Friday, July 31, 2015

How to Iron a Shirt

This was not written, translated, or photographed by myself. But just in case the link goes pear-shaped, here is how to properly iron a shirt. (source)

Of course, there are different ways to iron a shirt which all give excellent results. The way I will describe is mine, the method that I use, and that I learnt. There are also a few little tricks which the ironers taught me, since we should not forget that ironing is a craft. This is also a way of paying tribute to them, which they deserve. The shirt which I will present is an old shirt with a yellowed collar but it will do for the demonstration.

Equipment Required:

First of all get a piece of fairly stiff card and trace a band 25 cm long by 3 cm high (10” by 1 3/16”).

Fold it exactly in half.

Make a little notch about 1 cm long (3/8”).

Put it aside and let’s look at what follows.

You will need a spray bottle to moisten. Some use a “patte mouille” but personally, I don’t like it.

A plastic supermarket bag. For bespoke shirts from web dealers a Lidl or Leader price bag will do.

Of course, an iron. This is mine, it’s a professional model weighing 1.2 kg, but any iron will do as long as it

Is a dry iron, without steam. One can use steam provided one has the necessary equipment: -A steam table with holes to let the steam through or -A vacuum table which, as its name indicates, vacuums the steam (very often used by tailors) I continue

A sleeve board Notice that this one is not recent- it belonged to my father.

Shirt Preparation:

Start by spraying the shirt generously

Spreading it out along its length

Fold the collar on the right side so that the sleeves are on the inside.

Hold the collar as shown with both hands vertical

Then roll the shirt around the collar, with the sleeves inside.

To get this

Slide the moistened shirt inside the plastic bag.

Remove the air from the bag

By rolling the bag

To get this. It is very important to roll the bag well enough so that as little air remains as possible. As there will be very little air there will be very little evaporation and the humidity will be well distributed on the whole. Leave it to “infuse” for at least half an hour, an hour being preferable. 2 or 3 shirts can be prepared like this and left 2 to 3 days as long as the bag is sealed as hermetically as possible.

Preparation for Ironing:

Take the shirt out of the bag.

And pull the collar with both hands taking care to grip the collar and the stand at the same time so as not to distort them.

Pull all seams since the tight stitches have a tendency to pucker during the wash.

The sleeves

The armholes

Right to the shoulders

Start by measuring the collar. If the neck seems too small redo the operation, pulling even more


Start by ironing the collar on the reverse side of one point toward the middle, then from the other point, stopping in the middle.

Then following the same steps (from the points toward the middle) iron the right side. We always iron this way; if your collar has been made in the traditional method (non-fused) this avoids making creases as the excess has been brought behind.

Then "break" the collar.

Spray the break of the collar again.

Iron again, pressing very hard on the iron.

While the part which has been ironed is still hot, “roll” the collar as shown in the photo, starting from one side

Then the other (video at the end of this article)

Then button the still-warm collar.

We continue with the sleeves, starting with the cuffs.

Above then below

To make the pleats on the sleeves we use the sleeve board, pulling the cloth lightly to make the pleats

According to the length of the sleeve placed over the sleeve board we determine the desired length of pleat

We can also make the pleats from the inside of the sleeve but the iron will butt up against the opening and the pleats will be shorter than if done with the sleeve board.

Place the sleeve flat on the table, buttoning the placket button if there is one

Iron the sleeve, pulling on the cuff so that the pleats keep their shape You will notice that it helps to be ambidextrous to do this

Iron the whole sleeve until the armhole seam which must be done with the point of the iron. Do this for both sleeves.

Iron the back

Then the fronts, holding the placket firmly

Taking care to iron around and between the buttons

The same on the left side, holding the placket firmly.

Ironing around the embroidery so as not to crush it.

Until the shoulder seam

Iron the shoulders on the sleeve board and the ironing itself is finished. 2 options are now available: Either we put the shirt on a hanger and button the collar. Be careful to avoid metal hangers which deform the shoulders; instead use plastic or wooden hangers which are wider. Or we can fold the shirt to place in a wardrobe and this is what I will show now.


Start by replacing the stays in the collar

Take some tissue paper or very fine paper

Button the collar and slide the paper inside

Being careful to ensure it goes as high as possible without pleats

Button the front Personally I only button one of every two but to each his own…

Take the piece of card, and position the notch at the second button.

Pull the shirt taut.

Turn it over while holding taut.

Fold the two sides using the piece of card as a guide - this way your folding will be perfectly symmetrical.

Fold the sleeve, keeping it at the level of the armhole to avoid creases.

Fold the sleeve back over itself without extending beyond the front.

Do for both sleeves

Fold the hem back about 10 cm (4”), all depending on the length of the shirt

Fold it back, slipping your hand inside so as not to make any creases.

Pull both sides taut

On the right side and the reverse and the shirt is completed. Let it cool in fresh air for at least ½ hour

The Extras:

We add a plastic band to support the collar when shirts are piled one atop another

A butterfly stay will hold the collar “roll” while supporting it. In place of a plastic band and butterfly stay we can use stiff card with a small notch for the butterfly, like for the folding gauge.

Finally, clips on the sides are an additional support.

And to finish, a plastic bag for ultimate protection.

And that’s the end of this very/too long article on ironing a shirt.

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