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Controlling Impressions

  We want our sewing projects to create an impression, but we don’t want our seam allowances to make an impression on the right side of our fabric. We are told that inserting heavy paper or “tag board” between the seam allowances and the body of the project before pressing the seam open can avoid show-through on the right side of the fabric. The same paper products make excellent pressing templates when either cut into the shape you need or marked with the width you want to turn up with your iron.

As useful as these can be, if they’re not handy when we go to the iron, how likely are we to search for them or stop to make new ones?

ASG Chicago member-sewing educator Carol Scott has a solution. She cut a set of strips, marked some at the widths she needs and left others blank, punched a hole in each one and put them on a loose-leaf ring. She hangs the set by the ring next to her ironing board so it is within reach whenever she needs it. The metal ring opens and closes easily so she can remove the strips she needs and replace them when she is done.

When I made up my own set, I added long strips of brown paper. Claire Shaeffer explains that brown paper can absorb more moisture from steam ironing and thus is preferred in couture sewing rooms. The rest of my strips are from manilla file folders. Lingerie pattern designer Jan Bones notes that white paper or tag board has been bleached and could discolor fabric when used as a pressing template, whereas that wouldn’t happen with manila file folders. Of course, all template markings are made with a Sharpie so they are permanent.

With these little helpers readily at hand, you can press seam allowances open without fear of making unwanted ridges in your projects and press up hems, pocket edges, inset pieces and other details quickly and accurately.

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2 Responses

  1. Great self-made notion! I have made and used the same strip templates. Another way I’ve used this idea is to cut a shape of a collar in manila paper and used that as a sewing template for accuracy.

  2. this is a great idea — especially with the addition of the brown paper alternative. Thanks!

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