then press it open, use a press cloth, check that you have the right pressure and steam to get the results you want. Better to underpress and press again, than to overpress and have that scarred look.

Wool is probably the easiest thing to press; it is so forgiving. But you still have to be careful about seam impressions on the right side; better to go slow and carefully, taking precautions such as putting strips under the seam allowances to avoid them striking through to the right side.

Years ago, I remember having made a jacket for a fashion show and I was humbled as I saw it modelled - I had overpressed the pockets and you could see the seam allowances pressed through to the right side. Not to mention the fact that the plaid pants weren't cut right either! Yes, we can learn from our mistakes.

The time spent on pressing things correctly during the sewing process is time well spent. Because if you skip it, you can't get those seams pressed quite the same way after the garment is complete. As one sewing instructor said to a class - "you have one chance to get it right now, so get it right!" She was talking about fusing interfacing to a jacket, but her words could apply to pressing just as well.


  1. That blog post, written by Ann of Gorgeous Things (http://gorgeousfabrics.com/blog/2011/01/18/and-now-a-word-from-the-pressinatrix/) left a lasting impression on me as well. Good stuff, eh?

    I'm very thankful for Ann's words of "tough love" and the time she took to illustrate her points with photos.

  2. Thank you very much for that link. That's the one, I will paste it here again for others to visit.