How to Make a Tailor’s Ham: Step-by-Step DIY Guide

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on how to make a tailor’s ham!

Whether you’re a seasoned seamstress or a sewing novice, having a tailor’s ham in your arsenal can greatly enhance your garment construction and pressing techniques.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham

How to Make a Tailor’s Ham

A tailor’s ham is an essential tool for shaping and pressing curved areas of garments during sewing. Making your own tailor’s ham allows for customization and ensures you have the perfect tool for your sewing needs.

Follow these step-by-step instructions to create your tailor’s ham:

Materials Needed:

  • Sturdy fabric (such as cotton or wool)
  • Filling material (sawdust, cotton batting, wool roving)
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Scissors
  • Pins or clips
  • Measuring tape
  • Iron and ironing board

Let’s dive in!

Step 1: Gathering Materials and Tools:

A. Fabric Selection: Choosing the right fabric is crucial for ensuring the durability and effectiveness of your tailor’s ham. Opt for a tightly woven, sturdy fabric such as cotton or wool. Avoid stretchy materials, as they may distort the shape of your ham during use. Additionally, consider selecting a contrasting color for the outer shell to make it easier to differentiate from the filling.

B. Filling Materials: The filling of your tailor’s ham provides the weight and firmness necessary for shaping garments. Common filling options include sawdust, cotton batting, or wool roving. Ensure that the filling material is non-toxic and safe to use with a hot iron, as your tailor’s ham will be subjected to heat during pressing.

C. Sewing Supplies: Gather all the necessary sewing supplies, including a sewing machine or needle and thread, scissors, pins or clips, a measuring tape, and an iron and ironing board. Having these tools on hand will make the construction process smoother and more efficient.

Create a Pattern

Step 2: Create a Pattern:

Use a circular object, such as a dinner plate, to trace a circle onto paper. This will be the template for your tailor’s ham. Add seam allowances (around ⅜ inch) to the pattern to account for sewing.

Creating a pattern for your tailor’s ham is an essential step in the DIY process. Follow these detailed instructions to ensure you have a precise and accurate template for your project:

Gather Your Materials:

  • Paper: You’ll need a large sheet of paper to trace your pattern onto. You can use wrapping paper, craft paper, or even old newspaper.
  • Circular Object: Find a circular object with the desired diameter for your tailor’s ham. A dinner plate is a common choice, but you can use any circular object that suits your needs.
  • Ruler: Use a ruler to measure and mark seam allowances on your pattern.

Prepare Your Work Surface:

  • Lay out your paper on a flat and stable surface, such as a table or workbench.
  • Ensure that the surface is clean and free of any debris that could interfere with your tracing.

Trace the Circle:

  • Place your circular object onto the paper and center it as best as possible.
  • Use a pencil to trace around the perimeter of the object, creating a circle on the paper. Apply firm but gentle pressure to ensure a clear and accurate outline.

Add Seam Allowances:

  • Once you’ve traced the circle, use a ruler to measure and mark a seam allowance around the edge of the circle. A seam allowance of around ⅜ inch is typical for tailor’s ham projects.
  • Carefully draw a second circle around the original traced circle, maintaining the same distance from the edge. This outer circle represents the final size of your tailor’s ham, including seam allowances.

Double-Check Your Measurements:

  • Take a moment to review your pattern and ensure that the seam allowances are consistent and accurate.
  • Measure the diameter of your pattern to confirm that it matches your desired size for the tailor’s ham.

Cut Out the Pattern:

Using scissors, carefully cut out the pattern along the outer circle, including the seam allowances. Take your time to cut accurately and neatly, as this will be the template for cutting your fabric pieces.

Label Your Pattern:

  • To avoid confusion later on, consider labeling your pattern with any relevant information, such as “Tailor’s Ham Pattern” and the size of the seam allowances.
  • You may also want to mark the top and bottom of the pattern to ensure proper orientation during assembly.

Store Your Pattern Safely: Once you’ve finished creating your pattern, store it in a safe place where it won’t get damaged or misplaced. You may want to keep it with your sewing supplies for future use.

Note: By following these detailed instructions, you’ll be able to create a precise and accurate pattern for your tailor’s ham project. This pattern will serve as the foundation for cutting your fabric pieces and ultimately crafting your custom-made sewing tool.

Step 3: Cutting Fabric Pieces:

A. Pattern Preparation: Start by preparing a pattern for your tailor’s ham. You can either use a pre-made pattern or create your own by tracing around a circular object onto paper. Be sure to add seam allowances (typically around ⅜ inch) to your pattern to account for sewing.

B. Fabric Cutting: Once you have your pattern ready, place it onto your selected fabric and carefully cut out two identical pieces for the outer shell of the tailor’s ham. Additionally, cut out two smaller pieces for the ends of the ham, ensuring that they match the curvature of the main pieces for a seamless finish.

Step 4: Sewing the Outer Shell:

A. Stitching the Outer Shell Pieces Together: With your fabric pieces cut out, place the two main pieces right sides together and pin along the curved edges. Using a sewing machine or needle and thread, sew along the pinned edges, leaving a small opening for turning and filling. Use a straight stitch and backstitch at the beginning and end to secure the seams.

B. Leaving an Opening for Filling: It’s essential to leave an opening in one of the seams to allow for filling the tailor’s ham later on. Ensure that the opening is large enough to accommodate the filling material but small enough to be easily sewn shut once filled.

Step 5: Filling the Ham:

Filling-the Tailor’s HamA. Choosing Filling Materials: Consider the weight and density you want your tailor’s ham to have. Fillings like sawdust provide weight and firmness, while cotton batting or wool roving offer a softer feel. Experiment with different materials to find the perfect balance for your needs.

B. Stuffing the Ham: Using a funnel or your hands, carefully fill the tailor’s ham with your chosen filling material. Distribute the filling evenly throughout the ham to ensure consistent shaping and pressing capabilities. Be mindful not to overstuff the ham, as it may become too rigid for effective use.

Step 6: Closing the Opening:

A. Hand Stitching: Once the ham is filled to your satisfaction, fold the seam allowance of the opening inside and hand stitches it closed using a slip stitch or ladder stitch. Take care to secure the stitches tightly to prevent any filling from escaping during use.

B. Machine Stitching (Optional): If you prefer, you can also machine stitch the opening closed using a straight stitch or a narrow zigzag stitch. This method may provide added durability to the closure, particularly if your tailor’s ham will be subjected to frequent use.

Step 7: Final Touches:

A. Pressing: With your tailor’s ham fully assembled, it’s time to give it a final press to shape and set the filling. Use a steam iron on a medium heat setting to gently press the ham, paying special attention to the curved areas to ensure they are properly molded. Allow the ham to cool completely before use.

B. Inspection and Testing: Before putting your tailor’s ham to use, take a moment to inspect it for any weak spots or seams that may need reinforcement. Test the ham on various garment pieces to ensure it provides the desired shaping and pressing capabilities. Make any necessary adjustments before incorporating it into your sewing routine.

Step 8: Test Your Tailor’s Ham:

Test your tailor’s ham on various garment pieces to ensure it provides the desired shaping and pressing capabilities. Make any necessary adjustments before incorporating it into your sewing routine.


Congratulations, you’ve successfully created your very own tailor’s ham!

With your custom-made sewing tool in hand, you’ll be able to achieve professional-looking results in garment construction and pressing.

Feel free to experiment with different fabrics and filling materials to tailor your ham to your specific sewing needs. We hope this step-by-step guide has been helpful in your DIY journey.

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