Building Your Sewing Station – Pressing Tools

Sewing Station

If you think the sewing machine is the most important piece of your arsenal, you’re wrong. The iron and ironing board come a close second. We’re always told to press, press and press again. Listen! Here’s a stroll around my set up.

ironing board

Mine is one of the wider than average boards. I have never regretted a single penny spent on this longlife cover. It’s indestructible, and even makes a nice, neutral background for blog photos.


Can you believe my iron died on me just before Christmas? I had to run down to my local DIY store and buy what was admittedly a pretty expensive new iron. The good news is that it pumps out steam like nobody’s business. The bad news is that if it’s left standing for longer than ten minutes it emits a recurring beep to let you know it’s still switched on. I don’t need that nagging noise when I’m in the middle of a delicate operation at the sewing machine! I am seriously thinking of disabling the alarm. I just need to figure out how.

ham and sleeve boardI love my ham. The deeper you get into sewing the more you understand that pressing over a curved surface can be so much more helpful than pressing flat. Necklines, sleeve inserts, facings… You name it, I’m pressing over a ham. A nice, hard ham – no soft pillowy nonsense for me.

I snapped up the sleeve board from a charity shop. I try to remember the days when I didn’t have a sleeve board in my life, but it’s a struggle. How did I survive?

I also keep a press cloth (organza), butter knife (for turning corners), clapper (for pressing woollen seams) and beeswax (for hand stitching) close to my ironing board.

pressing equipment

Anything I’ve forgotten here?

Of course, you know what the really big irony is? I hate ironing…

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33 Responses to Building Your Sewing Station – Pressing Tools

  1. Beth says:

    Haha my ironing board and iron are purely there for sewing!
    I have two more helpful things to share with anyone reading: one is that I have a small-ish travel type board the I can very quickly put up on my table or sofa – much easier than a big board unless you have a sewing room or dedicated sewing space! But then the thing that’s even better is that I made a new cover for it out of a piece of upholstery type fabric (and padded with an old towel) – the fabric is striped horizontally with 1cm wide stripes, which are so amazingly helpful for hemming, etc.! 🙂

  2. Knitlass says:

    I hate ironing too. About the only time I use the iron is when I’m sewing!!

  3. Ha, I hate ironing too – but I do press religiously during and after sewing! Somehow it’s more tolerable when it’s part of sewing…

  4. Lisa says:

    This post is heaven sent! I’m about to embark on my first venture into shirt making, I’m nervous about the collar 😶. I need to get my hands on a tailors ham and sleeve board to get this project confidently on the move!

  5. I don’t mind ironing, probably because I don’t do much of it, but it’s better with a good view (not the wall) and something to listen to. (It’s really the best time to listen to a story, and when I was studying I would listen to my revision tapes!) The down side for me is that my ironing board cover gets nasty looking so quickly! I think Vilene should produce their own that resists accidental fusing of their interfacing and shrugs off stains.

  6. Simona says:

    Ha ha! I am in the same boat with you! I hate ironing! The only thing I iron is my fabric and sometimes my makes!
    Where did you get your clapper? I need one as well? Thank you

  7. Elena Knits says:

    Thank for this introduction! I should add a ham and a sleeve board to my collection. I also hare ironing and you’ll see me with the iron just when I’m making something…

  8. SaSa says:

    I should add a ham, too! Your clapper is a very good point presser in the same time, too. I need it all the time for opening seams.
    Thank you for your interesting posts, SaSa

  9. Carolyn Boland says:

    Such important info especially
    For beginners to develop good
    Habits. I’ve seen for many years
    And spend more time with
    Pressing tools than sewing machine.
    My 8th grade Home Ec teacher
    Made us press every seam closed
    And then opened. That was over 50
    Years ago and I can’t see without
    Pressing. I also have a roll seam
    Ham and portsble sleeve board
    Which are great. Keep posting—
    Wonderful service to others!

  10. Thanks for the nudge 😉 I’m a reluctant ironer, even when It comes to sewing. All this WILL, of course change if I ever get my own sewing room!

  11. kim says:

    Ironing is the secret to a truly finished and professional look. I wish more people knew that, I also hate ironing but I do a lot of it. I put in a movie and move the ironing board to the family room and go at it!

  12. joen says:

    I do have a pressing ham and silk organza pressing cloth, a sleeve board is on my wish list. When my mother taught me to sew pressing your seams was a must! She also suggested that when making a suit jacket or coat to have it professionally pressed at the dry cleaners to give it a very polished finish.

  13. Dee says:

    I learnt that my garments look better and last longer when they’ve been pressed. I’ve got a sleeve board on my birthday wish list – some people think I’m silly for wanting something like that for my birthday but I’d be over the moon to get one! I now want a clapper to – where did you get yours?

  14. Icy says:

    Have to agree with the iron being a close second. I also got a new iron this Cristmas!

  15. I remember when I was first learning how to sew and never once did I press anything. Now I laugh at those days and remember how awful all my projects looked. In addition to my ham I have a Sleeve Roll. I love it for those smaller curves. It has been a great tool for my daughter too. She is 4′ 9″ and the latest blouse she made had the smallest of sleeves.

    Love this post!

  16. helen says:

    I went for years without ironing any of my clothes but now I make most of them I find that these do need ironing so have to get it out. Mostly the iron is used during sewing. I love my tailors ham, it makes such easy work of shaped seams.

  17. symondezyn says:

    LOL I never iron – but I PRESS like a woman obsessed (and apparently I’m a poet too haha). I absolutely LOVE the way pressing transforms a garment seam by seam into a very professional looking thing (even if the waistband is wonky or the sleeve isn’t set perfectly). It’s amazing to me how something so little can make such a huge difference, in so many ways.

    And may I also add fingers are good pressing tools as well 😉

  18. Sharon says:

    Agree pressing is essential when sewing. Another tool I use occasionally is a silicone oven mit for those times the ham and sleeve roll just aren’t the right shape, with the mit on I can put the garment on my hand and press.

  19. Alison says:

    Yep, i lavish care and attention on the iron (industrial, woohoo!) in my sewing room while the one in the lsundry room gathers dust!
    I keep brown paper near my ironing board so i can be careless while fusing interfacing.

    • Carolyn Boland says:

      Yes— I have found that you can use
      Higher heat settings without
      Scorching organza or fabric.
      “See through ” is essential to
      Proper pressing. $13.00 per
      Yard is definitely a good deal!
      Only a half yard — makes 2

  20. Does the organza for your pressing cloth need to silk? I like pressing but hate ironing .

  21. Caroline says:

    I feel the same about ironing as most, apart from the pressing involved in sewing, which I enjoy! I love my blue spotty sleeveboard and it gets a lot of use.

  22. Emma Welsh says:

    Hello, if you can find a tiny hole where the beep is emitted from, it might be you can sufficiently muffle the beep by shoving blu tac or similar in it. Have had success with that in a noisy alarm in a lab once – it wasn’t perfectly silent, but it was no longer maddening. I hope that or something else works before you smash your beeping iron through a wall or similar!

  23. Sheree says:

    Years ago, when I first started sewing, I had no idea of how important the pressing was. I would finish a garment and THEN press it. How wrong was I. You can be the best sewer in the world, but if you don’t take the time to press after each seam,etc, then your finished garment will never look professional. It is probably the best advise to give any beginner.

  24. Sheree says:

    Just to add. I appreciate your ironing board cover is top notch quality, Karen, but knowing your love of fabric, aren’t you itching to cover it ! Far too plain and sensible at the moment ! 😃😃

  25. Jo says:

    I seriously need to invest in a tailors ham or make one. I also need to buy a new ironing board cover as it keeps popping off and curling under the fabric I’m ironing, creating horrible creases/lumps. It’s slowly driving me nuts!

  26. Bees wax? Clapper? I have SO much to learn!

    • Carolyn Boland says:

      The clapper is a must for Tailoring — especially to get A good crease or to get seams Pressed properly. Can’t See without ham — inexpensive Tool.

      Sent from my iPhone


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