Expert seamstresses agree that one important step to making a home-sewn garment look professionally constructed is to press a seam after sewing the fabric.
The rationale behind pressing the seam, especially for garments that involve complicated sewing processes, is to make certain that seams are laid flat; especially at points where seams meet or cross. A seam that is laid flat when oversewn reduces bulkiness or will not pucker.
Traditional 2-Step Process of Pressing Seams
Traditional sewing involves a two-way process of pressing a seam. The first is to press the seam flat with a flatiron, as a means of setting or blending the stitches with the fabric. The steaming and flattening will allow the thread to meld with the textile to make the stitches disappear.
The second step is to carefully open the seam by “finger pressing” or by running the tip of the flatiron to open the seam. Pressing will be on both sides, with the wrong side first before tackling the right side. However, when iron pressing the seam, take care not to pull hard or stretch the fabric. Iron with up and down movements instead of vigorous back and forth strokes.
Some contend that sewing experts can avoid puckering without having to press seams. That may be okay with ordinary textile but not with expensive fabrics like silk or finely woven cotton. Still, with most commercial dress patterns, instructions for sewing include certain seam-pressing instructions such as: press as sewn, press seam open or press darts.
Special Pressing Tools to Use for Complicated Sewing Steps
In some cases, when the garment involves complicated sewing steps, or if the fabric is a delicate material, a special pressing equipment can make the process easier while achieving the best results. Some examples of special pressing tools include but are not limited to the following:
Pressing Cloth – The use of a pressing cloth will ensure that the fabric is protected from high heat or will not develop a shine or scales after heat has been applied.
Pressing Ham – A pressing ham can create a smooth finish when needing to press curved seams of any shape or size; e.g. sleeve caps, necklines, armholes or hip seams.
Sleeve Roll This device works best not only on sleeves but also on skinny jeans, or for small curved seams, especially on delicate fabrics.