Pressing Impressively without Impressions

My dears, have you missed your Pressinatrix? She has certainly missed all of you. But The Pressinatrix has been very busy in 2014, preaching proper pressing in all the fashion capitals of the world…
(ed. note: I wish)
Visiting with designers from Boston to Barcelona

Muy guapo!

(ed. note: Okay, that happened)
And generally flitting about, encouraging sewing aficionados everywhere to press on!

But she is back now, and poppets, Your Pressinatrix would like a word. Or rather, several. Dear hearts, let us talk about pressing that doesn’t leave impressions – except for the impressions you leave on others when they realize that you made your couture garment. How many times have you looked at a garment and seen visible imprints of the seam allowance’s raw edges on the right side? The Pressinatrix has seen many, and far too many from those who would have you believe that they are expert. It is enough to give your poor Pressinatrix fits of the vapors. There is as much danger of ruining a garment by over-pressing as by not pressing enough. This is especially true with delicate fabrics like velvets and velveteens, cashmeres, alpaca, vicuña and even some fine wools. Here are two examples, using the wool flannel from the coat by The Pressinatrix’ lesser self alter ego. First, a seam

And even more obvious – an edge, like you might see on an over-pressed lapel

The good news is that there are a few simple techniques to help you avoid this dreadful fate. First…

Lighten up Frances.

Yes, that’s right. Sometimes you achieve the best results by using a light hand. The Pressinatrix’ lesser self alter ego demonstrated this when she pressed her hem:

Note that the iron does not actually touch the fabric

By hovering the iron a scant 1/8 of an inch above the fabric and steaming generously, then leaving the fabric on the board until it cools, she achieved a soft hem that is deliciously attractive. Using a similar light touch on seams and elsewhere will help you avoid the dreaded “Pressed to Death” look. Sometimes, though, you do need to apply a modicum of pressure to achieve the desired results. In cases like that, a simple tool is The Pressinatrix’ best friend: a paper bag. The Pressinatrix cuts strips of brown paper, wider than the seam allowances, and places them between the seam allowance and the outer layer of the garment.

Place them on either side of your seam line

Let the seam cool before removing the strips

Lightly press on the outside, and voila – no lines!

If you are pressing an edge, like a lapel, you can shape your brown paper to match the shape of the lapel like The Pressinatrix did for the Marfy coat.

Put that between the outer layer of the lapel and the seam allowance and press. You’ll have a perfectly pressed curved seam with no unwanted impressions. Because the only impression The Pressinatrix wishes to leave with you is a good impression.

Well, kittens, The Pressinatrix must go now and wrap gifts. Rest assured that, just as Your Pressinatrix perfectly presses her seams, so does she precisely crease her gift wrap, and that is what The Pressinatrix shall do. So to all you poppets, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Fabulous Festivus and a Splendid Whatever. But above all else,

Happy pressing!

9 thoughts on “Pressing Impressively without Impressions”

  1. SewingElle says:

    Thank you Pressinatrix!

  2. patsijean says:

    PACO !!!!!!
    And good advice.

  3. Karla says:

    Some of the Pressinatrix’ friends are lazy. Well, one of them is, anyhow. She keeps a roll of adding machine tape (remember adding machines?) near the ironing board and tears off the appropriate length strips when she needs them to buffer those seams.

    Or so I’ve been told….

  4. Sewing Faille says:

    Never tried the paper bag approach– I’ve used towels, or thin cotton batting, or remnants of the fashion fabric, or….

  5. Faye Lewis says:

    Yes thanks girl. I am guilty of having way over pressing a garment. I am jealous that you met Paco.

  6. QSSSue says:

    Merry Christmas – I try to do this but am always happy to be reminded to what I should be doing!

  7. Elle Dechene says:

    As always, excellent advice provided in clear and witty fashion. Thank you!

  8. sewsy says:

    What patsijean said! Paco! Love to read about your meeting him as well!!!!

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