THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

July 20, 2008

Table Talk


This photo from last year’s New York Times slide show of the Christian LaCroix workrooms is inspiring. A simple wooden table, a portable machine underneath, a stool. What more could you want?

The cutting table is your most basic tool. Raise your hand if you are not cutting on a table at waist height. 2 points off if you are cutting on a cardboard mat on your bed. An additional 4 demerits if you are cutting on the floor. I know, I know. You don’t have the space, or the money to have a dedicated cutting table.

When we first moved to New York City, my dear husband and I were poor as the proverbial church mice. We had one room in a shared apartment. So we built folding saw horses, and put a piece of plywood on top, and that was my table. But what a table! It was painted an elegant matte black, and for the saw horse hardware I used gold metal cuphooks and window hanging sash chain to fix the width between the legs. Saw horse tables are easy to make, and can be put up and down with ease.

Check out Ikea’s version, the Artur.

Now to me, the width of the table top in this photo is not nearly wide enough…and I am not sure I want a glass tabletop. You can use a different tabletop with the Artur legs though, which are adjustable from 28″ to 36″ high. My table is 36″, as are most commercial cutting tables. Here is a nifty link for folding sawhorse plans. This other plan with a simple hinge is closer to my NYC sawhorses, but with the cross piece at the bottom higher up the leg. I had a some boards I could sling underneath to make a shelf that sat on top of those cross bars. Can you guess that my table was more or less a permanent part of our bedroom? For those who might like to trade up, check out the Ligne Roset Trestle Table. My DH could totally make this elegant version of the sawhorse table!

Seriously though, your table can have a huge impact on your results. From not being able to get the proper angle for cutting those niggling little curves and notches, to dreading cutting because you break your back every time, there are a hundred reasons why not having a proper table can hurt your results. This is true not only for cutting, but for having a place to lay out your work in progress. All kinds of garment sewing require large surfaces at waist height, and most particularly when working on home decorating projects.

What matters? Not only height, but width, and, tables are not just for cutting!

The main thing for home dec is to have a BIG PRESSING TABLE.

One of the biggest revelations I ever had was walking by a design shop in Paris, up near the Sacre Coeur and watching thru the window as they laid the curtains out on a huge padded table at waist height to press. Light bulb moment!

I now have a layer of padding I can roll out on my cutting table to turn it into a pressing table. I also got 2 giant pieces of ½” thick foamcore and duct-taped together for a folding mat to make it 60” wide if needed. (had to do that for the taffeta of the recent prom dress.) You can see it here propped up in the corner.

I can think of nothing more helpful than a large table at the proper height for any curtain or bedspread wrangling. I even put the portable sewing machine up on the table and sew standing up for the big wide jobs.

This commercial set-up for a drapery workroom is interesting on several levels. I love the little skirt in front that looks like it can be extended to allow the fabric to fall in to it to keep from dragging on the floor. Also, check out the table-top pad. Now there is a really smart idea, to put elastic around your pad, sort of like a fitted bottom sheet for the bed. I just have some layers of flannel sheet and gigantic beach towel that I roll out, but this is worth a try. I am definitely going to adopt this idea for my table.

Also see this clever portable folding cardboard cutting table. Not widely available yet, but congrats to the person came up with this idea.

February 27, 2007

Pressing equipment part 2

Filed under: Els,Notions,Pressing,Tools — Els @ 6:00 am

Since there were some questions asked by readers of the previous post I will try to answer those.

Pressing tools like hams,  clappers, steam rolls  can be ordered from suppliers of tailoring tools like wardrobesupplies  or greenburg-hammer in the USA.

Pressing aids from the UK

Different shaped tailor’s hams from my supplier in The Netherlands

Some of you asked for information about where to look for the press buck ( persbok)

To my knowledge this rectangle one is a Dutch design, made for a  tailoring course at a fashion school, I never saw this rectangle shape outside The Netherlands.

And I was lucky to find one at a Dutch Auction site.

If you are interested in buying one, let me know and I can look around to see if I can find another one.

Press bucks and tailoring hams are used by tailors and dressmakers and are available in different shapes and have different pressing features, like you can see from these German tailor suppliers, the press bucks  from  schlemming.de  are velvet covered . Like this one.

The bucks from  k-m-versand  are covered with linen.

ebay has an auction for a bügelblock covered with linen right now

I could not find any information about ordering from outside Germany, but it will give you an idea what kind of bucks are used in tailoring and dressmaking.

At the famous vintagesewinginfo website you can find lots of info for pressing  like pressing needs for pressing ,

scope of tailoring 

Pressing techniques can be found in a lot of vintage tailoring/ dressmaking books .

A  pattern for making different kinds of pressing hams and a ham holder can be bought from fiber-images.com

February 22, 2007

Pressing equipment part 1

Filed under: Els,Machines,Notions,Pressing — Els @ 7:00 am

Like anyone who sews, we all know the important part of sewing is pressing. It starts with preshrinking the fabric prior to cutting  the fabric, but also the pressing which takes place in the process of sewing the garment.

Ann already showed in Threads magazine issue 126 how to use  some pressing tools and if you missed that article you can see Ann’s video clip Pressing tools

My pressing equipment: a vacuum suction pressing board , steam iron with a 3,5 liter water tank, the  sleeve board is turned under the board .My pressing board is 116 cm long ( 45 inch) and 38 cm wide ( 15 inch) The pedal on the ground is used for the suction function.My press iron has a Teflon cover.

pressing station 3,5 liter water tank vacuum suction board

You can see the sleeve board ready to use.

 My singer press which I use  for fusing interfacing

Besides the use of the oval shaped edge of the pressing and sleeve board, I use several pressing tools, like this large tailor’s ham for any contoured  shapes or curves  like princes seams in jackets, coats and dresses. 

This small one , which I covered on one side with a piece of wool crepe fabric I use for bust and waist darts and collars, sleeve cap easing etc.

I have a June Tailor hamholder but I hardly use it, maybe because it does not fit my small tailor’s ham very well. Probably the size of the US tailor’s hams are different than my Dutch one.

You can see the difference of the two hams in size now they are on top of each-other.

A press buck ( in Dutch called pers bok) which has a different shape,  straight lines and curved corners. The buck has a wooden base and legs, the size of the rectangle is 31 cm ( 12,5 inch) wide 22 cm ( 8,5 inch) the padding is 5 cm thick ( 2 inch) The total height is 23 cm ( 9 inch) which is lower than the all known oval shaped ham.

The advantage of this press buck is the different shape and size above the other 2 hams.Use for pressing seams open like shoulders, bust area, neckline, collars and darts .

I bought this buck last year for only € 16.00 it is a used one but still in a very good condition. New ones costs about € 50.00. Tailor hams are expensive but will last a lifetime. 

Point presser/clapper is a great tool to press seams open and to beat the steam into the fabric to flatten bulky edges.

Point turner to press open for the hard to reach seams where the point presser is of no help.

  

But also a wooden spoon is a great tool, even a wooden chopstick can be helpful.

 Also a toothpick or large embroidery needle with a blunt end helps to press a dart open,

I inherited this press block from my grandfather who was a tailor but I only show you this because it is old one (about 80 years)  and not very smooth anymore , but I keep this for sentimental value.

I asked a timber to make me some new press blocks from steamed beech wood because the advantage of steamed beech wood is, it will not bend out of shape .

 

The large block is great for pressing seams open like pants or any long seams, and I use those blocks to flatten seams while cooling down.

You can see a detailed picture of the shape of these blocks here, the small one is a rectangle while the large one is a curved one. They can also be used by pressing the seams open or to flatten the edges from a jacket or coat while the fabric is cooling down.

The seam roll is made from a Saturday newspaper tightly rolled and covered with 2 layers of fabric, the first one is cotton the second layer of wool fabric .

The handle of a  shoe-brush made of unvarnished wood is also helpful as a pressing block and the brush side I use for removing threads or brush fabric.

 

For sleeves I use the sleeve board but sometimes the arm roll gets some use too, this one is made to use with a dress form but I like to use it as a seam roll for a 2 piece sleeve. Here you can  see the upper side.

The underside of the arm.

Card board rolls for ironing or pressing very long seams,

As press cloths I use silk organza

As well as fine linen cloths.

I made a sort of mitt from 4 layers of heavy Terry which  can be helpful if I need to press any small curved seam.

 There are many ways to prevent pressing imprints like,

 brown paper strips.

Templar sheets used for appliques are a great tool to prevent pressing imprints.

 I cut the desired shape for example if I need to press a bound buttonhole.

 Pressing a bound buttonhole form the inside , you can see the Templar sheet is placed around the bound buttonhole edges.

No visible pressing imprints.

Because you can cut the desired shape I use those sheets too for pressing mitered corners on a skirt or jacket hem.  

A teflon sheet is also a helping hand ,

To seal, seam seal tape for covering the seams in rain coats.

Another tool which I inherited from my grandfather was a wooden hat shaping block, and I found it very useful to use as a pressing aid when I made a hat and needed to press the seams open. Here you can see the hat block closed.

And open.

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