THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

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.

December 21, 2006

How Many Machines Does It Take to Make a …

Filed under: Machines — Gorgeous Things @ 4:17 am

By Diva Ann, GorgeousThings 

While doing some research on my next industrial machine purchase, I came across a fascinating feature on the Juki website. It’s more fun than Word Whomp on This site lets you see what Juki products are recommended to make sewn goods. Do you want to make jeans? 14 different models of machines. How about a bra? That only takes 6 different models. It gives one a real appreciation for the capital outlay that sewn product manufacturers make. And it’s a lot of fun for machine junkies, too. Oh, and one more added benefit is that it gives you an overview of the steps taken to make a garment.

Just click on the picture of the garment type to see what machines are used.

Happy sewing!

August 5, 2006

The Joys of Industrial Machines – Part 2

Filed under: Machines — Gigi @ 9:51 am

This little gem of a machine is a Merrow 2DNR-1. It makes a perle edge like you would see on ready-made napkins, tablecloths and garments. At first glance, the perle edge looks like a rolled hem but it’s actually just a 2-thread overedge stitch. Does DNR mean “does not roll”? Who knows! The stitch length on this machine is controlled by a cam. When I acquired this machine a few years ago, I had a 32 spi (stitch per inch) feeder installed. I wanted to be able to achieve a nice solid edge without having to use texturized thread. The thread you see here in my samples is 40 wt. polyester machine embroidery thread. It’s much easier to get a perfect match this way.

Threading this machine does take a little practice. Some of the guides are internal and can only be threaded with a wire threader. Aside from sliding out the needle plate, the machine does not open up in any way for threading. It was a challenge at first but after a few tries I got the hang of it.

This machine uses a short, curved needle – system 60M/151×1.

The thread nestles in a groove on the curved side of the needle before being threaded into the eye. Sorry, about the red lint! That’s obviously leftover from some Slinky samples I was working on recently. The thread chain is also handy for those rare occasions when you might need thread belt or button loops.

This little machine just purrs along while effortlessly making a beautiful perle edge on either woven or knit fabrics.

If I use a knit and stretch the fabric,

I end up with a gorgeous lettuce edge.

I must confess that I recently toyed with the idea of selling this machine to make way for my 2nd coverstitch. While I love it, I don’t really use it all that often. Diva Mary Beth talked me out of selling it and she’s right. This model is hard to come by and, having sold my last domestic serger, I no longer have another machine that will do a narrow edge. Instead, I cut about 18″ off the left side of the table so it doesn’t take up quite as much space.

July 18, 2006

The Joys of Industrial Machines – Part 1

Filed under: Machines — Gigi @ 6:09 pm

Some months ago, I purchased a Kansai Special W8103F coverstitch machine. It has 5-thread capabilities: two or three needles with or without a top cover. It’s been great for hemming all of my knit garments! This weekend I decided it was time to practice with the binding attachment. This machine uses what is known as a post binder. The binding attachment mounts onto a post at the front of the machine vs. being screwed into the bed of a flatbed machine.

I currently own four types of binders: 1.5″ single-fold (meaning the lower edge is left raw), 1.25″ single-fold, 1.75″ double-fold (both the top and bottom edges are turned under) and a 3.5″ double-fold. I also have a 1 9/16″ double-fold and a 1″ double-fold on order. It’s nice to have a selection on hand. In retrospect, buying the 1.25″ single-fold binder was a bit of a mistake – there just isn’t enough difference between it and the 1.5″ binder to make it a justifiable purchase. Maybe it’ll come in handy sometime when I am short on fabric.

One-and-a-half inch binding is pretty standard. I have been able to amass a few rolls of precut binding. While I like cutting my own binding from my fashion fabric, these precut bindings are great for athletic wear.

Here is how the binder attaches to the machine. Since I’ve only used flatbed mounted binders until now, it took a little practice to get everything lined up just right.

The machine in action. The fold of the binding is about even with the bed of the machine so that I can simply guide the garment into the fold, being careful not to stretch the garment.

The finished product, a beautifully bound edge.

I love this finish so much that I’ve decided to buy a 2nd coverstitch – a flat bed – and keep this one set up with a binder all the time.

June 28, 2006

Buttonholes on 38th St.

Filed under: Closures,Machines — georgene @ 9:42 am

by Diva Georgene

I guess Galaxy on 38th St. between 7th and 8th Ave. in Manhattan’s Garment Center doesn’t need the designer’s buttonhole business anymore. I was in despair until I found Jonathan’s on the same side of the street closer to 8th Ave.

Ostensibly an embroidery business at a storefront level, they do a land office business making buttonholes. I’ve seen people lined up with everything from duvet covers to fine men’s suits. You can see a lot of different designer lines coming thru here, as many sample studios do not have industrial buttonhole machines. To avoid that ‘loving hands at home’ look, a professional buttonhole is necessary.

It’s hard to find a Reece style buttonhole anywhere anymore. Stand in line, pick your thread color, and wait. Or if you have a big bag o’ stuff, drop it off and come back in 30 minutes.

Great service, and when you need it, you really need it.

Those of you who live in proximity to New York City will appreciate this service – get your buttonholes done, and shop the Garment Center for fabric while you wait. Did I mention that Spandex House is almost directly across the street?

See their website . I was able to get heatset rhinestones added to an embroidery done in China, when my supplier forgot to put them on the sample. Thanks to Sunny at Jonathan’s I was able to look like a hero!

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