Skilled pressers required

Poorly trained staff will show their lack of skills most clearly at the finishing table or free-steam press. An otherwise perfect job can be ruined by poor finishing, either through carelessness or ignorance.

The first sign of poor training is the condition of the press clothing, which is then often stained, hard and compacted. New press clothing is soft and resilient so that double thicknesses at seams and buttons do not leave an imprint. Rock hard clothing will ensure that every imperfection in the clothing will leave its mark on the finished result.

Steam and vacuum serve several purposes. One very useful technique is to use a little steam to soften the fabric so that it can be stretched to get rid of relaxation wrinkles. If the lay is subjected to vacuum for twice the normal time then, when tension is released, the lay will stay stretched and most of the wrinkling will have disappeared. Trying to do this at the curved armhole seam needs good manipulative skills around the nose of the table, but the best pressers (those qualified to Guild advanced level) use a shaped bolt to form this part of the garment and remove wrinkles.

Many pressers believe that care labels are not their concern, until they shrink or flatten a temperature sensitive modacrylic or elastomeric which cannot withstand live steam. The one-dot iron warns of this and, in some cases, such garments cannot even be lightly steamed on a former or in a cabinet.

Shirt loses its body

Fault: This shirt looked limp and wrinkled after washing and ironing.

Cause: Many garments have plenty of “body” to the cloth when bought, but this is often lost in just a single wash.

Responsibility: The customer expects cleaners to have the skills to deal successfully with difficult shirt constructions such as this one.

Rectification: The original bulk and stiffness can sometimes be restored using fabric conditioner, but often there is no alternative to using a good quality starch. When some body has been restored, the shirt can be finished again while damp. Use a medium temperature iron and a little steam.

Each lay should be stretched and vacuumed to get rid of the wrinkles and puckering and the customer will then be delighted with the result.

Not so rosy result
Fault: This wedding dress had been cleaned and could have been pressed perfectly, but the fabric roses looked crushed, spoiling the whole effect.

Cause: The flowers have been made by rolling a long piece of hemmed fabric to resemble a rose. These have become crumpled in cleaning and now they need to be pressed correctly to restore the original appearance.

Responsibility: The cleaner has a duty to press the whole dress as there is nothing technically wrong with either the garment or the trim.

Rectification: The roses should be removed from the garment by snipping the securing tacking and then unrolled and pressed flat. They can be re-rolled and attached and will look good. No special skills are needed.

Seams turn white

Fault: After this jacket had been cleaned and pressed white seams could be seen clearly.

Cause: The whitening has been caused by excessive localised pressure on the double thickness fabric of the seams. The locking pressure of the press could have been too high. However, a more likely explanation is that the press clothing had become wet at some point in its life and had been left to dry in a sodden state.As a result the clothing had become hard and compacted and so no longer had the resilience needed for the double thicknesses.

Responsibility: The cleaner is to blame here for failing to keep the finishing equipment in the correct condition to avoid damage of this type.

Rectification: Brushing, re-cleaning and careful re-finishing might improve it a little, but the prospects are not good.

Wrinkling to the collor and button hole panels can be overcome by correct finishing Shirt loses body CRUSHED: These sorry looking roses simply need correct pressing Crushed trim POOR CLOTHING: The white seams can be avoided by keeping press clothing dry and resilient Suede jacket with white marks