Ironing–a lost art?

I thought the rumpled look was only for the young kids who are part of the ripped, drooping, sagging, distressed generation. I guess I was wrong. I guess even the grown-ups of today are satisfied with rumpled.

I came to that decision after persuading George to haul my old, heavy, metal ironing board down to the thrift store, the board I replaced with a much lighter, easier-to-use-although-not-as-well-made, newer model. Easier on the old back and the gratzy shoulder. But someone else, someone younger and stronger, might like that old one just fine, I thought.

Nope, the store didn’t want it.

“It won’t sell,” the woman told my husband. “Nobody irons any more.”

Really? Am I the only person anywhere who actually stands over a steaming iron,

Via Bing Images

Via Bing Images

even in the dead of summer in an non-air- conditioned room, carefully pressing out the wrinkles and rumples from our clothes?

It seems I must be. And how strange, considering that cotton clothing has become so popular. It’s very comfortable, to be sure, but I don’t care how fast you take it out of the dryer, it’s going to be rumpled. The button plackets are going to curl. The hems are going to fold up. They’re going to have that all-night-on-a-park-bench personality.

Now that I think about it, though, I shouldn’t be surprised. Ironing is old-fashioned. It’s the attention to detail that women used to take pride in. Nowadays, so many women “don’t sew,” either. They might quilt, or maybe do crafts, but they don’t sew. They leave their own and their husband’s pants legs dragging on the ground because they can’t manage a simple hem. They let the short sleeves on their husband’s shirts hang down over their elbows like an older brother’s hand-me-downs. They think a button box is some kind of accordion. They aren’t taught, or don’t want to learn, things that have always been considered part of running a home and a family.

I don’t advocate the opposite extreme, of course. I once knew a woman who ironed her son’s t-shirts and shorts, and all the bed sheets. Not me. After all, you have to draw a line somewhere. But to not even OWN an ironing board?

Well, to each his own, I guess. Maybe I’m old-fashioned to make sure George’s dress pants have a crease, that his tux shirt looks crisp, that both of our cotton shirts look straightened and fresh. But I just can’t quench the feeling of satisfaction I get from having addressed the details, of having expended the bit of extra time needed to spiff and polish just a bit.

Meanwhile, does anyone know of a use for an unwanted ironing board?


About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
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8 Responses to Ironing–a lost art?

  1. blb1 says:

    I would like very much to be able to iron but it tears my body up way to much. I would also like the hands that used to sew and the eyes that used to be able to thread a needle still to be able too. But I get your point. 🙂

  2. Patty says:

    I used to be one of those obsessive/compulsive women who ironed everything that would stand still long enough……..until my priorities and fabrics changed. I have a limited amount of energy to spend on housework, cooking, laundry, caring for my husband and our dog, etc. To continue to iron clothes (which really don’t require it these days) would probably do me in rather quickly, taking me hours to recuperate my strength. Good fabrics today, even good cotton shirts and blouses, look fine if they are “fluffed” before coming out of the dryer, and then hung up neatly. But I think it is always up to the individual, and I believe some people enjoy ironing. As I said, I used to enjoy it, but things change, people change, and situations change. I believe (in this instnce) “to each his own.”

    • Monica Sawyn says:

      Oh, I agree that “to each his own” and that many things don’t need ironing. My husband is a musician and likes me to make shirts for him with themed prints–which means buying quilting fabric–100% cotton–which has lots of prints to choose from. I’ve found that no matter how quickly I remove the from the dryer, they need ironing. I’ve seen people in public, though, whose clothes really need attention, and there many who don’t seem to think it’s important. To not have OWN an ironing board seems really strange, to me.

  3. Paul Brophy says:

    Monica, you may be heartened by this. I heard a mother threatening her two grade school-aged daughters with, “If you don’re stop that right nos I am going to take your sewing boxes away for a week!” True story

    • Monica Sawyn says:

      That’s amazing! And yes, truly heartened. Sewing boxes? I thought those were unheard of by youngsters these days–and treasured by these kids, if their removal can be considered a punishment. Thanks for sharing that!

  4. Nellie Prince says:

    You know now that I think about it, I believe the recipe was chocolate graham crackers, a York peppermint pattie and a marshmallow …. oops.

    • Monica Sawyn says:

      I think you’re talking about the s’mores blog–;-)–but I know what you mean. And I think I read what you meant in your first comment, too. I’d love to try that version.

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