How to press fabrics

Posted by Pound Fabrics on

To get the best, most professional results, pressing is an essential sewing skill to obtain. Careful pressing, rather than ironing, ensures that you end up with a shaped, creaseless garment that hangs perfectly. This guide is designed to help you press your projects and to share a few tips that will help making your sewing easier. To press a garment means to move the iron across the fabric by lifting it up and placing it back down, overlapping the areas you have already pressed with a light, even pressure. Ironing is different, as you slide the iron across the fabric. When making up your project, ironing may misshape your garment, so it is best to utilise pressing techniques.

Press as you go:

Pressing seams and pattern pieces as you go ensures that you achieve a crisp, professional finish for your garment. Pressing as you go requires you to never cross a seam, unless you have first pressed it. If you are a more confident sewer, try to sew several different parts of your garment, so you are not constantly swapping between sewing and pressing your project.

How to get the best results:

Press Flat Along Stitching Lines: this ensures that the stitches blend into the seam, and do not show on the outside, as they shrink a little to fit snugly.

Press Seam Allowances Open/to One Side: pressing seams open, or to one side to be overlocked, helps reduce bulk in the garment, and prevents twisting and gathering at seam lines, as the seam allowances are less likely to catch and move around.

Press from the Right Side: this prevents impressions from seams on the right side, but may make the surface shiny. To prevent this, use a pressing cloth.

Use Light Pressure: this prevents delicate fabrics from getting seam impressions or damage, and stops pile or textured fabrics from having their surface flattened. Some fabrics like this may require finger pressing, using steam and your fingers to smooth out the fabric and seams.

Press as you go guidelines:

This handy chart will help you determine what sort of heat, pressure, steam level and technique you should employ when pressing your garments. To get the best results, always test on a sample of your fabric before using pressing techniques on your final garment.

 

TEXTURE

PRESSURE

HEAT

MOISTURE

SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS

Crepe

Light

Low

Dry iron

Use a pressing cloth, press on right side

Deep Pile

Light or finger press

Moderate

Steam

Experiment on scraps for exact pressure

Glossy

Light

Very low

Dry iron

Use a pressing cloth, press on right side

Napped

Light or finger press

Low

Dry or steam

Press over needle board, light pressure or finger press

 

FIBRE

PRESSURE

  HEAT

MOISTURE

SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS

Acetate

Light

Very low

Dry iron

Use a pressing cloth, press on right side

Acrylic

Light

Low

Dry iron

Use a pressing cloth, press on right side

Cotton

Light to moderate

Moderate to high

Dry or steam

Press with steam. You may want to dampen fabric and press with a dry iron. Avoid shine by pressing on the prong side, or using a pressing cloth on right side

Linen

Light to heavy

High

Dry or steam

Press with steam. You may want to dampen fabric and press with a dry iron. Avoid shine by pressing on the prong side, or using a pressing cloth on right side

Nylon

Light

Low

Dry or steam

Little / no ironing needed

Polyester

Moderate

Low to moderate

Dry or steam

Use a pressing cloth, press on right side

Rayon

Light

Low

Dry or steam

Use a pressing cloth, press on right side. This prevents shine and water marks

Silk

Light

Low

Dry or steam

Press light/medium weight with a dry iron. Press heavyweight with steam and a pressing cloth to avoid water marks

Wool

Light to moderate

Low to moderate

Dry or steam

Press with steam. You may want to dampen a pressing cloth and dry iron. Use pressing cloth to prevent shine and water marks

Blends

Press according to the most delicate blended fibre

 

Pressing equipment:

As well as using an iron and ironing board, there are several pieces of kit which can make pressing a little easier or can help you achieve a particular shape or style.

SEAM ROLL

A seam roll is essential for pressing seams open on long, cylindrical elements of your garment such as sleeves, and trouser legs. If you press the seams of your project open using this and the tip of your iron only, then the curved surface prevents the iron from leaving seam impressions.

PRESSING CLOTHS

These are used between your iron and your garment, to prevent you from scorching and damaging your fabric or creating shine. The best fabric to use for this is Muslin.

POINT PRESSERS / TAILOR’S BOARD

An ironing surface with multiple edges, perfect for pressing seams open on areas of detail, like collars, cuffs and facings. These are great for shaping perfect points.

TAILOR’S HAM

Good for pressing curved areas, such as those around the bust. This is great to use on darts, princess seams and sleeve caps.

NEEDLE BOARD

This is an essential piece of kit if you sew with a lot of textured or pile fabrics, such as velvet, velveteen and corduroy. You simply lay your fabric face down on the board, and press, with the short, dense needled surface preventing the pile from being flattened by the weight of the iron.

SLEEVE BOARD

This is like a mini ironing board, perfect for pressing narrower sections of garments that won't fit over the end of a regular sized ironing board.

These are just a few techniques that will help you use your iron to make your sewing easier!

To see our full range of fabrics, please click here.

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