Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Lost Art of Ironing


The notebook pictured below is the work of  a school girl that dates from the beginning of the 20th century.  Each page illustrates the techniques of ironing and the methods of folding the various items that are part and parcel of the household linens.  A separate page is devoted to each individual item (sheets, pillow shams, tablecloths, napkins,  shirts, handkerchiefs…..) opposite its own written page of explanation.  Clearly a significant amount of time was relegated to not only the maintenance but also the beauty of presentation of these seemingly ordinary objects!

The first two pages below describe how to iron a handkerchief:

  1. spread out the handkerchief  face down with the monogram and  the selvaged edge at the top
  2. fold such that the bottom selvage exactly meets the top selvage
  3. double one more time bringing the fold to the selvage
  4. if the monogram is on the left, fold from the right to the left
  5. fold in four and iron the hem on the face of the fabric



The three pages  below illustrate a variety of styles for folding a dinner or a tea napkin. Each image is carefully described on the facing page.


The steps to follow for ironing a dinner napkin


A variety of decorative examples for ironing and folding tea napkins.  The monogram is always in a position of prominence.


The page below describes how to iron and  fold fancy pillow shams. The way the sham is folded depends on the location of the monogram such that it’s visible and highlighted once the sham is folded.


Ironing and folding one’s nightgown



Ironing and folding a man’s dress shirt


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