The sausage and ham challenge (sewing novices: it's not what you think!)

I hate pressing. Well, maybe "hate" is a strong word, but I really, really don't like it. It slows me down, you know, and I am a busy, impatient lady.

However, it must be done (although admittedly I'm still not very diligent about it) and so I reluctantly accepted that I needed a tailor's ham and sausage. 

I'm not a fan of the hams and sausages on the market and wanted something that would look pretty in my office. Plus, I concluded that if they looked cute, I would be more likely to use them.

Illustration from The Dressmaking Book by Adele Margolis

You'll find that there are a lot of tutorials for making these out there already. Tilly has great instructions and a free pattern, but I ended up using Doja's version. Tilly's pattern has a few darts, whereas Doja's is simpler and I'm all for simplicity. (Also, I'm lazy, and couldn't be bothered to faff around with darts to make something that was meant to be a quick project.)

Doja came up with the #hamsausagechallenge, so check out the hashtag on Instagram for some inspiration!

My tailor's ham and sausage, pre-stuffing

I do have a few tips if you decide to make your own tailor's ham and sausage:
  1. In terms of fabric, you can easily use scraps (as long as they are a relatively sturdy cotton), but I didn't have anything suitable and as I said, I wanted these to be p-r-e-t-t-y. So I splurged on some Liberty fabric for my set. Two fat quarters, which I got off eBay for £3.75 each, were plenty.
  2. I wanted to make sure my ham and sausage were sturdy, so I underlined with a plain cotton canvas.
  3. I also added rouleau loops I had leftover from another project so that the ham and sausage can be picked up easily or even hung up.
  4. For the stuffing, I used wood shavings as both Tilly and Doja suggest. Be prepared for this to be MESSY. I ended up stuffing over a big cardboard box for easy clean up. 
  5. Do press the stuffing down after every few handfuls of wood shavings to shape the ham and sausage. And then keep stuffing. Seriously. Stuff, stuff, stuff. I stuffed for about 45 minutes and looking at my ham and sausage now I think I should have stuffed it more!
I am so pleased with the outcome and glad that I didn't buy a ready-made set. My tailor's ham and sausage look so lovely on my shelf—sorry; on my ironing board, because, you know, I use them all the time now like the conscientious seamstress that I am (😬).

In all seriousness, though, some seams and sections of garments can be so very awkward to iron, especially if you are wrestling with the tiny table-top ironing board from IKEA. I didn't think a tailor's ham and sausage would make much of a difference, but they do!

You may wonder whether it is cheaper to make your own set, so let me do the math:

Branded tailor's ham and sausage

Handmade tailor's ham and sausage

  • Tailor's ham: £10.98
  • Tailor's sausage: £7.32
  • 2x fat quarters: £7.50
  • 1/2 meter of cotton canvas: £4.99
  • Thread: £1.90
  • Wood shavings: £2.00
TOTAL: £18.30  TOTAL: £16.39

As you can see it is very close, although it's worth mentioning that the price for the branded tailor's ham and sausage was the very cheapest I could find. Most retailers are charging more. I also used expensive Liberty fabric and wasn't able to shop around for the cotton canvas (with there being a pandemic and all that) so you could definitely make some savings in that area.

Have you made your own tailor's ham and sausage? If not, are you tempted to give it a go?

1 comment

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