If you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time-Billy Joel

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Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Hints and Tips 7- Pressing

Following on from the previous post on prepping your fabric ready to embroider I am going to talk about pressing. Pressing is crucial to achieving success in any project involving stitching two seams together. The golden rule of pressing is that if a seam is going to be sewn over or attached to another then it must be pressed before you do that. Also remember spray starch is your friend. The more starched your fabric is the better results you will have.
Finger pressing should be your first option without getting up and going to the iron for more substantial pressing. This is the case with patchwork units like flying geese. I will finger press the first wing out of the way before I attach the second. I only press the flying geese unit when it is completed. If you are not sure which way the seam is to go in a patchwork unit finger pressing is a good way to go.
You can use your thumb nail to press a straight seam open quite successfully. A trick from veteran dressmakers is to pull a seam backwards and forwards over the edge of a table but try this with caution with your patchwork. There are special little wooden tools that you can use to finger press but the sloped ends of a clothes peg also is good to use if you do not have the commercial tool. Wooden ones are best to use if you have one available.
Pressing is different to ironing
Ironing is where you move in a to and fro motion all over a piece of fabric. The iron is moving and in contact with the fabric as it does so. Pressing is where you just place the iron on a piece of fabric and then lift it up without moving it across the fabric. If you use an ironing motion in patchwork for example you run the risk of stretching your fabric and if you happen to have a side of a pieced unit on the bias then the fabric could stretch even further.
Setting the seam
Before pressing a seam either open or to one side we need to set the stitches into the fabric. Setting the seam leaves you with a little less bulky seam allowance to contend with. To set the seam  gently press the iron down onto the stitches and seam allowance. There is no need to cover the whole unit you are pressing.
Press towards darker fabric
Generally we press seams toward the darker fabric. This is especially the case where we are dealing with light coloured fabrics and embroidered quilt blocks which may have a light background. This is to avoid seeing the darker seam underneath. If it is imperative that you have to press to the lighter fabric then try and trim the seam a little so that it is not that obvious even though it was only 1/4 inch to start with.
The thing to remember when pressing to the dark side is that you always have the dark fabric you are pressing towards facing you or on the top.        
To set the seam place the tip of your iron on the seam line and a little into the rest of the unit. If it is a longer unit i.e. a strip set  follow behind your fingers gently folding the fabric out.

Lift the upper darker fabric slightly, just enough to move the tip of the iron in and under. Glide the iron sideways out towards the darker patch without pulling or tugging on the upper layer. If you do not use this gliding motion the seam can roll and distort.

If you are pressing units that have bias edges especially make sure that you press in the direction of the straight grain.



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