Quick Fabric Prep with a Steamer

Although I’m a big presser in the process of sewing, I rarely press my actual clothes. (Confession: I wear rumpled buttondown shirts quite a bit.) My husband, on the other hand, loves pressing and especially loves spending time getting all his shirts and jackets ready the night before a big trip. He travels a lot, so a few years ago I bought him an inexpensive travel steamer.

mini steamer | Cloth Habit

(I don’t remember where I bought it but it’s this one.)

And this gadget turned out to be a huge time saver for sewing, too. When faced with long yardages of silk, the thought of pressing it all over an iron board caused me to procrastinate on projects to no end.

Now I just steam it! Welcome to my teensy weensy bathroom.
steaming wrinkles | Cloth Habit

These won’t be the best photos but you get the picture. It’s super overcast today and I don’t have a lot of bathroom light!

I’m working on the Archer shirt pattern and want to make it from this lovely pumpkin rayon challis I’ve had in the stash for a couple of years. Rayon challis wrinkles as soon as you look at it, right? I knew it would have a party slithering all over my ironing board while trying to press two yards of it.

So this is how I deal with long yardages of slithery fabric: I drape them over the shower rod, turn on the little steamer and run it all over the fabric.


steaming wrinkles | Cloth Habit

And 30 seconds later:

steaming wrinkles | Cloth Habit

A little steamer like this is not going to “press”, but it does relax all the wrinkles and folds, making it flat enough for cutting. If your iron puts out enough steam, you could probably hook it up and do the same thing. I like this one because it has a head that points the steam jets directly at the fabric.

Once I’m done, I let the fabric hang till it is fairly dry. With a thin rayon challis like this that’s about 5 to 10 minutes. (I live in a dry climate so your mileage may vary.)

Have your tried using steamers in your sewing? They’re great little tools to add to the arsenal!


  1. rita says:

    I recently bought a EuroSteam iron! Steam is amazing in the sewing room! This iron has no temp setting, just one temp, which works from linen to silk. It’s the steam that does the flattening and quickly too. I need to iron a lot of yardage to preshrink it and this is amazing.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Rita, it’s so true that steam is what makes a great iron. I have a steam generator iron and I rarely turn it up from the silk setting when pressing because the steam does all the work.

  2. Friederike says:

    Your description on you and your husband made me really lough out loud. It’s exactly the same with me and my husband. I leave the house even without ironing a linen blouse and he shakes his head. 😉
    Back to the topic: I have no steamer, but I think it would work with my iron. At least I will give it a try next time, seems to be much easier than normal ironing.

    • Amy says:

      I think he grew up in a household that valued well-pressed things. Me? In my 20s I had a waitressing job for which I needed a very starchly pressed white shirt every day and I think that burned me out for a lifetime on pressing shirts and a lot of other things… for some reason it doesn’t bother me in sewing and I enjoy it but once it’s done it’s done.

  3. Heather Lou says:

    I HAVE to get one of these. I was eying the professional steamer at my tailoring supply shop but it was $200…. so instead I’ve just been relying on my gravity feed…..

    • Amy says:

      Oh you’ll love this. It’s not a power steamer by any means but it does the job and it’s great especially for silk or silk-like fabrics. Really lightweight and it’s been going for four years now…

  4. Tracy says:

    What an awesome idea!! I spend hours at my ironing board working wrinkles out of yardage. Like you, I have a teensy bathroom as well, but I never thought to just hang and steam in there 🙂 My iron is pretty heavy and although it does have the vertical steam option, I can’t imagine holding it up long enough to steam even a quick skirt. Guess it’s time for an investment! Thanks for sharing your ideas on the blog. My husband may be cursing you in the future…..haha.

  5. Rebecca says:

    I’ve been steamer shopping recently and have been waffling on getting this mondo steamer from Costco but I too have very little room for steaming and ironing let alone room to store this monster! So thanks for the post 😉

    • Amy says:

      I’d love a pro steamer… as I mentioned in another comment, I also don’t have any more room for big appliances. This ones does a great enough job.

  6. Sheila says:

    I just bought a Shark Professional steamer for cleaning my floors. It has all kinds of attachments. I can take the Steamer base and carry it around to clean my counters and one of the attachments is for steaming clothes etc. It is a real multi task appliance. It turned out to be a really good purchase.

    • Amy says:

      I love those steam cleaners and the amount of steam they put out is amazing. I had one for house and floor cleaning but it was just too much appliance to store on top of our vacuum cleaner so I gave it away. If I still had it, it would definitely work for fabric steaming.

    • amychapman says:

      Hi Diane, my husband uses this on his shirts and no you don’t have to get things wet. It puts out a lot of steam! You won’t get a hard press from a steamer but it’s great if you just want to get the wrinkles out.

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