March 30, 2011

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....



© A Fashionable Stitch. All rights reserved.