I promised I'd talk about pressing tools.
I didn't promise it wouldn't be corny.
Tools can make all the difference in the ease with which a job is done, as well as the results. It took me a few years of doing things the slow, hard way before I realized the extent to which this is true of pressing tools. I don't know why I thought $15.00 was so much to spend on something I didn't have -- maybe I needed to be shown the full value. After over 20 years of sewing for myself and family, I was finally shown the value of pressing tools when I had to master them to pass a course required for my degree. (University of Texas - Austin, BA - Human Ecology/Textiles - 2002). Nothing like a little academic pressure to open one's mind.
Let's start with the two I have, then, I'll tell you about the one I still don't have - and why.
A Sleeve Roll is a foot long tube with rounded ends constructed, usually, of muslin on one side, and wool flannel on the other. In America, the Dress Stewart Tartan seems to be the flannel of choice. I don't know why. I am guessing it's because there is really only one company manufacturing rolls and hams (Dritz), and that is the tartan they like. Tradition, you know. [To say nothing of lowered production costs] The roll is packed firm, but has some pliability. It is essential for pressing the sleeve in a woman's blouse without the masculine crease. Lay the sleeve flat, seam towards you, and press the seam, and to within 2-3 in of the top side. reposition the sleeve so that the seamside is down. Insert the roll and press the sleeve over the roll. Your flat iron will now roll over the sleeve, smoothing out any wrinkles without putting in a crease. [Does this work on faces?] A Sleeve Roll is also great for pressing short darts and pleats on a cuved area.
A Pressing Ham is of the the same construction as a Sleeve Roll (down to the same Tartan), but is, well, ham-shaped. It's about the size of a 3-lb ham. it is used for pressing flat seams, darts, tucks and pleats that are positioned on a curve. For instance: opening the Butterfly seam on a side seam from hip to waist.
The Sleeve Board, is a bi-level padded board that has 2 sleeve-shaped boards, one wider that the other, that are held with a metal bracket/stand about 4-6 inches apart. It is basically a mini-ironing board in the shape of a long sleeve. This is the one I don't own. More expensive than the other two, I find that it serves the same purpose as a sleeve roll, with only slightly more convenience. For the price, (around $30 - $55), I can't feel the need to add it to my voluminous collection of tools. If you feel otherwise, let me know -- maybe I am not yet enlightended on this.
If any are interested in purchasing these tools: I found great prices on hams and rolls at : www.newarkdress.com and good prices on sleeve boards at: www.sewforless.com