A pressing cloth is a small piece of fabric but you cannot dismiss it so; It is a versatile tool for anyone who irons or presses. There are many mighty reasons why you will want to use a press cloth when you iron or press your clothes/fabrics
Reasons for using Pressing cloth
- It protects your fabric surface from getting damaged by heat or sticking onto the iron and prevents the dreaded scorch marks.
- It prevents the shiny look on some fabrics like wool
- It protects the fabric from water spots, lime deposits and reduces the retention of moisture when using a steam iron.
- It retains the look and texture of the fabric if you have to press or iron from the front
- It can be a substitute for steam iron if dampened with water
- It protects the ironing board’s surface when applying interfacing
- It can be used in other sewing activities like applique.
Which fabrics should be ironed/pressed using a pressing cloth?
The pressing cloth is usually used on fabrics like silk, nylon, coated fabrics, wool, flannel, lace – these fabrics can be easily damaged if you apply heat on them directly. If direct heat touches these fabrics it can dull, pucker, or burn these fabrics.
Silk is usually pressed with a steam iron and you have to use a pressing cloth to prevent water stains. On wool, if you press without a pressing cloth you risk leaving a shine. Nylon and other synthetic fabrics may stick to the soleplate if you use the wrong temperature or you leave the iron a little too long on the fabric surface. The delicate fibers of lace can be scorched by a too-hot iron. These problems can be prevented if you use a pressing cloth
In sewing pressing the seams open is very important, especially when sewing heavy fabrics. Pressing the seams open embeds the stitches as well as reduces the bulk of seam allowances turning to one side. You can press the seams as they are sewn with the pressing cloth under the seam allowances to make sure that the mark of the edges (an impression of the turning) are not formed on the front of the fabric – this is frequent when pressing delicate and thin fabrics.
Which fabrics work best as Pressing cloth?
A ready-made pressing cloth is convenient but it is not difficult to make one yourself. You can always buy a piece of fabric that will withstand heat from any fabric store and use it as a pressing cloth. Just finish the edges and use it.
An open weave piece of cotton is usually the most popular fabric for a pressing cloth. But you can use different types of pressing cloth depending on what you are ironing/pressing. A wool pressing cloth is used on wool. A see-through thin muslin may be preferred if you want to see where you are pressing. A silk pressing cloth is preferred for silk. Thick cotton is preferred for linen and thick cotton fabrics, that too dampened.
Whatever you use as a pressing cloth, make sure the fabric has no synthetic fibers. Synthetic fabrics burn very fast and stick to the iron soleplate – they cannot take high heat at all. The pressing cloth needs to be clean and white or at least a colored cloth that will not bleed.
The pressing cloth may get wet if you are using a steam iron so it is better if you have a white cloth, not dyed. It is also better if it has no texture or a different weave than a plain weave – twill weave and other such weaves can leave the mark on your fabric.
Silk organza pressing cloth can be used for pressing silk and other fabrics. In fact it is a very popular choice as a pressing cloth for delicate fabrics – as it is sheer you can easily know if there are wrinkles forming underneath or if you are pressing wrongly. Though it is lightweight and fine, it is extremely heat resistant and strong
If you want a more professional option, you can buy Teflon pressing cloths – these are transparent reusable pressing cloths made of a coated non-sticking material; This is a great option if you want to press a particularly delicate material
Dimensions of a Pressing cloth
There is no set dimension as such. You can cut a 12 inch square which is the size of a handkerchief (or use your kerchief as a press cloth). 12″ x 18″ is another popularly used dimension.
How to use a pressing cloth in place of a steam iron?
The pressing cloth is placed on the surface of your fabric and acts as a buffer between the fabric and direct heat. It helps protect delicate fabrics and also helps prevent the shine from forming.
Dampen your pressing cloth. Make sure that the water is removed fully – wring out the fabric to remove all traces of water. Keep the dampened pressing cloth on your fabric to be ironed. Heat the iron to the temperature setting suitable for your fabric. Press/iron. The steam from your damp pressing cloth will act on your fabric and remove the wrinkles. Do not remove the fabric immediately. The fabric will still be malleable due to the steam and wrinkles will set in again