pressing things

What? You mean that you don’t take your ironing board outside on nice spring days? I don’t usually either, but I’ve really been tempted with all this lovely weather we’re having.

Really, I just wanted to show you a few of my favorite sewing tools.

Like many sewing teachers, I emphasize good pressing skills almost as much as the actual sewing skills in my classes. You just can’t get good results with your sewing if you don’t press carefully as you sew. But in truth, the only time I pull out the ironing board is when I first get ready to cut my fabric. Then I press the full yardage with lots of steam before laying it out on my big cutting table and arranging the pattern pieces. The better the fabric is pressed, the easier it is to cut and, later, to sew.

But after that one-time ironing board set-up, my sleeve board and point presser are my friends who accompany me to the sewing machine. Many years of steam have dis-colored the sleeve board, which you can purchase almost anywhere. Someday when life is a little less crazy, I’ll re-cover it (it just needs a new muslin covering, but you could make it look pretty with your favorite printed cotton as well). It’s a great mini ironing board so I’m not constantly getting up to move to the big ironing board. But it’s also great for pressing seams open and for pressing curves, since it has less surface area and enables me to press small areas.

My all-time favorite pressing and sewing tool, however, is difficult to find these days. It’s called a point presser and clapper. I purchased mine when my tailoring professor at FIT showed the class how useful it can be. The clapper (bottom portion) is used by tailors to flatten and compress collar bands and other areas where many layers of fabric are sewn together. I press all sorts of things with it: use your iron to heat and steam the fabric, and then flatten the fabric with the clapper and you’ll have a terrifically crisp finish without potentially scorching your fabric (or your fingers). The wood holds the steam and heat beautifully.

But the point presser (the top part) is my favorite: that straight, narrow edge is great for pressing seam allowances, and the point at the tip is a necessity for getting corner and points pressed perfectly. The trouble is, June Tailor doesn’t make this tool anymore! Where to find it? I’ve looked all over the garment district here in NYC and none of the old-school shops can get them anymore. Fortunately, our friends at Waechter’s carry them!

The iron I use at the studio is a hand-me-down from my Grandma, who upgraded to a Rowenta just as I moved into the studio and needed a second iron. Eventually I’d love to get an Oliso so I can leave it on and facing down–much safer with the kiddo running around the studio in the afternoons.

Ok, time to bring the ironing board inside again. I just realized we don’t have a long enough exension cord for outside pressing!




  1. I totally agree with you: ironing is as important as the actual sewing! I have a hard time by seing a beatiful dress or something else, which hasn’t been pressed well….

    I also have to tell you how much I love your patterns and the idea with the paper dolls. Very elegant and just the right look for children. It’s nice to see patterns for childrens’ clothes with a beautiful touch and a childish look. Well done! :0)

  2. I have a question… the Point Presser and Clapper on that website doesn’t look ‘as pretty’ as your wooden one. Is it not the same?

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