Sunday, December 12, 2010

Couture Pressing Tips: Silk Organza Press Cloth

Just a few months ago I used an old cotton diaper cloth as a press cloth for everything. I would dampen it, place it (mostly) over a pair of wool pants or a jacket and press. While this cloth is good for holding moisture, there are many situations when you should have a special press cloth at hand.

white silk organza
So, back then I would have never thought of using relatively expensive silk organza as a press cloth. I've seen intricate blouses and dresses on runway made of organza, but never sewn with it - it was too sheer and too difficult to control. 

Here's how Claire Schaeffer describes Organza in her 'Fabric Sewing Guide': "Organza is a sheer, plain-weave fabric. Made in silk, rayon, or polyester yarns , it is not as crisp as organdy. It is used for evening wear, children's dresses, blouses, dresses, interfacings, underlining, linings, and facings."

Now, it's one of mine most important fabric staples - I use it a lot for underlining and interfacing. But it is since recently that I learned all the advantages of using 100% Silk Organza  as a press cloth.

When to use it?

Many experts recommend using organza press cloth with silks and lace, because its sheerness makes it convenient to control layers underneath. I also learned that you can use organza for pressing iron-on interfacings (see some helpful hints below).

Why Silk Organza?

Like any other press cloth, it helps avoid shine that appears from over-pressing or pressing directly on the fashion fabric. But what makes silk organza press cloth very convenient is that it is sheer and withstands heat. Just make sure it is 100% silk and not polyester – you don’t want the press cloth to melt and ruin your garment, especially if you are working with expensive fabrics.

Do you need to dampen it?

No, silk organza cloth will not hold moisture well. Also, if you are working with silks, avoid steam iron as the risk of having a water stain on the fashion fabric is relatively high. Some seamstresses recommend using water spray, however, if you decide to use water or steam test it on a scrap fabric first.

Where can you get it?

You can buy it from a sewing supply store or Amazon (I am including a link to a Dritz Silk Organza Press Cloth). Expect to pay about $10 for one press cloth.

However, I recommend making your own press cloth – you can get the size you feel comfortable with, and you can make two press cloths for the price of one. All you need is approximately half a yard (or half a meter) of white or ivory silk organza, which you can get at around $20 per yard. Cut a rectangle of 14”(35cm) by 20”(50cm). Finish the seams if you like with a serger or leave it the way it is. In fact, I have never serged mine.

Tips for using Silk Organza Press Cloth for applying Iron-on Interfacing
(this tip comes from Louise Cutting from Rowenta)

She recommends using a separate Silk Organza Cloth for this purpose. Just write “Iron-on Interfacing” on a border of the cloth to prevent the contact of the interfacing residue with the iron surface. Make sure the writing is up every time you press so the glue residue will always be on the same side of the fabric. 

I will continue posting pressing tips here and compiling an overview of existing tips on my Couture Techniques page on this blog. Any comments and suggestions are welcome, I would love to hear about your experience with pressing and pressing tools.



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