Hello and welcome to the first tutorial of my “DIY Pressing Tools” Tutorial Series.
Those of you who sew regularly know how important it is to have the right pressing tools. And those of you novices, will learn the importance of having one (I know I sound like a granny right now, bare with me, I am getting somewhere).
Tailor’s Ham (or Dressmaker’s Ham) is one of those tools all seamstress should have at hand and as The Vogue Sewing Book would say, it is not substitutable. You see, the little tailor’s ham is supposed to simulate our actual body’s curve. A faithful ham will make you say goodbye to those eyesore wonky curve seams. Tailor’s ham will help you create a more professional and good looking garment.
However (ha!) an enthusiastic but low budget seamstress may feel that paying for a lump of sawdust stuffed cushion is a bit of a rip (yes you guess who!). I mean one of Dritz ham will set you off at US$9.55 but I mean you can make a dress with that (scrooge mcSai iis here)! And isn’t there something rewarding about making your own? You can choose whatever colour ham you want to have. That is why, my dear readers, I would like to share with you a few easy steps to make your very own personalised tailor’s ham!
What Size is your Ham?
Hams come in many different sizes and shapes(!!), to suit different types of garments and purposes of course. In this tutorial I will show you how to make the simplest, most commonly used by home sewist (just like those Dritz Pressing Hams). But don’t worry I’ll give you patterns for a couple of different size/shape hams, should you be interested in making more. See bottom of the post for free pattern download.
Things you’ll NEED:
- 6″ x 9″ Tailor’s Hams pattern
- 10″x8″ Firmly Woven or 100% Cotton fabric
- 10″x8″ Wool Fabric
- 25″x10″Plain 100% Cotton (like the unbleached muslin)
- Sawdust for stuffing
- A dowel or something to help you stuff the sawdust
Cut out the pattern pieces as per fig.a; 1 x Contrasting Cotton, 1 x Wool and 3 x Plain Cotton
Baste constrasting cotton & 2 piece of plain cotton together. Baste wool fabric & 1 pieces plain cotton toghether. Baste all the way around the pieces.fig.3
With right sides of fabric together (contrasting cotton & wool facing each other) stitch, using 1/2″ seam allowance and 2-2.5mm stitch length, the two sets of fabric together. Leave about 3″ gap at the widest end for turning out and stuffing.
Notch the corners to make sure your ham will turn out with smooth curve but only do it at the curviest point so that you don’t end up weakening the seam of the ham. Turn the ham shell right side out.
Now lets get on with the stuffing. I initially wanted to use fine sawdust (just to make sure there is no lump and bump on my ham), but with no avail I couldn’t get hold of any. I went to a couple of local carpenter and wood workshops and they told me that in these days and ages they are not allowed to sell it anymore (due to health and safety reasons). I dragged Sirio with me (you see his Spanish is native and mine is umm bad), and we weren’t very convinced about the prohibition on selling sawdust, I know the health and safety makes sense, but anyway…
In the end I went to a supermarket and got a pack of (1.5L worth) fluffy sawdust (untreated soft wood shavings), which costs me about €1.80. You know, the one they use for hamsters, rabbits and cute tiny animals. With this amount I should be able to make a 6¨x9¨ tailor´s ham and a 3¨x 15¨ seam roll. It will have to do. I think the stuff is soft and just about fine enough to create a smooth ham. It has to be better than scrap fabric, which dare I say, will make my ham lumpy.
Before you begin stuffing the ham, find a place where you can vacuum easily as it get quite messy. Use a funnel or a spoon. You can make a funnel from a piece of cardboard. Start filling the ham till you reach the half way point. Press and compact the sawdust into the seam as much as you can. The ham will be a little wonky at first but keep pushing. Use a dowel or a stick. I use chopstick to keep pushing the sawdust into the corner seams. Tried to smoothen it out at the same time and then keep filling to the top. Make sure you fill the sawdust as much as you possibly can to make sure your ham is firm.fig.6
Once filled, press the overflowing sawdust in with a dowel or spoon or your hand and pin the opening. Hand fell stitch to finish, using embroidery floss for extra strength.
Clean your ham using vacuum cleaner and voila! You are done!
Thanks for reading my tutorial, I hope it is helpful and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask :)
Enjoy your ham!