Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The Art of Pressing

On Tuesday's my good friend comes in the afternoon and makes her best attempt to tackle my ironing basket, or mountain as the case may be. This week it was a mountain. With temperatures fluctuating and an abundance of mud in the back yard, we seem to be washing more clothing. Combined with the fact that there is more fabric to long sleeves and pants, and the fabric of our dresses is heavier this time of year, the mountain has grown rapidly. I am unable to tolerate polyester next to my skin, so my family is forced to wear natural fibers if they want to have their laundry done and spend time cuddling with me! We hang out, or hang up so everything requires some pressing. My favorite iron is in for repairs, so she has been working with the 'back up' and doing a great job, but I'm sure she will be glad to have the heavier professional iron back, as will I.

I have been trying to do some sewing, but have been very tired in the evenings. We are going through some real discipline problems with both children right now, and I find that remaining calm, consistant and gracious is exausting. Flying off the handle and loosing my cool are equally exausting and require repentance, confession and forgiveness! Timeconsuming business. However, I am trying to save enough of myself to sew. I am missing my regular iron terribly. My Nanny taught me that a good seamstress is only as good as her pressing technique. I learned to sew with her guidance, and with the straightforward instruction of The Bishop Method of Clothing Construction published in 1959. This book, along with a trunk load of fabrics, pressing hams, notions, a White sewing machine in good order and patterns (oh, how I wish I had those patterns now!) were my paternal grandmother's contribution to my sewing education, and eventual addiction. She died when I was 5 but by the time I was 11 her trunk represented great joy and satisfaction to me. A good book and a sewing project - what more could a shy girl of 11 require?

So here is a little instruction in the art of pressing for your encouragment! It really makes a huge difference in the professional look of a finished sewing project if you take the time to press properly.

To be able to iron is not necessarily to be able to press. Ironing is using the hot iron in a lifting, sliding, pushing motion with long strokes across washable fabrics to smooth and dry them. Pressing is using the iron in a lifting and lowering motion to smooth or block an area or to flatten edges. Pressing exerts pressure down on fabric; ironing carries pressure across fabric. Pressing is the method or the skill you use most when you are sewing. In developing the art of pressing you must learn not only to press on grain, but also when and how to press each part of the garment, and how to handle various types of fabric. All the skills cannot be learned on one or several garments, but to help assure the final sucess of your sewing, you must begin to develop professional pressing techniques.

From Bishop Method of Clothing Construction published in 1959 chapter 9 Pressing Techniques


  1. Heather,

    Although this comment is not about your last post I did want to let you know that your package arrived yesterday and everything is so beautiful. Thank you. A more formal thank-you will be arriving in your mail shortly.

    It was great hearing from you and as I read your blog I can hear your voice ... and I could hear your Mom's voice when you wrote "Fiddlesticks!".

    Under His mercy and grace (and loving every minute of it),

  2. Nancy - I'm so glad you got it! I'm sure everything was terribly squashed - we try to use the smallest box when shipping internationally. For everyone else, Nancy is a childhod friend who has been blessed with a sweet baby girl, and we just sent a small gift to welcome her! Nancy attends my parents church so we get 'updates' on the baby from time to time, but have not been in contact with Nancy personally for quite sometime. It's good to hear from you!

  3. I am also having a hard time keeping up with the laundry after getting all the winter clothes out. I need to get everything straighted out and back on schedule today!

  4. Heather,

    Actually things arrived quite well and intact and not at all "smooshed". :)



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