Hey, You with the Sewing Machine. The Pressinatrix wants to Show You Something.

Be warned. This post is NSFW (Not Safe For Wrinkles)

My dears, The Pressinatrix’ alter-ego has had, shall we say, a day. So The Pressinatrix will take over for her tonight and introduce you to some of The Pressinatrix’ best friends. Some of you may have seen some of them before, but it’s always good to refresh one’s memory, nest-ce pas? Alors, let’s take a look at some of the more provocative tools peeping out of The Pressinatrix’ closet. Oooo, how titillating, eh?

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, let’s begin with an illustration:

From left to right, you see:
Clapper: a hardwood block that is used to “set” your pressing. To use it, press your item, using light pressure and lots of steam. Put the clapper on the area you just pressed and apply gentle pressure. Notice I say “gentle pressure”. The Pressinatrix wants to caution you against putting too much pressure on your fabric with the clapper. You can over-press it, and make your garment look “pressed to death.” Remember, you can always go back and press again if you didn’t get the crisp result you desire. You can’t always undo over-pressing.

Ham: The most basic, and possibly the second most useful (after your iron) pressing tool in your arsenal. This tool allows you to accurately follow curves and contours on your garment. The Ham is so named because of its resemblance to the old canned hams (Krakus anyone?) that were mid-century staples of Sunday dinner. This one is older than The Pressinatrix. Of course, that is not hard to accomplish, The Pressinatrix being eternally youthful. This particular ham is cotton, stuffed with sawdust, from a doubtlessly now-defunct company from Omaha, Nebraska. Oh, how The Pressinatrix yearns for the days when these tools were so well made. Speaking of which, the next item, under and behind this ham, is a…

Seam Roll: Much like a ham, this tool is stuffed with sawdust. Unlike a ham, it is long and thin, rather like a cruller from a doughnut shop, but far more impervious to heat and steam. It is used to press seams on cylindrical garment parts, like sleeves and pant legs. This particular seam roll has a cotton side, which is used for pressing cottons, silks, hard wools (like gabardine) and similar fabrics. The flip side is covered with wool flannel, and it is used for pressing lofty woolens, fleece-like fabrics, terrycloth, and the like.

This tool is, like the ham, older than The Pressinatrix. I sighed when I saw the tag:

Alas, they don’t make them like that any more.

Another Ham: This one, like the seam roll, has two sides: cotton and wool.

Press Buck: This is a ham on steroids. Almost impossible to find in the US (my friend Els sent this to me), these are not uncommon in Europe. A press buck is a wonderful tool for pressing larger areas, like jackets and coats.

Press Mitt: This handy (oh, The Pressinatrix is such a card) tool is like a portable ham for smaller spots. There is a pocket into which you can slip your hand. You can see it on the top of this mitt. It protects your fingers while allowing you to shape unusual or small areas.

Also, under the ironing board is another tool that The Pressinatrix loves, a Sleeve Board. I’ll write more about that when I show you my other set of pressing tools.

Of course, being The Pressinatrix, I have two sets of tools: one at the office, one at home. A Pressinatrix can never be in the position of saying, “Oh, never mind, I’ll just press it tomorrow, or whenever, or never.” If The Pressinatrix did that, planets would collide, cats and dogs would cohabitate, and the universe as we know it, would cease to exist. Not wanting to be responsible for that, The Pressinatrix keeps a set of tools at home, as well. But you know, I’m thinking The Pressinatrix may have reached the end of her reader’s patience. Or maybe The Pressinatrix has reached her quota of referring to herself as The Pressinatrix for one day, so I’ll leave you with this thought so I can go watch SYTYCD.

Remember, darlings, Pressing is sewing.

The Pressinatrix

26 thoughts on “Hey, You with the Sewing Machine. The Pressinatrix wants to Show You Something.”

  1. Shams says:

    Hear hear! I have all those tools (and a few more) except I do not have that gorgeous pressing buck! What a beauty!

  2. Adrienne says:

    Thanks for this post… reminds me that it’s HIGH TIME that I invest in some proper pressing tools!

  3. Kristine says:

    I never knew that why the seam roll and ham had 2 faces! I’ve wondered, but never researched. Thank you for sharing! And I’m I’m putting the mitt on my Xmas list next year…

  4. Janet says:

    My grandma Edna always said, “Don’t turn on your sewing machine without plugging in your iron.” Wise words.

  5. JustGail says:

    Awesome collection of tools, even if the Pressinatrix had but one set. Is the press buck also stuffed solidly with sawdust? I’m thinking it is since she said it’s like the ham…just in case one were to try to make one…someday.

  6. patsijean says:

    Good pressing aids are being made today. I have a sleeve roll and both sizes of pressing hams. Your choice of fabric. I chose a cotton sugar skull print and a hot pink plaid wool.

    1. Gorgeous Fabrics says:

      Aw, you’re stealing The Pressinatrix’ thunder for her next post, wherein she waxes rhapsodic about Stitch Nerd.

      1. Shams says:

        I also love my Stitch Nerd ham. I got the “regular” size years ago. I’ve mentioned to my daughters, several times, that a large-sized one would make a great gift. But it looks like I’ll have to order my own. 🙂

      2. Lilly says:

        Dear Pressinatrix,
        Would you ever tell what type of sewing machine it is that you are using at GeorgeousFabrics “U”?

  7. Paulajean says:

    Thank you for the reminders! I have been lucky enough to acquire 2 dressmakers hams and 2 tailors hams thanks to garage sales. My wonderful husband has just made holders for each of them so I can steam and press without having to wait for each piece to dry. I recommend “extras” if possible.

  8. Have to share this one! Great reference & encouragement to get to the ironing board. And who can resist “Pressinatrix?”

  9. Sewer says:

    I have many of the tools pictured and am familiar with all of them. Sometimes I wonder if the reason I don’t think sewing is relaxing is because from the start I’ve always followed all the required steps. And I get worn out because my sewing setting is far from ideal.

    There are times when I read The Pressinatrix series and think, How can people be seriously interested in this craft and not know that you have to press every seam as it’s sewn?

    Oh, well, back to ruminating about all the sewing I’m not doing.

    Manhattan Wardrobe Supply on West 29th Street in New York City is one source of pressing tools, including seam sticks. It looks like you have to search for the individual tool on the website.

    1. Lilly says:

      Some of us learned to sew in “home ec” class. OLLLLLLLLLLLLLd School.
      We had to follow all steps for a grade for our projects. It is very refreshing to
      be reminded of all these neat things.

      1. Gorgeous Fabrics says:

        That’s a Pfaff 2130, Lilly. It’s about 7 years old. Great reliable basic computerized machine.

  10. Robin says:

    True confession, I remember deciding to press all my seams when I finished the garment. I was a teenager, it made sense at the time.

    My sleeve board, purchased on a whim, has become one of my most used tools. Another thing I need bad, is a ham holder.

  11. Love the pressinatrix! Between you and sewsy (@ SG) My seams are slowly getting better than before.

  12. June says:

    O Pressinatrix, if I may ask your opinion about something that bothers me nightly (ok, not really): for seams that are pressed open and individual edges finished, do you (when ironing after subsequent washing) always press each seam open again? Or do you just iron from the front and call it good enough?

  13. PoldaPop says:

    Oh, I love my clapper. I bought my first about 7 months ago and I wished I had it since I started sewing. It is such a simple tool and yet it saves me so much time and makes everything beautiful. I love your statement that “pressing is sewing” – I’ll be quoting that to students!

  14. Elaray says:

    I recently bought a sleeve board and I wonder how I ever got along without it! So much easier to use on sleeves than the seam roll I’d been using. And I wish I could find a seam buck. I just like how it looks!

  15. thecampuscat says:

    Your pics aren’t working on this page! 🙁 I’m new here and wanted to have a look at what you’ve got… But the links to the pics aren’t working. Hope to be able to see your stash of pressing aids soon! 🙂

    1. Gorgeous Fabrics says:

      Now now dear, no need to panic. Your Beneficent Pressinatrix has fixed the problem. It’s far easier to cure than other ills 🙂

      1. thecampuscat says:

        Ooh thank you! Finally got a look at that stash of yours! 🙂 Now to save up for a ham and seam roll… Mmmmm

  16. Thanks for your helpful article. It helps me to improve some knowledge of sewing machines.

  17. Thanks for your sharing! I love it!

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