21 August 2012

How to Make Tailor’s Hams and Sausages: Guest Post

No, this hasn't turned into a butchery blog - rather this is a guest post by Kristiann Boos, aka Ms Victory Patterns, showing you how to make your own pressing aids. If you want something a bit more professional looking than my rolled up towel trick, Kristiann will explain how to make your own...


A tailor's ham is a helpful little cushion that is used when pressing curved seams, such as a bust or a hip seam. You can also use a tailor's sausage to slip into a sleeve to press open that hard to reach seam. Use this tool at any point where your seam won’t lay flat.

To make your own, here’s what you’ll need...

Materials List:
Thick cotton canvas
Sawdust for stuffing (you can also use soft wool or scrap knit fabrics)
Regular thread
Upholstery thread
Hand sewing needle
Transfer paper
Tracing wheel

Download and print out these patterns: 
Tailor's ham
Tailor's sausage

1) After cutting out the pattern pieces with the darts transferred to the wrong side of the fabric, sew the darts on either piece for the ham and sausage.

2) Place pieces right sides together.

3) Match dart seams and fold darts in opposite directions to reduce bulk along the edge.

4) Mark two points along the raw edge about 7” apart. Sewing with ¼” seam allowance, begin your stitch at one point with a strong backstitch, and continue all around the piece to the second point, ending in another strong backstitch.

5) Turn right side out.

6) Stuff the pouch with sawdust until it’s impossible to fit one more flake inside.


7) Thread your hand-sewing needle, and sewing with a whipstitch or an invisible ladder stitch, close the opening shut.



Thanks, Kristiann! I'll be whipping up some of these at some point in some snazzy fabrics. Readers, if you haven't already seen them popping up all over Pinterest, do check out Victory Patterns' beauuuuutiful new designs...


  1. Ha! Guess what I put on my 'search the web for' list this morning..

  2. I also made my own, and I love them!" It was such an eye opener when I first used a seam roll!! I stuffed mine with old shredded paper. this worked well too! :D

  3. Thanks for the patterns, I'll do these tonight!

  4. Thank. You. So. Much. I've been using the ol' rolled up towel trick to as well so this will be rad!

  5. Excellent! I have a bunch of scrap fabric stored up, along with lots of sawdust from our last big storm (and subsequent tree felling); now I just need a bit of time!

  6. Another option for stuffing is pine shavings---found in the pet store as hamster bedding! Buy a small bag though. That stuff expands. It also smells nice when you press!

  7. I have a bag of cedar shavings left over from the rabbit hutch. I wonder if they'd work - since pine shavings were also suggested. I love the smell of cedar, and I could store with my wool fabric - Ha!

  8. May I add a suggestion? Put a second cover of fabric over the stuffed ham-pillow that has wool on one side and cotton on the other. It really helps with pressing out different textures of fabric and also ensures that no wood can make its way out and wreck your garments.

  9. Totally agree with Margaret. I made mine using wool on one side and cotton on the other. I also made two layers for durability. If you'd like a pattern version without darts, feel free to download mine
    I stuffed it with fabric scraps but needs to be refilled after a while or it loses volume

  10. Thanks for sharing, the free patterns are totally appreciated as well. I got gifted a ham at the Melbourne Sewists's meetup last week but will definitely make the sausage at some point in the future. I might just stuff it with scraps and offcuts rather than wood shavings though.

  11. Such a great tutorial! Tailors ham's are a good chunk of change any this would be a great way to improvise and save some money!

  12. Wow amazing! Thank you so much - I'm so excited to make some sewing tools myself :)

  13. Thank you so much, Tilly and Kristiann!
    I just finished my ham and sausage and I love them.

  14. Great tutorial and great patterns. I just made them but I think I will redo them because reading what Margaret wrote I think she is right because some of my wood chips are already starting to show and it's not a good thing for light fabrics like silk. Although they are so good for the curved seam where the sleeve meets the shoulder. I always had troubles with that.
    You can check my version out on my blog
    Love and kisses to you all.

  15. I tried using this technique, to make my own Bowler hat block. ( not ready to invest in hat blocks with a $100+ range) I used heavier canvas/muslin, used the appropriate patterns, ( base cap extended length. And had a time stuffing it! Even with dampening the sawdust, and packing with the potato masher, ( Old metal one) I could not get it tight enough for what I need. It's a bit shifty for hat stretching. Is there something I'm missing doing? If I can get this tight enough, I'm willing to try to make a hat block for a top hat, will have to be in multiple fitted pieces, for that. So if I can't get it that tight, it will be onto the next brilliant Idea, for making a hat block.. Thanks!

    1. Just a thought, why don't you try making your hat blocks with builders expandable fill. I saw a Youtube video of a Milliner who took the hat with the shape he wanted and put gladwrap on the inside and then used a can of builders fill to fill the shape of the block inside the hat and valla!

  16. I used this tutorial yesterday, made both the ham and sausage. Great easy to follow tutorial, and they came out perfect! I stuffed those suckers till my fingers literally bled, but they are so helpful for steaming and pressing those tricky little nooks. Thanks :)

  17. I stuffed mine very firmly with fiberfill. Lot less mess and they seem to work very well.

  18. Thank you for sharing, these are so convenient (and so hard to find !!)

  19. Made it, used it, love it - and the sausage as well, as yet unused. I am in the middle of making a tailored jacket and made the ham to press the princess seams on the front. Whew, what a relief when it worked. Over the next few days I shall be making sleeves and with the sausage and my sleeve board I should be okay!

    Thank you so much for the tutorial, much appreciated.

  20. Hav tried other patterns for ham and have not liked them. I tried your pattern for sausage and ham, both came out great and I used duck canvas... thanks !!!

  21. I "inherited" a handmade ham and a seam roll which were both stuffed with aluminum foil and covered with terry cloth! They work great! Just sharing another idea.

  22. Thankyou for the patterns, very happy to find them!

  23. Why is the filling sawdust? Just a generally curious person over here! I am making one and would like to understand the benefits of sawdust vs some other filling like a pillow filling (melt maybe?). Thanks for the pattern!

  24. Just for one more idea, Kenneth D King made his own seam roll by using a piece of wooden ballustrade covered in wool. He used it in a craftsy class....


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