What Is The Difference Between Pressing and Ironing?

"Are you ironing the shirt or pressing it?"

In case someone asks this question, how are you going to answer it?

There are endless movie scenes where someone is using the iron box on some form of clothing or the other. But have you ever wondered the person is ironing or pressing?

For the most part, technically they may look almost the same thing, but they are different because of the functionality of both.

In simple language, if the matter needs to be explained then -

Ironing is when you move the heated object forward and backward on the fabric. It is generally done to remove creases and wrinkles from cloth.

Whereas in the case of Pressing, the same iron box is lifted and repeatedly set on the fabric by pressing. Pressing is generally done to create crease and folds on cloth.

Both these heating mechanisms are fundamental in the fashion world. Ironing gives a final smooth finish to a garment, whereas Pressing is used in creating lines and folds while sewing the fabrics.

Understanding Pressing Better

Understanding Pressing better

It is believed that sewing is what creates the professionally perfect silhouettes in any dress. For the perfect fit, the stitching needs to be exact.

Pressing helps in creating the perfect and exact line of folds.

Once the crease and neat and precise, the sewing can be done very quickly and with minimal chances of error, Pressing also works exceptionally well as a deciding factor before cutting any fabric.

The precision line of demarcation makes it easy to cut the fabric to the exact desired measurements.

Tips To Perfectly Press Fabric

  • It is crucial to keep the temperature of the iron box in check. Every material has different temperature tolerability.
  • If the design needs too many pleats, darts, in seams, etc., it is best to fold the fabrics and press them all together before sewing to create a more delicate and polished stitch line.
  • The hems if pressed beforehand, make sewing easier.
  • Always press on the inner side of any fabric, also referred to as the ugly side.
  • For corners and snug areas, the tip of the iron box should be used to press.

Understanding Ironing Better

Understanding Ironing better

Just like Pressing, Ironing holds importance for a different reason. It provides a finer and refined touch to the completed product. Fabrics are prone to wrinkles and creases while handling.

They cannot always look plain and crease-free. To be accurate, wrinkles are bound to form on any fabric, especially post washing them. This is where Ironing comes in help.

Ironing fabrics help in removing these fine lines, creases, folds, and wrinkles and give it a smoother and shinier finish touch. An ironed fabric always looks much neater and more elegant in any given time and situation.

Tip To Perfectly Iron A Fabric

  • Temperature control is essential for Ironing also. Before using on any final product, testing the heat on a scrap fabric is essential to prevent burn or scalding.
  • Steam ironing produces a faster result and often gives a better final look.
  • In case of the absence of the steam iron box, sprinkling water on wrinkles and creases makes it manageable to maneuver through.
  • Nooks and corners should be ironed a few times as those areas tend to have creases and wrinkles more easily.
  • Never iron over pinheads and holder clips as they can melt right into the fabric, thus causing irreparable damage.
  • It is always best to move the machine in a single direction rather than a haphazard pattern.

Ironing Vs Pressing. Which Is Better For The Fabric?

As mentioned before, even though both Ironing and Pressing look similar, they have different functionality. SO it is important to not compare them to each other.

Technically both of these working principals are essential parallel components of any fabric design.

While one provides the basic outline for sewing with precision, the other gives a crease-free and smoother finishing touch to the final product.

What To Remember While Pressing And Ironing?

Since both functionalities mandate the usage of heating fabric, it is essential to understand a few critical factors.

  • Manufacturer's guidelines should be read carefully before using the iron box. This allows a better understanding of the temperature setting and fabric types to be used upon.
  • Sprinkling water during either of the process makes the fabric malleable enough to work as per desire.
  • Using an Ironboard is a must. The thick underpadding helps in uniform and even working space with a stable working base.
  • Corners and folds should be worked on with more pressure to set it in the correct position.
  • It is better to always work on the underside of the 'ugly' side of any fabric. This prevents the heat from distorting the darker color stains of the fabric's upright side.
  • Using pinheads, clappers, sleeveboards, tailor hams, etc. to lock the fabric in a fixed position makes it easy to work on.

Essentially a functional tool used by seamstress and tailors, Pressing is not much in use in a generic household. However, Ironing is vital in an average house as well as the fashion world.


Even though Ironing and pressing sound similar and use the same tool, the working principles of both are entirely different, and so is their functionality.

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