A good finish needs craft skills

Good craft skills are essential to ensure that the drycleaner can meet customers’ expectations of a well finished garment. If the garment is wrinkle-free, hangs well and has a good shape and drape, then it can still make a good first impression, even if it is a bit grey or a stain has proved impossible to remove fully.

Conversely, wrinkles that are visible from the shop door and soft trouser creases reflect badly on the business and will put the customer in a fault-finding mood, ready to insist on inspecting the garment thoroughly. Offering to re-clean or re-finish the garment wipes out any profit and leads to even closer inspection when it is finally collected.

Lack of knowledge about how to tackle some of the more difficult finishing tasks can lead to a series of problems. Once the finisher has learnt the secrets of achieving a good, “as new” finish, the problems subside to a manageable level and business’s reputation will start to improve.

This knowledge does not bring greater turnover overnight but it is the essential first step to maintaining a viable business in difficult times. The decline in manufacturing standards seen in some popular jacket, coat and wedding dress ranges has made some of the difficult finishing tasks even more of a problem. It is still possible to produce a good result on such garments but the challenges now are greater than in the past.


Rose looks crushed

Fault: The rose trim on this wedding dress looked very crushed after cleaning and spoiled the appearance.

Cause: Most roses are made by rolling a fabric strip into the shape and then tacking it together. After cleaning, the rose should be re-made by removing the threads, ironing the strip flat, then rolling it into shape and tacking again. With a little practice good results can be achieved every time.

Responsibility: The cleaner is responsible for finishing both the dress and its trim. The rose could be clearly seen on the front of the dress so if the cleaner felt unable to handle it he should have explained and declined to accept the dress.

Rectification: Snip the threads to remove the rose and re-make as described. The prospects for success are very good.

Ruching skills needed

Fault: When the draped, ruched folds on this dress went awry in the drycleaning process, the presser was unsure what to do. The customer complained about the uneven and creased result.

Cause: This ruching was laid up by hand on the manufacturer’s model and then secured with tacking. The machine action has disturbed both elements giving the poor result seen here.

Responsibility: This garment looks difficult to finish and should have been refused unless the presser had been trained in ruching. The cleaner is now responsible for the poor result.

Rectification: Re-clean the garment to relax the fabric. It should be re-finished by a presser with Guild advanced level skills. Pressers have various techniques but a good method is to remove the tacking, letting the ruching float free so that the creases can be blown out on a bed of air. Then lay the ruching by hand, preferably on a 3D dummy, and tack to secure.

Wrinkles spoil collar fold

Fault: A well finished jacket still had wrinkles in the collar fold.

Cause: The fold is backed by a vital component known as a collar felt. If this has not been well specified it will shrink in cleaning, which affects the whole assembly. The collar looks all right when flat but when the collar fold is rolled it will wrinkle along the fold however carefully this has been done.

Responsibility: The maker is responsible for the shrinkage in the fold and for the resultant wrinkling of the assembly. The cleaner is responsible for removing the wrinkles by pressing.

Rectification: Press the collar flat, working on the reverse side. Steam to soften the various fabrics then apply very firm tension to stretch the collar felt along the line of the fold. Apply vacuum through the bed of the table or the buck of the press for at least double the normal length of time, until the entire assembly is cool, dry and set. When tension is released, the collar fold can be rolled as usual without any wrinkling.

No pleats at the seat

Fault: After cleaning, this dress showed some loss of pleats at the seat but the others were intact and well-defined. The construction prevented the presser from re-pleating the seat but refreshing the garment with steam produced a visible loss of pleats in the area.

Cause: The pleats were originally set with steam and vacuum. The pressure and moisture that occurs during normal wear has softened the pleats and lost some sharpness. The steam used to refresh the garments has relaxed the pleat creases so that they dropped out completely, causing the customer to complain.

Responsibility: The cleaner is responsible for re-pleating and for the steaming that has made the fault worse.

Rectification:  It should be possible to re-pleat this garment with the careful use of a narrow dressmaker’s iron. The pleats must be re-inserted one by one. This is time consuming but it is the only option. In future never steam a pleated garment unless the presser has devised a way of re-pleating it.

Puckers spoil designer look

Fault: This suit jacket cleaned perfectly but the severe puckering around the armhole seam spoiled the whole effect.

Cause: The armhole seam is a complex multi-layer assembly, which has usually been machine stitched under tension. This built-in tension relaxes during drycleaning and often leads to puckering, which can be severe.

Responsibility: The garment maker is responsible for the relaxation that led to the severe puckering seen here. The cleaner is responsible for removing the puckers during pressing.

Rectification: Place the armhole under tension along the seam and the puckers will then disappear. To prevent them reappearing, maintain a firm tension and steam the seam and then vacuum, before finally releasing the tension. Some pressers use the nose of the table or the buck of the press to achieve the tension needed. Others use pressers’ bolts to produce the 3D shape of the front of the shoulder. Some designer jacket need skills similar to those required for Guild advanced level, especially where bolts are needed