See previous post on using a pressing ham to press parts of garments that go over the curved areas of our bodies.

A ham can be expensive, so what about making your own pressing tools ?
(well, not the iron. . .)

Improvise an ironing board with a folded blanket or throw on a flat surface.

Though make sure all materials you use are made of a fibre that won’t be damaged by the temperature of a hot iron.

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Fabric items

The Merchant and Mills Sewing book contains patterns and instructions for ham, seam roll, and ironing board cover.

Kwik Sew 3571 was a pattern for making a pressing ham, seam roll, and ironing board cover, sadly now out of print.


Ironing board cover

Here’s a photo tutorial on making your own ironing board cover, from Tilly and the Buttons. (I would add about 3″ / 7-8cm round the edge when cutting out.)
Or search ‘make ironing board cover’ to get many videos and tutorials .

Pressing ham

Here’s a video by Lori Griffiths about making a pressing ham.
She takes 35 mins to show every step, so you might make your own in not much more time.

Lori Griffiths fills her ham with old 100% cotton tee shirts. I don’t agree with this. This is not like filling a soft toy, which needs to be cuddly. A pressing ham needs to be as firmly filled as you can manage.
‘Professional’ hams are filled with sawdust.
The filling needs to be able to stand up to a hot iron. So don’t use polyester toy filling.

Here’s a photo tutorial from Jamie Kemp on making a ‘large’ pressing hem (he uses wood shavings.)

See the video instructions above for detail about how to close the opening – video timing from about 29.30 minutes.
More difficult to fill with sawdust ! I suggest using a side opening if you stuff with fabric, an end opening if you fill with sawdust.

Here’s a photo tutorial, with link to pattern, from Tilly and the Buttons. She does use sawdust.

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Pressing mitt

I haven’t found a good tutorial on making a pressing mitt.
A pressing mitt is a close relative of an oven mitt, but without the thumb shape. So use an oven mitt for pressing if need be. And adapt one of the many oven mitt patterns to make a pressing mitt, by leaving out the thumb shape.

Here’s a detailed 16 minute video about making an oven mitt, from Professor Pincushion.
This oven mitt is very well insulated.

No need to download their pattern, as you can omit the thumb shape. Just draw round your spread hand and add seam allowances, to make your pressing mitt pattern.

Some notes on the oven mitt instructions :
You might want less quilting stitching on a pressing mitt, so they don’t affect the pressing. Perhaps every 3in./8 cm.

When doing the quilting, sew all the lines in the same direction. This may seem more trouble than just turning the fabric round and sewing alternate lines in opposite directions, but you’ll get a much better result if you sew them all the same way !

Make a longer loop (say a 3 in./ 8 cm strip) if you want your mitt to be easy to hang anywhere.

If I was making an oven mitt with thumb shape, I would shorten the stitch when sewing the V inside the thumb, to strengthen the corner. I would also take a couple of stitches across the bottom of the V, to make it easier to turn.

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Seam roll

A seam roll is great help for pressing seams in fabrics where, if you press flat, the seam allowances imprint their shape on the main fabric.
It can also substitute for a sleeve board to press sleeve and pant leg seams.
For a quick emergency seam roll, simply roll up some magazines tightly, push them into the cardboard core of a kitchen towel roll, and lay some fabric over it.

Here’s a post on making a proper seam roll, with pdf pattern, from Tilly and the Buttons.

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Separate post on making wooden pressing tools : a sleeve board and pressing board.
Make your own pressing tools – from wood

Unlike an iron, these pressing tools aren’t essential. But do make your own in your favourite fabric style 😀

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Originally written March 2014, links checked November 2021.

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