Pressing matters, or how to iron a nice-looking seam

One of the things I do a lot of these days is press seams while sewing samples.


Pressing matters. A lot. And there are any number of methods for pressing seams (or ironing them). As many methods as people who sew, I suspect.

So, I’m adding my own method to the mix – not because I believe you should never again press a seam in any other way, just to show you what I do that works for me. Strictly speaking it isn’t my method because I saw it in a class I took at FIT. I just claim it as my own now because I like it so much.

The seam I’ll demonstrate on is just a your basic press-seam-allowances-apart kind of seam. First, sew the seam, and place your work on the ironing board, spreading it apart at the seam line, wrong side facing up. You can see that I serged the edges already (you don’t have to). I’m using a thicker Robert Kaufman linen-cotton blend which is, admittedly, quite easy to iron.

Now take your iron, and on the wrong side of the fabric, iron BOTH seam allowances to one side while simultaneously pulling the fabric AWAY from the seam with your free hand, from UNDER the seam allowances. I find it easiest to do this if I position the fabric so that I pull towards myself.  Yes, pull it, really!


Once you’re done, iron the the seam allowances in the OTHER direction (turn the piece around if you need to, I didn’t do that here so as to not confuse you – or myself – about which side of the seam I’m working on). Once again, iron BOTH seam allowances to one side while simultaneously pulling the fabric away from the seam, from under where you’ve got the seam allowances.



Now check the right side of seamline, and if it’s nice and smooth, and there are no tiny bits of untidy overlaps from one side of the seam to the other. You can see that this seam needs some more work:


– see the shadow where my finger is pointing? If I see this, I go back to ironing the seam allowances to once side, pulling the fabric away from under them, then doing the same thing on the other side (usually I don’t have to go back).

When you’ve got a nice clean seam, iron the seam allowances APART on the wrong side:


Now flip your work over to the right side and iron the seam again, using steam.


Look how smooth and perfect it looks:


It seems labor-intensive but I find it worth the effort: I get professional looking seams, every time.

Also, the occasion for this tutorial was a little mishap I had because of which a really flat seam was kind of important.. I only realized I didn’t have enough fabric to cut the back of this top on the fold once I’d started cutting it out. So I wanted to make that seam extra smooth.


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2 Responses to Pressing matters, or how to iron a nice-looking seam

  1. Starr White says:

    Thanks for a great tip! I have not seen this method before and will definitely give it a try. Perfectly flat seams make me happy :))

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