Sewing with disabilities and chronic illness


Hi it’s Samantha here,

Let’s talk about pressing, I know pressing isn’t everyones favourite thing to do but it’s so important to give us a perfect finish on our makes.

Pressing can also be tricky when you’re sewing with chronic health and disabilities so I’ve included some extra tips that I like to use that help me.

I’ve made YouTube showing all the tools I’ve mentioned in the below post and how I use them too in more depth, click the mage below to have a little watch.

First of all I know pressing can be stressful on our bodies so remember to include pacing when your pressing (more info on pacing can be found here)

Irons are also heavy hot dangerous tools, when I’m feeling tired or in pain I will leave my pressing for another time, because I know when I’m tired I’m more likely to be clumsy and injury myself. 

Your ironing board

I know not everyone uses a specific ironing board, but whatever you use its important to have it set at the right height. Make sure you aren’t leaning over too much, you want to be able to hold your iron with a right angle at your elbow.  I find just above my hip is perfect for me.

If your pressing small things like pieces of a quilt project for a long period of time you could also consider lowering your board and pressing whilst seated.

Pressing mat

Another option for pressing that’s wonderful for small projects and quilting is a wool pressing mat, it’s great because I can use it on my desk next to my machine and means I don’t have to keep getting up and down to my ironing board. I find it saves me lots of valuable energy.

I use mine with mini iron that’s much lighter and easier on my hands for pressing little seams.

A seam roller

I think the seam roller is a hugely under rated little tool. It’s perfect for both quilting and garment sewing. You can use it to press the seam open or to the side. Just lightly roll over the seam and most fabrics will hold their position. I find this great for little seams because when I take them to the iron I don’t need to use my fingers to hold seams open and I’m stood at the ironing board for a much shorter time. 

It’s not an alternative to pressing more like a ‘pre press’ but it does make it much easier!


Pressing tools

Pressing tools are so important, they can reduce our time spent with the iron and give us a much better finish. The main ones I use are a pressing ham and a seam roll, place these under the area you are pressing and they will allow you to shape the garment perfectly. I find using them can remove strains and pain in my body as there’s minimal effort to hold the garment in place whilst I press a specific area. 


Silicon iron mat 

I’ve left the best until last, this is a silicon iron rest! This little thing is my ultimate tool for using with my iron. Most irons are designed to be stood up vertically whilst we move our project around the ironing board. This motion of standing the iron up and moving it back to the horizontal position repeatedly can cause a lot of strain on our arms and wrists and uses lots of energy. A silicon mat next to your iron means you can place the iron onto it any worry that iron will burn your ironing board and saves your wrists! 


I hope this blog post and video will inspire you to try some new tools or methods whilst you are pressing and make your sewing much easier. If you have any favourite pressing tools or hacks I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Take care and happy sewing,


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