Wednesday, April 21, 2021

DIY Pressing Ham, Part 2


Pressing hams are one of those sewing tools that you tend to think you can do without.  But once you use one, you realize they're a pretty handy thing to have and you can make them quite easily.  Last week I made this long, narrow one that is great for sleeves or seams in tight spots, baby sleeves and cuffs and on and on.  This week I made this nice, chunky one that is great for pressing darts or curves on necklines, armholes, the tops of sleeves etc.

I started with two different size plates and traced them to create the width of each end of my ham.  However far apart you place them, that's how long your ham will be.  After you trace the two circles, draw a line connecting the two to get your shape.

Cut two pieces of muslin or other fairly sturdy cotton. I just used this printed cotton because it's thick and what I had on hand.  Cut one piece of flannel or wool for the top of the ham and a piece of cotton print for the bottom.  You could totally use the flannel/wool for both sides if you want.  You can skip the cotton lining but I don't recommend it because you will be filling this very tightly with wood shavings or sawdust and you don't want anything leaking or poking out of the ham.

Lay your pieces down as described above. It doesn't matter which side is up or down for the lining as it won't show.  The only ones that matter are your flannel and the cotton print.

Now stitch these layers together leaving a gap of about 3-4" on one of the straight sides.  After I trimmed my seam to 1/4" I used a tight zig-zag stitch around edges to prevent fraying and help make this more durable.

Turn your ham right side out and press.

Now it's time to stuff your ham!  Typically hams are stuffed with sawdust.  You can probably get this for free from a lumber yard or home depot but I decided to use rabbit/hamster bedding which is just wood chips. You want to make sure you get chips that are very small and fine - you don't want big shavings.

I put my ham in a large box lid to help contain the mess which is inevitable when you stuff this.  You need to REALLY fill the ham well and tightly.  Keep poking, pressing, filling, adding until you just can't squeeze in any more.  

Once it's full, you are going to just hand stitch the opening. I suggest using a heavy duty button or quilting thread.  You are going to be yanking and pulling this very tightly and regular thread will tend to break.

Once you're finished you can use a lint roller or tape to clean off the ham and remove wood shavings from outside.  I've already used both of these so much, I can't believe I went without them for so long!

The long ham was great for getting these little cuffs nicely pressed.

These little sacks are so great for babies. My kids use them anytime the baby goes down for a nap or at night time.  Keeps him nice and cozy and warm.  These are a lighter weight fabric that they can use in the summer.

What projects are keeping you busy these days?

Monday, April 12, 2021

DIY Pressing Ham


I'm still here . . . I'm just a delinquent blogger who has been very busy with life and LOTS of sewing for a precious, new grandson!  I'm also in the process of evaluating my sewing/craft room and re-organizing.  In my efforts to organize, I've realized there are some basic sewing tools that I've lost, worn out or just plain never used that I now need to add to my arsenal and one of those things is pressing hams. These can be a bit pricey so I've decided to start making my own.  After a little research, I discovered that the long, narrow ham (for pressing small things like, oh, well, baby sleeves among other things) can be made quite easily.

This gal's video on YouTube was super helpful and most of what I did was taken right from her instructions with a few modifications of my own.

Following her instructions I found this heavy cardboard roll.  This actually came from a roll of vintage interfacing, back in the day when these tubes were . . .

THIS THICK!  I thought about cutting it to a shorter length but I would have had to take out my circular saw and I was lazy so I kept it long.

I had some fusible batting so I cut that to fit my measured piece of fabric (flannel) and fused it to the flannel.  Then I hemmed each side with my sewing machine to make nice, straight edges.

Before stitching the edges though, be sure that they will MEET in the center and not OVERLAP.  You want a nice, flat seam with no extra thickness here.  I chose to use a heavy, button thread and I recommend using that instead of regular thread.  The reason for this is that you are pulling quite tightly with these stitches and I think if you're using regular thread, it's going to break easier.

After hand stitching (follow her directions on this), you should have a nice, enclosed tube. It's a bit tedious sewing it this way but really makes it look nice and clean.

Finally, take the circles you cut out and start stitching them on the ends.  

I'll be making more of these in various sizes for various purposes.  And here's a little peek at what's been keeping me so busy . . .

I'd love to share pictures of the cute little baby who's wearing these but his mom and dad have decided to not put his images on the internet and I have to agree with them on their decision so suffice it to say, he's ADORABLE and we are thoroughly enjoying being grandparents!