Friday, July 24, 2009

Time flies

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… 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,


Anonymous said...

Diane, I too have good memories of mom would sprinkle everything and put them in a bag in the fridge so that everything would get damp without getting mildewed in our midwest climate. Then I got to iron the handkerchiefs and pillowcases, and yes, even sheets! I still love the smell of starch and sizing.
I'm so glad you are blogging....thanks for sharing all your expertise.

Diane Gaudynski said...

I recall other moms putting things in the fridge but we had a big family, and laundry was sprinkled, rolled up in the wicker basket, and ironed immediately. Then a new batch would appear! There were 7 children in our family, no room in the fridge anyway.

Nope, we never ironed sheets. I didn't know others did it until later in life when these secrets emerged. Wow. Ironed sheets. Amazing.

I do know my mother loved some inventions: the electric dryer and automatic washer, and perma-press fabrics.

I take my sheets out of the dryer now and they go right back on the bed, no ironing, but I have to say I like hotel sheets, how truly decadent they are.

Jocelyn said...

I remember my Mom sprinkling the clothes too. But I love to iron. I keep a spray bottle with water beside my Rowenta to an extra "splash" when needed.

marlene@ByTheSeam said...

I remember my mom sprinkling clothes too. She had a green bottle with a top like your mom had. My mom had the same iron the whole time I was growing up and beyond, I have had several irons in 40 years. They don't make things like they used to!

julieQ said...

What a wonderful memory! We washed clothes in the wringer washer, then hung them on the line to dry. Mom would then sprinkle them all, roll them up tight, and we would press them one by one. I mean everything! Cotton kitchen towels, sheets, pillow cases...everything!! Wonderful memories, and smelled so fresh and good. Love your work! and I am so glad you now have a blog for all to enjoy it.

Anne said...

My grandparents had a housekeeper and I remember her ironing when we'd go to visit. She would sprinkle my grandfather's shirts with an old coke bottle with a couple holes nailed into the cap. The smell of hot starch always reminds me of her.

Diane Gaudynski said...

Isn't it amazing what memories are triggered by something as simple as ironing? They all came back to me today, and glad to hear many of you have fond ones as well. It's a comforting memory.

I wonder if our "green" bottle was an original coke bottle? And a wringer washer - yep, we had one too for years and years, even after the new dryer appeared on the scene. No one ever was crushed in the wringer but the element of danger was exciting.

MH said...

we had 7 children in our family too ! The ironing was endless. I was happy I wasn't the oldest girl . I only had to do the children's clothes and not the adults ,that had to be done well ! :)
We lived out in the country at my grandmothers for the summer . She had a wash board and tub. Good thing we didn't have to iron our shorts and tops in the summer . We would take the tub out in the rain and play in it when we had enough rain to collected . Oh the fun times we had !

Diane Gaudynski said...

Boopie - my grandmother had a washboard and tub too, had forgotten all about it. When we were really little she bathed us in the washtub too. We played in the rain too, and we had a rain barrel that collected water. One of my best memories is my mother washing my sister's and my hair with soft rain water. That was the only time it curled. Great memories.

Unknown said...

Not only did I iron the same types of things but I remember my grandmother had a ringer washer in the basement which I always wanted to use but she was so afraid I'd get my fingers in the ringer. She also had a "laundry chute" which was really just a whole in the floor of her bedroom closet that you could drop the dirty laundry through and it ended up in the basement next to the ringer washer. My little brother and I used to talk to each other through it - one of us upstairs in the closet the other down in the basement. What fun.

Miriam said...

I can remember my mother and Grandmother both using a sprinkle bottle and rolling up the ironing before pressing. They both had the kind of washing machine that had a wringer attached to the top to wring the clothes before they were hung on the line. My Mum had a folding, wooden ironing board.
I have an earlier memory of my other Grandmother ironing with heavy metal irons that she heated on the stove. She had one with a wooden handle that clipped on and off as she heated it up, then ironed till it cooled off. At that time they had electrity only via a generator that was turned on at night for the lights. Thanks for triggering some great memories.

Diane Gaudynski said...

It's a wonder we all survived the wringer washers, but I loved watching my mother use it, and when I was older, helping with it. Oh yes, we had a laundry chute too, and my little brother fell through it once onto the basement floor...on a huge pile of laundry and was fine, whew.

Featheronawire Sally Bramald said...

I must have skipped the 'joy of ironing' lessons. I have only recently stopped paying to get ours done. I think I only tolerate it because I have a steam generator iron. Somehow though pressing my stash isn't such a pain in the b**.

Diane Gaudynski said...

Ms. Feather, Imagine that! You skipped ironing!

I guess I yearned to do the big girl stuff when I was little, wanted to do everything my mother did, and fortunately that also included many art projects, mastering sewing machines, cooking, typing, sewing clothing, sewing anything.

I recall my mother making custom upholstery for the Model T seats, as well as exquistely sewn and hand embroidered baby clothing she sold at a local boutique. She could really do just about anything, and I was lucky she patiently taught me so much.

Margo said...

Oh, the memories! Nothing will ever smell as good as clothes fresh off the line! We did the sprinkle, roll, chill and iron routine, and we also ironed sheets on an electric "mangle"! Mother also sewed professionally...slip covers for interior decorators. I miss her.

Anonymous said...

Joining in on this delightful journey back in time...I also grew up with memories of my Mom ironing and having a glass (coca cola?) bottle with a little sprinkler head attached. She ironed all the sheets too & dare I mention - my Dad's cotton underwear shorts (she will probably be cringing that I told that one!)
Thank you for all the wonderful tips and inspiration!