Guide to Press Cloths
by Jacque Goldsmith excerpted from "Make a Press-Cloth Wardrobe," Threads #154, p. 44
Just as no single outfit suits every occasion, one press cloth isn’t right for all your sewing ventures. The correct cloth protects your fabric and enhances pressing techniques.
I use a press cloth every time the iron touches the fabric’s right side. I wouldn’t go out in the hot sun without sunscreen, and I wouldn’t put a hot iron on fabric’s face without a press cloth.
Here, I’ll tell you how to match the correct cloth to the pressing at hand; my collection includes muslin, silk organza, cotton shirting, worsted wool, cotton canvas, and flannel. I’ll also share my technique for preparing long-lasting press cloths that are easy to keep handy and neat.
Finally, I know the correct press cloth refines results, but I also know everyone has faced catastrophe at the ironing board. I’m going to share how I’ve learned to salvage some common disasters. On to the ironing board and better results!
Wool has the ability to hold vast amounts of water, even when it feels dry to the bare hand, which makes it great for delivering steam where you want it. A wool press cloth keeps the fabric from becoming shiny. The highly twisted worsted wool yarn’s strength also withstands heavy use.
Canvas cloth’s density causes heat to be evenly distributed through the fibers. The iron soleplate’s direct heat is diffused as it penetrates the cloth. You can put more pressure on the iron and more time on the seam—resulting in flat, smooth seams. Canvas press cloths are also a good choice for leather and fabrics with a low melting point, such as nylon, coated fabrics, or other synthetics.
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