Pressing (ironing) a suit is a hell of a lot more difficult than touching up wrinkles with light steam while avoiding seams. The potential for spectacular failure when taking a hot iron to a suit is high - so I would NEVER recommend to anyone to iron their suit. Of course, we have experienced professionals in this thread for whom manipulating steam, ironing cloth and heavy iron is part of their everyday life but for mere mortals, it could quickly result in shiny wool and messing up all the good work that the tailors have put into shaping your suit in the first place.
guide to touching up your suit without wrecking it - Page 12
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Yup, that's why I mentioned "touching up". I've never had the guts to press my jacket lapels, chest or shoulders, and that even though my garments are either RTW or MTM and have almost no iron shaping work.
But for touching up, my experience has been far worse disasters with just steam than with the iron. Puckered seams all over the place. Not to mention steam removes trouser creases. You can't just steam your trousers, you'll have to press them sooner or later.
Steam does ruin iron work, too. So the best thing you can do is get some directions, maybe from your tailor, and from this thread, and use the iron for touching up. Of course, you shouldn't press a whole suit all by yourself.
However, if I had nice bespoke garments, I think I would not use steam nor the iron myself
Edited by RDiaz - 11/5/13 at 3:40pm
Thanks...I was just reading about them on Ask Andy. I'm thinking about getting an arm board and some press clothes to do some touch ups at home. Still haven't been able to find sponging directions since it can't be as easy as sponging with a damp sponge.
I have read through this thread and did not see a reference to this video. I apologize if I missed it.
Click on the picture of the iron.
This person is identified as an "undercutter" at Anderson & Sheppard. Not only is he permitted to iron suits for A&S, but he was chosen to to the video on pressing a suit. I have to assume he knows what he is doing. But he does things other tailors have said not to do. Or at least, that is what I think they said. Does this mean that the rules are not that cut and dried, and IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING, you don't have to follow them? That is, are the guidelines intended to keep us rank amateurs out of trouble, but tailors are capable of adjusting their technique to the particular part of the particular suit?
He uses a pressing cloth for some of the work, but for much of what is shown the iron is in direct contact with the suit. He mentions that the press cloth allows him to press harder without creating a sheen. So, IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING, can you do parts of the pressing without a cloth?
He uses a lot of steam. I mean, a lot. Reading jeffreyd on the subject I would have thought this alone would have damaged the suit.
He clearly is "ironing" the suit, in the sense of placing the iron in position, applying pressure, and rubbing it over the suit.
He also at times holds up a sleeve and gives it a big blast of steam with no pressure at all. They cut away, so I don't know whether he then lays it down and presses it.
All that said, he certainly looks like he knows what he is doing. He carefully presses the collar around what looks like a big cloth covered ball, does the lapels and roll more or less the way described. The video is only a couple of minutes, but he says that pressing the entire jacket took 45 minutes. And he worked fast, like someone who does this all the time.
As of my last read through jeffreyd's instructions, I picked up on the importance of leaving the pressed portion in place to cool before moving it, otherwise handling the warm moist area could ruin the pressing effect. At least, that is what I think he said. I cannot tell whether the guy in the video is doing this. They cut to different parts too quickly.
He brushes the suit a lot while he is pressing it. I don't know whether this is just because he needs to brush it anyway, or whether brushing while pressing is important. He is brushing harder and more vigorously than I would have thought safe.
So, questions for jeffreyd and other experts.
Is this just the way a different tailor does it, but perfectly acceptable in his hands?
Is this a "do not try this at home" approach?
Can he do things that might affect the drape or fit of the jacket because, if they do, he knows how to fix it?
I would be grateful for any other tips about what is safe for someone, without hands on training from a tailor, can do in a hotel room.