Even with wash-and-wear fabrics, freshly ironed clothing displays success and confidence. Using the best techniques for garment pressing makes creating a good impression easy. Proper pressing also extends the life of your garments. Before you begin, always take note of the tag on your clothing to ensure your iron is set to the correct temperature. Follow our easy step-by-step instructions for success in ironing shirts, pants, dresses, and skirts.
How to Iron Shirts
Cuffs and collars don't need to intimidate you. Approach pressing shirts with these easy steps and you'll be finished in no time -- with results that show!
Iron the underside of the shirt collar, starting at the center and working out toward the edges, then back toward the center.
Work on the back shoulder yoke, draping one side of the yoke over the narrow end of your ironing board. Work the iron from the shoulder toward the center of the back. Then iron the other shoulder using the same technique.
Iron the inside of the cuffs of conventional shirts. For French cuffs, use a sleeve board or roll up a towel, insert it in the cuff, and iron directly on top of the cuff.
Iron the sleeves, working from the cuff toward the shoulder. Iron the outside of the sleeve, then the inside. Repeat on the other sleeve.
Tackle the shirt's front panels, ironing one front panel at a time. Press the back from the center to the bottom hem.
The final touch is to re-press the collar top.
Editor's Tip: After you iron a shirt, place it on a hanger and set it aside to cool. A warm shirt creases when you put it on. A cool shirt is more likely to keep its fresh, crisp look.
How to Iron Pants
Pressing slacks and pants, with a crease or without, gives your outfit a boost of style. Follow these steps to get the look you want to show the world.
Begin by turning your slacks inside out and ironing the pockets. If they are not attached to the body of the pants, lay the pocket on the ironing board to iron. If the pockets are attached to the side seam, pull the pant top over the narrow end of the ironing board and iron the pocket flat.
Turn the pants right side out and iron carefully around the waist and top by draping the top of the slacks over the narrow end of the board and working around the waist. Iron lightly over pockets to prevent pocket lines from showing.
Lay the pants flat on the ironing board, one leg on top of the other. Align inseams with outer seams. Fold back the top leg and iron the inside of the bottom leg. Flip and repeat to iron the other side.
For a center crease in your slacks, simply align the inseam and outer seam, and lay the slacks on your board. Press the front side of each leg, using a burst of steam set the crease.
Editor's Tip: Avoid a shiny look when pressing dark or wool fabrics. Use a press cloth or clean cotton dish towel to press your garments.
How to Iron Skirts & Dresses
Skirts seem simple enough to press, but the complications of pleats, ruffles, or gathers can make it more challenging than you expect. Dresses might have both the collars and cuffs of shirts and the ruffles and gathers of skirts. Both are easy to press to stylish finishes with these steps.
For dresses with sleeves and collars, begin by following the directions for ironing a shirt: collar, yoke, cuffs, and sleeves, then the top side of collar.
For the skirt, start at the bottom and work your way toward the waist.
For skirts with gathers and ruffles, iron the inside surface of the skirt, beginning at the hemline and moving toward the center. For pleats, start at the bottom of the inside of the pleat, then move to the outside of the pleat. A burst of steam can help set the pleat.
If the garment has delicate buttons, iron around them or protect them with the bowl of a spoon. If the garment features embroidered designs, lay it embroidered side down on a terry cloth towel or pressing cloth and press with a burst of steam from the other side.
Editor's Tip: Skirts and dresses made of delicate fabrics are more likely to scorch or be marred by steam. Check the label before setting the iron, and test in an inconspicuous area to ensure good results.