Ironing: The Serious Version

Having re-built a small ironing board suitable for ironing hankies and napkins, as I did a few days ago, is all well and good. I find, however, that my ironing needs are, sadly, still not met on the home front.  The fact is, sometimes one needs to iron big things like tablecloths. Or, at any rate, I do. The problem became, um, pressing, because I recently had occasion to use a number of very high quality antique tablecloths from my collection, and was advised strongly by a woman who deals in antique textiles that to send these to a dry cleaner’s would not only be hideously expensive but also be a pretty sure-fire way to guarantee that I’d soon be the owner of a number of trashed antique tablecloths. Pricing out what it would cost to dry-clean these items, I realized that even if I could be assured the pieces would be returned to me intact, I’d be paying more than $100, and probably more like $250, to have these things cleaned. Which is ridiculous. Turns out that a lot of places calculate the cost of cleaning tablecloths by the square inch — so the bigger the cloth, the more they nail you to the wall, because, of course, the reason you’re looking into having these things dry cleaned in the first place is because you can’t deal with it yourself…. they know they’ve got you.

“Okay,” I said to her, “so what should I do? I want to use these things and have them not look like utter crap.”

“You bring them to the store when you’ve used them and we’ll wash them and then you can use the rotary iron to iron them,” she said.

I thought she was kidding, but she wasn’t, and so this week I brought a bag of tablecloths to the English Building Market and we laundered them and then she showed me how to use her rotary iron. It is a Miele iron, not unlike this, and it is a beast. Now, I went and read the Amazon reviews of the Miele rotary iron I linked to and someone observed “The Miele doesn’t do a bad job at all; in fact, if I’d never seen an ironing machine before, I’d have been quite impressed.” Count me in the “quite impressed” category. It took me about half an hour to get the hang of using it comfortably, but once I got it, it was pretty easy — I mean, given that I was doing these tablecloths with all kinds of cut work and scalloping and complicated things that made the job difficult. If I had been working with easy things, like linen dishtowels or cotton hankies? This would have been beyond awesome. Carol told me that she finds it relaxing to just sit and take care of things that have to get ready for the store; she’ll sit down with her basket of napery and a glass of wine (white, I assume) and just plow through the stuff. I can totally believe it. I’m jealous of her, in fact.

An interesting thing about reading reviews of the Miele rotary irons online is the realization that even in this day and age, there are people who really want their clothes, their napkins, and their bedsheets just so. I mean, I thought it was just me and Carol, but no, there are other lunatics like us out there. This fascinated me because as best I can tell, none of my friends will even admit to owning and iron, let alone using it. And the idea of wanting to use a rotary iron is a mockable offense, not something people would nod about understandingly.

Obviously, Carol uses the Miele for her work — she is, after all, a seller of vintage linens — but there’s no question in my mind that there are people who would use this thing and get their money’s worth out of it in their homes. I mean, people besides myself. They’d be crackpots, yes, and possibly people would mock them at cocktail parties. But they’d feel they’d made a wise investment in the Miele iron, and they’d have gorgeous hankies, to boot.

As we washed the dinner dishes last night, I remarked to my husband, “If I had a few thousand dollars lying around and could justify spending the money, I would totally buy one of these things.”

“Really?” he said, surprised. “That’s what you’d spend money on?”

Even I was kind of surprised. I don’t know what to say, except, I have a crush on the Miele rotary iron. So maybe when I win the lottery, I will not only have a regular-size ironing board built into the wall near the washing machine in my apartment, but I will also have the builder carve a small closet into the wall where I can store the Miele rotary iron, so I can pull it out to use whenever the mood strikes me. As I sit here typing this, I’m actually looking thoughtfully at the closet across the room from me, wondering, “Could we bust through the wall right there, and….”

but I don’t have time to finish this thought. There are three loads of laundry —  none of which require ironing — waiting for me to fold them and put them away.


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