Do you have a pressing need to iron?

LIZ BRESLIN
Last updated 11:36 08/08/2012
ironing
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STOP WASTING TIME: Wrinkled clothes are great.

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I've never been much of a one for ironing. I'd rather do nothing than run a hot bit of metal up and down my clothing to either get creases out or put them in according to some ancient laws of the smarts.

My brother, on the other hand, is militant about his ironing. That's because he's ex-military, and apart from teaching him how to run miles with heavy backpacks and serve Queen and country, they've done a lovely job of instilling pride in a wrinkle- free appearance.

On the third hand, if I had one, I would admit to recently becoming a bit better acquainted with the brush of board and steam. See, my husband's landed himself a Proper Job and I've found myself actually wanting to iron his shirts. Like a Proper Wife.

I'm torn about this. Horrified, even. I mean, no-one threw themselves under horses at the turn of the last century for my Right to Iron, did they?

On the fourth hand, (or are we on the fifth?) I feel I am doing something useful while procrastinating about the important jobs that really need doing.

Of course, ironing itself has become easier over the centuries. I've seen ancient irons in museums.

The metal ones that had to be heated over fires. You wouldn't want to let those loose on the pleats in your best dress shirt. There's even evidence to show that people used hot stones to press clothes.

If you're guessing that was in the Stone Age you'd be as wrong as I was. Smoothing stones date from around the 8th century, when people, probably women, went dashing away with their smoothing irons. I'm picking the men were busy with their Proper Jobs.

Henry W Seely is credited with inventing the modern iron in the 1880s, just a decade after Mrs Potts came up with her Sad Iron. This had detachable handles so one iron could be warming on the stove while you dashed away with the other. Thus meaning you could keep ironing all day if necessary. Now that's sad.

I had to resort to social media to remind myself how to iron a shirt. There I was, doing the front and back panels first, and getting in a tizz when my hard work crumpled up as I attacked the cuffs and collar. Clearly, the order is thus: collar, cuffs, sleeves, back then front. Did I get that right?

Facebook friends affirmed the above, but added more questions into the mix. So that's the how of ironing, but then there's the why.

As in why would you when you get so many iron-free fabrics these days? Although the fine-print on these seems to be that they're only iron-free so long as you hang them up directly out of the tumble dryer. And on the sixth and seventh hands, I don't have a tumble dryer, and if I did, I would forget to empty it on time.

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My brilliant sister has the best ironing tip ever. If you find yourself in the position where you've been asked to iron someone's clothes, do it really badly. Or at least so poorly that there'll never be a repeat request. Now that I like. I like it so much that I'll take all my hands off their superwhizzy irons to shake hers.

There is, however, one ironing question that remains unanswered, which surely must've perplexed people over the decades.

Why do hotels chain their irons to their boards? Does anyone love ironing enough to want to steal one?

 

- Stuff

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