What Is The Difference Between Pressing and Ironing Fabric?

Surprisingly, pressing with an iron and ironing with an iron are two significantly different actions, delivery contrasting results to your fabrics.

So how are these so different, why would you use pressing against ironing, and when would you use these separate techniques?

Here, we will discuss the difference between pressing and ironing.

What is the Pressing Technique?

The action of pressing with an iron, or indeed a steam ironing press. You will be pressing the iron into the fabric, then lifting it back up to move it across the the next section of fabric, then pressing it down again. With a steam press, you will be pulling the top plate down to press the fabric, then lifting it back up to move the next section of fabric onto the pressing bed, to repeat the pressing action.

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By pressing loosely woven fabrics such as shirts, suits, silks or rayons, you are avoiding the continuous pressure and drag that the ironing technique uses, which can distort fibres, giving an unwanted shape upon finishing. These fabrics need gentle, pressing heat.

When Would You Use the Pressing Technique?

Every dressmaker will know that Pressing with an iron is a very important process to ensure a sharp and professional result.

Pressing the fabric before cutting the pattern out will ensure that the pattern pieces are a perfect shape. When the pattern calls for pressing a seam, be sure to press down with the iron, lift up and move on to the next part of the seam. The same applies for pressing darts, etc.

Many quilters will also use this technique for perfect, professional results.

What is The Ironing Technique?

I would imagine that everyone knows this. The action of pushing the iron over the fabric to ‘iron out the creases’. It is always best to iron in just one direction, eliminating the mistake of going backwards and ironing in a crease what can be difficult to remove.

When Would You Use the Ironing Technique?

You would use the ironing technique for most of your clean, washed garments.

Iron care labelAlways check the fabric manufacturers ironing label to set your iron at the correct temperature to avoid melting or burning the garment. Never stretch the fabric whilst ironing…this can distort the garment and it will almost always, never be the same again.

With most fabrics, you can use steam whilst ironing. You can even just ‘steam’ the fabric, then shake out the wrinkles….this is the technique you would use for delicate’s such as silk.



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