What You Need to Press a Suit

Whenever we complete a new suit or have an older garment returned for alteration I always try to inspect and press everything myself. I know that’s not very practical but we admitted we’d never win any prizes for being the fastest tailors in town years ago;)

That said people are always asking me about dry cleaning and pressing etc. Most cleaners these days are pretty competent at the cleaning but their pressing often lets them down.  Under normal circumstances if you don’t wear your favourite suit every day and always remember to brush it down and hang it up properly you’ll be fine. However, a nice crisp crease in the trousers and lovely soft rolling foreparts makes all the difference. As I said, dry cleaners usually clean very well but often they’ll make a garment look flat and square with hard lapels crushed under pressing machines.

So the point I’m getting at is it’s better to do your final pressing at home. It’s pretty easy and with a little practice you’ll do a job to be very proud of. As with almost skilled operations you need tools. Thankfully not expensive or exotic ones but essential all the same. First of all forget about “ironing boards” used by most people without valets for their laundry. You’ll never successfully press a suit on one of these things. Also please note the terminology. If you’re ever talking with the trade on the Row. We “press” suits and never “iron” suits. You iron underwear and women’s blouses;)

A well used board

To tell you how to do this would be impossible so I’m going to do a couple of masterclass videos – one for the jacket (next week) and then the trousers (the week after). So back to the tools. You’ll need –

a, Preferably a good quality steam iron (if you cant get a steam iron then a standard one will do)

b, An old hand towel.

c, A piece of linen or cotton about 10″ square.

d, A sturdy table or board big enough to lay a pair of trousers on.

e, A strong sleeve board

If you can’t get a steam iron you’ll need a piece of rolled up old material about 6″ long and 2-3″ thick when rolled. In the trade this is called a “dolly” by the way.

Most people can get a hold of the things above but I know you’re panicking as you like me have never seen a good sleeve board for sale anywhere. We usually have them made for us but it’s not expensive or complicated. Here are the approximate specifications.

A sleeve board with a yardstick to help you size

About 30″ long and 6 3/4″ wide at one end and 5″ at the other. A comfortable working height is about 8 1/2″. A base board should be made a little bigger to make it sturdy to work on. It should be then joined as in the picture with a good strong hardwood or metal as there’s a lot of strain on this.

Finally pad and cover the board in a strong tightly woven fabric as we’ve done in the picture.

I’m sorry that if this sounds like hard work but get your local carpenter to make you one and I promise you’ll thank me for ever. It’ll last a lifetime and it will allow you to press quickly and perfectly every garment in your wardrobe.

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About Thomas Mahon

Thomas Mahon is one of the most experienced tailors on Savile Row with a list of clients including royalty, celebrities and business icons. Tom has almost thirty years experience of hand tailoring in Savile Row including five years at Savile Row’s most famous and respected tailor, Anderson & Sheppard. His clients experience the traditions and expertise of the finest bespoke tailoring available today using a soft and unstructured style typical of Anderson & Sheppard. His workshop is based at Warwick Hall in Cumbria and also meets clients at his office in London, Tom also makes regular trips to visit his growing international client base in Europe, the USA and further afield. When not creating beautiful bespoke suits, travelling to see clients or sharing his sartorial advice with his internet followers, Tom enjoys teaching sailing and is the boats officer for the Sea Cadet Corps near his Cumbria home. For the full story visit www.englishcut.com
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