For high quality final results, press after every sewing step.

First sew. Then finish the seam allowances if need be.
Here are my posts on sewing an open seam and getting a good zigzag finish to the seam allowances.
Then press.

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Press the seam flat as sewn

I haven’t found a video or written tutorial which shows clearly all the steps I want to mention.

The first pressing step is to press the fabric flat as sewn. This minimises any fabric distortion caused by the stitching.

Here’s a photo from (see the pink stitching).


The video from Threads magazine on sewing an open seam shows this sort of pressing briefly, at about time 5 minutes.

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Press the seam open

Here’s a video tutorial from Deborah Moebes of Whipstitch.

Deborah’s video shows :
– pressing the seam to one side – used in quilting to stop the wadding from leaking out,
– pressing the seam open – used in dressmaking to make less bulk.
She doesn’t show the first pressing step in garment sewing, pressing the seam flat as sewn.

You may need to take special care so the seam allowances don’t mark the ‘right’ side of the sewing. Two solutions :
– use a seam roll. When the seam is pressed along the top of the roll, the curve of the roll means the seam allowances aren’t in contact with the main fabric.
– use strips of heavy paper between the seam allowance and the main fabric.

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So in review, the steps are :
– press the seam flat as sewn, to ‘set the stitches’.
– ‘finger press’ the seam open before using the iron. This may seem unnecessary hassle, but it helps to make sure you don’t press a pleat along the seam, as they’re difficult to get rid of.
– press the seam open with your iron.
– press the seam again but from the right side.

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Pressing in general

Here are a couple of general tutorials on pressing.

written tutorial from Tilly and the Buttons.

video tutorial from FashionSewingBlog.

For a quality result, it’s best to press each sewing step as it’s done. If you wait to do your pressing until all the sewing is completed, you’ll find most of it is difficult to get at.

If the surface of your fabric could be altered by direct contact with your iron, you need to use a pressing cloth.
Do find some silk organza to use as a pressing cloth. It really is a lovely tool.

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Many people who make video sewing tutorials don’t show the pressing steps, as it requires another camera set-up. This is sad as it makes pressing seem unimportant and trivially easy.

Some people say you should spend more time pressing than sewing !
Pressing is one of the most important steps for making sure your clothes don’t look ‘home made’.

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Links available January 2014

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