How to make a tailor’s ham and have fun ironing!

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Learn how to make your own tailor’s ham to make ironing easier, and maybe even fun! All you need is a piece of paper, some fabrics, and something to stuff it with.

I can’t believe I waited so long to make a tailor’s ham. I mean, all of the sewing books – both the vintage ones I inherited from my mom, and the new and modern ones – list this little baby as an essential ironing tool. But I thought I could put it off.

Then when I was ironing a muslin of the little dress I’m making Sarah for Quilt Market {next week, yay!} I really needed something to help me shape the facings and the darts. I tried the soft head of one of my daughter’s dolls but that was a disaster. Ruined muslin, scorched doll head :(.

Sarah laughed at my story, but I think she worried about what I might do to the actual dress… here it is, such pretty Anna Maria Horner voile from Fabricworm 🙂


So I made one. Yup. And it wasn’t hard at all. Actually, it only took about 1/2 hour. Here’s what I did:


First I cut a ‘ham’ shape out of a regular piece of paper.  It took up pretty much the whole sheet of paper. I used it to cut out four ham shapes of fabric. I cut two pieces of muslin for one side and two pieces from a cotton sheet for the other side (just to be cute). I made it a double thickness to keep it strong and smooth when stuffed.

Then I layered them with the middle two right sides together, and stitched around it twice. Yup, stitched once and then again 1/8″ away because I knew I would stuff it firmly and I didn’t want the seam popping.


Here I am stuffing it with some fiberfill recycled from a cushion we don’t use anymore. (the little one is my ham.)

After stuffing it firmly, I hand-sewed the opening closed using some strong thread and it was done!


First I ironed the darts and shaped facing on Sarah’s dress. It was actually fun! No more frustration because ironing a dart on a flat ironing board causes ironed-in wrinkles, not a smooth shape. All I had to do was move the dress around on the ham until I found a curve that fit the dress and then iron. Sweet!


This was actually so much fun that when I was done with Sarah’s dress I went to my closet looking for more to iron. I pulled out a linen top that I made for myself and finally made its shaped facing and darts look right. Imagine how much easier all my sewing this past year could have been if only I had made my little ham baby sooner!

Have fun ironing and make sure you check out all my free sewing patterns!

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