I see that so many of your sewing steps include instructions to “press”. Why?
Careful pressing is as important as accurate sewing. Pressing blends and sets your stitches, eliminates or reduces bulk in some areas and allows your garment to lie flat and fall properly when you wear it.
Why do you always say “press” instead of iron? Is there a difference?
Yes, there is a difference. When you “press”, you move the iron across the fabric by lifting it up and putting it back down in an overlapping pattern. When you "iron" you slide the iron across the fabric with a back-and-forth motion. Ironing may stretch or distort the fabric; pressing will not.
Can I wait until I finish my garment before I press it?
No. The rule of thumb is “press as you go”. You can minimize the number of times that you have to go back and forth between your sewing machine and your ironing board by organizing your sewing. For example, you can work on different parts of the garment at the same time, and then press everything that needs it. One thing to remember is to NEVER, NEVER cross one seam with another without first pressing the original seam.
How much pressure should I apply when ironing?
Generally, light to moderate pressure is sufficient if your iron is at the correct temperature. Too much pressure can cause the cut edge of a seam to make a “bad impression” on the right side of your fabric. If you use too much pressure when working on velvet or other nap fabrics (corduroy, velour, etc.) you may flatten the nap. Also, if you press too hard on the right side of your fabric you may scorch it or make shine marks. Using a press cloth can help to avoid this problem.
What kind of pressing equipment do I need?
A good dry/steam iron and an ironing board are the most essential pieces of equipment. The fabric guide on your iron is helpful in telling you what kind of heat to select. There are lots of special pressing items on the market, but you can improvise many of these items yourself. A man's handkerchief or a square of your fashion fabric makes a good press cloth. For pressing seams open on long cylindrical sections, make a seam roll by placing a magazine on top of a piece of muslin, rolling it up tightly and securing it with a few rubber bands.
For more sewing tips, see Simplicity's Simply the Best Sewing Book.