As soon as I read Pam’s blog post about the custom pressing hams made at Stitch Nerd I had to have one! The item I really wanted was a contour ham, this is a sewing/pressing tool I’ve craved for years ( I kid you not – years) and while I had searched high and low, I never found a contoured ham that met my standards., the reason being is that I have a vintage June Taylor regular ham from the 70’s that my mother gave me and so I knew how a proper pressing ham should be made:
It has one cotton side and one wool side (100% wool and 100% cotton only thank you)
The outer surface is really a cover and there is an inner form filled with sawdust
Its must be heavy and solid to withstand hard use with a heavy iron and steam
Oh sure, Dritz still sells pressing hams, but its kind of like the difference between a self-stable canned ham sitting in nasty, salty jelly on a supermarket shelf and an artisan ham made from free range pigs lovingly smoked in a barn by someone who makes only a couple hundred a year instead of millions – there is just no comparison.
The most fun thing about Stitch Nerd products is each customer chooses their own fabric combination of wool and cotton and the choices are really great. I actually go over to the web site just to play with the different fabric combinations. Mine has a Tudor black-and-white floral on the cotton side and a very 70s London Punk pink & black plaid on the wool side. Sonia puts a lot of love into each order, notice she centered the floral motif on the cotton side so it would be as pretty as possible. I LOVE THAT. I have to say too Im really impressed that the wool plaid is perfectly square over a complex three dimensional surface. Stitch Nerd sells two sizes of contoured ham sizes, I have the large one. I really recommend the larger one.
After your make your fabric choice Sonia lovingly crafts each ham and sleeve roll by hand. She packs each order well enough to surive a trip to Mars in tissue paper and pink bubble wrap, which was a big hit with my teenage daughters. As an added bonus the sawdust filling has a light and fragrant smell of cut wood kind of the sewing equivalent of new car smell and just as appealing.
In addtion to hams and sleeve rolls also available is a ham holder; a very handy wooden stand that props up the ham. Ann has one of these; I didnt order one only because I have a vintage plastic June Taylor ham stand that my mother gave me but I have to say that if you buy a Stitch Nerd ham try to include the ham stand as well because in order to use your ham to the fullest it needs a stand for stability.
So what exactly does a pressing ham do? Several things
The concave side is used to press things such as a a facing on a sleeveless blouse
The convex side is used for pressing princess seams and the like
They are really great for steaming a shirt collar into a round shape
I like to use them to pin embellishment when I mock up ideas (the sawdust filling is perfectly pinnable)
Stitch Nerd products really fulfill the form follows function mantra and in addition to its usefulness of my contour ham I just like looking at in my sewing room. There is value in beautiful tools because it helps us create beautiful garments.