Ironing Tips & Tricks: Garments


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Calling all Garment Sewists! If you don’t have an appropriate iron or are not properly using your iron, it could be costing you professional results. Snipping threads as you sew, and ironing are two things that really make the difference between a garment that looks homemade and one that appears store-bought. Read on for some tips on achieving that professional finish.




In garment sewing, pressing seams open is standard practice. This prevents seams from becoming bulky and uncomfortable. It is also easier to align seams when the seam allowances are pressed open. Press the seam allowance in a single direction from the face of the seam. Heat sensitive fabrics should be pressed using a protective cloth.



Pressing your seam allowance before topstitching will give you a smooth even surface to sew. While often used aesthetically, topstitching can also be used to permanently keep seam allowances pointing in a desired direction. Topstitching also adds an extra layer of durability to a seam. Simply pressing the seam allowance open will achieve similar results, but pressing alone will not withstand continuous machine-washing cycles. If you forgo topstitching, you may have to press the seam allowance again after each wash. For a clean finish after topstitching, press the finished topstitch to sink the stitches into the fabric.




For many garments interfacing is essential for adding structure. It is often used on collars, button plackets, facings, and cuffs to stiffen and/or reinforce the fabric. Always use steam for fusible interfacings. The combination of steam and high heat will strongly bond the interfacing's adhesive to the fabric. To identify the proper heat to use with your interfacing, read the instructions and/or test heat settings with a few scraps. If you’re working with a very delicate fabric, it’s also wise to use a pressing cloth or lightweight towel between the interfacing and your iron.



Pro-Tip: Often used interchangeably, Ironing & Pressing are NOT the same thing. Ironing is the action used to remove wrinkles by sliding a hot iron back and forth. Pressing is the process of lifting and putting the iron down on a specific part of a project.