What is a Tailor’s Ham and How Does it Improve Sewing Projects?

In the world of sewing and making clothes, having the right tools is super important.

One of these tools is the tailor’s ham. It’s a small, round pillow that might not look like much, but it’s really helpful. It’s great for shaping and smoothing out clothes when you’re sewing them. Let’s take a closer look at what a tailor’s ham is all about, what it does, and how it makes sewing easier.

What is a Tailor’s Ham and How Does it Improve Sewing Projects: Tailors Ham

On this page, we’ll talk more about tailor’s hams—how they work, what they’re used for, and why they’re so handy in sewing. So, let’s jump in and learn more about this nifty tool!

What is a Tailor’s Ham?

A tailor’s ham is a specialized sewing tool primarily used in garment construction and tailoring. Shaped like a ham (hence the name), it’s typically crafted from tightly packed sawdust or a similar material, encased in a layer of wool or cotton fabric. This unique construction gives it a rounded side and a flat side.

Tailor’s hams excel at pressing curved seams, such as darts, princess seams, and sleeve caps. These curved areas can be challenging to press properly on a flat ironing board, often resulting in distortion or flattening of the fabric. However, the rounded surface of the tailor’s ham offers a solution, allowing for precise pressing without compromising the shape of the seam.

Moreover, tailor’s hams are invaluable for shaping and pressing other curved portions of garments, including collars, cuffs, and waistbands. By providing support and maintaining fabric shape during pressing, they contribute to achieving a professional finish.

Their utility extends to a wide range of garments, from jackets and dresses to tailored shirts, where precise shaping is paramount for a polished appearance. By utilizing a tailor’s ham, seamstresses and tailors can ensure their creations exhibit meticulous craftsmanship and refined detailing, resulting in garments that exude quality and sophistication.

Tailor’s Ham Definition: A tailor’s ham is a specialized sewing tool used in garment construction and tailoring. It features a rounded shape filled with sawdust or similar material and is covered in wool or cotton fabric. Tailor’s hams are primarily used for pressing curved seams and shaping garment elements like collars and cuffs. They aid in achieving professional finishes and precise detailing in sewing projects.

Let’s delve deeper into the versatile applications of a tailor’s ham in garment construction and tailoring.

Beyond just pressing curved seams, tailor’s hams serve as indispensable tools for achieving precise shaping and professional finishes in various garment elements.

Here are some additional ways in which they are utilized:

  1. Shaping Sleeves: Sleeve caps, the curved top portion of sleeves, often require careful pressing to ensure a smooth fit and appearance. Tailor’s hams provide the ideal surface for shaping sleeve caps, allowing for the preservation of the rounded contours without causing distortion.
  2. Molding Collars and Cuffs: Collars and cuffs are essential components of many garments, and their proper shaping significantly impacts the overall look and fit. A tailor’s ham enables meticulous pressing of these curved areas, ensuring crisp edges and precise folds for a polished finish.
  3. Forming Bust Darts: Darts are used to create shape and contour in garments, particularly around the bust area for a flattering fit. Tailor’s hams facilitate the pressing of bust darts, helping to maintain their intended shape and prevent any puckering or distortion in the fabric.
  4. Pressing Waistbands: Waistbands, whether on trousers, skirts, or dresses, benefit from careful shaping and pressing to ensure a smooth, tailored appearance. Tailor’s hams provide the necessary support and contouring to press waistbands evenly, resulting in a professional finish.
  5. Setting Seams in Lining: When constructing lined garments, such as jackets or coats, setting seams in the lining can be challenging due to the multiple layers of fabric involved. Tailor’s hams offer a controlled surface for pressing seams in linings, ensuring they lay flat and contribute to a neat interior finish.
  6. Facilitating Fitting Adjustments: During garment fitting sessions, tailor’s hams can aid in shaping and molding fabric to the body’s contours. Whether adjusting for a more flattering silhouette or accommodating specific body shapes, the ham’s curved surface assists in achieving precise alterations.

By incorporating a tailor’s ham into the sewing and tailoring process, craftsmen and craftswomen can elevate the quality of their workmanship, ensuring that each garment exhibits meticulous attention to detail and a refined finish. From intricate seam shaping to delicate fabric molding, the tailor’s ham stands as an essential tool in the pursuit of sartorial excellence.

Related: How to Use a Tailors Ham for Perfect Seam Pressing

How Does it Improve Sewing Projects?

  • Shaping Curved Seams:

One of the most significant advantages of using a tailor’s ham is its ability to shape curved seams accurately.

When sewing garments with princess seams, sleeve caps, or bust darts, achieving a smooth, rounded shape is essential for proper fit and aesthetics.

By placing the curved seam over the tailor’s ham and pressing with a steam iron, seam allowances are molded to follow the natural contours of the body, resulting in a smoother, more flattering fit.

  • Setting Darts:

Darts are triangular folds of fabric used to shape garments to the contours of the body, such as in the waist or bust area. Pressing darts properly is crucial for achieving clean, crisp lines and eliminating any puckering or bulging.

A tailor’s ham provides the ideal surface for pressing darts, allowing the fabric to be molded over the curved shape without creating unwanted creases or distortions.

  • Sleeve Cap Ease:

Sewing sleeves onto a garment can be challenging due to the ease required to accommodate the shape of the armhole.

A tailor’s ham can be instrumental in setting in sleeves by providing a curved surface that mimics the natural shape of the arm.

By gently pressing the sleeve cap over the ham, any excess fabric is eased in smoothly, resulting in a more natural and comfortable fit.

  • Pressing Seams Open:

In addition to shaping curved areas, a tailor’s ham can also be used to press seams open. The curved surface of the ham allows for even distribution of pressure, ensuring that seams lie flat without creating unwanted creases or imprints.

This is particularly useful when sewing garments with multiple layers or thick fabrics, as it helps to achieve a professional-looking finish.

  • Moldable and Versatile:

Unlike rigid pressing tools, such as sleeve boards or seam rolls, a tailor’s ham is moldable and versatile, allowing it to adapt to a wide range of garment shapes and sizes.

Whether you’re working on a tailored blazer with intricate princess seams or a flowy dress with delicate gathers, the tailor’s ham can be molded to fit the contours of the garment, ensuring precise pressing and shaping.

Final Words

In the realm of sewing and tailoring, the tailor’s ham stands as a trusted ally, offering precision and finesse in the art of pressing and shaping garments. With its unique composition and distinctive shape, it tackles the challenges of curved seams and intricate areas with ease, ensuring that every stitch and dart maintains its intended form.

As a versatile tool, it lends its support to various aspects of garment construction, from princess seams to collar shaping, elevating the quality of craftsmanship and delivering results that exude professionalism.

In the hands of a skilled tailor or seamstress, the tailor’s ham becomes more than just a tool – it becomes a symbol of meticulous attention to detail and dedication to the craft. With each press and shape, it helps transform fabric into wearable art, leaving behind garments that not only fit impeccably but also tell a story of skill and passion.

So, let the tailor’s ham be celebrated as an indispensable companion on the journey of garment creation, an embodiment of precision, and a testament to the artistry of sewing and tailoring.

FAQs of the What is a Tailors Ham:

Q. What materials are tailor’s hams typically made of?

Tailor’s hams are usually crafted with a combination of wool or wool blend fabric on one side and cotton or linen fabric on the other. The interior is tightly packed with sawdust or cotton filling to provide firmness and density.

Q. What type of sewing tool is a tailor’s ham?

A tailor’s ham is a specialized pressing tool used in sewing and tailoring.

Q. How to make a tailor’s ham?

To make a tailor’s ham, you will need:

  • Fabric (wool or cotton)
  • Sawdust or similar filling material
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread


  • Cut two pieces of fabric into a desired shape, typically oval or rounded.
  • Sew the two fabric pieces together, leaving a small opening for filling.
  • Fill the fabric pouch with sawdust or filling material until it reaches the desired firmness.
  • Stitch the opening closed securely.
  • Optionally, cover the ham with a layer of wool or cotton fabric for a finished look.
  • Your tailor’s ham is now ready for use in pressing and shaping curved seams and garment elements.

Q. How do I use a tailor’s ham effectively?

To use a tailor’s ham, place the curved area of the garment, such as a sleeve cap or dart, over the rounded surface of the ham. Then, press with an iron as usual. The ham’s shape allows for precise pressing without flattening or distorting the curved seam.

Q. Can a tailor’s ham be used for pressing other areas besides curved seams?

Yes, tailor’s hams are versatile tools that can be used for pressing and shaping various curved sections of garments, including collars, cuffs, and waistbands. They provide support and help maintain fabric shape during pressing.

Q. How do I clean a tailor’s ham?

Cleaning a tailor’s ham typically involves spot cleaning with a damp cloth and mild detergent if necessary. Avoid soaking the ham, as excessive moisture can damage the filling. Allow it to air dry completely before using it again.

Q. Are there different sizes of tailor’s hams available?

Yes, tailor’s hams come in various sizes to accommodate different garment dimensions and project requirements. Some may also come in specialized shapes to target specific areas, such as sleeve rolls for pressing sleeve seams. Choose a size that best suits your sewing and tailoring needs.

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