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Do I need I tailor’s board ?

stitchintime | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

I just finished sewing a blouse and realized that I could use some help refining my pressing technique on enclosed seams like collars, cuffs & facings. My seams are sometimes indented and don’t lie flat in these areas because, for example, once I’ve sewn up the collar on 3 sides I can’t get inside properly when I turn it right side out to press it. I just read on a university home extension site that a clapper or tailor’s board is used for this purpose. There are pictures of these in the pressing article in Thread’s last issue (126) but no mention of how to use them.

Any tips on how to get nice flat folded, enclosed seams or should I invest in one of these tools?

And … maybe Thread’s could do a second pressing article to show how to use all those interesting points and curves on these devices.


  1. user-60627 | | #1

    A tailors board and a ham are very nice to have.  They really do make your pressing results much better and more professional looking.  (You can buy them at JoAnn's if there is one near you, use that next 40% off coupon!)  You just use the shapes on the board that mimic and support the piece you are pressing and you iron/steam it.  You can pull a collar over a board to press into the corners.  A clapper is used to 'pound' the steam into wool to get a nice sharp press.  A ham makes pressing and shaping curves and bust darts a breeze.  I think Cecilia Pololak's book on jackets (its a Taunton book) shows how to use these tools in pressing.

    A good ironing board cover (untreated cotton twill, none of this teflon-coated crap) with a good pad under it (you can buy old wool blankets at the thrift store and cut them up to fit, they must be wool, not man-made fibers) will make a big difference also.  And a good steam iron.  All these tools work together, but you don't have to go out and get them all at once.  June Tailor brand makes good stuff. 

    1. stitchintime | | #2

      Thank you so much.

      Re-covering my ironing board as you described will probably be my first step. Seems easy enough. Then I will look into getting some more "professional" equipment. I've been improvising with rolled up towels of various sizes instead of a ham to press curves. I also use them in sleeves. I've rarely seen a board recommended for simpler projects like blouses with collars and cuffs. Most instructions just say "turn and press".

      As you can probably guess, I have yet to tackle tailoring.


      1. user-60627 | | #3

        After I replied to your message, I was trolling around the Taunton site and noticed that they have a on-site video on pressing (its in the Threads section of the site).  Maybe that will help some.


        1. stitchintime | | #4

          I watched the video but the focus was on curved seams and extra long seams like in the article. I don't have a problem with those, only with inside enclosed seams which I have trouble folding over properly.

          Edited 9/8/2006 3:51 am ET by stitchintime

          Edited 9/8/2006 3:53 am ET by stitchintime

          1. solosmocker | | #8

            On enclosed seams, I trim, press the seams OPEN as much as I can reach, over the tailors board, then I arrange the collar or whatever as it will be worn, and press over a ham. Hope this is clear. I find it really helps in getting those edges roll to where they need to go when I do this.

          2. stitchintime | | #9

            I do understand what you're saying and I think thehat was telling me something similar. I wasn't pressing the seam flat before I turned it because the pattern instructions are usually just "Turn. Press." But I realize now how the tailor's board helps and I plan to use it in future.

            Thank you all. You've been very helpful.

  2. silkscape | | #5

    A tailor board is absolutely one of the most useful notions you can invest in!!!  I use mine almost every day.  It's indispensible for pressing collars and other sharp curves and points, but also for pants hems and other small circular things. 

    As for a clapper.  I just asked my husband for some scrap wood and I use that when I need to. 

    1. stitchintime | | #6

      OK. Now I'm convinced it's a worthwhile investment. Thanks.

  3. thehat | | #7

    I clip real close and then press as I go and I like a little fuseable in the collar, one thing I do is get a towel and rollit up so it gives a little and I  like that 

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