Do you run an iron over your fabric before cutting out and, if so – why? I was thinking about exactly this question as I pressed some summer weight wool suiting to make yet another pair of culottes.
Here are my reasons to press fabric before cutting out – and they may not all be the obvious ones.
1. Getting In The Right Frame Of Mind
If you start your project in an organised, efficient way there’s a good chance that you’ll carry this attitude through the whole piece of work – or at least through the cutting out! Pressing your fabric takes a few moments of time, time during which your mind can settle into the work to be done. This activity can also be pleasingly mindful, emptying the brain with repetitive motions, and you know I’m a fan of that.
2. Assessing Your Fabric’s Behaviour
A good session at the ironing board gives you a chance to see for the first time how your pre-washed (you pre-washed, right?) fabric is going to behave during the sewing project. Is it slipping about? Resisting heat? Already fraying at raw edges? Or does it press like a dream?
If I need to pin selvedges together to ensure an accurate press, then I know I’ll also need to take care during the cutting out. You get a heads up on the challenges that lay in store. I’ve even been known to swap out one fabric for another if I don’t like the way it’s behaving with the iron, and that can save a lot of wasted time and effort.
3. Picking Up On Flaws
As you smooth a hot iron over metres of fabric, this is your opportunity to keep an eagle eye out for any flaws in the fabric. Mark them with chalk or a pin and avoid them when cutting out. No tears here!
4. Right Side, Wrong Side
When pressing a solid colour fabric, I immediately check which is my right side and wrong side by looking at the selvedge. Hopefully, this should help you distinguish – but not always. Sometimes, it’s almost impossible to decide which is the right side and which is the wrong side, but barely indistinguishable is not the same as distinguishable, and this can often become apparent once a project is sewn up. So, I use the pressing exercise to establish which I want to be the wrong side, and mark it confidently with chalk. Saves a lot of frustration further down the line.
5. It’s Easy!
This is the easiest piece of pressing you’ll do during the whole project. Metres of smooth fabric to ease an iron over. No hams needed, no seams to trim, no fiddly tubes to turn inside out, no collars to press. Sweet! Start a project with an easy task, and you’ll already feel like a winner. I’m not above kidding my brain. But this does allow you to set up your pressing station, so that when the trickier tasks emerge your equipment is out, ready and waiting.
Any tips of your own to add?