Pressing makes such a difference to how well made your doll and their clothes look. Taking the time to press seams properly will give your dolls a polished, professional finish. In this blog post, I share my tips for pressing. I also talk about tools that make pressing doll clothes easier, such as a sleeve board, a pressing cloth and my free pattern for making a miniature doll-size tailor’s ham and seam roll
What is pressing?
When you press a seam, you place an iron onto the seam and apply steam. You don’t move the iron. Instead of sliding the iron across the fabric like you do when you remove wrinkles from clothes, you hold it in place for a few seconds, then lift the iron and press it against the next area. When you press a seam, the stitches meld into the fabric so that they are flatter and less noticeable. This makes the doll’s body smoother and nicely shaped. When you press the seams on doll clothes, it gives them that crisp look that store-bought clothing has.
Tips for pressing doll seams
- For small areas, use the tip of the iron
- Start on a lower heat setting and slowly increase
- Press on the wrong side of the fabric where possible
- Wait until the fabric has cooled down and the seam has set before you move it
- Use your fingers to press out small or awkward-shaped seams before pressing
- Look out for pins. They may leave marks on the fabric if accidentally pressed. If they have plastic ends they can melt and ruin your fabric
- Clean your iron regularly
Useful tools for pressing doll seams
A pressing cloth is an invaluable tool for sewing and doll making. It protects your fabric from marks, scolds or shininess caused by accidentally using an iron that is too hot. It allows you to iron delicate fabrics and stops fibres such as plush or corduroy from being flattened. It prevents fusible interfacing that contains glue and man-made fabrics such as fleece or plush that contain polyester from melting, protecting the fabric and your iron.
You can buy a pressing cloth, but it is easy to make your own. 100% cotton muslin is the best fabric to use. It can withstand high temperatures whilst also having a fairly open weave that allows the heat to pass through it. Use white fabric for the pressing cloth, or the dyes might transfer to your fabric when pressed. A 12"x12" (30cmx30cm) piece of fabric is the perfect size for pressing doll clothes.
To use a pressing cloth, place it over your fabric before ironing it.
A sleeve board is a miniature ironing board used to iron shirt sleeves.
It is also the perfect size for doll making. I use mine all the time! It is just the right size to slide into tiny trousers and skirts.
They are a bit harder to get hold of than regular ironing boards, but you can find them easily online. They are a worthwhile investment if you are making dolls regularly.
Tailors ham and seam roll
A tailors ham is a tightly stuffed, curved pillow that is used to press curved seams. It is a similar shape and size as a ham, hence the name! A tailor's ham helps to replicate body curves so that the curved seams can be pressed flat.
A seam roll is also known as a tailor's sausage (it’s ok to giggle, I did when I first heard this!). It is a cylindrical-shaped cushion that is inserted into sleeves to make them easier to press.
A tailor's ham and a seam roll can be used to press seams that are hard to reach or in awkward places. They can be placed between two layers of fabric to act as a barrier so creases don’t transfer from one layer to the other. A tailor's ham and seam roll are handy tools that make pressing easier, but they are designed for making dresses for humans.
I thought it would be fun and useful to design some miniature pressing tools that can be used for doll making.
All you need to make them is some cotton and wool fabric and something to fill them with. Sawdust is traditionally used, but you can use fine wood shavings, fabric scraps or wool roving.
I've made my tools the perfect size for pressing doll clothes. You can see my seam roll next to a regular-size seam roll above!
The seam roll is the perfect size for tight spaces such as doll sleeves.
It makes it easier to press creases in sleeves and to press the seams around the shoulder of a shirt.
It is also perfect for pressing the legs of doll trousers!
The doll-size tailor's ham is perfect for pressing curved seams. It is the perfect shape for pressing tight spaces such as the waist of doll trousers. It will prevent creases from being transferred from one layer of the trousers to another when pressing
The doll-size tailor's ham is great for pressing curved edges such as on dress bodices or around the arms and neckline.
You can download my free pattern and instructions to make a doll-size tailor’s ham and seam roll here
If you don’t have the time to make your own pressing tools you can improvise and roll a small, clean towel into a cylinder shape and use it the same way you would use a seam roll.
What are your tips for pressing doll seams? Was this article helpful? Let me know in the comments below!
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