Monday, November 23, 2009

Pressing Tip

I always have trouble pressing a block with lots of seam intersections so that the seams are really flat. A hard ironing board and a heavy iron help, but I don't like steam. Lately, I've been trying this method, which I like, and I thought I'd pass it on. It will be familiar to anyone who has done lots of garment sewing, especially tailoring, but I've never heard it mentioned by quilters, and I never thought of it myself until recently.

Here's the basket block; see all the nasty intersections to make flat. There are more on the other side too.



Here's the tool I'm using. I don't know what this is called, but it's used to press seams open before they're pressed together, and it has all those weird curves and points to accommodate different seams. For quilting all you need is a long flat piece of wood; a 12 inch piece of 2 by 2 would work fine. Wood is the best because it is a good conductor of heat and pulls the heat out of the fabric quickly so that the seam cools in the position you want it to be.

All you do is press the seam together, then open the block and press the seam to the side, as usual. While the fabric is hot, put the wood piece on the seam, press down, and hold it for about 10 seconds or so.



You end up with a flat seam without worrying about scorching or puckering from steam. If you really want to use steam, give just a second of steam before you put the wood down.


(Do you think that woman needs cosmetic surgery on her hands? Yikes!)

14 comments:

paula, the quilter said...

It's called a clapper. Thanks for reminding me of that. I actually use a 2x4 that has been sanded smooth.

The Calico Cat said...

clapper - but Paula beat me to that.

Low tech to the rescue!

Kim said...

My grandmother had one - never knew what she used it for. Thanks.

Rian said...

Interesting. Never saw one of those before. I never use steam either. I spritz my clothes the old fashoned way and roll 'em up before pressing. My irons last a whole lot longer that way.

Nellie's Needles said...

Actually that's a little ironing board for shaped seams that you're using as a clapper. The clapper is an oblong thick piece of wood that is shaped to easily hold it in your hand. Both of these pressing tools are made by June Taylor.

I've been using the clapper on the finished binding of my quilts. Nothing else makes those corners with the extra fabric in them lie nice and flat.

Joyce said...

Sounds interesting. I'll have to watch our thrift stores for a clapper.

Vicki W said...

It's a great too and actually any smooth block of wood will do. No need to buy an actual clapper.

Debra said...

Technically, it's called a Point Presser & a clapper. A 2fer tool!

Beena said...

I have never seen one of these before. But I've heard of people using a wooden cutting board (that's bought especially just for sewing, not for food), when ironing quilting seams. People swear by the pressing of seams on wood to get them really flat.

Libby Fife said...

Well, that is the best tip I have heard in a really long time. Thanks for sharing it. I will need to get some wood I think and maybe even modify my ironing board a bit.

jenclair said...

I've never seen one of these, but thanks for sharing another great tip!

Liz said...

Oh my. I learned to use one of those a lo-o-o-o-ong time ago and have since forgotten it completely! I know what I'll be looking for now!

Kathleen said...

Thanks for the tip. Pressing is the most challenging part of quilting for me.

*karendianne. said...

Now this is something I could really use!!!

Just one more thing I picked up coming out of the basement.