. . . . . . A place to contribute, exchange tips and ideas and find further info on the LDC group on Meetup.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Ham, Sausage, hold the Egg

Hello everyone,

No you’ve not accidentally stumbled upon a foodie blogpost, I love my food but I'm not talking about that kind today, haha…. Ham means a whole different kind of thing to anyone who does any kind of dressmaking, as the tailor's ham and sleeve roll are important pieces of kit in the sewing arsenal, aka, the ham and sausage/sleeve roll.  Here are mine…

They are essential for pressing out seams properly. The tailor's ham is used on curves such as darts, sleeve heads and princess seams;  to get to the seams inside sleeves, the sleeve roll. They're available to buy ready made, but me being me, I had to make my own. If you'd like to do the same here's what I did. 

They’re a basic egg (or ham!) shape so you can draft your own but I decided to use this one by Doja
I added a seam allowance to this template.

They are traditionally made with two types of fabric, one side is wool and one side is cotton for the ironing at different temperatures and fabric types, then they are STUFFFFFFED with sawdust until they are as firm as you can possibly make it. Some tutorials out there use fabric scraps but the sawdust is the traditional version as it helps with the firmness and the moisture from the steam but your choice.

I used a wool tweed and some scrap curtain lining from my stash but choose whatever you want. Do avoid synthetic fabrics and mixes so that you can iron at high temperatures as necessary.

I cut out an additional layer for the inside as a precaution of any sawdust leaking out, so for mine I cut 3 in cotton and one in wool. I sewed it up in two separate layers then put one inside the other, but if I did it again, I would sew all four layers in one go; I added a hanging loop too.

I used wood shavings intended for pet bedding, I bought mine from Wilko, 50p for a small packet and used the whole lot.  Some people use sawdust from DIY or timber merchants, but personally I wouldn’t because I think they cut MDF and the dust would be all mixed up. MDF dust is not safe due to the fine particles and the toxic factor from the glue. (MDF is basically wood particles glued, compressed and re-cut, think of it as the wood equivalent of burger chain fries)

It’s a MESSY job and was more tedious than I had thought it would be so be patient. You stuff it bit by bit and then squish it down as you go, bashing the sides to compress it sideways.

I did this in the garden, in a wide plastic container to reduce mess and rolled up a funnel out of card which I inserted into the ham and poured the shavings into the funnel from the packet. This proved to be the least messy way compared to spooning it into the funnel or directly into the ham/sausage. Sorry for lack of pictures but I got engrossed into the stuffing and thought it not a pretty process. Stick the funnel together and not do as I do, I had to roll it up after each time I put it down…

This is where I would advise against sewing the two layers separately as I got sawdust in between the layers and got little lumpy bits, which were a pain to get out,  otherwise I would not have the nice smooth surface I needed for ironing… sigh, live and learn! The funnel helps direct the sawdust aswell, I think using the spoon got it between the layers. 

Stuff. Bash. Stuff. Bash. Keep compressing the stuffing down, in hindsight I should have done more side bashing aswell as the poking down on the ham as it's not quite as firm as the sausage. Once stuffed all the way, I stitched the opening by hand and stuffing more into it as I closed it up. The thing compresses more as you use it so the harder and fuller you can make it, the better. 

If you decide to have a go, here's a summary of my tips.
  1. Use pet-bedding for stuffing
  2. Use four layers and sew them all in one go to avoid getting the stuffing in between the outer and inner shell. The additional layer also gives a slightly smoother surface I think.
  3. Use a funnel to help with the filling. Roll some paper or card into a funnel shape and stick it together
  4. Compress the stuffing as much as you can. Bash the thing against the table or use a wooden spatula (or any other kitchen implement!) as you go.
  5. Stuff up until the last stitch, there is always room for a wood shaving more
The whole make took a few hours from beginning to end but I like mine as they’re a bit bigger than ones you can buy. I think you may not need to add seam allowance to the sleeve roll, it might be a bit big if you decide to make any slim sleeves for knits or perhaps children's clothes.
I hope you find this post useful if you decide to make your own.  If you don’t, well, you’re probably putting your time to better use making a beautiful garment instead of stuffing and bashing these odd looking things…

Happy sewing everyone 😊