Originally Posted by sho'nuff
not sure if this was explained or not, but isnt pressing the same as steaming but with a hot metal plate included? wouldnt the pressing (if it is equated to ironing) accelerate seam damage more so than steaming itself? how do you explain? thanks.
It was explained, but maybe not clearly enough. Pressing= combination of heat, moisture, pressure & shape to create semi-permanent form. Steaming= relaxing fibers to remove wrinkles but also the shaping carefully created by the tailor, as well as pant creases and seam finishes. When you steam the creases of the pant, they go away, right? A seam is like to crease that are abutted- when you steam them, they are no longer flat and crisp. I can think of two seams which do not have some sort of fullness worked into them. By fullness I mean extra cloth, like the shoulder seam. This photos is taken from Mahon's blog
The little wrinkles will get pressed out by the tailor, leaving a back area which is fuller to accommodate the shoulder blade. Most seams have some sort of fullness or shaping. If you steam these without applying pressure to keep them flat, the puckering is likely to show. Not good. A properly tailored suit has had the pieces stretched and shrunk to give them shape that they would otherwise not have. This is the before and after shot of a back panel which has been shaped using an iron and some steam.
See my blog posting for more details on that
. This is one reason very expensive suits look expensive and cheap ones look cheap- the shaping by the tailor is not the same. If you steam these parts without the appropriate shape underneath and without pressure on top, you lose this shaping. If you press the suit indiscriminately (flat) you will also wreck the shaping but at least you will not cause the seams to puff and pucker like steam alone will do. Steam alone (without the pressure of an iron) can also cause delamination of fused suits. The irons used by pro tailors (like the old one in my avatar) weigh around 18 pounds and they do not cause seam damage. Imagine using such a heavy weight when creasing your trousers- you would get a better result, no? Finally, technically speaking, ironing and pressing are not the same. Ironing is rubbing an iron over a garment to remove wrinkles and maybe crease a sleeve or trouser. Pressing is a controlled action to impart shape to a garment; you do not rub the iron all over, the preferred method is to lay a press cloth over the garment, put the iron in place, give a shot of steam, hold the iron in place for the area to dry a bit, lift the cloth and move on to the next spot. A tailor will use various forms (like a ham, a sleeve board, etc.) to maintain the shape of the garment while he is working. A line of finish pressing equipment in a factory costs in the millions of dollars and believe me, if the same job could be accomplished with a jiffy steamer, we would.