Everyone is more or less familiar with the simple processes of ironing clothes for the purpose of making the surface smooth and attractive. While there is much that can be said regarding the treatment of different fabrics in ironing, yet most of this information can be acquired by talking with your mothers at home.
The subject of pressing garments is very important. As the term is generally used it refers not to the common process of ironing connected with laundry work, but to the process of dealing with woolen and worsteds and other fine fabrics to bring them back to their original shape and appearance when new. In order to understand the matter of clothes pressing, it is well to think of the processes through which the woolen goods are taken at the factory. There are a great many different treatments given to fine fabrics to produce special finishes, but most of them include dampening the cloth (usually with steam) in order to soften the woolen fibers and make them perfectly pliable. The cloth is then stretched straight and smooth and held in this position until it becomes thoroughly dry. Different special finishes are also given whatever treatment is necessary to bring about the desired effects. Woolen material so dampened, stretched, and dried will retain its shape and smoothness for a long time.
In order to do home pressing properly, woolen materials must be taken through pretty much this same kind of treatment. As it is not convenient to steam a garment before pressing it, a simple way of getting the same results has been devised.
Before beginning the actual pressing work on any garment all loose dust and dirt must be brushed out of the cloth, spots and stains must be completely removed by some of the methods already described. If dust and dirt are left in the material the steaming process may cause the cloth to look dingy.
Sometimes a garment has a shiny appearance which needs to be removed. There are a great many ways in which this can be dealt with. A hard brushing with a stiff brush will often prove effective. Sometimes it will be necessary to rub the spot lightly with very fine sand paper, other times such an effect can be removed by sponging the spots before finishing the pressing.
Any garments to be pressed should be laid perfectly straight and smooth in the desired shape. Pressing is sometimes done directly on the wrong side of material, this, however, is not a good practice for beginners. You should work on the right side according to the following directions.
A piece of wet cloth (a soft well worn piece of canvas or unbleached muslin is satisfactory) should be placed smoothly over the garment. This wet cloth should be covered with another perfectly dry piece of heavy material (a piece of canvas would be suitable for this purpose). The hot iron is then applied to the dry cloth. The heat of the iron produces steam from the wet cloth and causes it to pass into the garment which is being pressed. The dry cloth on the top serves to hold the steam and thus forces it into the garment. In order to prevent wrinkling it is well to press with a straight downward pressure, as much as possible, rather than with a rubbing motion. The pressing cloths should be removed, and while the garment is soft and pliable from the dampness of the steam, it should be stretched, smoothed, or pulled into its proper shape. This is particularly true in pressing garments like men's trousers or a skirt which may be considerably out of shape. The damp cloth should be again applied and covered with a dry one; the pressing should continue either until the damp cloth is perfectly dry, or the damp one may be removed and the final pressing done with the dry one alone. The pressing should be continued until the garment is perfectly dry. The most important point is to make sure that the garment is absolutely dry before the pressing ceases. If a garment is left damp, all the tiny fibers of the wool being soft and pliable, it will not hold its shape long. However, if the pressing is done until the material is absolutely dry, the garment will remain in fine condition for a long while.