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!