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Make your own HAM (yums!)

The pressing variety I mean... :)

Store bought hams just don't do it for me. They are expensive and they are also hard to find - good ones that is. So I set out to make my own a couple of years ago.

First, I made a paper pattern.

Then I cut out the fabric cover pieces; upholstery cotton (you might recognize that Ikea fabric) for one side and terry cloth for the other side (for pressing of velvets and corduroys).

I sewed the two pieces together, right sides facing, leaving the bottom straighter edge open for turning and stuffing.

Pressing hams are normally filled with sawdust. But I live nowhere near a lumberyard and they don't just sell things like sawdust at the supermarket. So...

....I used hamster bedding!

Which is really just pine shavings.

I stuffed it until my hands were sore, then I stuffed it some more with a wooden dowel, packing the shavings in as tight as I could. Put more shavings in and continued pounding until it was as full as it could get.

After that, I hand-stitched the opening close, going back and forth a few times just to make sure it would NEVER open.

And Voila!
A ham worthy of being invited to dinner even.

I was so proud of what I had done that I made a seam roll to go with it...that same night. :D

I'm very happy to say that I'm still using the ham and roll (:P) today and just couldn't do without them.

The pine shavings inside gave off such a sweet scent each time I used the ham (and seam roll). I highly recommend using hamster bedding, or sweet-smelling wood shavings, as stuffing ;)

Edited to add:
Hams are used for pressing curved seams like darts, so that shaping can be easily achieved. A seam roll allows for pressing of long seams like the side seams on sleeves, skirts and pants, without pressing them flat and thus avoiding indentations made by the seam allowance. Here is a great video tutorial done by Threads on the very subject.


  1. Awright! Your first online tutorial! Very cool! Except I don't know what a ham is. Sewing for more than 20 years and I don't know the names of things. What is a ham?

    And that plum baju! Professional! (which you are, I mean). Just boasted to mum and Dave. Very proud.

  2. Hyuk! Hyuk! Thank you, thank you!

    A ham is a used for pressing curved seams like darts. I have edited my post to briefly explain and to link to a video demo by Threads.

  3. hi there -- jumped over here from ikatbag to see the shirring stuff, then noticed this in the sidebar too. I actually broke down and bought a ham a while back, but it was so expensive and yet cheaply made, I took it back, vowing to make my own. But when, oh when, that's the question. Thanks for posting this though -- i wasn't sure what to stuff with (once I do finally get around to sewing it).

  4. I just saw the mention on Craft Gossip and stopped by. I love this tutorial! I haven't used a ham (or seam roll) but I really want to improve my finishing techniques in my sewing so I think I need to get on this and make one.

    Thanks for the link to the video also.

  5. This is the best tutorial I've seen for a ham. I gotta go get some hamster bedding! Thank you for posting this. : )

  6. I just stumbled across your blog. Great tutorial. I've been sewing for more than 40 years and never knew that a ham is what I needed. I can't wait to make one this weekend. And I just LOVE your versatile top. I'll be making that this weekend too.

  7. Hi, thank you for creating this tutorial. I have added a link to your blog. I wrote about the Tailor Ham in my blog to introduce others to this great sewing tool. I teach sewing lessons locally. I was looking for a picture of a Ham and came across your blog. Thank you www.threadedfromheaven.blogspot.com

  8. Hi, thank you for the tutorial. I am going to make mine today...got my hamster bedding! I make doll clothes so I need a smaller one and need it badly. I have been wanting to make one for a long time but kept putting it off..Thanks so much to you and my friend Gayle who sent me this link ♥♥♥

  9. Hi. I have been wanting to make my own pressing ham for sometime now. The only thing I had been able to track down is one McCall QuikSew pattern.. so I decided to do a search for one online. Your pressing ham and sleeve are very attractive! and I really like the idea of using the pet bedding for the stuffing! ... getting off the web now to look for a pretty fabric for my own pressing ham and sleeve roll! Thanks for sharing! : )


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