How to iron delicate and vintage washable clothing

Previous postings in this series

How to store your Vintage and Hand Made Clothing
Tips for clothing storage: muslin vs. breathable synthetic garment bags; cedar chips; skirt hangers,; padded blouse and dress hangers.

Paris Frocks at Home: How to tub your Paris Frocks at home
Hand laundering instructions from 1930s sewing and styling book published by Butterick Patterns. Photographs from the original book.

Adapting vintage hand laundering techniques
Simplified approaches based on hand laundering tips from 1930s. They work well for modern and vintage lingerie and fine or delicate garments.


In this posting I share how I adapted the ironing techniques from the 1930s book, Paris Frocks at Home. They work very well for hand sewn clothes, fine lingerie and clothes made with delicate fabrics. For hand laundering, clothing storage and scans from Paris Frocks at Home please refer to previous postings. You can follow the links above.

Blouse used for this demonstration

The blouse is modern and was purchased this year. It is made from a combination of 70% Viscose and 30% Linen blend. It is lightweight and drapey. I hand laundered and dried using the techniques shown in the previous posting.

The reason for choosing this blouse is that Rayon was very popular in the 1930s for women’s clothing. It is a delicate fabric made from plant fibers. Hand washing this blouse will prolong its life and attractiveness.

Ironing clothes using vintage techniques

Most important, the ironing board, the ironing board cover and the iron must be clean. Clean the iron out once a month according to the instructions it came with. This will flush out any deposits from hard water or particles that can discolor clothes when using steam.

Step 1. Get together the things needed to prep the hand washed clothes for ironing. They can be ironed when slightly damp, after drying on the rack or in the sun after hand washing. Sometimes that is not possible. That is often the case for me. So I prepare the garments by dampening them. For this purpose a spritzer bottle with cold water is used.

Step 2. After spritzing the garment lay it out flat on one or two overlapping cotton, lint free towels.

Step 3. Roll the garment up. Repeat this step for each garment that has been spritzed. Each garment is rolled in its own towel.

Step 4. Place the rolled up garments into a small plastic tub. Then place in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Step 5. Begin ironing. Use an appropriate setting for the fabric you are ironing. I used the low setting for steam for this blouse. Because it was cold and the moisture was evenly distributed, the iron glided smoothly over the fabric.

Step 6. Hang garment after ironing in a location with good air circulation. Do not put it immediately into the closet and wedge it between other garments. Let it dry first.


The garments press smoothly without need for spray on fabric finishes or ironing aids.

Published by EmilyAnn Frances

I was born and raised in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, New York. I attended Hunter College where I graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in English Language Arts. After graduation I worked in various industries such as publishing, fashion, financial services, investment banking, and for government. My passion for fashion was nurtured at the French Fashion Academy where I learned dressmaking, patternmaking, sketching and draping. My enjoyment of dressmaking and family history find a wonderful home here at WordPress. I hope you enjoy both of my blogs.