The Most Important Rule In Sewing

To Iron or Not to Iron

When I was growing up, my chore was to do the family ironing. Tedious, maybe, but I had the whole basement to myself and a TV to keep me company. Today, I rarely touch an iron to my clothes.

But, it’s the most important step in making a garment or a quilt. It’s the difference between having a garment that looks professionally made instead of one that looks homemade. No matter your level of sewing, pressing is THE MOST critical step. Yes, it takes extra time and sometimes I’d like to skip it if I’m in a hurry, but I don’t. I expect to spend about as much time at my ironing board as I do at my sewing machine.

Any brand of iron that gets hot and stays hot will work! Steam is my personal preference.

To press, pick up the iron and then set it down on a different part of the cloth, applying heat to the cloth with only a small amount of pressure. It's not hard to do, but bearing down on the iron and rubbing the hot surface back and forth can cause stretching and make your fabric out of whack.

“Setting” your stitches gets out any puckering or little wrinkles and melts the stitches into the fabric.

Don’t try and save all the ironing until the end. You need to “press as you sew,” and always before crossing it with another seam.

As for quilting, I won't cut into fabric before it's been washed. Pressing is definitely needed when fabric comes out of the dryer. Even if the fabric doesn't look like it needs it, pressing with steam or starch can really help avoid problems later. This will make it easier to cut more accurately. Isn’t that what quilting is all about?

When you work with dark and light colors the seams are always pressed to the dark side to prevent the dark colors from shadowing through to the light colors.

Hmm, I guess this wasn’t so much about the “tool” as it was how to use it. I'm not an expert on irons, but my point is, use the iron. It’s your best friend in sewing.