Monday, December 23, 2013

Pressing Matters

Standing over my ironing board, I realized this is a topic often overlooked in beginner classes.

An ironing board should not be called an "ironing board" but a "pressing board" in the quilting world. To iron cotton fabrics can stretch them out of shape. Instead, we press.

Here are a few other tidbits I have picked up over the years:

> When pressing many pieces, set a timer near the board. Bent over, performing a repetitive motion, in an action that causes stress to your lower back can be harmful over time. Give yourself regular breaks - stop and stretch.

> These breaks will help your pressing, too. Your iron cools with continued use. Taking regular breaks will allow it to re-heat to optimal performance temperature.

> I've used many brands of irons over the years. Even following their using manuals (use only distillers water, empty after each use, etc) they all tend to leak. I currently have two irons I use on a regular basis, and I don't add water to either. If I need steam, I keep a spray bottle handy. To press wrinkles (depending on what I'm using the fabric for), I will use water or Mary Ellen's Best Press or Mahic Sizing (for a stiffer hold).

> I'm not sure if this is an Old Quilter's Tale in regards to pressing units. I was taught to press the units closed along the stitching first (to set the seams) and then open the joined pieces and press the right side. It seems to work for me.

> When pressing paper-pieced units, I use a fat quarter of muslin to protect my ironing board cover (prevents the transfer of ink to my board). I'll also use it on top of the blocks if I'm pressing the back sides of the blocks (to prevent transfer of ink the the iron).

> If I do get ink or adhesive on my iron, I rip off a square of kitchen wax paper and iron it. The gunk transfers to the wax paper and polishes my iron plate.

> Finally (I just read this today - Reader's Digest, I think - and have yet to try it), here's a trick when pressing really wrinkly bits of fabric. Tear off a length of tin foil and place it under your ironing board cover. As you press, it will heat the tin foil and your fabric will be treated to heat from both sides.

Hope this helps. Now, back to my 80+ units! If you want to see a really cool idea for a traveling board, visit my post here:

Happy stitching!

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