Couture Sewing Patterns - A Pressing Tutorial

Couture sewing sounds daunting, doesn’t it? But with a little practice, taking it slow and a few techniques under your belt, it isn’t. Your iron is an essential tool for fine sewing, especially with heavy linen fabrics. Pressing does matter!

 
Pressing matters to set a seam as you craft your garment.

Pressing matters to set a seam as you craft your garment.

 

Taking a flat, one-dimensional piece of fabric of pressing and molding with heat and moisture into a three-dimensional garment that moves with your body is truly a craft in itself and makes sewing so much easier. I also find it to be cathartic. 

Your iron is as important as your sewing machine. Knowing how to press correctly is a skill learned over time. Proper focus, heat, and steam are essential to achieving a crisp finished seam and will elevate your sewn garment from home-sewn to professional quality.

You need a very hot iron with steam settings to work with heavy linen or woven fabrics. That much heat requires complete focus and concentration.

Pressing is used for not only to smooth and stabilize fabric before cutting and sewing, but to set seams such as a flat felled seam, as mentioned in my previous blog on flat felled seams. Finished seams for precise top stitching, to hide construction flaws and blocking the shape.

How to press sewn seams...

Once a seam is sewn, with the two pieces together, press with a little pressure each side of the fabric to set the seam, then open the two pieces and with the seam allowance side up, use the tip of the iron to help open the seam allowances and press the seam allowances open on the wrong and then right side of the fabric to flatten the seam allowances.

Tool suggestions to use for the best pressing...

Iron Options - You don’t need an expensive iron to achieve a proper press. You do want an iron with temperature settings, steam capabilities and auto shutoff. There are many affordable consumer brands available to choose from. 

 

T-fal FV4495 Ultraglide Steam Iron is Consumer Reports best buy recommendation and affordable at $41.95 on Amazon. (Click on photo for more information).


If you do a lot of sewing with heavy woven fabrics, consider investing in a Gravity Feed Iron. I like the moderately priced Silver Star ES 85A. It's heavy, hot and produces great steam. One design feature I like is the steam button separate from the handle, to avoid unintended shots of steam. The only con is it does not have an auto shutoff.

 
 
 

Amazon offers a package (above) with all of the essentials and is a great value. (Click on photo for more information).

 

 

Shoe plate – A non-stick cover put over a sole plate to protect your fabrics from scorching and shine. A pressing cloth can be used as well. (Click on photos for more information).


Filtered water – Tap water purity varies, sediments and lime deposits can wreak havoc with an iron and can cause the iron to "spit" steam. 

Distilled water tends to be acidic and can cause corrosion inside the iron and in most cases not recommended unless the manufacturer approves it.

Filtered water from a fridge is perfect, or a water pitcher with filter, such as a Brita Water Pitcher works great as well. (Click on photo for more information).

 

 

Pressing Ham and Seam Roll for pressing curves and shaping curved seams. (Click on photos for more information).


 

Point Presser and Clapper to press hard to reach seams, curve, corners and points ...and put pressure on a freshly pressed seam to help set the press. (Click on photo for more information).


 

 

The best tool? Your hands, to carefully manipulate fabric as you press. 

Applying pressure on the seams with your fingers helps keep the seam in place while creating a flat felled seam.

Applying pressure on the seams with your fingers helps keep the seam in place while creating a flat felled seam.


 
Pressing a finished seam each step will make top stitching a piece of cake!

Pressing a finished seam each step will make top stitching a piece of cake!

 
 

Remember, take your time and allow time for each pressed seam to cool and dry to set the press

When it comes to pressing, practice truly does make perfect. The Ann Normandy Slip Dress sewing pattern is a great sewing pattern to elevate your pressing skills with finishing seams, flat felled seams and hemming! Time to fire up that iron and press on!

Happy Sewing!

Kim

 

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