I was pressing my white linen skirt for my upcoming trip to Paducah because where else in the world can you wear white linen in August if not Kentucky? I feel the need for a mint julep coming on as well, maybe a pulled pork BBQ sandwich…..love going to the South.
While ironing, I needed more than just heat and steam from my trusty Rowenta on recalcitrant linen, so found my plastic spray bottle of water as I had no starch mixed up. A bit of extra dampness would help the process.
I smiled as I remembered learning to iron as a child with this huge heavy all-metal iron that my mother turned off when she was done with the real ironing and then let me use, making use of the leftover heat in it. I remember it was hard to lift, but once it was down, moving it around was OK. But oh it was heavy.
Then I stood at the wooden ironing board that she lowered a notch or two for me. My special job was pressing my father’s handkerchiefs, mostly plaid shirting style, some white and dressy. I loved the weight of the iron and how it moved over the cloth and pressed out all the wrinkles from drying on the clothesline. We had no dryer then, and I helped hang out clothes, take them down, hurry and take them down if an unexpected rainstorm blew in. I could press until the heat ran out, but it lasted a long time, enough for me to complete a lovely stack of pressed handkerchiefs.
My mother kept a green glass bottle on the ironing board with a sprinkler top with cork bottom that inserted into it, and we “sprinkled” the laundry before pressing. My plastic spray bottle with the ultra-fine mist I use now reminded me of this bottle and how I used to love to iron when I was oh, 7 or 8 years old.
I don’t have much now to press except quilting-related fabrics, but every now and then something needs the touch of my iron, and it all comes back, all these years later. The smell of hot cotton, the feel of the iron in my hand as I watch all the creases disappear, and crisp smooth garments emerge, all are so familiar.
I wonder if the day will come when we no longer have to iron anything at all? I would miss it.
Have a great weekend and keep quilting,
Hospital Sketches/New England Quilt Museum
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