Ironing Your Shirt – From Past to Present

ironing past and present

Ironing can seem like a tedious and complicated task, but it’s necessary for many items of clothing to look their best. If you need to iron a shirt, you first need to learn a few tips. Otherwise you could potentially just end up damaging an expensive item of clothing.

The History of Ironing: Why Do We Iron Our Shirts?

Ironing is not a new invention. In fact, it’s so old that even historians aren’t certain when it began. Dating back to pre-medieval and medieval times, glass and metal devices were used to manually flatten wrinkles out of cloth. Eventually it was discovered that heat could make this process much easier — and the traditional “electric flat iron” that we now know was invested in 1882. Prior to the introduction of electricity to the iron, the iron was often filled with coals and other hot objects in order to keep it warm.

Irons are necessary to ensure that garments retain their shape. As clothes become wrinkled, they hang in a different way than intended. They can become bunched up and loose, and may not fit the wearer well. When ironing, you’re essentially making sure that your clothing fits the way that it was initially meant to fit — you’re making it “brand new” again, just as though the cloth was first sewn.

Tips for Ironing: How to Iron a Shirt

Ironing a shirt can be an intimidating process for those new to ironing. After all, it’s a very hot metal device touching a very delicate fabric item. But once you have the process down, it’s fairly easy and foolproof. To iron a shirt, you begin by pre-heating the iron; the iron will usually have an indicator light that will turn off once the iron has been fully heated. You should also begin with a shirt that is slightly damp rather than entirely dry.

Begin ironing by placing the shirt on the ironing board. If the shirt has a collar, begin by ironing the collar: lightly press the iron on one side of the collar and draw it, against the ironing board, through to the other side, creating a very crisp, flat collar. Once you have finished this, you can individually iron the cuffs of the shirt in the same way; by laying them flat against the board and slowly moving from one side to the other.

Open the shirt and lay the back against the ironing board. Begin moving the iron downwards, from the top of the shoulders towards the bottom of the shirt, in long, slow motions. Once you have completed a section of the shirt, move the shirt upward on the board, and continue ironing from the top to the bottom. Once you’ve reached the bottom of the shirt, lay each sleeve individually out against the board. Iron slowly from the shoulder to the cuff of the shirt, and you’re done!

For a better iron, consider the following tips:

  • Never skimp on your iron. Though you don’t need the most expensive iron in the store, you’ll often find that a cheap iron does a poor job.
  • Always follow the natural creases of the shirt. Different shirt styles will have different creases, but you’ll want to fold the shirt on these areas to keep it looking tailored.
  • Don’t leave the iron sitting on the shirt. The iron should always be in motion on the cloth. The thinner and dryer the cloth, the more likely it is to singe or burn.
  • Iron smoothly from top to bottom. The goal of ironing is really just to press the material flatly against the ironing board. As long as you can do this, you’re fine!

Of course, the real problem of ironing isn’t the challenge — it’s that it can take a long time. If you have a lot of things to iron, it’s a chore that can become very tedious. If you don’t want to iron your own shirts (and who can blame you?), there are professional services that can take care of it for you. Embassy Cleaners offers complete cleaning and clothing services, including hand ironing for everything from business shirts to suits.

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