How To: Pressing for Professional Results on Any Bag

Lazies, Look at what a difference perfect final pressing makes on this Claire Handbag in the before and after pictures below.

How to press a bag project

Compare the pics below. Not only does Claire stand up even nicer, but we’ve defined her shape and bottom edges with some simple pressing techniques for a more polished and professional finish. The Claire Handbag is one of our most popular bag patterns. Get the pattern below.

Claire Handbag before and after final pressing.
Shown in ‘Hushabye’ by Tula Pink for Moda.

Three Steps: Press, Specialty Press, Re-Press
Slide the open end of your finished bag project onto the rounded and pointed end of the ironing board and press what you can.

Work your way around the open end of the bag. Press along the top edge of the bag, gently pull on the handles and press where they attach at the top edge, and press as much of the body of the bag as possible.

Pressing the body of the bag is easy. But what about the bottom? You can’t fit your iron in there. Your ironing board doesn’t reach the nooks and crannies of your project.

The Side Bottom Seams
If there are seams around the bottom edge of the bag – fabulous! Press those first. Reach into the bag with both hands and force the corners of the lining into the corner of the cover, pushing them into each other. Then gently pull your hands apart as you exit the bag and it will flatten at that seam and resemble the picture below. 

While it is flattened, press just the seam. Start with the tip of your iron then slide more of your iron onto the project. I use lots and lots of steam for this. I want to build memory for this line along the bottom edge of the bag.

Here, I’ve placed half of my iron on the seam. By having this much of my iron on the project, I’m actually creating an unwanted crease on the front and back of the bag near the bottom. I try not to do that, but it happens and it’s okay, I’ll re-press later to eliminate that unwanted crease.

Pressing The Front/Back
There is one landmark on the front and back of Claire to guide us. We stitched across the outside pockets at 2 1/4″ in Step 2 of the pattern.

That stitching line should be the bottom of the cover. Many bags have no seam at the front or back to guide us, so we’ll use the perfectly pressed side seams as guides.

Reach into the bag again and tuck the front lining corners into the cover corners, spread your arms as you remove them from the bag creating a nice fold from corner to corner. You might have to help the bag make this fold. Just massage and manipulate the bag until you it looks right to you.

Important
Things can get kind of wonky here, but when the side seams and the front of the bag are resting nicely on the ironing board – you’ve got it. This means the bottom is squared up perfectly. Press this fold just as we did for the side seams. Start with the tip of your iron.

Then progress to your whole iron. Remember, I use lots of steam to set this fold with memory.

Finally, slide the bag back onto the rounded and angled end of your ironing board and press out any unwanted creases made while pressing the bottom edges. Steam will be handy once again.

Benefits the Lining
This final pressing will also allow the lining to fill out the inside of the bag a bit more. The pockets will hang more nicely. And the Bag-E-Bottom will rest more comfortably at the bottom of your bag.

Claire Handbag Pattern
Claire is a quick and easy fat quarter project. She’s the perfect sized bag to use as a small tote or modest size open-top purse.

Get the pattern in our digital store here.

Specialty Pressing Boards and Items
A sleeve board or specialty pressing board can be really useful for pressing small projects like this. Try the 2×4 Mighty Mini board I designed for Clover Needlecraft.

I’ve been using Rowenta brand irons for years. They have plenty of styles and price points to choose from.

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How to press a bag project

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Enjoy!
Joan

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