Monday, January 23, 2012

The 30-Day PFF Challenge!

That's "Press Flat First", readers! Wow, you all had a lot to say on the subject of pressing seams flat before pressing them open. And while some were rebels without a cause (like yours truly), several of my sewing heroes from around the blogosphere are ardent PFFers.

You know how they say it takes 30 days to establish a new habit? So I've decided to take 30 days to dutifully press flat first and see what my findings are. Won't you join me? I'll be doing another post in 30 days time to report back.

If you'd like to join in this exciting pressing opportunity, all you need to do is PFF with every seam, on all types of fabric. So press the seam flat on one side to set the stitches (I'm still pretty sure that's nonsense, but I'm ready to be proven wrong) and then press the seam open. Take note of how different fabrics respond. Are you getting better results? Crisper seams? No detail is too small to share with your friend Gertie, who loves to talk about the most minute sewing issues for hours on end.

See you back here for a follow-up post on February 22nd, dear PFFers!


38 comments:

  1. Good Luck with that! This is one of the habits I already have- in fact it will die hard if I needed to change my ways. Taught to use it everytime from the very first sewing steps, I believe it makes a difference!

    Sewing And Style Den

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  2. I'm a random PFF-er. I try to remember to do it when sewing particularly ripple/prone fabrics or if I'm sewing a seam on the bias, but otherwise I think it may be overkill. I'll join in and see if my results are better!

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  3. I've just started doing this recently and it does seem to make a difference. My seams lay flat and are almost invisible on solid color fabric now. I have no idea how it works...I was a diehard skeptic too! I'll be looking forward to the results on this.

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  4. Pressing is not a "minute detail." It's one of the most important aspects of garment construction. The only way to get better is to practice, do tests, etc. And pressing the right way doesn't take much additional time.

    For some fabrics there may not be a big difference, for others, there will be.

    I'm frankly amazed that this was a new technique for some people as every sewing book I've ever read has said to press first from the side that was sewn, and then sometimes, from the other side.

    Then, press open from the wrong side and finish on the right side, using a pressing cloth if needed.

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  5. My hope is that this topic and 'test' does not divide this sewing community. If this is a positive effort to establish a new habit, it will be time well spent. Others may be doing it to prove their previous mindset. Be careful to not allow it all to become too personal ("My mother/grandmother taught me this way!...") and have the goal to be improving the results of your sewing efforts.

    Prior to today, there have been many blogs that have shown examples of the topic. My favorite is here authored by Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics.

    The three weeks it takes to establish a new habit will be time well spent if your goal is a better end result!

    greytone
    a TWO-side presser (read Ann's method!)

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  6. dude, come february 22, i predict your Mind. will be Blown.

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  7. I saw a video of a factory for making jeans. First they sewed everything, then they attached the jeans to a crazy pressing machine. It blew up the jeans like a balloon and shot steam through everything all at once.
    Maybe you could get one of those for your home sewing studio.
    ha!

    Seriously, you can try another experiment. Sew a seam, then unpick it. Sew another seam and press flat -then try to unpick it. If there is a difference - that demonstrates what the steam did to "set in" the seam.

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  8. My iron and I have not been friends since an unfortunate accident I had with it as a teenager. I still have the scar and a grudge against that particular household appliance. And to be perfectly honest, I don't do much in the way of pressing during the sewing process. I press collars and cuffs, fuse interfacing, and otherwise ignore the iron. If my seams pucker, which happens occasionally, then I iron. I can put off a project for weeks after it's been cut out just to avoid the iron!

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  9. About a year ago, if your are willing to search, Ann did a wonderful "prove it" blog post about pressing flat, then open. It made a big difference in the final finish of the garment. I am sure anyone who saw it would be convinced.

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  10. I press everything, but I also always use cotton, so I fail in the department of testing different fabrics. Sorry.

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  11. I am new to sewing so this seems like it might be a good habit to get into if it works as well as some say :) I'm in.

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  12. I'll be very curious to hear your results. My ironing equipment is sadly lacking, and it's something I've been wondering if I should invest more in lately, especially if it'll result in better looking garments.

    I do have two questions I'd love to get answered, if you were so inclined: 1. What's the difference between ironing and pressing? I've seen mention that they are *not* the same, but I don't know how they're not. 2. Does the difference in pressed verses unpressed seams last through laundering? Or do you need to repress the finished garment after every wash to maintain the benefit of pressing while sewing?

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  13. This is the article Bunny mentions: http://gorgeousfabrics.com/blog/2011/01/18/and-now-a-word-from-the-pressinatrix/

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  14. I have to finish knitting an afghan for my niece (who is due any day now), then I'm in! Looking forward to the results!

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  15. Sewing techniques are like recipes in a cookbook; if you don't like the one ingredient, there may be substitutions. Or just try a different recipe. As long as your final result is as professional in appearance as you want it to be, go for it! (I always ppf first and I'll attest to 'force of habit'.)

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  16. I tried this after reading your last post. I was just working on a lining for a dress -- to be honest, I'm not sure if it made a difference or not!

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  17. Count me in! It sounds like a habit peeps should totally have and I have been most lax. Maybe I can bribe myself with a cookie at the end?!

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  18. I've never heard of doing it this way. But I just checked my copy of Professional Sewing Techniques for Designers, and sure enough, they say to press flat, then open.

    So I should really give it a go. And read my books more thorougly.

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  19. I remember doing pff in the beginning (and its because I learned it from here!) and then I started getting lazy~. I accept the challenge and I'll happily report back~!

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  20. I will take the challenge. I am about to make a charmeuse blouse and I always have problems with my seams puckering with charmeuse. I read on Ann Steeves blog that pressing flat and then open will help alleviate this. I am going to try it and see.

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  21. I teach sewing and hold undergrad, graduate, and post graduate degrees in the subject. Always press flat first on both sides and then open or to the side.
    It makes a difference.
    Actually every little detail makes a difference in sewing.

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  22. I will join you in your Challenge!

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  23. The dramatic difference for me as always been when I do it to fine/ sheer fabrics like silk charmeuse, silk chiffon, silk crepe etc.... on a quilting cotton if might not make a difference but on silk chiffon and charmeuse? Oh yes.

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  24. Well.. It's simple, really. When I press flat first, the stitches do set. Is this a big deal? Not on most garments, but it makes a big difference on nice tailored shirts, pants, jackets, dresses, etc. It's not an issue of looks necessarily (though it is sometimes,) but of long-lasting durability and a clean finish. If I'm going to invest my time in drafting and sewing a garment, I want it to stay lovely as long as possible. I don't bother for knits or casual wear.

    Simple as this- before pressing, run your finger along the stitches. They'll feel bumpy and raised. Press flat. Depending on the fiber content of the thread and the fabric, your stitches will lock together and you may not even feel the anymore. It's like they're a part of the fabric.

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  25. @ GlassCannon

    Pressing is to press down on the iron on the garment, lift the iron, move it to another area, and press it down again. Shots of steam as required. Ironing is to slide the hot iron over the surface of (not above the fabric but on it) a finished garment to smooth out wrinkles from wear or laundering or both.
    And the pressing during construction generally survives laundering. Ironing is generally what is done to finished garments after laundering.

    HTH and welcome to the Press Club (pun intended!)

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  26. I don't need to take part in the challenge because I'm already on the side of PFF (and have tested it for myself). "a little sewing" above made the point for me - if I am basting a seam to see if a garment fits then I will never, ever press it because it makes it so much more difficult to unpick.

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  27. Challenge accepted, though I'm pretty convinced by Ann's article.

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  28. Oh no Gertie! This pressing discussion has reignited my hankering to make my own pressing ham and roll. Yet another potential project to plan...

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  29. I love your blog! I am working on a dress for me for my daughter's wedding and on The 1912 Project. I too am a random PFFer I am going to take this PFF and (try) to do it each time I press a seam. I will report back!
    Melodye

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  30. I frankly don't know how to sew without pressing! Pressing seams flat first has always been my habit. I will be anxious to see how all of this comes out. Thanks for the challenge. It's a good thing.

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  31. I'm in!I'll let you know how I make out.

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    http://www.jobscharger.com/JobIndustry/Estate-Agency-12-.html

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  33. I've never heard of this technique, and I'm a little confused. When you say press the seam flat, do you mean flat like how it's sewn, or over to one side?

    xx Charlotte
    Tuppence Ha'penny

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  34. Pressing the seam flat first flattens out the minute indentations from the up and down motion of the needle...

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  36. I just did the PFF on every quilt square and I've counted 80 at this point... I think I'm indoctrinated. Plus, I can see the little puckers go away. It looks like it's doing something.

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  37. Love your blog! I was just reading about couture sewing, most of which is hand sewn. I've learned that the thread of permanent stitching(not basting stitches) should be pulled through bees wax first, then pressed to set the stitches. The melted wax is what may actually set the stitches. Perhaps this is where the method for PFF originated??

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

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