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How to Press Curves with A Tailor’s Ham


A tailor’s ham is a rounded, stuffed tool shaped like a ham, used for pressing curved areas. The most useful hams are made with one side of wool cloth and the other of cotton. Tailor’s hams are stuffed with sawdust or commercial stuffing to keep their shape. Pair with a seam roll (page link) to cover most of your pressing needs. You can buy tailor’s hams, or you can make your own.

Tailor’s ham (1)

Tailor’s ham

Tailor’s ham (2)

Tailor’s ham


A tailor’s ham is used for pressing curved seams and darts. Making your own tailor’s ham allows you to customize the size, which is great for making doll clothes or children’s clothes. Press tiny darts on tiny hams!

Do you need one when you’re learning to sew? It’s hard to press darts on a completely flat surface without pressing creases into your garment. You’ll need to use some sort of three-dimensional surface to press curved darts properly, so consider getting a tailor’s ham as soon as you decide to tackle darts.

Tips + Notes

  • Snip notches at both ends of the fold line to make it easier to line up the two pieces of the ham.
  • Stuff with cedar shavings from a pet supply shop instead of sawdust. Both are naturally absorbent, which is perfect for pressing with steam.
  • You can also stuff it with wool fabric scraps cut into small pieces or old nylon stockings.
  • Save extra stuffing to restuff the ham in case it becomes deflated over time.
  • If desired, make a hanging loop by sewing ribbon in the seam allowance at one end before stuffing.
  • Make a smaller version of this ham for pressing children’s clothing or doll clothes.
  • Instead of using a tailor’s ham, roll up towels to use as pressing tools. You can reroll and shape the towel as needed to fit the curves of your project.


Arrange your seam over the ham, finding a curved part that suits the shape of your fabric piece. Press (page link). Move the fabric around the ham as needed to use the curves that fit. Continue pressing until you’ve finished pressing the piece. Use the cotton side for high heat and the wool side for low heat.

How to Press Curves with A Tailor's Ham


How to Make A Tailor's Ham (1)

Cut out an egg-shaped circle from both wool and prewashed cotton fabric (such as muslin), making it approximately 14″ (35.6cm) long, 10″ (25.4cm) wide at the wider end and 8″ (20.3cm) wide at the narrower end.

How to Make A Tailor's Ham (2)

Sew around the edges with a ½” (1.3cm) seam allowance. Leave a 5″ (12.7cm) opening for stuffing at the wider end.

How to Make A Tailor's Ham (3)

Turn the ham right side out. Stuff tightly with sawdust. It needs to be quite hard to hold its shape.

How to Make A Tailor's Ham (4)

Turn under the seam allowance on one side of the opening, lap over the other edge and sew the opening shut.

Source : The Sewtionary An A to Z Guide to 101 Sewing Techniques + Definitions
About the Author : Tasia ST. Germaine