13 Pressing tools you need for professional sewing

Pressing is an essential step in sewing, to shape, smooth, and set fabric, ensuring precise seams, crisp edges, and overall polished outcomes. This post lists different types of pressing tools, such as irons, steamers, pressing cloths, tailor's hams, seam rolls, clapper boards, and more.

Pressing is undoubtedly a very important part of sewing. Other than the most basic iron, what are the different types of pressing tools you may want to have for perfect sewing.
Iron is my least favorite electronic equipment in the house. I do ironing mostly under gunpoint; I mean when I absolutely have to. Somehow using the iron box for my sewing is a lot less tedious. Not because it is not a chore but because the results of those frequent pressing sessions are worth it. If you want your sewing to look professional any good sewist you ask will recommend pressing the seams open as you sew.
Iron, ironing table and other tools needed for pressing in sewing
Pressing needs no introduction to a sewist but the pressing tools may have to be introduced to some of us. Some of them are not so commonly used unless you are a professional. Getting all of them or some of them is highly recommended if you do or plan to do a lot of sewing – they can make your pressing life easier

Pressing tools


Of course, this goes without saying – you need an iron. The iron can be a dry iron or a steam iron. It is always good to use an iron that is a bit heavy and not lightweight – some fabrics like thick cotton, and linen wouldn’t even budge under lightweight iron.
The steam iron is a combination of a dry and steam iron. It has multiple settings for temperature as well as steam. A dry iron can be used with a damp pressing cloth to replace the steam iron. 

Ironing board

A hard and flat surface is a must for smooth ironing. An ideal ironing board has a sturdy surface and a narrow edge. The height of the ironing board should be able to be adjusted to your height for good ergonomics. After all you are at it a lot if you do lots of sewing. It should be lightly padded and covered with a heat-resistant material (ie no synthetic cover).
If you don’t have an ironing board, you can use a table covered with a thick towel or blanket. Checkout how to cover your old ironing board here.

Pressing Cloth/sheet

There are many reasons why this is the first and most important pressing aid you should have. On many fabrics applying hot iron directly can leave marks – dark clothes are very susceptible to this. On some fabrics, hot iron leaves a shining which is not at all appealing, for example, Rayon. Delicate fabrics like silk must be protected while ironing so as not to get burned.
A wet pressing cloth and hot iron is an alternative to steam iron. You can get out any wrinkles on your fabric using these. For wool fabrics, it is better to use wool fabric as a pressing cloth. The teflon pressing sheet is a great buy for heat-sensitive materials.

Sprinkler/Spray Bottle

If you do not have a steam iron this is useful to spray water on the fabric. A spray bottle filled with water is used to spray water on the fabric which moistens and softens the fibers. It helps remove wrinkles easily. The spray bottle also comes in handy when you want to spray starch on your fabric.

Sleeve Board

This is a padded board used for ironing small areas or slim areas like sleeves. It is like a miniature padded ironing board. It helps to press sleeves without causing any fold lines. Most sleeve boards can be flattened. It helps in saving space while storing.

Seam roll

This is a round, narrow, and long-pressing tool – it looks like a medium sized dowel – it is used specifically to press seams open. Because of its corved sides you can use it to press all kinds of seams open. This can be used as an alternative to Sleeve Board.When you use seam roll, it helps you not to make any impression of the raw seam edge on the garment.
You can easily make a seam roll by sewing a tube and stuffing it with fabric scraps or cotton fibers. Sew the other ends closed. In the Singer sewing book it is suggested to use dowels covered with cloth as a seam roll – a quick inexpensive DIY option. 
The seams are kept open on top of the seam roll and it is pressed open – the smooth surface of the seam roll will ensure that the mark of the cut edge or the seam allowance is not reflected on the front of the fabric. The steam gets absorbed by the fabric of the seam roll and gives a nice pressing effect.

Pressing Hams/ Tailor’s cushion

These are shaped like actual ham, hence the name. The tailor’s ham is a multipurpose pressing tool; it is basically a large fabric piece shaped like a ham and stuffed inside. As it has a curved surface it is ideal for pressing darts, curved seams, and rounded areas. It allows you to iron shirts and other clothes without any crease especially around the shoulders.
A good sleeve or pressing ham has two different fabrics on either of its sides – cotton on one side and wool on one side. The cotton side is ideal for fabrics that require high temperature like cotton, linen, etc. The wool side, on the other hand, is used for pressing wool and other delicate materials which require lower temperatures.


This is a pressing tool made of smooth wood with edges rounded and sanded smooth. There are grooves along the side to hold it in place. The clapper is used to get sharp edges for collars, facings, hems, pleats. Some have success replaing a clapper with a readily available wooden rolling pin. It is used along with a steam iron. 

Point or Edge Presser

This is a narrow pressing tool made of wood that helps achieve a professional finish to your pressed and ironed garment. It is made of hardwood with one end pointed. It is not padded but often has a felt or a piece of heavy cotton cloth drawn tightly over the top. This prevents the grains of hardwood from being raised by steam. The Point Presser is used to open the seams of a collar or cuff and press points, curves, and straight edges.

Pressing mitts

This looks just like an oven mitten – a padded glove like thing that you can hold in your hands and used to press hard-to-press curved surfaces like sleeve caps. The mitt is made of heat-resistant fabrics so that you do not feel the heat. 

Needle Board

This is a piece of canvas with fine upright wires. The needle board is used to press  napped, highly textured, or pile fabrics like velvet. The textured or pile side is placed face down on the needle board so as not to get it crushed while pressing. Sometimes a velvet fabric or heavy terry bath towel can be used in place of a needle board

Pounding block

When some seams do not behave( because they cannot – there are so many layers of fabric) a pounding block is your pressing tool – it does what a fingerpressing does but in a more severe manner – it pounds the seams till they behave. You should keep the fabric on a padded surface before using this.

Electric steamer

If you are into upholstery or millinery (hat making) you may want to have this. If you cannot afford make do with the steam from a tea kettle. 
Having all these pressing tools are not enough. There are some fundamental rules in pressing. Like you press open any seam that you have sewn before you join it with any other piece and you press it in the opposite direction to the stitching. You can find more pressing tips like this in this post.

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

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