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:
(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.)
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!
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.
My friend Karla (I swear she is the funniest person on earth) sent me a present last year that I have been meaning to write about for a while: Fashionista Forceps! These long tweezers are very much like the ones you get with many sewing machines or sergers, but they are much more fun. Every time I use mine it brings a smile to my face.
These are great for fishing things out of tight places. I use mine for threading machine needles, both on my sergers and my regular machines. They are available on eBay from several sources, and many sewing stores carry them. I saw them recently in a local beauty supply store as well. They retail for between $5 and $7, so they are a minor splurge.
Useful, fun and stylish. What more could you want?
I was in the hardware store with DH a few months back and came across this nifty little tool. It’s a pen-sized telescoping magnet.
This is awesome for picking up errant pins, snaps and other notions! When retracted, it measures about 6 or 7 inches, and it’s the same size as a ballpoint pen. This one has a clip so you can keep it in your pocket. It has a very powerful magnet tip.
Extended, it measures about 3 feet.
This little tool cost 99 cents, and it has paid big dividends. Because of the telescope, it can pick up items on the floor as easily as it can pluck stray notions on my sewing table. You never know where you’re going to find great tools, so keep your eyes open when you go to the hardware store!
Yesterday I pulled out my Marfy 3021 coat/cape pattern. There are 21 pattern pieces, many of which are really small.
There are a lot of pieces to track, and the chances of my losing one or more is significantly greater than zero. Fortunately, I have Phyllis in my corner! A few years back, she presented me with a gift, specifically for keeping the little guys in check, the KNYCK napkin holder from Ikea.
That weighted, attached doohickey keeps the little pattern pieces close at hand until I need them. No worrying that I’ll inadvertently throw them out or file them with another pattern.
For $5, it’s a very worthwhile investment! Get two – one for your sewing room, and one for your dining room or picnic table. They are also quite good at keeping napkins from wandering away.
Darlings, The Pressinatrix’ alter ego is still down with some sort of nasty flu bug, but your Pressinatrix will attempt to press on (oh, The Pressinatrix does so amuse herself!) to make sure you are all well versed in the tools that will whip your garments into professionally finished shape. To whit:
From left to right, you see: Stitch Nerd Contoured Ham and Stand: Patsijean, that bad girl, stole a bit of The Pressinatrix’ thunder, but being the (mostly) benevolent Pressinatrix that I am, I shall forgive her. This once. Indeed, when The Pressinatrix commented that they don’t make ’em like that any more, she was referring to Dritz specifically. There is a company that makes ’em like that: Stitch Nerd. Darlings, your Pressinatrix cannot tell you how thrilled she was to find Stitch Nerd. If you want a wonderful ham, look no further. Stitch Nerd also makes sleeve rolls. This particular ham is the Contoured Ham. Bearing more of a resemblance to a ham on the bone, this type of ham has every conceivable curve, giving you greater control over your pressing. You can order hams in any combination of wool/cotton. You can also order (as The Pressinatrix did) a ham holder, which allows you to position your ham any which way while keeping both hands free for pressing.
Shoulder Stand: If you make jackets, dresses, tops, or anything else with sleeves, this is a fabulous tool to have on hand! Simply place your garment over it, and steam/press away to achieve the perfect, pucker-free shoulder opening that is the envy of all. The Pressinatrix purchased hers from This Etsy Vendor.
Point Presser/Clapper: this is a marvelous little tool that combines a clapper (see my previous post for more on clappers) with a prow-shaped tool that has a long, narrow surface tapering to a point at one end. This is an absolute necessity for getting a proper press on any sharp angle, like collars and mitred corners.
June Tailor Tailor Board: Such a boring, generic name for such a useful piece of equipment! Really, The Pressinatrix would have named it something interesting and pithy, but she was not asked. This wooden tool, which looks like a combination anvil and painter’s palette, has curves, points, and surfaces for pressing every manner of nook and cranny. June Tailor, alas, no longer makes these, but they are readily available on eBay, and Nancy’s Notions appears to have them in stock.
Velvaboard: This plush little blanket is a must-have tool if you work with velvet or napped fabrics. It allows you to press them without leaving the dreaded imprint. Simply place your velvet, napped side down, on the board and gently press. The napped fibers from your fabric will sink into the napped fibers of the Velvaboard, giving you a good press without marks. Made by June Tailor, it appears that this tool is also no longer manufactured, though it shows up frequently on eBay, and I just saw one for sale on Etsy. You can also use a high-quality, high-loft towel to press your velvets.
Sleeve Board: If you make shirts or pants, or dolls clothes or items for small children, this is an invaluable tool. It looks like a double-sided ironing board in miniature. It’s just the right size for pressing cuffs and sleeves, as well as pant legs. The one you see in this picture has been in The Pressinatrix’ possession since the 1980s. The Pressinatrix also has one of more recent vintage at the office. These are readily available at most sewing stores. The Pressinatrix does not recommend the types of sleeve boards that have fold-down stands. The stand gets in the way, and can defeat the utility of the sleeve board. The Pressinatrix recommends boards like the one you see here, which have boards long enough to fit most or all of a sleeve, with a brace at one end.
Well my darlings, there you see The Pressinatrix’ current arsenal of tools for whipping one’s garment into shape. Hopefully this gives you impetus and inspiration to get out there and press press press!
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:
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.
Thanks to Pam, I got turned on to a new pressing aid, the Shoulder Stand. What a cool idea! It makes shaping your shoulders so much easier.
I also got two sketchpad books from Amazon. I don’t do a lot of sketching, mostly because I totally suck at it, but I wanted to check them out as potential gifts for some of my young friends who are interested in design. Of the two, Fashionary and The Fashion Sketchpad, the Fashion Sketchpad is much better. It has larger croquis that are easier to see on the page. It also has several different poses. Fashionary only has one pose – straight on. If you need or want to do sketches, I’d recommend the Fashion Sketchpad.
Oh, and recognize the jacket on the shoulder stand? I am finally getting back to my Chanel jacket. I put it aside when the weather started to get warm, but it’s time to finish it up! More on that later…
Phyllis turned me on to the hams at Stitch Nerd. Needless to say, they appeal to my inner Pressinatrix. And she makes contoured hams! Those have become as rare as hen’s teeth, and I have scoured eBay for ages trying to get one. I ordered the Contoured Professional Size Tailor’s Ham, and a Ham Holder. I’m one happy Pressinatrix! What I love about Stitch Nerd is that you can customize your fabrics on each (wool/cotton) side of your ham. Here’s the wool side:
And here’s the cotton side:
High End Snoop Shopping
My sister came out yesterday to see DS the Elder’s opening night performance. She lives in Boston, so we drove in this morning and did some snoop shopping in Barneys at Copley Place. I have fallen in love with the workmanship and quality of The Row garments. That’s the line owned by the Olsen twins. If I ever win the lottery, I’m going to buy an entire wardrobe of The Row. The workmanship is exquisite, and the designs are beautiful. Here’s a crappy phone picture I took of one jacket that I just love. It’s a princess line, with an extra dart. The pockets are cut-on and interfaced to stand out just a bit. This is fabulous!
They had it in Black and in White. Here’s an interesting tidbit about it – it’s made of RPL, so as a stitcher, you can approximate it using RPL (I don’t have any in black right now, but I do have This Gray that would be perfect) paired with Marfy F2413. It would be fun to copy that cut-on pocket flap, don’t you think?
Well, that’s all for now. I’m off to finish my dress and press it using my new ham.
I hope you all had a great New Year! Here’s to 2012 and proving the Mayan calendar wrong. Today is a nice quiet day around our house. Well, maybe not “quiet” – DS the elder has a bunch of friends over and they are playing Apples to Apples. I’ve been working on my next Chanel-style jacket. I’ve thread traced the body pattern pieces onto the alpaca.
While I have been working, I’ve been enjoying the birthday present DS the younger gave me. Check this out! It’s a makeup case from Stila that has built in speakers so you can plug in your iPod or other music player. It also happens to be the perfect size for holding sewing tools. I love this!
I’m taking a break from sewing to make our New Year’s tradition – jambalaya for dinner. I managed to snag the last andouille sausage in my local supermarket yesterday. Yay me! More on the jacket later. Time to chop onions, celery and peppers…
Happy Holidays! Whatever you may celebrate, I hope you are having a wonderful time. Being the selfish person that I am, I had to take a break from buying and making gifts for other people (horrors!) to get something for myself. Merry Christmukka to me! I placed an order with Sew True for some much needed tools and supplies.
I was so psyched to see that they had Bar Eyes for hooks! They are almost impossible to find at the chain stores. You can only find loop eyes. Bars are much more useful, because not only can you use them with hooks, you can also use them to stay vents in skirts and jackets. I bought a dozen gross of the hooks and eyes. I should be all set for life now.
Beside those, I got a bunch of zipper stops for shortening zippers at the top or the bottom. Kenneth King turned me on to these, and they can be a godsend, especially when you are dealing with metal zips.
Finally, I got two cloth weights. My laminator, Igor at Quick Fuse, introduced me to them years ago when I was manufacturing bags, and I’ve been jonesing for some ever since. When I went on a tour of the costume department at the Boston Ballet last year, they were using them. They are 4 lb weights that keep your fabric from shifting. I can’t recommend them enough, especially if you’re dealing with long lengths of fabric.
I also got a book from Amazon that I hope to read when I’m on a mini-vacation (not going anywhere, alas, just celebrating another 29th birthday by staying home and sewing) next week. Patternmaking by Dennic Chunman Lo.
I first heard about it on Kathleen Fasanella’s site. I am not a designer, but I do like to try my hand occasionally at patternmaking, more to try to learn new things than any other reason. I’m smitten with this book, based on the 12 pages I’ve read and the other pages I’ve briefly scanned. It looks to have very useful information for someone like me. I’ll report back when I’ve read it.
ETA: Woo Hoo! Simplicity’s Website now Carries Burda Patterns!
In the New To Me department, I was just on Simplicity’s website (looking for patterns to match up with new fabrics I’m putting up) and they are now carrying Burda patterns. Hooray!!!! No more trying to find patterns on Burda.de’s website. What a nice Christmas present!
Have a wonderful holiday everyone, and happy sewing!