25. Press all bindings and pockets before construction
Doing as much prep work before you start sewing is a smart way to get you sewing efficiently. On this line, press all your bindings and pockets first. A pocket that’s finished and waiting to be stitched on will be a pocket that doesn’t put a kink in sewing your fronts/back.
Likewise, bindings can be somewhat time-consuming to deal with when they’re not pressed first. Save yourself another trip across to the ironing board and press that binding beforehand.
26. Have an ironing notions organizer
There’s lots of doodads and tools that are useful for pressing. From iron cleaner to interfacing tapes to hemming aids, and your press cloth, there’s a lot of things to keep track of. Install a shelf or some kind of a hanging organizer to keep track of all of these things.
I made my own organizer, but a hanging shoe organizer would be another option. The next time you need to press hems or seams, you won’t waste time looking around for your gizmos. Here’s what I keep in my organizer:
27. Use specialty fabric press cloths
If you’re working with a napped fabric like velvet or corduroy, save a big scrap of it and use it as a press cloth. Napped fabrics can get crushed by an iron. It’s often recommended to use a needle board, but they are pricey. I’m guessing you don’t sew velvet everyday anyhow.
A piece of the same fabric will protect the nap of the fabric from getting crushed and prevent shine. If you crush a velvet or shiny it up with your Hulk smashing ironing habits, it’s not easy to recover. One of these free press cloths will save you some sewing time by not messing it up in the first place.
If you’re working with a napped fabric like velvet or corduroy, save a big scrap of it and use it as a press cloth. Napped fabrics can get crushed by an iron. It’s often recommended to use a needle board, but they are pricey. I’m guessing you don’t sew velvet everyday anyhow. A piece of the same fabric will protect the nap of the fabric from getting crushed and prevent shine. If you crush a velvet or shiny it up with your Hulk smashing ironing habits, it’s not easy to recover. One of these free press cloths will save you some sewing time by not messing it up in the first place.
28. Make hemming guides from file folders
This is one of my favorite ideas for sewing efficiently. Take a regular file folder and mark any width of hem allowance you need with a mechanical pencil and ruler. I say use a mechanical pencil because they have crisp, fine lines that keep the wonky away.
Use a ruler and a rotary cutter to cut the strips. Cut several different widths. I have 3/8″, 1/2″, 5/8″, 3/4″, 1″, 1 1/4″, 1 1/2″, 1 5/8″…and so on. You get the idea. There’s a lot and file folders are cheap, so make as many as you think you need. Mark the specific width on each strip with a fine sharpie.
Now any time you need to press up a hem, grab a strip and use the edge as a guide. You can press right over them. They prevent fabric shine too!
If they get a little too steamy, just lay them out on your ironing board and let them dry out before you use them again. They will easily last for a couple years of regular use.
29. Have water close by your iron
Keep water nearby your iron. Most of us don’t have gravity feed irons with big giant water tanks. Save yourself some time and hassle and keep a gallon jug of water near your iron at all times.
You won’t run out of steam (literally!) and they don’t take up much space.
Ditto with a spray bottle. Keep a filled spray bottle for all those moments you need a little extra steam.
30. Keep a basket of pressing tools under your iron
If you’ve never used a tailor’s ham, stop reading this and buy one now. You’ll press curves much better. Okay, now that you have a ham, maybe think about a clapper (trap that steam, shape that lapel, whack out your frustrations), a sleeve board, or some other tailoring gadget. There might be a hanging strip of curved molding that I paid way too much for at a sewing expo for pressing open pants seams…
Keep all of these pressing widgets in a little basket under your ironing board. You may have to stop your 3 year old from using the ham as a step stool (true), but you will have nice neatly pressed details on all your garments.
I really can’t imagine sewing without my ham, sleeve roll, and clapper/point presser. They are 3 of my favorite in my 11 helpful sewing tools list.
31. Use interfacing tape
Remember how I told you not to throw away your scraps of interfacing from when you were block interfacing way back in tip #18? Now you’re putting it to use. Rolls of interfacing tape are a huge time saver. Interfacing that’s cut the right width of a hem and fused in place means a nicely pressed and lightly structured hem every time.
I love SewKeysE tape from Emma Seabrooke. But there are days when I’m running low on my various interfacing tapes. For these times, cut your own from interfacing scraps you have. These are great for stabilizing shoulder seams or smaller hems like sleeves.