Make Yourself A Press Cloth

Do you own a press cloth? Would you like to?

For ages, I didn’t bother, only to learn the hard way when I scorched some wool. Fair enough. Personally, I think the best lessons are learned through experience. But if you prefer not to ruin your fashion fabric, you can follow this little guide to making your own press cloth.

The word on the sewing street is that you should save an offcut of silk organza to use as a press cloth. Silk organza is extremely strong but fluid, which means it can stand high temperatures and drape nicely over whatever your pressing. Its opaqueness also means you can just about still see what it is your pressing.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to have offcuts of silk organza floating around the house. Eventually, I went to Goldhawk Road and bought a metre from the cheapest source I could find. True confession time: I’ve since learned how coarse and poor quality that silk organza was, having handled other samples. It’s the eternal dilemma of the Novice Sewist, isn’t it? You don’t know what you don’t know!

Since then, I’ve had chance to handle much better quality silk organza and during my work on the V4934, I had … ooh, an offcut! (If you’re UK based and want your own high quality silk organza and sundry other dressmaking supplies such as quality interfacings, I strongly recommend English Couture.)

So here’s what I did.

I cut myself a square approximately 16 x 16 inches (40 x 40 cm). I used the selvedge for one side, knowing it wouldn’t fray, and pinked the three other edges. Please note – experience has taught me that pinking alone isn’t enough. I intend to go back and sew a line of thread close to each edge.

Why are we using a press cloth? Because pressing the right side of a make can leave shiny marks or scorches that can be impossible to remove. But when making lots of darts with ends that you don’t want to bubble, you’ll be doing a lot of pressing. A lot. Using lots of steam. So that’s why you use a press cloth.

What’s that cute little cat button, Karen?

Well may you ask! It’s a good idea to have a right side and a wrong side for your press cloth. One side that always goes face down. This is because you may also use your press cloth when sealing fusible interfacings to your fabric, and there are always those odd bits of glue that want to stick to your iron. To save your iron, use a press cloth. And to ensure that all that cumulative ickiness stays on one side of your press cloth, have a wrong side. Mark your right side. I marked mine with this cute little button bought from Ray Stitch!

I also decided to add a velvet ribbon hanging loop to my press cloth. This means I can hang the press cloth up when I’m not using it, so that it doesn’t become crumpled at the back of a drawer. Also, it means I can hang the press cloth loosely from my wrist when using it, yet the ribbon is long enough to pull the cloth over the next detail that needs pressing. In my experience, a Sewist is constantly whipping a press cloth into place and away again. This prevents you having to scramble on the floor, iron in hand, when you next need it. I love my hanging loop!

Threads has a guide to press cloths here. Brace yourself – they recommend six different versions! I keep wondering if I should subscribe to Threads. Thoughts, anyone? And any other press cloth tips out there?

Thanks to Beth, yet again, for inspiring my press cloth!

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32 Responses to Make Yourself A Press Cloth

  1. oh, golly, I just use an old linen teatowel. What a peasant I must be! I do understand the value of the semi-transparency of your silk organza. Nice point, nicely made. And I suppose I shall have to mend my ways. Ahem.

  2. Stephanie says:

    I am hanging out for some silk remnants from an online class I am taking right now, thinking at the time I began the class how clever it was the requirements called for silk organza so I would be able to obtain a nice silk organza press cloth with the remnants! These would make nice gifts for a sewing friend, wouldn’t they? Cute cat button, by the way!

  3. Wendy says:

    I use a silk organza press cloth, having been ‘educated’ at a sewing class I took. BUT, just last week it tore because it had fallen to the floor and when I went to pick it up I didn’t realize I had my great clomping size 7 on the corner , so when I picked it up it tore ( it has seen a lot of use)!
    So I love your loop idea and will be putting it to good use on my new cloth. Timely tip, thanks Karen.

  4. sorbetsurprise says:

    Oh dear I haven’t been using any kind of cloth! Thanks for the advice though, I mainly use cottons but can see where it would be very useful for other fabrics.

  5. What is this opaque organza you speak of? Also you used make! So glad that’s spreading XD

  6. Roobeedoo says:

    Ha! I use a tea towel. But I have not had the sense to set one aside specially for this task, and cannot tell you how many times I have printed white fabric with ancient coffee stains from a “clean” tea towel. Shoot me now.

  7. sewbusylizzy says:

    So much nicer than my husband’s old hankie!

  8. Dibs says:

    Oh no. I recently bought some silk organza from goldhawk road too. Will check out the link. Is that a clapper I see in the last picture?

  9. Elle C says:

    Alas, silk organza is does not exist in my little sewing desert. I have two ironing boards (one for actually ironing and one for sewing) and they each have a pressing cloth on them.

    Should you get a subscription to Threads? I love Threads and since I discovered it in the late 80’s or early 90’s I haven’t missed an issue. I love it, and even when occasionally there is an issue that I feel less than thrilled about, invariably a couple of months later when I am looking at it again, I wonder what on earth was wrong with me, cause the issue is great. If I were you, I would get a DVD of all back issues. There is so much great information in that DVD.

  10. LinB says:

    I am hit-or-miss on the press cloth issue, as I mainly sew with cotton and linen in my climate. I have never owned any silk organza — don’t think I’ve ever seen any for sale in my local fabric stores. “Yes, definitely” to the Threads magazine question! Threads is as much a reference library as a bi-monthly magazine. I constantly refer to my back issues, which date back to the issues in the teens. I need to find and buy the earliest issues that I am still missing … DVDs are fine for now, but electronic technology changes rapidly, and the info on compact discs deteriorates over time. Paper can last for thousands of years.

  11. zoe says:

    My first thought was ‘what’s a press cloth?’ … so as a novice (and shamefully lazy) sewist I have a way to go. An excellent and very helpful post: thank you. Love the cat button,

  12. cleverclogs! the pressing cloths available in canada are made of an icky stiff, opaque, plasticy- twill type of mystery material – horrid. yours is much more practical and chic.

  13. Rachel says:

    How elegant! I’m afraid I’m in the tea towel camp, too.

  14. Catherine says:

    Def subscribe to threads … I get mine through fibre craft/ George Weil … Best sewing mag in the world for those past the ” total beginner can’t sew a cushion stage” …too scary for a beginner. You would love seeing it arrive through the letter box … I do.

  15. Seraphinalina says:

    I made a travel lingerie bag for my now SIL from an old pillowcase and use the remnant of that for my press cloth (when I remember! ).

  16. Suze says:

    I use a purchased press cloth of heavy weight cotton, treated on one side and I’ve never been thrilled with it. I had NO IDEA I could use something else or make my own! Well, now I know, after looking at the Threads article. I subscribe to Threads; how did I miss that recent article? I love Threads even if all I do with it is look at the pictures. It’s a very useful and beautiful magazine, qualifying it to be in your house.

  17. You offer such great tips. Although I use a press cloth made of muslin, the benefits of a silk organza press cloth are worth me switching my press cloth to be silk organza. Thanks for the recommendation lady!

  18. Sue K says:

    I bought mine for $4 from http://www.saf-t-pockets.com, and it’s terrific. I like your idea of marking the right side, and the ribbon, thanks!

  19. Amy says:

    I use a self-made silk organza press cloth as well, which I finished with a rolled hem on my serger. But, I hadn’t thought to mark the sides or to add a hanging loop. Thanks for the tip. And, I’ve often debated about getting Threads as well. I’ve learned a lot from their online site, but the DVD seems like such a large purchase… If you get it, you’ll have to let me know how much you use it.

  20. poppykettle says:

    Yup – I went and made myself an organza pressing cloth too. Somehow I managed to burn through it though (left the iron on for too long and it had run out of water) so I’m back to using a soft cotton tea towel. Not as opaque, but does the job. I took the plunge and subscribed to Threads last week – I’ve always stalked their website and the one issue I bought was SO interesting. I haven’t received any issues yet, but I say do it!

  21. Kristen says:

    I just bought a bit (1/4 yd) of cheap, probably-not-very-nice silk organza for this very reason. I suppose I should stitch around the edges, right now it’s just cut in half! I also figured out that I could get a new pad for my ironing board and now I’m not getting those awful mesh marks – experience can certainly be a good teacher! But thank you for letting us learn from you instead of causing ourselves problems! :) And I would say yes to Threads, I just subscribe a couple of months ago. It’s inspiring and informative and seems like it will be a great resource. I’m still at a relatively beginner stage of sewing, but I love getting it in the mail every couple months.

  22. Carol Webster says:

    Hi Karen
    I agree with you about the different qualities of silk, go for the best quality you can afford! The English Couture site is a definate favourite awesome quality in everything they sell! I have been subscribing to Threads for about 5 years now and agree with the other comments that a paper library is much more accessible than dvd, you can take the magazine to bed and dream of inspiring projects! (very sad, I know!!) Love the cat button and also endorse Raystitch!

  23. Neeno says:

    LOve this idea! Is the “cheaper” organza silk as good and can it stand the high get as well?

  24. Scarlette O'Tara says:

    Great piece! I too am in the tea towel gang but the semi-transparency or organza would be a huge help. Will invest. Do you find your point presser clapper worth it?

    While we’re on the subject of pressing – does anyone have any good iron recommendations? I have a bog standard model, and while I don’t want to pay a fortune for a specialist model, I would be interested whether there are any models out there that are particularly suited to sewists.

    Oh – any any tips on removing interfacing glue from the plate of your iron would be much appreciated :)

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  27. I have a “raja” cloth ( cotton impregnated with some sort of special chemical) for pressing but have been thinking how neat a silk organza cloth would be as it would be more see through. Great idea with the hanging loop-my cloth always ends up falling off my board as I move the garment between presses.

  28. Theresa Zimmerman says:

    Yes, do get “Threads”, whether you subscribe or pick it up at the local sewing store. I discovered it at the public library, you can read it there too, and so wanted the material on hand at home when I need it. Just grabbed a copy yesterday at the store. Thanks regarding the tip on the quality of organza! Perhaps, we should all lobby the local sewing stores, in my case a chain store, to carry silk organza. Not much silk of any kind in our store!

  29. Patricia economos says:

    FYI. The Dritz company makes silk press cloths. Wish I had thought of your button idea, as I do have glue on mine and need to get a new one so I can stop looking for clean places( which are getting smaller and smaller) Thanks for the tip!

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  31. yumyummoany says:

    Thank you SO much! I got a silk organza pressing cloth before starting making a suit. It is the best thing ever – how did I never know of it before? So a huge thanks for this information.

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