Tailor’s Clappers—for Quilting?
What is a “tailor’s clapper?” Simply put, it’s a wooden tool for flattening seams, creases, and/or any fabric/threads that may need extra persuasion—and without the risk of burning your precious fabric. This is why clappers are great for those who sew and quilt—and not just for tailors!
How does it work?
Typically, tailor’s clappers are used after an iron, which is the simplest way to first add heat and steam to your fabric. (If your iron doesn’t steam, a spray bottle to add moisture on the fabric would work just fine.) After applying heat and steam, press the clapper on top of the seam to trap in the heat and moisture. (Done quickly and upon harder surfaces, the act of placing it may produce a “clap” sound, hence the name.) Then, how long one holds the clapper on the seam is up to the user. We find a few seconds (3-6 sec.) is enough, but some people leave clappers on top of particularly dificult spots—while they go off and do something else. This would work best with large clappers.
While pressing the fibers into new shape, wood actually absorbs the heat and moisture. For this reason, the type of wood matters. Closed-grain is best (e.g. maple, cherry—our favorites!), rather than open-grained species (e.g. pine, oak—beautiful but better-suited to other applications). Likewise, our tailor’s clappers are left raw with no finishing oils or varnishes, in order for the clapper to do its job well and also not rub off any unwanted substances onto your precious project.
Our family makes all of the clappers sold in our store. Here’s a quick rundown of the steps: we begin with rough lumber, layout the patterns on the surface, rough cut shapes on the band saw, sand it to final shape, sand it smooth, route a handle/groove, and then heat up our branding iron torch to leave a simple lamb logo. Think we’re done? Nope. One more step: we then mist the clappers with water in order to “pop” the grain. Huh? Exposure to moisture actually raises wood fibers, so we go ahead and expose the clappers to moisture by spraying them, and once that rough, risen grain is dry, we sand it one more time for a smooth final touch.
At the date of this post, we offer clappers in two species and two sizes: maple and cherry, in what we call Standard and Mini sizes. Maple is a very light colored wood, and it’s so hard that sometimes it’s referred to as “rock maple.” Very durable and pretty. Cherry is still a hard wood (and a hardwood, which is something of a misnomer), and it’s warm color is classic and highly prized. Cherry actually darkens with age and exposure to sun, so over the over the years it develops a beautiful patina.
Our Standard clapper is 9.25”L x 2.25″-1.75”W (taper) x 1.75”D. You can hold it from either end and from the top or bottom with the comfortable groove working from any direction. The Mini clapper, which may be handy for traveling or even just saving space, is 6.5”L x 2.5”-1.5”W (taper) X 1.75”D.
In the future, we may offer even larger clappers, especially if there seems to be enough interest. Given how fast these things sell out and how many inquiries we get about it, we expect to be making some in the near-ish future.