Does it make me a nerd that I'd like a bumper sticker that says this: serious seamstresses use a ham. Don't answer that. What is a tailor's ham and why should you have one? A tailor's ham is a pressing tool that helps you get those rounded seams smoothly pressed. I have made do with rolling up towels for all these years and I decided it was time to get serious ;) and get one. I even bought the standard plaid tailor's ham from the fabric store, put it on my ironing board and stared at it. I just can't do it, I thought. I need an orange one. So I began to research how to make one.
The main tutorial that repeatedly popped up was from Burda, but they have you use fabric scraps to stuff it. Can we say lumpy? I knew I wouldn't be satisfied with a lumpy ham, so I went to the pet store. Try explaining to pet store employees what you plan on doing. I even bought a small amount of "small animal bedding". But it wasn't fine enough. I also thought about just putting it in the blender until a voice of reason [Ryan] told me that wasn't such a great idea. So, I went to the home improvement store. No, they don't sell sawdust [crazy woman], and don't even try explaining to home improvement store employees what you plan to do with it, but I'll tell you the secret. Find a kind looking, older man. He is your key. Back in lumber, where they cut the wood, is a giant vacuum that sucks up all the sawdust. They just empty it into the dumpster when it's filled, so ask if you can have just a grocery bag's worth of sawdust. It also helps to have two little cute girls in tow.Ingredients:
- Plain Cotton
- Dowel-not pictured
- Card stock [2 pieces]-not pictured
I did a freehand stencil of the ham, which turned out to be almost the exact same size as a piece of card stock, but it isn't an oval. It's more like an egg with a flat bottom. Cut one from wool, one from contrasting cotton and three from the plain cotton. I didn't have orange wool, so I dyed my piece and then sent it through a wash cycle to make sure any extra dye was washed out, so there wouldn't be any bleeding on my future projects.
Next you need to baste 2 plain cotton and your contrasting cotton sides together, and then baste the wool and 1 plain cotton together, all the way around. With the right sides of the contrasting cotton and wool together, stitch around the perimeter 1/2" seam allowance [decrease your length to a 2], leaving it open 3" on the flat bottom. I didn't clip the curves, although maybe I should have for a more smooth ham, because I didn't want to weaken the seams, since you will be putting a fair amount of pressure on them as you stuff it. Turn right side out.Next comes the messy part. Seriously. Do it somewhere you can easily vacuum. You'll thank me later. Make a funnel from the second piece of card stock and begin adding sawdust. Use a dowel to stuff it in and once it's about half full, press the sawdust into the seams, pushing them out as much as you can. I was surprised at how much sawdust I could fit in it. Be patient and keep adding sawdust.
Once you've added as much as you possibly can, packing that sawdust in with a dowel, pin and stitch up the opening with either heavy duty thread or embroidery floss for a strong finish.
Clean up your ham by vacuuming it with the hose attachment, and voila! Your very own, very personalized tailor's ham! I am saving my extra sawdust just in case it compresses in the ham, and maybe I'll even make a seam roll [which would be a lot easier, as it's just long and skinny and without curves.]
Why the wool and cotton? You want fabric that won't melt or scorch. The wool side is to press your garment items needing lower heat and the cotton to press higher heat items. The added layers of plain cotton are to keep the sawdust from seeping out. Now get pressing! Or, just stare at and admire your highly personalized, cute ham.
Happy Mother's to every single one of you, because even if you have no children of your own, you are a great blessing and help to those who do.