Technique: Press and Iron Fabrics

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Follow these steps when you need to press and iron your clothing.

The techniques of pressing and ironing are often used interchangeably. Both use an iron, but each is a different technique. Ironing is the action of sliding the iron over fabric or a seam. Pressing involves resting the iron directly onto the fabric or seam, holding the iron in place, and then pulling it away. In pressing, there’s no sliding motion. Pressing protects delicate or loosely woven fabrics (such as silk or linen) from getting distorted while removing wrinkles. The ironing motion removes wrinkles from stable fabrics and proves particularly useful on large, single-layered fabrics.Once you’ve decided whether to press or iron your fabric, you’ll need to decide whether or not to steam the fabric as you proceed. Try a dry iron first, and only steam when there’s a stubborn wrinkle. Before steaming, be sure you’re using a fabric that won’t be harmed with water.

Edit Step 1 Press a Seam  ¶ 

Image #1

Edit Step 1 Press a Seam  ¶ 

  • Set your iron to the appropriate fabric setting.

  • If your garment has more than one type of fabric, use the setting for the type of fabric with the lowest heat setting.

Edit Step 2  ¶ 

Image #1

Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • Lay your wrinkly fabric or garment onto the ironing table.

  • Make sure there is only one layer of fabric on the ironing board.

Edit Step 3  ¶ 

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Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • Don't start ironing directly on the seam you want to flatten. Start on the fabric next to the seam. Bring the iron onto the fabric and then slide over the seam.

  • Only iron in one direction. Each stroke should move the same way. After each stroke, lift the iron and start over.

  • Do not push down. Allow the heat and weight of the iron to do the work.

Edit Step 4 Ironing a Seam  ¶ 

Image #1

Edit Step 4 Ironing a Seam  ¶ 

  • When ironing a seam, flip the project inside out so the seam is visible.

  • Slide the fabric over the end of the ironing board, seam side up, so that only one layer of the fabric is ironed at a time.

Edit Step 5  ¶ 

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • Using the same technique as above, work in one direction over the seam, ironing it flat.

  • Work up the seam until the whole seam lays flat.

  • Allow the iron to do the work. Do not apply extra pressure. If you have a stubborn wrinkle, apply steam from your iron or mist the fabric with distilled water, then press the wrinkle.

Edit Step 6  ¶ 

Image #1

Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • To press a seam, open the seam up by separating the two pieces of fabric in the seam.

  • Take the iron and go directly down onto the seam.

  • Do not move the iron, simply let the iron sit on the seam for 10-30 seconds. Lift and repeat.

  • Allow the iron to do the work. Don't apply lots of pressure. If you have a stubborn wrinkle, apply steam from your iron, or mist the fabric with distilled water before pressing.

For more information, check out the Basic Sewing device page.

Required Tools

Iron

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