Hams

Before I begin, let me say I am by no means a construction expert. I learn about sewing every day and devour sewing books like Mrs. PacMan. But, I thought it might be kind of interesting to show you my pressing hams. If you find this interesting, might I suggest you listen to the Sew Forth Now Podcast with Ann of Gorgeous Things? Seriously… listening to it made me want to iron.


Just this week I completed my pressing ham collection. Yes. Completed. I’ve had a seam roll and 6×9 Dritz pressing ham for about four years now– bought on one of those “50 percent off the notion wall” weekends at Joanns.

But, I never really knew there were more hams until a post by Els at the Sewing Divas (I am still obsessed with that press buck!). A few months later I picked up the Dritz Guide to Modern Sewing and read about the difference between a dressmaker’s ham and a tailor’s ham.

The author suggests you ask for them at the notions counter of your favorite department store. Mmmmhhhhhmmm. Nordstrom will get right on that. Those must have been the days!

Dressmaker ham on the left, tailor ham on the right

Some of the oldest professional pressing supplies were only recently available to home sewers. These are the tailor’s cushions or pressing hams. A medium dressmaker’s ham for dressmaking details, such as pressing the proper curve under a bust dart, or shrinking the top of a set-in sleeve cap; and a larger tailor’s ham (‘professional size’) for tailoring details, such as pressing the proper roll in a collar or label. — Dritz Guide to Modern Sewing

I think both hams can serve your purpose, just the larger size of the tailor’s ham let’s you accomodate a larger collar, bigger darts, larger seams…..


Seam roll is shaped more like a sausage than a ham and is useful for pressing inside sleeves, pant legs, elbow darts, zipper plackets and long narrow curved seams. –Dritz Guide to Modern Sewing

June Tailor Ham Holder (which holds all these hams very well)

Els’ post got me hooked on getting a ham holder. I found myself needing a hand to hold my ham in the right position. And when your iron weighs five pounds, you need both hands to work with the iron. Happily, my June Tailor Contoured Dressmaker’s ham and ham holder came together.

Contoured dressmaker’s ham is used for pressing/shaping shaped areas e.g. darts, and shoulder areas — June Tailor Method of Custom Detail Pressing

Back in September Dawn posted about making a collar. She had it pinned to a contoured ham and until then, I’d never seen one in my life.

These hams are packed with dry, hardwood dust and covered with wool so the steam penetrates the fabric more readily. Also, wool against wool helps avoid unwanted shine. — Dritz Guide to Modern Sewing

Now for beginner sewers. Please don’t think you need to have all these hams in order to sew. I just started using a ham in the last few years and only recently acquired the remainder off of eBay. That being said, I looked for new hams as my sewing skill increased and I recognized the need for more versatility. I also love vintage items and things like these are fairly cheap on eBay. I might have spent $25 not including S&H for the contoured, large ham, ham holder and larger seam roll.

BTW, there are several Traum tracing wheels on eBay right now.

Finally, I owe some back pedaling on yesterday’s Knip Mode post. I said that American patterns do not have the level of detail as the European magazines. That’s not entirely true. There are patterns that have that kind of detail (especially Vogue as they have RTW designers) and they certainly walk you through the construction process better :).