Pressing Matters: General Info and ONE BIG SECRET

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Episode Summary

This episode talks about the differences between pressing and ironing. We also talk about how to get that tissue paper or printed PDF pattern BACK IN THE ENVELOPE!

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[00:00:00] Lisa Woolfork: Hey stitchers. Welcome to stitch please. The official podcast of black women's stitch, the sewing group, where black lives matter. I'm Lisa woo fork. Your host coming to you from Charlottesville, Virginia. I am a fourth generation sewing enthusiast with more than 20 years of sewing experience. I'm happy to be here and looking forward to today's conversation.
[00:00:40] Lisa Woolfork: Welcome back. Today, we're gonna be talking about pressing matters and by pressing, I mean, how do we use the iron that we keep in our sewing room? The conversation will be divided into general and specific. So for the first part of the conversation today, I wanna talk about general things. Just cover some basics, particularly the difference between ironing and [00:01:00] pressing.
[00:01:00] Lisa Woolfork: And then after the break, talk a little bit about something specific and today's specific conversation you are going to wanna hear, because I'm gonna answer. Eternal question how to get the paper pattern back in the envelope. So let's start with the, the general definitions ironing versus pressing. We are using an iron, of course, to.
[00:01:29] Lisa Woolfork: Work on our sewing projects. I think it's always important to have an iron nearby. I have lots of different types of irons and I can get into that for a different conversation, but just suffice it to say that ironing and pressing are two different things. Ironing. Is what you do after the garment is finished or your project is finished.
[00:01:53] Lisa Woolfork: Pressing is what you do to help craft the integrity [00:02:00] of your project as you are going along. So if you think about it this way, Pressing is a construction step. An ironing is a maintenance step. So you make a blouse. You press, as you go along, you press the seams, you press all these things. And then after you made the blouse and you wash it, or you send it to the cleaners, the cleaners will press it.
[00:02:23] Lisa Woolfork: Will iron it, or you will iron it after you pull it out of the dryer. I tend to think about ironing as a maintenance step, not necessarily a construction step one. Another way to think about it or that I think about it is when I'm pressing, I'm taking the iron and I'm pressing down the motion that I am using.
[00:02:45] Lisa Woolfork: As I'm constructing is one of pressing down ironing is moving back and forth. I see that much more as a dynamic type of gesture. I'm, you know, [00:03:00] I'm moving the. Uh, the iron around to cover a lot of surfaces, but you don't really do that when you are sewing. Like if you are pressing a seam open, for example, you're not necessarily sliding the iron back and forth, you're pressing it down, lifting it up and moving to another spot and then pressing it down again.
[00:03:21] Lisa Woolfork: So if you think about pressing as pressing and ironing as this gesture, almost like, um, I'm not sure like how to describe. Ironing, basically moving your hand from left to right from back to forth or in circles, depending on how much fabric you're trying to straighten out, they both achieve. The same. They both achieve the same result where you have something that's, um, flat that's a little bit warm.
[00:03:55] Lisa Woolfork: However, pressing is a better way [00:04:00] to think about what you should be doing when you are constructing your garments. Um, for me, I love pressing, but I hate. Ironing. And I think that's because I love to sew and I love the process of construction, but I don't love really the, um, what happens afterwards, like laundry.
[00:04:22] Lisa Woolfork: Like I love to sew, but I don't love. Laundry and laundry is eventually what you get. If you make a lot of clothes, you're gonna have to iron them at some point, except that I'm terrible at that. My sisters are really great. They, we all have boys and they would iron their kids' clothes like before school or before preschool, even when they were like toddlers.
[00:04:44] Lisa Woolfork: And I was like, Ugh. I'm just gonna have the wrinkly kids in the class because I am not ironing clothes for a two year old or a four year old or a 15 year old though. I do honor. I do iron a little bit from my teenage son. If you know. [00:05:00] I happen to be down there and the iron is on and I have a few minutes.
[00:05:04] Lisa Woolfork: I'm like, yeah, okay. I guess I'll iron these pants, but that doesn't happen that often. And I'm usually not that, that bored that I would do that. Um, but ironing is, it is a necessary maintenance step. Um, even if it's not one that I particularly love, but pressing is an absolute, I think, mandatory step for.
[00:05:25] Lisa Woolfork: Sewing. And I know sometimes it can be really, um, time consuming and it seems to slow down the process, but in the end it's ultimately worth it. You'll get better results. I remember a recent conversation on Instagram and someone was asking, should I press this? Collar seem before I unders stitch it. And in all honesty, sometimes I do.
[00:05:54] Lisa Woolfork: And sometimes I don't. However, the way that unders stitching works is that it's supposed to help [00:06:00] keep the flat, um, keep that seam nice and flat. And so that when you turn it over, it looks really. And if you're gonna go through the trouble of making a shirt or making a garment, that's gonna fit a certain way around the neck.
[00:06:16] Lisa Woolfork: Why not take a step and just. St get up or roll to wherever you have your ironing board. I have one set up next to my sewing machine and I have one, a larger one set up a little bit across the room and just take your ham and press your seam over there before you do the unders stitching and it makes the unders stitching that much easier to manage.
[00:06:40] Lisa Woolfork: So, um, I think that I just wanted to, to emphasize that pressing and ironing are different and pressing will really help create the, make your sewing life easier and make the results in the end that much better.[00:07:00]
[00:07:01] Lisa Woolfork: now that we've talked about the difference between pressing and ironing. Let's talk about a few tools that will help make your pressing that much easier and more effective and sometimes a bit more efficient. The first thing I wanted to mention.
[00:07:19] Lisa Woolfork: Is a pressing cloth, pressing cloth is a piece of fabric or other material that will go between your garment, your project, and your iron. I have several different pressing cloths. The one I use the I'll tell you about the, the first one, the first one is a Teflon pressing cloth. This is if you do a lot of work with adhesives, like wonder under and, um, Steam ISIM steam ISIM light.
[00:07:50] Lisa Woolfork: Steam is seem to these fusible webs that are very popular. Um, I really enjoy using the Thermo webs, especially wonder under I [00:08:00] use, I used to use a lot of wonder under, and even now that I'm using less wonder under because I'm using less, um, I'm doing less crafty type sewing these days. I still use fue tapes to stabilize my sea allowances and.
[00:08:18] Lisa Woolfork: In advance. There's this wonderful tape that I like by. So Kesy, and it is a fue lightweight that you can put in your seams before you sew them. And it really does. It really does help them. And so you still would like a Telon cloth is good because any of the fuss that get ironed on, um, to your, let that spill over.
[00:08:42] Lisa Woolfork: Onto either the ironing board or onto the iron. Um, you can avoid that by having a te line press cloth. If you are in a pinch and you don't have a te line cloth, you can use parchment paper. Um, parchment paper is something you can buy at the grocery store. It [00:09:00] is not, I repeat it is not. Wax paper. It is parchment paper.
[00:09:05] Lisa Woolfork: It is the kind of paper you can use for when you are baking cookies. Um, I buy it in bulk at Costco. I get a really big roll and I have it set up next to my heat press actually, but it really does. Um, Deflect from a lot of the problems that could happen with adhesives being stuck to your iron. Another thing I wanted to mention is, uh, the different kind of, oh, so that, that first thing was the Teflon press cloth.
[00:09:32] Lisa Woolfork: But the, and there's another press cloth that I just got and that's supposed to be, it has some kind of chemical or something like that in it that prevents it from, um, that, that keeps it from. I don't know, doing something. I haven't tried it yet. So, um, how I'm not recommending it or not recommending it, but I did buy it to try, but it's supposed to set the pleats and creases and [00:10:00] stuff in collars better.
[00:10:02] Lisa Woolfork: I don't know how it's gonna be different than a, um, regular press cloth and stuff that I use all the time, except that I was filling up a shopping card. And I was like, well, this is only like $3. So. Let me just put it in here. So that's why I got it. Um, and then finally, the one I use the most is a press and cloth that I got when my, um, now college age student was a baby and I was taking a sewing class and I didn't have a press cloth.
[00:10:31] Lisa Woolfork: And the teacher gave this to me. It was an old, um, Not diaper or maybe it was like a, a kind of a, a diaper, but was really, really thin. It looks more like a handker chip. And I guess you were meant to fold them up in such a way that it would go into a diaper or something. I don't know how it worked, but I've always had very warm feelings about that.
[00:10:54] Lisa Woolfork: And I have kept it for more than 20. Um, and I use it all the time. [00:11:00] It's ragged around the edges and, but it really is quite perfect. So it has like a sentimental value for me, but I use it, um, quite often. And if it gets dirty, you could always just wash it. And speaking of your, uh, press cloth being dirty.
[00:11:17] Lisa Woolfork: Um, I could talk a little bit about how to clean your iron. Now, if you have a good press cloth, especially a Teflon one, or you use parchment paper, your iron won't get stuff on it. That's the, that's the best method I'm sure of keeping your iron clean. Um, or cleaning your iron is to make sure it doesn't get covered in adhesive in the first place.
[00:11:38] Lisa Woolfork: Um, but one way that I, there's two things that I use to make sure to clean my iron. And the first is a, um, Used dryer sheet. So this is, this is important. Dryer sheets have been talked a lot. I've heard a lot of people talk about dryer sheets and recommending them. And it's like, I tried that dryer sheet [00:12:00] and it stuck to my iron and I'm like, not.
[00:12:03] Lisa Woolfork: A brand new dryer sheet. It can't be a brand new dryer sheet straight out of the box because that has all that stuff on it. Like whatever they put on it to keep your clothes from clinging to each other. That's in that sheet. So of course, if you put a hot iron on it, it's gonna make a mess. No. When I recommend a dryer sheet to clean off, um, an iron.
[00:12:23] Lisa Woolfork: I mean a used one, which is kind of nice because you know, it helps to give it a little bit more life before you throw it in the trash. So I'll take the dryer sheet, the used one out of the dryer. I have a little jar where I stuff used dryer sheets, all of which is just making my family think that I am a, um, super hoard.
[00:12:43] Lisa Woolfork: Who keeps things that should be thrown away. However, the used dryer sheets are really good for cleaning the iron and all you do is just iron on them. And so if you have a little bit of light residue, it'll come off and then you can throw the dryer sheet away. And your family won't think that you are losing your marbles.
[00:12:59] Lisa Woolfork: [00:13:00] Um, the. Next thing that I use them most often of course, is a hot iron cleaner. And you can see this in the notions wall of, um, fabric stores. And it looks like toothpaste, but it is not toothpaste. Please. Don't put it on your toothbrush. Uh, you basically take a thick cloth. I have like old towels, how put some on the old towel and, uh, and then just wipe it along the hot iron.
[00:13:27] Lisa Woolfork: Sizzle. Um, and, but as you scrub it, it'll come off and it'll help restore your iron to its best health. Now we'll be talking more about pressing matters as the podcast continues, but today I just wanted to cover these basics about, um, the difference between ironing and pressing using a press cloth and cleaning your iron in case of emergency or accumulated.
[00:13:54] Lisa Woolfork: When we come back, we'll talk about how we can use our irons to answer that eternal [00:14:00] question, how to get that pattern. Back in that envelope stay tuned. Stitch, please. The black women's stitch podcast talks a lot about sewing, but if you'd like to see some of what we're discussing, we invite you to follow us on the socials on Facebook.
[00:14:19] Lisa Woolfork: You can find us at. Stitch please. And on Instagram, you can find us at black women's ditch on Instagram. You'll find a lot of great pictures and compelling social commentary. In addition, you can participate in a weekly live Instagram chat at 3:00 PM on Thursdays at Eastern standard time. So follow us on the socials.
[00:14:41] Lisa Woolfork: Facebook at stitch, please and Instagram at black women's stitch. And get your stitch together. Hey, stitch. This is thet you've been waiting for. I'm gonna talk about how ironing and pressing can help answer that age. Old question, how to get that pattern back in the [00:15:00] envelope. The first thing I wanna remind everyone of is that I think it's really important to iron your patterns.
[00:15:08] Lisa Woolfork: Yes. Iron them not press them. This is important because you know, if you're, and this is specifically about the big four patterns, tissue paper patterns, I will talk. And a little bit about what I do with the PDF patterns that I get printed in Y format. But since many people work with big four patterns and the big four IME McCall's Butterwick Vogue and simplicity because they're readily available to many people, at least in the us.
[00:15:37] Lisa Woolfork: And particularly at places like Joanne and Walmart, they can be low cost when they're on sale. So. Many people have experience with those. So when you take that pattern out of the envelope, it is essential. In my opinion, to iron it. So my procedure is [00:16:00] to get the pattern, pull it outta the envelope unfold.
[00:16:04] Lisa Woolfork: It, it looks like, you know, a map with all the, remember the maps. I'm like, I'm talking like maps are extinct. They kind of are. But, um, when I was a girl, um, we would go to, um, AAA and we still do this, go to AAA and get a trip tick and we get a map of the area. And you keep the map in your glove box and, um, of your car and you open your glove.
[00:16:28] Lisa Woolfork: Oh, if you got lost, you opened the map and you look to see where you were versus where you were in relation to this, this map, this sheet of paper. Of course, this is completely a. Obsolete, um, technology now, um, since many people use mobile phones and they have GPS in them and, but it's still, I would just say pro tip.
[00:16:48] Lisa Woolfork: It is pretty good to have a map in your car. If you're going somewhere, that's not gonna have wifi. And, um, or you're not, you don't know if you're, what, if you're wireless, our cellular service will work. And so it's [00:17:00] nice to just have some idea of where you are. So we've started carrying maps in, um, our cars.
[00:17:06] Lisa Woolfork: But back to the topic at hand, when you pull that pattern out of the envelope, it's gonna be folded like a map. There'll be rectangular indentations that even as you open. The sheet of the sheets of paper, you can still see those indentations and I, so my procedure is to pull the pattern out of the envelope, separate the sheets, make a, make a list, um, of what I need to cut, what the pieces are that I need to cut.
[00:17:34] Lisa Woolfork: and then I go about cutting them. So I'll take a I'll, you know, cut my bigger pieces, you know, the skirt, the Bodis, all of those pieces. I'll stack them together. And then I'm stuck with two piles. One pile that. Of pieces of a garment that I'm going to make. And then because many of those big four patterns have multiple views in one pattern, which is great because it gives you lots of [00:18:00] options for adaptations and hacking and alterations as well as you can get a.
[00:18:04] Lisa Woolfork: Um, many different garments out of just one envelope, but I'm not gonna make them all at the same time. So I pick a pattern cuz I wanna do view C or view D with view B sleeves or whatever. So I'm only gonna get the patterns that I need. So what do I do with those two piles, one pile of a pattern piece or pattern pieces.
[00:18:25] Lisa Woolfork: Excuse me. For the garment that I'm going to make. And then one that I'm not gonna make right now, I'll make it later. So what I do is this, I set aside all of the pieces that I'm going to not use, and I put them aside completely. Then I take the pieces that I'm going to use. I lay them on the iron board, one at a time and I iron them now I don't press them.
[00:18:51] Lisa Woolfork: I iron them. I use a warm iron, sometimes a hot iron, depending on what I'm doing. And I run that iron [00:19:00] along the pattern. This is why this is important. When you go to put your pattern down on your fabric, and if you haven't ironed it, you will notice that those same creases and ridges that were in the pattern originally.
[00:19:16] Lisa Woolfork: Are still there. So the first benefit of ironing, your pattern is to get those ridges out. So think the paper is smooth. The second benefit is that ironing, your pattern creates a small static charge, a small static, electricity, really small, nothing. That's gonna shock you or make the hair on your arm stand up or anything like that.
[00:19:48] Lisa Woolfork: But it does create a little bit of residual static clinging, and that is useful because it helps to. It helps your pattern to [00:20:00] adhere to the fabric. Now, of course, um, ideally you are ironing your fabric, not pressing your fabric. You are ironing your fabric before you start making whatever you're gonna make.
[00:20:09] Lisa Woolfork: Um, and so that ironed fabric with that ironed tissue paper pattern is a really good, it's a really good combination. I'm not saying that this prevents you from having to pin well, I never pin, I do not pin. I don't pin anything. Well, I pin darts. Um, but I tend to clip, use wonder clips for my seam says that'll be a different podcast for another day, but I'm not saying this is gonna prevent you from having to pin your pattern to your fabric.
[00:20:38] Lisa Woolfork: If that's what you choose to do. I use pattern weights. Um, and if you follow, um, black women's stitch on Instagram, you'll know that I. Um, pattern weights made by Bianca of thanks. I made them, she lives in Texas and she does a lot of sewing organizing stuff there and makes these delightful pattern weights.
[00:20:58] Lisa Woolfork: So that's what I [00:21:00] use. And the reason I love pattern weights is that it keeps you from having to pin things. Obviously because penning is for the birds. Um, except in rare cases. The great. Yeah. Okay. So I'm not gonna talk about why I love pattern weights. That'll be for another topic. I mean, honestly, we just can't be here all day.
[00:21:16] Lisa Woolfork: I'm sure you all have other things to do. Um, but. The static, clinging from ironing, the pattern paper to the fabric is pretty important just to kind of establish a small, small bond. Then you put your pins in. If you are a pinner, you use your pattern weights. If you are a pattern weight user, and then you can cut and it's, you know, useful then.
[00:21:44] Lisa Woolfork: AF after I've done all my well, before I mention, before I go with that, I wanted to mention and CA if you do alterations, if you do a full bust adjustment, if you mark darts on a pattern that, you know, you're gonna use more than once, which is I, I do those. I do both of those [00:22:00] things. I would highly recommend you investing in some heat.
[00:22:04] Lisa Woolfork: Resistant tape. Um, so what I do is if I'm marking darts on a paper, a tissue paper pattern, I'll take, um, a couple of strips of heat tape or heat resistant tape and put it over those dart lines. Then when I draw my wheel out for, to, um, to trace the darts that I trace my darts with, um, seral paper and a perforated or solid tracing wheel.
[00:22:31] Lisa Woolfork: It'll, it will perforate the pattern, of course, but it's not going to damage it so much that it falls apart. It does give it some stability. And because I believe in ironing, my patterns, I'm able to use the patterns again and again, and that, um, iron on tape. Or the heat resistant tape makes that really very useful.
[00:22:52] Lisa Woolfork: Um, because other before, before I discovered heat tape and I didn't discover heat tape until I started doing, [00:23:00] um, using my heat press for sublimation and, um, heat transfer vinyl work with my silhouette cameo. Um, So I just started not just started using that. I mean, that was maybe five years ago or whatever, six years ago, but heat tape was something that I did that, that I brought into my sewing recently.
[00:23:18] Lisa Woolfork: Um, and I've been really glad for it. So I'd say use heat tape as an option. If you know, you're gonna be cutting open your. Um, Bodis pieces for a full bust adjustment and other things, and you'll still be able to use this technique. I'm going to describe for putting the pattern back in the envelope, as well as keeping it neat and, um, helping it clinging to the PA the fabric before you start sewing, before you start cutting.
[00:23:43] Lisa Woolfork: So the next thing that the iron is good for, you know, you've pressed your pattern. It's all nice. You've cut it out. Um, everything is ready to go. You're ready to put that pattern back in the envelope. And here's the answer to that eternal question. How do you get that pattern back in the envelope? You [00:24:00] press it.
[00:24:01] Lisa Woolfork: That's it. That's the tweet. You press it, you take your iron and you fold. I, I make several folds, like I'll fold it horizontally so that it matches the width of the envelope. And then I'll fold it vertically. And so that it matches the, the length of the envelope. So that basically everything that I'm folding, I'm trying to get it back into that envelope shape, which is approximately six inches by nine inches.
[00:24:33] Lisa Woolfork: So as I'm folding the pattern, I make sure that when I'm measuring, when I have a really long skinny piece of like pile of paper, I make sure that it's no wider than six inches, maybe five and a half even. And then I'll fold those sides down. Then I fold the sides in, I take this, so I take the whole stack.
[00:24:54] Lisa Woolfork: Fold one side, press fold the other side press. And then I have this long, skinny [00:25:00] six inch or five and a half inch long stack of pattern pages. Then I fold them in a couple times until they measure about maybe eight and a half inches. And then I slide it back in the envelope and that's it easy PE. Lemon squeezy.
[00:25:16] Lisa Woolfork: And then for the other pieces that I didn't use, I do the exact same thing. So what I like to do is I have my patterns inside the envelope divided into two, um, sections, one for stuff that I've made and one for stuff that I'm going make later. So that way, when I wanna make the pattern again, Easy enough just to get, just to kind of pull out that pattern piece, um, that pattern section, and I'm ready to go.
[00:25:40] Lisa Woolfork: One last thing I wanted to add about the PDF patterns I've been printing my PDF patterns, and I will definitely have an episode about this in the future, talking about PDF patterns. Um, but I've been printing them off, um, at a site called PDF plotter. And it's great because the, the patterns come quickly [00:26:00] and I simply.
[00:26:02] Lisa Woolfork: Cannot tape patterns. Like the way my patience and life is set up is I cannot do that. And taping patterns slowly erodes my will to live. So I cannot tape. I mean, if I had to tape, I would not ever make one. Now rare exceptions to this are making bras and underpants. Um, the panty patterns tend to not be for me, maybe more than six to eight pages depending, but.
[00:26:26] Lisa Woolfork: Uh, and the bras too, you know, but no way would I make like a dress that I had to tape, I saw someone, they were taping a dress pattern that had like 84 pieces in it. And I was like, I don't think I could even send 84 pages of paper that I knew I would have to touch again later to tape together to a printer that I owned.
[00:26:49] Lisa Woolfork: Like, I, I think my printer would just be like, no, sorry, Lisa, we can't, we can't print that. What's wrong with you. So. What I wanna talk about just briefly before we, uh, wrap up for [00:27:00] today is how to get that. PDF pattern. And I wanna, there's some really good pictures on the Instagram page of how I took this huge pile of four sheets of blueprint paper and got all of it folded down to fit into a six by nine envelope.
[00:27:22] Lisa Woolfork: I'm working on the Lennox dress by cashmere. And you'll see, in my, um, in the black women's stitch page that this one has, I've made a sticker for my, um, custom envelope. That has a picture of seems like Sierra. And, um, she's a wonderful Instagrammer influencer sewist and member of black women's stitch, and she's on the cover of that cashmere pattern.
[00:27:45] Lisa Woolfork: And so I'm making it, and it's a lot of pattern pieces, cause there's a lot of different versions, short sleeve, long sleeve, full bicep. And I really love cashmere's basic block and I love how size inclusive it is. Um, and so [00:28:00] I'm making it and so. What I did this time was in addition to using my, the tech the same technique that I use for my ironing technique, where I iron the pattern pieces for the big four patterns.
[00:28:14] Lisa Woolfork: This time I used my heat press. To get the same result and y'all, it worked awesomely, it worked so good. And, um, so basically I did the same idea. I full, I took all those pieces. I took the big pieces on the bottom and the smalls. Strappy curvy pieces, the small ones on top. I folded it into a long, long piece of about five and a half inches across.
[00:28:41] Lisa Woolfork: And then I took it to my heat press and I pressed it several times, several different stages. And so I was able to create this really nice pattern. Um, which is a stack of a lot of pieces. I'm guessing maybe 20, 22 pieces, 25 pieces total. I think of a [00:29:00] variety of sizes and got them all to go back into the six by nine envelope.
[00:29:05] Lisa Woolfork: So I was feeling quite good about that. So if you have a heat press or if you have something that is wide, I think that they also make, I know that my mom has a jeans press, another woman, another member of black woman's stitch has one of those presses that you can kind of put down and press like long jeans, legs, and, um, Curtains and stuff that could work too, but I was really happy with how that turned out and I had not done that before.
[00:29:33] Lisa Woolfork: I had not used my heat press to press patterns back into envelopes. But now that I've done that I will be doing that soon. Thanks so much for joining us for this week's episode of stitch, please, the black women's stitch podcast. You can support the project in a lot of ways. One of them is at our Patreon site under black women's stitch.
[00:29:54] Lisa Woolfork: Another way is to tell friends about the podcast. Another way is to re review and subscribe to the [00:30:00] podcast. If you'd like to reach out to us, you can email us at black women's stitch, gmail.com. Thanks so much happy stitching come back and we'll help you get your stitch together.

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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