In dressmaking, pressing at various stages has a big part to play and it can make all the difference between an okay and a fine finish. Pressing differs to ironing in that rather than moving the ironing back and forth over the material, you, in fact, press the iron onto the material for a few seconds, lift off, and press onto another part of the material.

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Pressing can soften your material, and make your dress look far better by flattening out seams and adding definition to your stitching lines. Also, it can help you in shaping your darts, and overall, give your dressmaking project a tidier and cleaner finish.

When should I press?

You should press at various points in dressmaking. The first is before you cut out your chosen fabric. If you press at this stage, it will help you to cut pieces which are more accurately shaped. If you have already cut out the pattern in your fabric and it is creased, you can press it on a low heat without any steam. Always remember to check any ink on your material will not run from pressing.

Before you stitch a hem, it is best to press it which allows you to have a flatter hem and enable you to produce a tidier finish. Every time you sew a seam, it is best to press it and then also to press it before you proceed to stitch across it.

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Where should I press?

For seams, the best place to press is whilst open or more towards the back of the piece. Also, darts are best when pressed to one side. It is best to avoid pressing gathers altogether.

How do I press?

Dressmaking fabric can be purchased online at stores such as but fabrics should be chosen carefully and you should ensure you check how your fabric responds to heat before pressing. Always test your iron on a small patch of the fabric you have used.

Protect your fabric by placing it under a pressing cloth, piece of cotton, or a tea cloth, and pressing onto this so it does not face direct heat. Also, press both sides of the fabric.

Pressing can help turn your dressmaking project into a fine finished product with tidy edges, clean lines, and a fantastic overall cut and finish.