Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pumping Iron

When we were in college, my husband, JM, had the distinction of being the only guy I ever met who had an ironing board set up permanently in his dorm room. Which is probably one of the reasons I married him- I thought, "this is a man who will make my life ship-shape" (little did I know).  However, now that we're in the real world, and JM is Mr. Suit-and-Tie Businessman, he of course has no time for ironing, and he goes through at least one pressed button-down shirt per day. Which leaves me slaving over a hot telephone while I call the dry cleaners to come make a pick up. Seriously- if I ironed his shirts, I would spend my whole life ironing his shirts. However, while the dry cleaners charge a very reasonable $1.50/shirt for men, they categorize my button-down shirts as "blouses" and charge a whopping $6.50 (and they say the gender gap has been bridged!) Luckily, before he put away childish things (and by that I mean his iron), JM did teach me the proper way to iron a shirt- it's not totally instinctual, and there are a few tricks to it.  But if you do things in the right order, the whole process is quicker and easier, and your shirt ends up looking better.  Even if you aren't much of a "blouse"-wearer yourself, this is a skill everyone should have in their back pocket, just in case. Alternatively, if you know a good lawyer, we could get a civil action law suit going and sue the dry cleaners of America for sexual discrimination. But this seems easier.

Step 1: Set up your ironing board so it is about waist-high in a spot where you have plenty of elbow room and the floor is clean (just in case a sleeve drags on the ground). Plug in your iron and set it to the appropriate heat for your shirt's fabric. Spritz the whole shirt with a light mist of fresh, clean water. Lay the shirt over the pointy end of the ironing board. Iron the back of the collar of the shirt, starting at the points and moving toward the center. Flip the shirt over and repeat with the front of the collar.

Step 2: Pull the shirt up so the yoke of the shirt (the flat part on the back between the shoulders) is flat on the ironing board- it may help to put the pointy end of the ironing board into one of the sleeves. Iron until smooth.

Step 3. Lay one of the shirt cuffs flat on the ironing board, first ironing the inside of the cuff, then the outside (reverse this for french-cuffed shirts).

Step 4. Then carefully lay that arm of the shirt flat on the board folding the sleeve at the seam, and, ideally, the crease from the previous ironing. Iron the back of the sleeve first, then the front. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the other sleeve.

Step 5. Now you can iron the body of the shirt. Starting with one of the front pieces flat on the board, carefully iron it flat from the bottom hem all the way up to the shoulder seam (taking care around the buttons, pockets, buttonholes).

Step 6. Carefully rotate the shirt so that one half of the shirtback is on the ironing board. Press this, taking care around the armpits and any back pleats. Continue to rotate and press the shirt, until you come to the other front panel. Repeat step 5.

Step 7. Gently hang the shirt on a hanger, buttoning only the top button or second from the top to hold it in the hanger (so you don't wrinkle the shirt unnecessarily in the process of buttoning and unbuttoning).
See? So easy even a silly woman can do it.

top image credit:


Lindsay N. Strickland said...

Good instructions, my hubs is very particular about his dress shirts and his bow-ties!

But, since he's worked for Brooks Brothers he's started a new collection of their non-irons. Has your husband ever had a Brooks non-iron? Run, don't walk to the nearest Brooks and make the best purchase. You wash them, tumble dry them, hang them up.

It's magic, and they're amazing. :)

Lily said...

When I used to work in a real office, all my button-down shirts were non-irons from Brooks. Love 'em- you are preaching to the choir with me! My husbo, on the other hand, likes to have his shirts custom-cut for him. But he loves Brooks, too- I'm pretty sure he hangs out there on his lunch break, fondling pocket squares.

Kari Skinner said...

It does suck that they charge us more, but I do know why. They have a specific machine that presses men's shirts, that's why they are so cheap compared to everything else. A woman's blouse has the buttons on the opposite side which means that it won't go on the machine. So, lucky us, we get to pay more. I worked at a dry cleaners growing up, so I had to answer this question a lot!

Lori Puente said...

Another tip for ironing shirts with a yoke at the back side is to actually fold it on the seam and iron it that way on the ironing board. My grandmother showed me this amazing tip and I have used it ever since.

Unknown said...

Another tip: A friend of mine takes the shirt out of the dryer just before it's completely dry, then irons.