How to iron a shirt
Learn the proper way to iron a shirt.
Ironing is less of an art than it used to be. Today, fashion rules accommodate wrinkles, recognizing that pure linen and pure cotton will get wrinkled one way or the other. Other fabrics need no ironing to look crisp and ready to wear. Dry cleaners provide laundry and ironing for washable items at reasonable rates.
For the purpose of this lesson, we will assume that the shirt is a 100-percent cotton, standard dress shirt - not button-down, not tux, not that favorite rayon number with the never-seen-in-nature palm trees. (One learning-experience at a time is enough.)
1. A clean, dry shirt needs to be dampened before ironing, even if you own a steam-iron. Use a spray bottle or flick water with your fingers, roll the shirt in a clean dish towel and set aside for 10 to 30 minutes. The dish towel will feel slightly damp. Bath towels work, too, though they tend to stay dry on the outside.
2. Fill the iron with distilled water for steam (you will use the steam setting on only as needed). Set iron at, or just below, the cotton setting.
3. Unroll the shirt, and turn it inside-out. This is the step that separates the women from the girls. Ironing all the double-fabric surfaces (the collar, yoke, cuff and seams) on the back side first will give the front-side surfaces the smooth finish you expect from a professional.
4. Beginning with the button placket (the front piece of the shirt with the buttons), iron all double-fabric surfaces on the back side. Move from the button-placket side to the button-hole side. Along the way, remember the backs of the cuffs, the sleeve seams and side seams. As you move the shirt along the board, check for a pocket, which also needs back-side pressing. If you encounter any dry spots, activate the steam setting long enough to press them. When you've finished your back-side work, the shirt should still feel slightly damp or steamy.
5. Turn the shirt right-side out. Starting again with the front button-placket, work your way across the body of the shirt, saving the sleeves, cuffs, yoke and collar for last. Remember that when ironing the sleeves, the iron used for most shirt parts in a commercial laundry looks like a large waffle iron. To copy their technique, fold shirt sleeves flat at the inner seam. Iron them like that; do not let the crease you form extend past the shoulder-seam. Iron the shoulder yoke round on the small end of the ironing board without creases.
6. Almost done and down to the pretty parts. Open the cuffs and iron them flat. Give an extra press to the buttonhole side of the front. Save your last love for the collar. Iron flat, immediately moving the shirt to a hanger. Button the top button to hold the collar shape.
When you're finished, your shirt will be crisp, dry and smooth. You've saved the day or the dinner or the romance. Enjoy that wonderful just-ironed smell floating through the room, and the fact that now you know how to iron a shirt.