It’s all in the finish: Techniques for trousers

18 August 2021

Following on from the June article covering some important aspects of finishing equipment, I am now going to look at finishing/ironing techniques as distinct from finishing methods, which are extensively covered in the Guild of Cleaners and Launderers’ Finishing Manual.

Many trainees are already familiar with ironing in a domestic situation where the iron is used in a fairly random manner; but when ironing outer garments the iron often needs to be used with great precision and in correct conjunction with the use of steam vacuum and/or air blowing.

In the hands of skilled finishers, the iron can be used in a variety of ways to vastly improve the finish, for example, iron with steam with or without vacuum. Iron with vacuum without steam, iron without steam or vacuum. Before using the iron clear any condensate (drops of boiling water can damage some fabrics) so that dry steam is produced. A tefflon sole plate attachment will help avoid the risk of shine or glazing and can also have a buffering effect if the temperature is inadvertently left set too high.

Trousers can be difficult to finish and for optimum quality the correct ironing techniques are critical, particularly when finishing the legs and main creases. Before you start check the thermostat setting and that the use of steam is appropriate for the fabric. Pocket linings are best ironed using steam and the vacuum any wrinkles in the tops can be smoothed out using the air blower while ironing with steam. This will avoid creating impression marks in the fly and pocket areas.

The key points in trouser finishing are the main creases which in addition to being correctly positioned should, for normal fabrics, be crisp and sharp from top to bottom. If you are ironing a fabric containing polyester check for double creases (often caused by home ironing) as they can be impossible to remove. Good idea to make a record before finishing.

Main creases

Apply the vacuum and, starting at the bottom of the crease, iron slowly with continuous steam keeping the iron parallel with the crease, following it with the point of the iron until you reach the top. Move the back of the iron to one side as you approach the top.

Important - keep the iron moving in a straight line, don’t move it from side to side and do keep the steam going continuously. Allow the crease to cool fully before moving to the next lay. Moving the iron from side to side and intermittent use of steam is a common cause of soft areas in the main creases.

Retained creases

Retained wear creases in the legs and double creases can be difficult to remove. Temperature is the key here and it needs to be increased if possible to the maximum allowed for the fabric so steam iron without vacuum for a few seconds to bring the temperature up, then apply vacuum and iron with steam then fully cool the fabric with vacuum to set the finish.

  • In the next issue we will be talking about jackets.

Top tip

If you have trouble removing double creases and are using a steam heated iron (max temp 110 C) try using an electric steam iron set as appropriate to the fabric.

NO VACUUUM: Don’t use vacuum when ironing inside of the leg
TOPPING OFF: Finishing the tops on the air blower
FOLLOW ON: Follow main creases with the point of the iron
TOUGH MEDICINE: A Tefflon sole plate reduces the risk

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