Pressing Hams

Recently I was watching my recorded sewing shows on Saturday from my local PBS station and the Martha’s Sewing Room episode with guest artist Louise Cutting.

3210 – Lump-Free Collars
Creating lump-free collars for blouses and jackets; Guest, Louise Cutting

Louise has her own line of patterns and does personal appearances etc all over the country and she has fans galore. Now I realize that Martha is already into TV series 3400 but when you live in a rural area the local PBS provider just does not carry/give a darn about current shows. Believe me I have written to them complaining but they just don’t care and we should feel lucky to be getting shows from 2009 in 2011…ok I am grateful/frustrated.

The segment went well with her showing how to change collar patterns so as to eliminate the seam right near the collar’s center front. She had nice techniques along with some pressing hints on how to steam your finished collar around a pressing ham to keep that special curve before attaching it to your blouse or jacket.                                     

Up until that point everything was going well until Martha asked if pressing hams could still be bought easily. Well the next thing out of Louise was the answer “NO”. She said one must make their own and find the pattern on the internet.

She also cautioned Martha that if one were to make such an item they would have to fill it with cedar shavings ONLY as they retain more heat. At this point I was shouting at the TV, “You have to be kidding!!!!” OK I was shouting more that that but I also wanted to get to my computer and do the following:

Hey try Googling “Pressing ham” and see what pops up…

I found at least 10 pages of pressing ham references and folks willing to sell you one of these babies. So if you get a bug up your butt to start making your own pressing ham, for goodness sake spend $7-10 and save yourself the trouble!

And where in this world does one find cedar shavings? Do you know any beavers? Here is one link:

For $11.95 they will ship one pound to you. Now does this make any sense?

Here is another place that sells cedar sawdust for $2.95 a pound for quilts and beehives:

Call me crazy but I have better things to do than make a half wool-half cotton cover, make an inside bag, inhale sawdust, fill it to bursting, inhale more sawdust, pack it tight, start sneezing and coughing, hand stitch it closed and hand stitch the wool/cotton cover over it. Then later bring out the vacuum to suck up all the dust from the packing and stuffing and swearing that followed this project.

A fellow sewer Miss Celie has shared her collection of hams and other links to different sized ones too.

Then some of you may ask…what holds this ham upright? Well if you are fortunate enough to have one of the June tailor plastic hamholder versions you know how nice they are. But recently I bought a couple of these handmade wooden ones for $13.49.

On some websites they are asking around $29.29 plus shipping so this link is a bargain.

Once you have and use a ham for pressing princess seams, shaping collars etc you will not be able to sew without it. So friends be on the lookout for pressing hams at garage sales and craft fairs and the internet. Many years ago they even made a flat sided one by June Tailor that lays horizontal without rolling around but those are rare.

Ask your granny or her friends if they are getting rid of any sewing notions and you may find some real treasures from the past to bring into your sewing room too.

If anyone is wondering how the fur cape transformation is going…it is enough to say that my client came, tried on the cape, I cut armholes, pinned up a hem, pinned out front flare, pinned out back flare and she left happy until the next try-on. My floor looked like I had taken a pair of electric clippers to a black poodle…some days even a diet Dr. Pepper won’t fix things.


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