La Pressinatrix est Desolé

Or is it desolée? Your Pressinatrix is so bereft, she cannot remember her proper French. Why, you may ask, is The Pressinatrix sad? Because my dear friends, Your Pressinatrix has lost the premier tool in her arsenal, her beloved Naomi the Naomoto.

Fare thee well, Naomi, you have served The Pressinatrix in exemplary fashion.
Fare thee well, Naomi, you have served The Pressinatrix in exemplary fashion.

Please pardon The Pressinatrix whilst she stifles a sob and dabs delicately at her eyes. The trouble started earlier this month when The Pressinatrix noticed that Naomi was leaking when powered off. Then two nights ago, when The Pressinatrix was perfectly pressing the seams on her new StyleArc blouse, Naomi stopped emitting steam. This was heartbreaking, and The Pressinatrix was thrown into paroxysms of grief and despair.

But the Pressinatrix is made of sturdy stuff, and following the 5 stages of grief, she ultimately picked herself up, dusted herself off, made sure her clothes were properly pressed and…

Hello, gorgeous. Come to mama.
Hello, gorgeous. Come to mama.

Stole the Reliable Steam Generator Iron from her lesser self’s alter ego’s office. She’s not using it there much anymore, anyway, since she sold her industrial sewing machines and stopped sewing at the office after hours. And The Pressinatrix’ needs outweigh any of those of her lesser self alter ego.

So now The Pressinatrix is able to resume her quest for perfectly pressed seams. On a positive note, The Pressinatrix remembered a trick learned on line (she believes it was from Kenneth King, the marvelous sewing teacher), and left the 5-liter water reservoir in place so she can easily refill the Reliable with filtered water.

Farewell, Naomi. You were a wonderful iron, and you helped bring joy to The Pressinatrix and her legions of followers. You shall be missed.

The Pressinatrix Has A Useful Little Tool…

Hello my dears – have you missed Your Pressinatrix? She has missed you terribly. Fortunately, the world of sewing seems to be taking her advice (well, most of the world of sewing, but we shall not mention those others) to heart and pressing their projects to practical perfection, profoundly pleasing The Pressinatrix.

As you have seen in Prior Posts on The Pressinatrix’s Arsenal of Tools, The Pressinatrix is well stocked to tackle almost any pressing need, but there are a few that she unearths in her travels, and thus The Pressinatrix would like to introduce to you a small, but immensely useful tool that is the most recent addition to her kit:

The Clover 7807 Hold It Precision Stiletto

(NB: the link will take you to Amazon, but fear not, The Pressinatrix receives no compensation for said link, so go right ahead and click with impunity.) 

Clover Finger
Roughly 9 inches long, so your fingers stay well out of harm’s way.

This little tool can save your finger tips and manicure in tight spaces. It has a bent pointed end that is useful for turning points and curved seams à la collar stands, but the true prize of this digit-defending device is the eraser-shaped silicone finger at the other end. It holds tiny areas (like a sleeve placket, say) in place and allows you to precisely press with no worry of burning your fingers. How wonderful!

Tight spot? No problem!
Tight spot? No problem!

At roughly $10, it is a touch on the pricy side, but in The Pressinatrix’ opinion, it is well worth the cost, for reducing stress when pressing, and for preserving one’s tender skin. And with personal risk mitigated, The Pressinatrix believes that her minions darling followers will be more likely to press properly, and that makes it all worth while.

Happy pressing!

The Pressinatrix Feels Compelled

Yes, my dears, your Pressinatrix feels compelled. Compelled to speak. Compelled to shatter myths. Compelled to preach pressing truth.

The Pressinatrix recently received an email from a lovely sewing friend. This friend, who is quite dear to The Pressinatrix, was appalled that a sewing expert declared that the validity of Pressing As One Sews is a myth. The Pressinatrix’ friend wanted to know what The Pressinatrix had to say about that?

The Pressinatrix’s eyebrows shot up to the ceiling, and after a moment she said, “Hmmm, isn’t that interesting.”

Now, those who know The Pressinatrix know that “interesting” is not a good thing. But she would never disrespect another sewing expert’s opinion, regardless of how muttonheaded that opinion may be much she might disagree with them. No, The Pressinatrix prefers to allow results to speak for themselves. However, since your Pressinatrix presses everything to perfection while she sews, she must look to her lesser self’s alter ego’s examples that she sewed long ago, when she had just met The Pressinatrix.

Admittedly exaggerated, but not by much
Admittedly exaggerated, but not by much
The top example was only pressed at the end, the bottom at every step.
The top example was only pressed at the end, the bottom at every step.

Imagine, my dear readers, how dreadful The Pressinatrix’ lesser self’s alter ego’s refashioned wedding dress would have looked if she had neglected to press it properly at each step. Unpressed princess seams, my darlings! The very thought is enough to send The Pressinatrix to her fainting couch.

Now, The Pressinatrix does not declare that you must do anything. Even when she wears her tiara, The Pressinatrix does not deign to force her will. But The Pressinatrix firmly believes that if sewing is one’s hobby, or even better, one’s passion, it is worth taking the time to do well. The cumulative effect of pressing (or not pressing) as you sew is clearly visible. The results do, indeed, speak for themselves.

Thats All

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!

The Pressinatrix Has Such Good Friends

Darlings, your Pressinatrix has had a bad week. She installed her new Reliable boiler iron at the office, and has been happily pressing away. But The Pressinatrix also sews at home, and therefore is in great need of her pressing equipment there as well.

Alas, tragedy struck.

You see, The Pressinatrix believes that her home iron, a wonderful Consew gravity feed that has served The Pressinatrix dutifully for nigh these last seven eight years – my, how time flies. Well, The Pressinatrix believes that her Consew discovered that The Pressinatrix had taken up a dalliance with the Reliable. It seems that the poor Consew decided to throw itself from the ironing board like Tosca from Scarpia’s parapet.

Heartbreak ensued. Or at least iron break. You see, The Pressinatrix was unaware of this ill wind until her son needed to have his dress pants let down. The Pressinatrix, proud mama that she is, indulgently smiled, patted her (now taller than she is) son on the head and went to work re-hemming said pants. Of course, The Pressinatrix finished her handiwork with a thorough pressing. While doing a final pass on the inside hem, she noticed an acrid smell. “Ach du lieber!” she exclaimed. In its flight from its perch, the Consew had lost its protective heat shield, and the pant hem had a big scorch mark on it. (Note to The Pressinatrix – don’t buy the kid any more clothing at Kohls. It melts.)

Fortunately, the hole left by the intense heat was on the inside of the hem, so no one could see it, but it was a complete sartorial tragedy only narrowly averted because of The Pressinatrix’ quick reflexes. Here you can see the detritus left on the very hot metal bolt, which is usually guarded by the heat shield.
No Heat Guard

Unfortunately, The Pressinatrix’ lesser self alter ego would not allow The Pressinatrix to run out and purchase another Reliable. Oh no, there was muttering about college tuition, mortgage payment and an upcoming family wedding. As if those matter one whit compared to the pressing needs of your Pressinatrix! Get it? Pressing needs? Oh, The Pressinatrix does amuse… But I digress.

The Pressinatrix lamented this state of events to her friends, when one of them, Dearest Mary Beth of The Stitchery, offered The Pressinatrix her old Naomoto gravity feed iron, which has been in storage since The Stitchery moved to smaller quarters. Such a dear pressing friend!!! The Pressinatrix cannot express the gratitude and verklemt feelings that wash over her at such generosity of spirit! Mary Beth only asked that I give the Naomoto a good home and a name. So to that end, may I present to you…

wait for it…


Naomi has already taken her place of honor at the pressing table. DH will be bringing home distilled water for her tonight after his big band practice, and then we’ll be off to the races! Thank you, Mary Beth!

The Pressinatrix

The Pressinatrix is Satisfied…

Yes dears, your Pressinatrix got her Christmas present. Two months late. (eyebrow raise and arch look at her lesser self alter ego)
The Pressinatrix’ dear sister works for a a distributor of Reliable and was able to secure this wonderful gift at a slight discount for her Darling Pressinatrix!

I'm not needy. I just know what I want.
I’m not needy. I just know what I want.

(Ed. Note: Alternate title by Ann, “Got that beyotch off my back!”)

Fine, since I need to press some yardage, my lesser self can have the blog back.

Don’t you want to do a strikeout and type ‘alter ego’?

If you insist.

Happy pressing!

The Pressinatrix has NEEDS, Darlings

Kittens, your Pressinatrix is peeved, and has decided to put her well-shod foot down. You see, The Pressinatrix has needs, dears. Not many, and not complex. But she has them. And her lesser self alter ego, Ann, has been saying no for far too long. So The Pressinatrix has decided to take matters into her own hands. Yes, The Pressinatrix is going shopping for equipment that will perform pressing procedures perfectly, peerlessly and paradisiacally.

So here’s what I want:
Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 9.37.31 AM

Along with:
Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 9.39.14 AM

Actually, your Pressinatrix wants the professional vacuum-board, but her lesser self alter ego has firmly said no. Oh boo. Who cares about new web sites and new features? Your Pressinatrix deserves the best, n’est-ce pas? Humph. The Pressinatrix shall now pout prettily in the parlor until she gets what she wants.

(Aside from Ann, the lesser self)
So – anyone have either or both of these? How do you like them?

Happy sewing!

In the Words of Jack Sparrow…

There’ll be no living with her after this.

Yes, that’s right, The Pressinatrix just got her own site! Of course, right now it’s a bit of a circular reference since I have all the content here on my blog. Ouch! Hey! Cut it out!!!
(sound of a scuffle and the door slamming and locking)

Darlings, pay no mind to your Pressinatrix’ lesser self alter ego. There’s wonderful news on the interwebs: Your Pressinatrix does indeed have her own website! Right now it is slightly bare bones, but it will grow over time, and The Pressinatrix’ lesser self alter ego will let you know as things are added. And of course, I will benevolently apprise you on my new site as well! So do your sewing a favor. Bookmark The Pressinatrix and you’ll be delighted at the difference it will make in your garments.

A bientôt, mes amis!

The Pressinatrix Would Like a Word…

Darlings, Sewing Kittens, Minions Dearest Readers,

Your beloved Pressinatrix would like a word with you. Dears, it has come to The Pressinatrix’ attention that there has been some inquiry in the blogosphere lately about pressing and pressing tools. Well never you fret, my pressing poppets. Your Pressinatrix is here for you, with information that while being witty and pithy, is also going to make sure that you always, always have results that will elicit coos and gasps of admiration from the hoi polloi non-sewing masses – and even (especially!) from the sewing cognoscenti – when you wear your perfectly pressed garments in public.

First up, let us review the basics. Of course, you all read religiously The Pressinatrix’ posts about proper pressing technique and tools, no? Of course you do. But just to remind you,

Click Here to See a Compendium of The Pressinatrix’ Posts on Pressing and Pressing Tools

And if you prefer your information in a more videographic medium, Click Here to See a Video About Pressing.

There, isn’t that refreshing? But that’s not all that The Pressinatrix has to share with you. Currently, Ann, The Pressinatrix’ lesser self alter ego, is working on a marvelous Marfy coat. Very Burberry, darlings, but with a longer capelet. She will, thanks to The Pressinatrix, look fabulous in it. Why? Because The Pressinatrix is making sure she properly performs each pressing process with particular precision. Oh, The Pressinatrix does amuse herself!

But seriously…

This coat requires work to make sure that it looks like the many-thousands-of-dollars garment to which it is equal or superior. That means much time and care will be spent shaping it with steam, heat and pressure. Not all of these are applied at the same time, which is a very important point. Remember, kittens, it is possible to over-press a garment, and your Pressinatrix would never want you to do that. So here are a few illustrations to show you how to use your plethora of pressing tools to help you achieve great results. First up, let’s talk about the biggie – your iron. Believe it or not, when working with many fabrics: wool, cotton, linen and more, you don’t have to press down hard, or even apply the iron directly to the fabric. You can let the steam do most of the work. Steam is a wonderful tool for shaping natural fabrics (and even many synthetics). You don’t need to slam your iron down onto the fabric. In this picture, The Pressinatrix is holding the iron a teensy bit above the collar seam. Note the ham, darlings, note the ham. Always press curved seams over a curved surface. After blasting the seam with steam, flat on both sides of the sewn seam:

Please pardon The Pressinatrix' cell phone pictures.
Please pardon The Pressinatrix’ cell phone pictures. Now hold your iron about a quarter inch above your garment and blast that puppy with steam.

then open, the results are simply, well gorgeous.

Oh, isn't that seam just glorious?
Oh, isn’t that seam just glorious?

Next up, The Pressinatrix used a marvelous little tool called a clapper. The Pressinatrix bought hers from a wonderful eBay seller, but you can use a smooth block of hardwood (maple, oak or cherry, for example) with great results. To give a crisp edge to the finished cape pieces, The Pressinatrix simply holds the iron right above the edges and steams  thoroughly. Immediately after taking the iron away, The Pressinatrix takes the clapper to the edge and lightly applies pressure until the fabric has cooled to the touch.

Light pressure will do the trick.
Light pressure will do the trick.

Contrary to what you may have heard, you don’t need to lean on it with all your body weight. Yes, there are some wools (meltons, very heavy boiled wools are two) where you need to put a lot of pressure on the fabric, but it is most definitely not the case in every instance. So The Pressinatrix urges you to test some scraps of fabric. After all, we want your garment to look couture, not, “pressed to death”.

Now, isn't that Gorgeous?
Now, isn’t that Gorgeous?

And finally for this evening, let’s talk a little about darts. Your Pressinatrix sewed the darts in the sleeve cape and pressed them open over a ham:

It is important to position your dart carefully on the ham to match the curvature, thus avoiding the dreaded "dart end bubble"
It is important to position your dart carefully on the ham to match the curvature, thus avoiding the dreaded “dart end bubble”

As with the rest of this garment, I have used lots of steam and a modicum of pressure to get the results I want. And this is the result The Pressinatrix wants:

A no-bubble dart
A no-bubble dart

My dears, The Pressinatrix is tired, and has much to do on her lesser self’s alter ego’s coat before it is done, so I shall bid you bon soir, bon nuit, and

Happy pressing!