Pressing Matters…On to Notions and Nametags!

I hope you had a nice 4th of July!  I am going to start on pressing notions, but first I am showing throwback pictures of some nametags!  I have been cleaning and sorting, and found these in one of my (many) sewing bags.  Years ago, there was a talented smocker in Southern CA who was also a painting artist and her name was Barbara Lambright.  If I remember correctly her husband wielded a wicked jigsaw as well.

This was before the internet was big, and digital cameras were a thousand dollars for less than 1M pictures.  If you sent a picture to her, or gave her an idea and color of a design, she would copy it onto a little wooden dress that had a pin on the back, to be used as a nametag.  I started with the nametag in the lower right….as you can see my name on it.


If you look at the picture of the backs, you can see I had that one made in 1990.  At that time, I had 2 boys, and when Barbara started out, she did dress nametags.  She then added the romper option for boy outfits.   I put my order in for 2 rompers, copying the Christmas mouse and soldier rompers I had made for Zak and Nathan.  I also put in an order for a square yoke dress (my first name tag was a bishop style) to round things out.
Barbara moved to Colorado many years ago, and I have lost touch with her.  Where ever you are, Barbara, I hope you are doing well.  I think of you whenever I see these wonderful nametags!

And on to pressing notions…..

A ham is not just for eating, although I don’t know that some of the ladies at Joann’s wold agree with you!  I had misplaced my ham, and after 4 weeks, decided I would go ahead and replace it (knowing that as soon as I used my new ham, I would find the old one, and of course that is exactly what happened).  I went into Joann’s looking for one, ,and they had re-organized the store and I could not find anything.  When I asked one of he clerks, she said she was not sure what they were, but was sure they did not carry them.   I was thinking if you don’t know what they are, how do you know you don’t carry them?  Anyway, I spent some time searching and finally found one, so now I have 2 hams! 
In sewing a tailoring, a ham is used for pressing and steaming curved seams.  Dritz makes one that looks like this.  It has a canvas or twill on one side and wool on the other.  You can make your own, and I have seen some really cute hams, made with fun fabrics, but I like my ham to have wool on one side.  Wool works well with steam or a dry iron.  It absorbs heat and then releases it, so when you are pressing with the tip of an iron, it can quickly get the seam pressed.  If you are going to make your own ham, I would suggest that you use wool on half of it.

You can also get a ham holder.  Of course I have one, as I am all about notions!  A ham hold will hold your ham in an angled position so that you can have  your hands free to place your seam and hold your iron without having to worry about holding the ham.   While I do use my ham holder, I would say this is nice to have, but not a necessity.  Having both of my hands free to finagle the iron and the garment is helpful, but you can do it with one hand holding the iron and one hand holding the ham.
Whether or not you have  ham holder, I consider a ham to be an essential pressing tool.  I is extremely helpful when pressing things that need to be shaped.    Collars lay across our shoulders, so they are shaped when they are worn.  When I am sewing my collars, after I have them constructed, I put them on my ham and steam and clapper them, then leave them on the ham to dry.

Next up is a silicone pressing sheet.

This has been a lifesaver for me!  There are several styles – the one I use the most is a brown color.

You can also get white silicone pressing sheets, but they are a bit thicker and not as flexible to use, which is why I prefer the brown sheets.  The GREAT thing about these is that fusible glues do not stick to these.  When you are fusing anything, I lay down my silicone pressing sheet, lay the fabric on top, put the fusible on top and then fold the pressing sheet over on top of that (the pressing sheet I use is about 18″ x 20″, so I usually have plenty of room to work with).  Then I press.  The heat transfers well through the silicone.  Not that anyone of you would ever make this mistake, but if you by chance put the fusible on the fabric upside down (glue side next to the iron instead of the fabric), the glue does not stick to the silicone – it will peel right off.
If you are fusing something large and can’t put the pressing sheet on both sides, you want to make sure that the pressing sheet is between the iron and the fusible.
This is another notion that I consider essential – it can prolong the life of your iron and your ironing pad!

Thanks for checking in!  More to come, as pressing does matter!

Happy Stitching,



11 thoughts on “Pressing Matters…On to Notions and Nametags!

  1. I’ve read your previous notes on “IRONS”. What do you use to clean the sole plate? I used to quilt-more than I do now-just a small amount of sewing now. I have always been very careful to not get any fusible on my iron.I’m thinking it is the sizing in the fabric-cotton-the builsup on my iron. I do have a non-stick Sunbeam iron. Are the shiny metal-stainless bottom?- irons better? Thank you.

  2. I have one of those wooden nametags, but I don’t think my name is on it. Now I have to go find it to check! I know it’s around somewhere!

  3. Thank you for some good information once again. I will be shopping soon, I hope, and look for both the ham holder and silicone pressing cloth!
    Carole Clement

  4. Vaune I love these tips! And, isn’t that just the way to go out and buy something you can’t find, and then, of course, it pops up!!

    Love this tips regarding silcone pressing sheets. Where might I find these?

    Thanks so much and take care!


      1. Hi Shirley, I have them, and I can put one in with your next Coton a Broder of the Month shipment, if you want.

  5. I’ve been sewing everyday for the past 4 months and mentally thank you for all of the classes you taught at the SAGA conventions. My projects look so professional because of your tips and finishing techniques!! Thank you!

    1. You are so sweet! I know during the last few months, sewing and needlework has been a lifesaver for many!

  6. Hi Jeanne, I will talk about the gravity feed / steam this weekend. For floche, yes it is NOT stranded -it is a 5 ply, soft twist thread, and is what the embroideresses in Madeira use for their embroidery. It is a wonderful thread that comes in a hank, (like an old hank of yarn), not a skein. One strand of floche is about the same weight as 1.5 stands of stranded floss, so when I am smocking, I use 2 strands of floche, instead of 3. For picture smocking, I use 3 strands of floche, especially with the darker colors, like 310 black, 699 dark green, 823 navy, etc., as threads with the darker colors tend to be a bit thinner because of the chemicals in the dyes.
    Technically, you can use if for faggoting, but it would not be my choice, because of the soft twist. Also, because it is a bit thicker than stranded floss, it will give you a heavier look than thread.
    Happy Stitching,

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