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How to Make Sewing Pressing Forms

DIY hams, seam sticks, and curved shapes for molding any garment
Threads #222, Summer 2023
Tools in a range of sizes and shapes ensure you can press and mold garments for a truly professional finish. Find patterns for all these forms at ThreadsMagazine.com. Patterns: author’s designs. Fabrics: author’s stash.

Successful garment sewing is much more than stitching seams: An essential part of creating a well-made piece of clothing is pressing. You need to press straight seams smooth and flat and shape all manner of areas into body-skimming curves: princess seams, darts, sleeve caps, necklines, collars, lapels, and any garment section that needs contouring.  

A tailor’s ham is, therefore, a common accessory in a well-equipped sewing studio. But I have found that the ham isn’t all-purpose. In my alterations and custom sewing work, I need a bigger variety of curves than a standard ham offers. Based on the requirements of a wide range of fabrics and garment styles, I’ve developed a set of pressing forms that handle any shaping task. 

You can make your own set, too, using the patterns provided and fabrics from your stash. Once you get the hang of the process, you can adjust the shapes and sizes if you prefer, to create longer, shorter, deeper, or shallower curves. Whether you’re making custom clothes for yourself or for someone else, you can sew unique pressing tools to get the best results.

The Ins and Outs of a Form

There are more layers to a proper pressing form than you might guess. Each one plays a role in making an ideal surface for molding fabric.


This must be firm, heat-resistant, and able to absorb steam and heat from the iron. 

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  1. user-6181992 | | #1

    many many thanks ,am hoping to get back to sewing soon ..threads mag is just super ,thanks for the ham patterns,jane

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