Vintage Skills: Ironing

20 Jan


Let’s talk about one of my favorite old-fashioned skills…ironing! (Note: I read a lot of Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a kid and have never gotten over my subsequent overly-romantic view of old-fashioned skills.) I understand that a lot of people “don’t iron” but I guess my question is, why? You can make ANY outfit look 110% better by ironing it. Want clothes to hang better? Iron them. Want cheap clothes to look more expensive? Iron them. Want to look more grown up and put-together, even in casual clothes? Iron. Want to feel productive and accomplished while watching “Downton Abbey”? Friend, pick up that iron. Want to work on those bingo wings? Iron! Want your sewing projects to turn out better? Seriously, learn to iron.

I actually prefer to use the Tennessee pronunciation of ironing: ahrn-nin. Every time I turn on the iron, I loudly announce to everyone within earshot that I am going to be ahrn-nin. It does not get old.ironing2 I’m not going to lie, ironing is tedious and boring, but it’s not hard! If nobody ever taught you to iron, it’s not too late to learn. Here’s what you need to get started:

1. An iron. A cheap one from Target or Wal-Mart is FINE. You don’t need fancy settings to get good results with an iron.
2. A gallon jug of distilled water. This is VERY important! Never put regular water in your iron. It will create mineral build-up and will cause your iron to sputter and not work well. Seriously–trust me on this! Your iron will last longer and work better with distilled water. You can find it with the bottled water at the grocery store.
3. An ironing board, although you can cover a table with a towel in a pinch. Available at Target or Wal-Mart, cheap.

Before you start, make sure that your iron is on the right setting for the type of fabric you are ironing. Cottons and wools will need a higher heat and a steam setting to get the wrinkles out. Silk and rayon don’t need as much heat. On your lighter settings, you won’t need steam. Just check the label on your clothes, and set the dial on the iron accordingly.

When you iron, keep the iron moving–don’t let it rest on the fabric for any length of time or you will risk scorching it or leaving an imprint of the iron plate.

Another tip: don’t pack your clothing tightly in your closet; this will create wrinkles. Clothing needs a little room to hang freely.

If you are reading this and thinking, “Oh, I use Downy Wrinkle Release and it really works just as well as ironing”…sorry, but no. It makes things look slightly less wrinkly, but not crisp and pressed.  The same goes for throwing something in the dryer with a damp towel…it’s only slightly better than not ironing.

Ironing is a skill; you will get better with practice. If your collars and cuffs don’t look great at first, keep at it! Pat yourself on the back for making the effort and tell everyone in the house not to bother you….you’re ahrn-nin!

With love,

Mrs. T


3 Responses to “Vintage Skills: Ironing”

  1. CAM January 20, 2015 at 11:00 pm #

    LOL!!! It helps also to have “vintage” irons…those from before steam irons, the ones that get really hot. My husband has several in almost pristine condition that he uses. He can arhn a crease in his pants that is second to none!!!

    • apronstringsvintage January 20, 2015 at 11:29 pm #

      Oh, how cool is that! I have never used a vintage iron–that must take some skill, for sure! Thanks for sharing that. 🙂

  2. Shirley Turcotte January 21, 2015 at 7:21 pm #

    I remember using the “vintage irons”. Before the steam irons, one use to have a sprinkling bottle and sprinkled all the clothes to be ahrn-nined. Then we rolled them up in a large towel to keep them damp enough to ahrn-nin. Modern technology has certainly come a long way. Also, instead of spray starch, starch came in a box to be mixed with water. So much fun. My Mom use to wash, starch and iron shirts for a man size 17-1/2 neck for 25 cents a shirt. How many of us would do that today?

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