April 13, 2016

The clapper!

Filed Under Product demo 

No, not that lamp that turns itself on or off when you clap your hands. This is a gadget that you probably know about, but somehow I didn’t, despite the fact that I have been sewing and pressing like mad as a quilter for 25 years.

The tailor’s clapper! It’s my new favorite thing!


A tailor’s clapper is a wooden implement that is unfinished on the bottom. “Clapping” it over a freshly steamed seam will give an extra press and also absorb the moisture, so that seam lies very flat and crisp.

After I first heard about it, I was making a label for a new quilt. I always add strips around the sides to make a frame, then turn under the edges so that I can easily blind-stitch the label to the backing. These turned-under edges do NOT want to stay. I looked around my studio to see if I had anything that I could pretend was a clapper, and spied a wooden pencil box. Sure enough, even though the wood was varnished, it worked! The edges of that label stayed turned!! So exciting! (Sometimes it’s the little things.)

I got on Etsy and looked for a real clapper. I found one easily at Jackson Woodworks and ordered the small one, in oak.

Then came the acid test… the label situation. I sewed up a couple of blank, pseudo-labels for the test.


Which one do you think is “with clapper” and which one “no clapper?”

That’s right, the upper one was pressed just the way I have always done it, no clapper. The lower one was clappered. Another question… which one do you think you’d like to work with more? :)

And BTW… no clapping required. I did not clap the clapper down, just pressed it down as soon as I removed the iron. Easy peasy! I am now probably addicted to using the clapper and won’t be able to press a seam without it.

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie
Kay’s Etsy Shop


5 Responses to “The clapper!”

  1. Brenda Cornell on April 14th, 2016 8:32 am

    Great tip. Thanks.

  2. M.E. Futch on April 14th, 2016 9:07 am

    Saw this a couple of years ago and my marvelous BIL is a woodworker. He made me one and I love using it. I use it on 1-1/4″ single fold binding strips – never use to stay folded! Also use it on those pesky multi-piece intersections that like to create bumps! Highly recommend it as a necessary quilting tool. https://mefutch.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/quilting-tools/

  3. Helen LeBrett on April 15th, 2016 12:05 pm

    I learned about clappers in my dressmaking days at college. Never thought anyone knew about them in the quilting world! :-) I should see if I can find something like that around here!! Thanks for sharing your experience with it!! It was good seeing you in Yuba City! Hope you are doing well! Hugs, H in Healdsburg

  4. Helen LeBrett on April 16th, 2016 12:16 am

    what size clapper did you get, and do you think it’s a good size for most of your quilt blocks?

  5. Kay on April 16th, 2016 7:18 am

    I got the small one. I like that it fits in my hand “just right,” that’s why I chose that size.