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?


  1. I loved that you used the pretty plates to make the outlines for your pressing ham!

  2. How very adorable those sleepers are. Thanks for showing us how to make the pressing hams.

  3. Oh, I like that black and white fabric you chose, Lauren. You did such a nice job on this. And the onesies for the baby are so cute. Just working on outside projects now. There's so much work to do living in the mountains, but I'm loving it very much.

    Happy month of May, Lauren.


  4. Wonderful! Thank you for the tutorial and encouragement to try to make a ham myself. I recently inherited a sleeve ham, but a fatter one would sure be handy, too.


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