Monday, February 13, 2012

Tool Talk - Pressing Matters

If you didn't start out life as a quilter, pressing may be one of the hardest skills to learn (next to hand-applique, of course!). It's not that pressing is particularly difficulty in itself - it is, after all, just pressing down with the iron. We perform a similar action dozens of times in a day without thinking about it - pressing the top slice of bread down on a sandwich, pressing the plunger on a french press coffee maker, pressing the gas or break pedal in a car.

So why is it, the first time I had an iron in my hand and had to press a seam I gave it a great sweeping push that distorted the bias? Because I was ironing, not pressing. After years of sweeping the creases out of blouses and trousers with my iron, I had to relearn how to 'press'.

My favourite iron to use for quilting is a small travel iron. For years I used a little yellow GE iron my mother got at the Ft. Devens PX in 1974. That little girl got hot and stayed hot, even after she developed an unfortunate leak in her water reservoir. That didn't stop me from using my favourite iron - the end came when I knocked her off the table and cracked her footing. My husband decided if the plastic was old enough to fracture then the wiring was in an unknown state and I should get a new one. So now I have a petite little Conair travel iron who works just as wonderfully.

The iron is not the real point of all this blather, though - the ironing surface is. For most of my piecework pressing I don't use a conventional ironing board with a punched metal frame and fabric cover, I use a pressing board. There are two fairly popular pressing boards out, one by Omnigrid, the other by June Tailor. I use the June Tailor model, which features a pressing side and a cutting side, both gridded:

There are a couple of great benefits to this tool - besides the obvious value of marked 30-, 45- and 60-degree angles for squaring up your cutting, there's the markings for squaring up your pressing:

A side benefit is that when the soft pressing surface is down and the cutting surface is up, you can swivel the board on your work surface. I prefer this one to the Omnigrid model, since I don't generally travel with it - the Omnigrid model is not two sided, but two panels hinged along their long edge so it opens like a book. That makes it a bit bulkier, but when closed it protects both your pressing and cutting surfaces from bumps or scratches.

1 comment:

Nadine said...

Hello Tarabu, I have awarded your blog with the 'Liebster Blog Award'.

Best wishes and happy Valentine's day

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