Tuesday, December 8, 2009

DIY Seam Roll, Baby!

When I was a young thing, I was quite accident prone. After one particularly clumsy incident involving a slippery jungle gym, I ended up with a broken arm. My mother, who is extremely resourceful and clever, fashioned a temporary splint out of a rolled-up magazine tied with a pair of socks. I've always been impressed with that act of ingenuity, and I found myself inspired by it last night when I needed a seam roll for pressing my coat sleeves.

A seam roll, as you may know, is a cylindrical pressing tool for sleeves. It looks like this:

It's a simple-looking thing, isn't it? It costs $13.50, which just seems a little much to me. I'm sure it's worth it if you're a professional sleeve-presser or something. But I really don't need a $13.50 roll of stuffing gathering dust around my apartment, you know what I mean?

So, in a fit of inventiveness, I set about making my own. Taking inspiration from my mother's splint of yore, I achieved the task with an old issue of Vogue, 2 rubber bands, and 3 wadded-up socks. Voila! A seam roll. You stuff the socks down the rolled-up magazine to keep it firm while you're pressing on it. The only downside is that you need to avoid the rubber bands with your iron or you might end up with indentations. Small price to pay for a FREE seam roll, methinks! (Yes, I'm feeling quite pleased with myself right now.)

Now, I just know you must have tales of your own wacky and ingenious DIY sewing tools. Share them here, please!

35 comments:

  1. I just found your blog and love it. Anyway, if you stuff the magazine in an old sock, you don't need the rubber bands. Every now and then I have to rewrap the magazine, but mine has been holding for years.

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  2. I have this exact sleeve board (http://www.amazon.com/Polder-521-93H-Basic-Ironing-Sleeve/dp/B000GBLMQY/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1260278926&sr=8-3)

    But I got it cheaper, I don't remember where! I love it and use it all the time when ironing the sleeves on button down shirts....

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  3. This is so timely. I just went back to the thrift store the other day to buy the pressing tools that I decided not to get the first time I saw them. *Smacks head* The sleeve roll was gone (bummer) but the tailor's ham and the June Tailor Ham Holder was still there. Score. $8.00 total. I can't wait to use it.

    Chrys in KS

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  4. Fantastic idea!!! I just love coming up with tricks and work-arounds for tools that are otherwise expensive. :) (Can't think of any off the top of my head, besides the bias tape jig I posted about recently.)

    I actually have a proper seam roll, which my mother gave me (it was her's from years ago). How many times have I used it? Hmm... I think I can count those on one hand. ;) So you definitely saved yourself some pocket money and storage space!

    ♥ Casey
    blog | elegantmusings.com

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  5. Even though I have every pressing tool imaginable, there are times they don't fit the space properly. For seam rolls, I use towels. When I press the roll of a lapel, I tightly roll up a hand towel, which is the perfect size for that area. Washclothes work in smaller areas.

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  6. I think a seam roll in a must have and it has been invaluable to me. Your DIY version a great temporary solution. But you should check out Joanns or Hancock Fabrics when they have a 50% off notion sale.

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  7. I found both my sleeve roll and my sleeve board at a local thrift store - I think I paid less than $10 for both.

    I use my sleeve board all the time for ironing - especially my younger children's clothes.

    However, I have my sleeve roll about 10 times in the last 4 years.

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  8. I usually roll two towels together and use them as a seam roll when pressing sleeve heads. On the other hand, I use a carton tube (the one the fabric is rolled on in fabric stores) for pressing long seams. It is convenient for pressing sleeve and pants seams as well.
    Also, you can make your own seam roll with fabric woolen scraps - just fill it with wood dust. I guess this should be cheaper than buying one.

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  9. I made a coat for my daughter last month and I didn't want a seam roll laying around the house either! I went with the rolled towel and it worked great. I also use a towel under fabrics with pile (velvet, the wool I used for the coat) since I don't have or want a needle board in the house.

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  10. Silly question, but how does one use a seam roll? I splashed out this weekend, and bought one of those mini-ironing boards for sleeves because I was so fed up of struggling NOT to iron my sleeves with a crease down the middle. But it's flat and has a tuck-away foot, so I guess it isn't the same use as this. Or is it?

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  11. Great idea. I refuse to buy a point turner and use my crochet hook to help poke the corner right side out when turning corners on collars.

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  12. I love it when I make it to your blog - I'm so glad some of the things I did made a good impression!

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  13. That is exactly what my mentor (a 30 year veteran dressmaker who used to work for Saks, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom) uses as a seam roll. Only she puts a couple socks over the magazine as well. That eliminates the need for the rubber band b/c the sock holds them together. Way to be intuitive and eco friendly:o)

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  14. I love it! I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought 13.50 sounded a little pricey.

    I wonder if a rolling pin covered with a sock or two would work...

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  15. If anyone would like to sew one out of fabric scraps stuffed with sawdust, Butterick pattern no. B5368 is a pattern for various sewing accessories which includes a seam roll - the link to look at it is http://www.butterick.com/item/B5368.htm?search=5368&page=1
    I've been meaning to buy this and make one for a while now ...

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  16. Ok so when your post came up in my feed and I saw the photos, I thought they were door stops... you know the ones you can put by your door to stop drafts? :D

    Makes me wonder if something similar would suffice... but I don't think it can top your magazine idea!

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  17. OK... I'll try to explain this the best I can. You need 1 pair of canning tongs, two rubber bands and two fabric marking pencils.

    You place the tip of one of the marking pencils through the hole in the tongs, with the point going inwards. Put the rubber band around the tip end of the pencil and wrap it up over the tongs and then over the top of the pencil, securing it in the tongs.

    Then you use the same method for attaching the other pencil to the other tong. When you're done you should have two pencils tip-to-tip and secured in place by the rubber bands.

    Then you open the tongs, put the fabric between the pencils, and place one of the pencils in a hole on an unmarked pattern. First twist one pencil back and forth then the other.

    Now both sides of your pattern should be marked in the right spot easy peasy. Hope that made sense...

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  18. I couldn't find my thimble (probably cuz I rarely use it) and didn't want to spend $3 on a new one so I wrapped duct tape around my finger 3 times to make a nice thick layer. That stuff really can be used for anything!

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  19. A roll of toilet paper wrapped in a towel makes an effective pressing ham in a pinch.

    I rarely use steam--doubt this would fair well if you do.

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  20. Here are .pdf instructions from the University of Kentucky on making your own pressing equipment.

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  21. I sewed my own seam roll and a pressing ham a couple years ago, filled them with sawdust. It was pretty easy, though you should do the saw-dust filling OUTSIDE!

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  22. What a brilliant idea. A costume I once made had alot of hand embroidered details on the sleeves and I couldnt get the right shape with the sleeves flat so I stuffed the sleeves with empty plastic bags from the grocery store and it worked perfect for what I needed.

    This seam roll idea is very creative and will be exactly what I will do when the day comes that I need a seam roll. Thanks for the great tip Gertie. Love your blog.


    Xo Darla

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  23. I have a seam roll, a sleeve press, and a dressmaker's ham and use them constantly, at least one if not all on every project. They're especially great for steam setting, for pressing over a curved surface to avoid seam showing through, and for maintaining curved shapes. I think you might be surprised how much you actually would use the seam roll. From my perspective, $13.50 looks like an amazingly good price.

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  24. Good feedback, everyone! I agree that I should invest in a real seam roll at some point. I just needed something fast. And cheap, since I spent my whole sewing budget on coat supplies!

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  25. Oooh, nice one. I too covet a seam roll for pressing sleeves, but am such a lazy bum that I always just use a firmly folded and rolled-up t-shirt :)

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  26. What a great idea. I use my "ham" a lot for sewing projects, but have little use for a sleeve roll most of the time. Then every now and then I wish I had one. I'm going to go rummage in the recycling bin for a nice thick magazine...

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  27. I think I DIY more than I don't. I wrote a blog entry about it last summer:
    You can read about it here

    My main point is that I used a stuffed cow toy as a ham.

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  28. I made a seam roll with a broom handle that my husband cut for me, wrapped with a magazine, and covered with a hand towel that I slip-stitched closed. That was about 30 years ago. Now I'm so curious to see what that magazine is that I may have to take it apart.

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  29. My mom's original sewing machine is a Pfaff 1222, which the bobbin winding thingie has been missing from for twenty years. See, you take the thread from the spool, put it around this chrome button thingie, and then wind it around the bobbin. Where it used to be is just a little hole in the top of the machine. I find that a chopstick or a crochet hook works just as well, though the chopstick works best.

    I could probably replace that bit from old machine parts, but I don't see why I should. I have stuff lying around that works just as well. (The chopstick also works amazingly well for turning and stuffing dolly limbs. I just finished making two rag dolls and three clowns for Christmas presents...)

    I think one of my favorite multi tasker tools though, are iron-on embroidery transfer pencils and markers. Any kind of tricky pattern markings that requires precision can be transferred to the wrong side of the fabric. Stuff like pleats is a breeze with them. Things that used to make me rip my hair out in pure frustration is sooo much easier now that I figured out how to cheat.

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  30. I love making my own sewing/pressing supplies. It also gives you room for innovation (like the pencil tongs---so good!) and customization.

    One time, whilst weaving in the ends of a sweater, I found myself without a tapestry needle and ended up using an exacto knife to carve one out of a chopstick. Alot of times chopsticks are made of bamboo that is sturdy, carves easily, and ends up smooth just from the oil on your hands. I also made a set of 5" double pointed knitting needles from chopsticks as well.

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  31. LOL Taylor M that is awesome. Carving a tapestry needle out of chopsticks with an exacto knife wins. This thread reminds me of the Bill Cosby routine where he talks about how whenever he asked his dad for a dollar his dad would tell him how he killed a bear on the way home from school with his looseleaf notebook.

    You'll be grandmas telling your kids "what's this computerized embroidery machine stuff you have now, you kids today. I once hand embroidered a wedding dress with nothing but duct tape, a bag of cotton balls, an exacto knife, and three chopsticks."

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  32. This is so stinkin' brilliant!! I linked to your tip on Craft Gossip Sewing:
    http://sewing.craftgossip.com/cool-idea-diy-seam-roll/2009/12/09/

    --Anne

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  33. Great! I did the same thing with a newspaper, here in Australia newspapers are delivered to your door wrapped in cellophane. I covered it in a layer of wool wadding i had left over then a layer of cotton fabric.

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  34. I made myself a mannequin (which is not fantastic or a proper substitute for a real one, but works for rough ideas-making and draping) using my tripod easel and lots of scarves and socks. I wrapped them around the easel in roughly my measurements, and then put a tight singlet over the top to make it all smooth and person-shaped. it is actually quite useful, especially since I got it to actually mimic my body shape. Though it looks kind of odd, it's Just until I get the time to make one of those home-made dressmakers model things.

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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