Kerry O'Brine Womens Wear

Behind the seams

Press Press Press


Ironing or pressing is key to a successful sewing project.


I have come to realise over the years just how important it is. When I was younger I read in my book about John Galliano (my most favourite designer at the time!) that he was an amazing presser when he helped back stage at the theatre. I didn’t realise the significance at the time of this skill.

Press at every stage during your sewing project:

  • Press your fabric before you lay it and cut out your pattern pieces. Otherwise your pieces could end up distorted and the edges wonky
  • Press each seam after you sew it. Either press the seam open or press it flat, whatever is appropriate to the seam and design
  • Sometimes pressing before you sew a seam helps with the accuracy of the sewing!

You’ll end up with crisper, sharper and more accurate seams. Matching the seams and edges will also be easier and look more professional.

With wool, it is heat, pressure and steam all together that mean you can manipulate the fabric and seams. You can flatten a bulky seam and work with ease in the seams. (there is a tailors method I will go through with you another time!)

If you are pressing or ironing at home you will need to let your garment cool down before you move it. Industrial pressing machines have a cool air facility. By cooling down the garment the area you have just painstakingly pressed into shape will hold the shape and not immediately crease.

At home without an industrial machine I have been known to use my regular ironing board, press a seam and then walk away to let it cool down before I move it. Whilst waiting for it to cool I am preparing and sewing the next piece.

Industrial Iron

Pressing with a home iron can be tricky due to their temperamental nature – don’t let them get clogged up with limescale; nothing worse than an iron spitting on your prized sewing project!

I find a cotton handkerchief works between the iron and the fabric to protect the fabric when pressing something delicate. If you are trying to be accurate and see what you are doing often a large cloth between the iron and fabric is too big.

A handkerchief is a good size: big enough for the whole iron plate not to touch the fabric and small enough to press accurately in small areas.


3 thoughts on “Press Press Press

  1. An older woman told me this when I first began to sew. After making a few things I took her advice and am now a believer.

  2. I loved reading your post, it was so well written 🙂 I’m new to blogging, and am also new to the fashion world. I’m a Fashion studies degree student at the University of Lincoln (and my lecturers are constantly reminding us how important pressing is!) and I’d love it if you could check out my post on my two most recent garments which I made 🙂

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