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How to Iron a Shirt
March 11, 2010 11:58 AM   Subscribe

How to iron a shirt. Everything is cooler in Japan.

Bonus! How to polish your shoes.
posted by chunking express (97 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
I happened to have just watched the Tron Legacy trailer again, so I had it on HD. So I watched a banal video of a guy ironing his shirt. In HD. Not unlike the time I watched Bambi and it was remastered, so that THX sound came on like REEEEEEEEEEEWREEEEEEE!....Bambi.
posted by cashman at 12:10 PM on March 11, 2010


I don't know why that was so fascinating, but it kind of was. I watched the whole thing. I guess it's always interesting to watch people who are really good at what they do.
posted by Cygnet at 12:12 PM on March 11, 2010


Well sure, I could do a lot better if I had that hot awesome ironing board.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:13 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Huh. It was actually just a Japanese guy ironing a shirt. I guess it does what it says on the tin.
posted by Caduceus at 12:13 PM on March 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


I figured this out about halfway, and I'm somewhat confused and worried by the fact that I continued to watch it until the end. What with the 'cooler in Japan' lead-in, I guess I was hoping for a last-minute showing by lasers, sophisticated machinery, or Godzilla or something.

There are no lasers, sophisticated machinery, or Godzilla. There is only ironing.
posted by Malor at 12:13 PM on March 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


"Most folks spend their days daydreaming or finding clues
My whole life I've been here at the train station shining shoes
...
Craftsmanship is a quality that some lack
You got to give people a reason for them to come back"
posted by filthy light thief at 12:14 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


This confirms what I've always thought: ironing is a pain in the ass. This is why my husband and I typically buy clothes we don't have to iron. Or to put it as the esteemable Space Kitty would: "You mean 'iron' is a verb??"
posted by Kimberly at 12:15 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is only ironing.

Yeah, I kept waiting for a twist - like, throw away the shirt and do a whole new technique where a 3-second, one fold-one swipe would make the whole shirt as wrinkle-free as Demi Moore.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:16 PM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is boring. I'm sorry, but why did you post this? Were you just trying to be ironic?

[NOT IRON-IST]
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 12:16 PM on March 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


He's just ironing...
posted by dov3 at 12:17 PM on March 11, 2010


I was hoping for a life-changing DIY like the one about Japanese t-shirt folding. I will continue to iron my clothes by tossing them into the dryer while I shower.
posted by bjork24 at 12:17 PM on March 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


He doesn't do it the way I do. For one thing, he irons the outside of the collar. For another, the irons the sleeves first. For a third, he irons in a huge empty room!
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:18 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


And, just for the record. I like ironing. And I liked this post.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:19 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


WTF I am officially outraged at This Dumb Thing On the Internet. I, like so many others before me, watched THREE MINUTES OF SOME GUY IRONING A SHIRT. I don't know what I expected, but geez. He could have at least worn a funny hat or something. Christ.
posted by phunniemee at 12:19 PM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is this something I would need to have an iron to understand?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:24 PM on March 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


Another vote for stupid and worthless post.
posted by dozo at 12:24 PM on March 11, 2010


I liked the part where he ironed a shirt.
posted by found missing at 12:24 PM on March 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


That was great! Seriously, that dude is like the Michael Jordan of ironing shirts. I have ironed many shirts, but I am no better at it now than I was on shirt #1. This guy gives me hopeā€“hope that a new cleaners will open nearby, and someone like this will iron my shirts.
posted by Mister_A at 12:25 PM on March 11, 2010


I have no idea why I enjoyed that so much, but it was the best, most relaxing thing I've seen all day.
posted by slogger at 12:26 PM on March 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


To you naysayers: DID YOU SEE WHAT HE DID WITH THE SLEEVES? Come on, man! If I'd done that the shirt would have more creases and wrinkles than when I started. Ironman is the bomb.
posted by Mister_A at 12:27 PM on March 11, 2010



Funny story - He irons his shirt just like they taught us to when I was in the Marines.

It's a useful skill, as my wife refuses to iron anything for any reason at any time.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:27 PM on March 11, 2010


I got totally stressed out watching this.
posted by fusinski at 12:27 PM on March 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


CMON GUYS JAPAN ISN'T FUNNY ANYMORE
posted by everichon at 12:30 PM on March 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


The videos are pretty cool for what they are. Completely banal activities framed very nicely, good lighting, and excellent miking and/or foley work. Completely unexpected, and it brightened my day in a very off-beat way. Thanks.
posted by explosion at 12:34 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


If this post survives, I hope it becomes the new benchmark for "Why was my post deleted?" MeTas
posted by rocket88 at 12:34 PM on March 11, 2010


Is he alive or dead?
Has he thoughts within his head
We'll just pass him there
Why should we even care?
posted by gman at 12:36 PM on March 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oddly, with some minor variations, that is how I was taught to iron a shirt, and I live in Canada. Is there some reason this is uniquely Japanese?
posted by LN at 12:36 PM on March 11, 2010


Isn't there something different about ironing flannel?
posted by found missing at 12:40 PM on March 11, 2010


Didn't he iron a huge crease into one sleeve? Is that what I've been doing wrong all these years, making the sleeves flat?
posted by Splunge at 12:42 PM on March 11, 2010


I was hoping this was going to take 30 seconds, not 3 minutes.
posted by yoyoceramic at 12:43 PM on March 11, 2010


This is not the Iron Man trailer you're looking for.
posted by ooga_booga at 12:44 PM on March 11, 2010


He's just ironing...

You clearly haven't considered the Rule 34 implications of this.
posted by quin at 12:45 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I dunno guys he doesn't really seem that good at ironing to me.
posted by Perplexity at 12:46 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I took the first video as an ode to earnest work, something like an audiovisual presentation of the same sentiment behind Robert Frost's Mowing. It's pretty compelling that way, especially at the end. It mirrors the poem nicely: there's a slight nod to pride at a job well done when he lays the shirt out flat in front of the camera, but in general the whole endeavor is presented without sentimentality (in fact, the video is actually more successful in that regard).
posted by invitapriore at 12:46 PM on March 11, 2010


This reminded me of how much I hate ironing. Then it reminded me of how much I hate watching a video of some guy ironing. Then I got up for some coffee.
posted by Outlawyr at 12:49 PM on March 11, 2010


I dunno guys he doesn't really seem that good at ironing to me.
Troll elsewhere Perplexity! IronMan is teh besto ironator evah!
posted by Mister_A at 12:50 PM on March 11, 2010


Like the Iron Sutra says, shirt is emptiness; emptiness is shirt.
posted by The Mouthchew at 12:50 PM on March 11, 2010


Loved it. Dedication to task! This looks like a form of meditation.

There is some interesting technique here, e.g., what is the re-arranging he is doing at 51 seconds?
posted by SNACKeR at 12:50 PM on March 11, 2010


In Soviet Russia, shirt irons you!
posted by Mike D at 12:51 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


How to iron a shirt:

1. Buy a wrinkle-free dress shirt from your favorite retailer.
2. Wear it.
3. Wash it (optional).
4. Throw it in a drawer.
4. Repeat steps 2-4 until normal wear and tear necessitates step 1.
posted by prinado at 12:52 PM on March 11, 2010


This is how I iron a shirt, without the cool ironing board.
posted by pintapicasso at 12:52 PM on March 11, 2010


I dunno guys he doesn't really seem that good at ironing to me.

Are you talking about the crease pointed out by Splunge, or something more general?
posted by christopherious at 12:53 PM on March 11, 2010


Wrinkle-free dress shirt? Where's the fun in that? You probably use Cool-Whip instead of real whipped cream. Also, you have two #4s.
posted by Mister_A at 12:53 PM on March 11, 2010


This is boring. I'm sorry, but why did you post this? Were you just trying to be ironic?

I can't help it if you're lame.

OH SNAP!?
posted by chunking express at 12:53 PM on March 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not a fan of the crease in the fold at 2:48, however.
posted by SNACKeR at 12:53 PM on March 11, 2010


There is some interesting technique here, e.g., what is the re-arranging he is doing at 51 seconds?

It's the Esenapaj technique. Really spectacular example of this form too. Much different than the Nacirema styles you see of 400 years ago in ironing history. Great find.
posted by cashman at 12:54 PM on March 11, 2010 [20 favorites]


You clearly haven't considered the Rule 34 implications of this.

Well googling "ironing porn" gets you what you want on the very first link.
posted by dibblda at 12:57 PM on March 11, 2010


I can't help it if you're lame.

And I can't help it if you miss my puns!
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 12:59 PM on March 11, 2010


I have literally had the same stack of un-ironed (but folded) shirts in a pile on my bed for the last 3 weeks because of how much I hate ironing. I, too, was hoping for a life-changing how-to. The only "pro-tip" I got from this was to get an awesome ironing board with plenty of surface area, and to press down harder with my iron.

That said, I was still mesmerized by the whole thing. It's that strange satisfaction of watching something in disarray get neat quickly. Just like how I would watch a 3-minute time-lapse of someone cleaning their room, or repainting their house, etc.

I liked it.
posted by TimeTravelSpeed at 1:00 PM on March 11, 2010


And I can't help it if you miss my puns!

Damn it. Well played sir!
posted by chunking express at 1:00 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is not just ironing. It is ironing both performed and presented lovingly, carefully and poetically.
posted by Bovine Love at 1:02 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


You really need to listen to this on a good soundsystem or headphones to pick up the details; as explosion pointed out the sound is really impressive.

I mean, listen to the iron scraping on the buttons at :20. Incredible!
posted by soy bean at 1:09 PM on March 11, 2010


I usually make sure to buy blended polyester shirts because:

a) they are wrinkle free and do not require ironing
b) unstarched cotton dress shirts wrinkle easily over the course of a day, especially in summer
c) if it gets hot and humid enough, cotton dress shirts start to smell like mildew over the course of a hot day, thanks to a mixture of sweat and laundry detergent residue
d) I hate ironing

Neat post, though
posted by KokuRyu at 1:12 PM on March 11, 2010


There are no lasers, sophisticated machinery, or Godzilla. There is only ironing.

No. There is also folding.

I enjoyed the video.
posted by frobozz at 1:12 PM on March 11, 2010


That was kind of fascinating. He's so efficient! It takes me much longer than 3 minutes to iron a shirt, not that that's any surprise to me...
posted by MelanieL at 1:19 PM on March 11, 2010


I've long been convinced that part of a good iron job is starting with a quality garment. So many of my shirts can't lay flat no matter how I arrange the seams that I just don't iron my clothes anymore.
posted by polyhedron at 1:30 PM on March 11, 2010


I got totally stressed out watching this.

So did I (though I don't know if it was for the same reason as you). I think I just realized how anal I am about how I iron my shirts. He did not iron the crease in the collar, which just drives me nuts.
posted by Kabanos at 1:31 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


To speed up the ironing for business meetings, just iron the collar and the front with the buttons/holes. It's not like anyone will see any other parts of your shirt in those meetings anyway.
posted by sour cream at 1:33 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the ironing video is a boring Merchant Ivory period piece, the shoeshine video is a Jerry Bruckheimer explosion fest. Everyone quit yer bitchin and learn how to shine shoes.

Nice photography with both videos, btw.
posted by zardoz at 1:47 PM on March 11, 2010


I liked it. It takes me 20 minutes with a fancy iron and board to move all the wrinkles from one side of my shirt to the other. I would be happy to be half as good if it took me twice as long.

Here are some shirt ironing robots for those who are dying of robot deprivation after watching the video in the fpp.

In a factory.
You can have this for $1,000, here is the ad.
I guess this one costs less than $1000.
Ironing shirt, Painting & Exercising All at the same time!
posted by dirty lies at 1:51 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I iron every morning, I appreciate simple tasks done well and with care, and I loved this video. That is all.
posted by bepe at 1:57 PM on March 11, 2010


Well, I iron a shirt just about as well in just about the same length of time, but the folding thing at the end was a nice touch. I hang mine up.

I'm with bjork24. I was waiting for the way cool trick, like how I always fold my t-shirts like in the you tube video now. Once you get the hang of that it's really the easiest and fastest way to do it. The shirt folding at the end was nice, but not practical on my standard-issue folding ironing board. Not enough space.
posted by lordrunningclam at 1:59 PM on March 11, 2010


Do the Japanese not have clothes hangers?
posted by Daddy-O at 2:01 PM on March 11, 2010


Confirmed: Skinny American ironing boards really are as bad a design as they always seemed.
Additionally noted: Ironing is more fun to watch when listening to Orange Blossom Special.
posted by eritain at 2:01 PM on March 11, 2010


That's some quality iron handling there. For me, the beauty of this video is that it would be useful to a generation of people who haven't been taught how to iron a dress shirt, let alone how to buy or wear a quality one.

Now if only there were some instruction on buying a quality iron. Good irons aren't light and don't really require you to lean into your stroke, which could potentially cause a catastrophic uncool ironing board failure.

Disclaimer: For daily use, I like my Brooks Brothers wrinkle-free shirts because they are low maintenance and have a pretty long lifespan, even if they don't feel anywhere near as good as my best quality special-occasion shirts.
posted by Hylas at 2:03 PM on March 11, 2010


I kept waiting for a twist

One in every three thousand ironings the viewer is caught off guard by unexpected acceleration.
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:04 PM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Given my complete and utter incompetence at ironing shirts, I was strangely fascinated by this video.
posted by alvarete at 2:08 PM on March 11, 2010


The ironing video was very nearly erotic.
posted by device55 at 2:19 PM on March 11, 2010


OH THE IRONING
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:20 PM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Before enlightenment; polish shoes, iron shirt. After enlightenment; polish shoes, iron shirt.
posted by Obscure Reference at 2:24 PM on March 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Kabanos: "I got totally stressed out watching this.

So did I (though I don't know if it was for the same reason as you). I think I just realized how anal I am about how I iron my shirts. He did not iron the crease in the collar, which just drives me nuts.
"

I was taught not to iron the crease in the collar because the collar is curved but an ironed crease will be a straight line and therefore prevent it from lying right when you put it on. The collar should be ironed flat and then folded over.

I can't believe I'm posting this comment.
posted by jonnyploy at 2:34 PM on March 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


I kept waiting for a twist

The twist is the lack of twist. [gong]
posted by device55 at 2:35 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's with the ironing hating? It is a pleasant, meditative task, kind of like sweeping. It doesn't make much noise, it has the slight comfort of a minor ritual, and you can take pride in the small, precise details. It's a nearly perfect chore.

I also like hand washing dishes, though.

I do hate vacuuming and mowing the lawn.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:58 PM on March 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


I do hate vacuuming and mowing the lawn.

This is why I:

a. Live in an apartment and
2. Own a robot
posted by device55 at 3:01 PM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


What's with the ironing hating? It is a pleasant, meditative task, kind of like sweeping. It doesn't make much noise, it has the slight comfort of a minor ritual, and you can take pride in the small, precise details. It's a nearly perfect chore.


You are Haruki Murakami, and I claim my mid-day obscene phonecall.
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:03 PM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I sure wish I could find a cleaners in San Francisco that would hand iron shirts. The machine presses that pass for ironing in the US give awful results and destroy buttons. Of course, there's always too much starch to even things out.

When I lived in Paris for a few months my French was so terrible that all I could do was take shirts to the 5€ a shirt place. It was outrageously expensive, but they did a beautiful job and the pretty young woman who worked there was actively friendly and encouraging about my horrible attempts at speaking French. I'm told well-off Parisians have their maid iron shirts for them and a rate of 6 shirts an hour. Japanese Iron Man was 3x faster than that.
posted by Nelson at 3:20 PM on March 11, 2010


This thread sort of reads like a Gertrude Stein novel.
posted by nosila at 3:20 PM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


You are Haruki Murakami, and I claim my mid-day obscene phonecall.

The real Murakami would have also discussed jazz and cooking pasta. No call for you!
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:30 PM on March 11, 2010


I hate ironing and have probably ironed about 10 things in my entire life which is why I buy clothes that require no ironing. However, I really enjoyed this video. It was oddly relaxing and I was amazed at the speed and skill that guy possesses.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:33 PM on March 11, 2010


Thank you, Brooks Brothers, for you have relieved me of ever having to participate in this strange ritual.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:33 PM on March 11, 2010


I think we all learned something today.
posted by TwelveTwo at 4:41 PM on March 11, 2010


OK my shirts don't turn out as nice but at least it only takes me 10 minutes a shirt....
posted by Increase at 4:44 PM on March 11, 2010


Oh man, I iron shirts better than that. He made no effort whatsoever to flatten the seams to eliminate the pucker, that always looks sloppy. And I am quite dissatisfied with his technique on the collar and cuffs. And the sleeves, I just don't even want to think about that. And no sizing or starch? Ridiculous. And at one point he lets go of the iron and it sits on the fabric while he pulls another section flat, that's a good way to leave a big scorch mark. I give the overall performance a C+ and I would never allow him to iron my shirts.
Now the shoeshine was good, but I noticed that the shoe really didn't look any better after the shine than it did before.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:17 PM on March 11, 2010


This struck me as the video equivalent of Irving Penn's Small Trades series of photographs. Nice post. Thank you.
posted by Edward L at 7:24 PM on March 11, 2010


so zen. but i wish he had some steam. i wanted some "pshhhssh" sounds...
posted by lucysun at 8:32 PM on March 11, 2010


ironshirt: v. to be fooled into checking out a timewasting FPP because of the misleadingly large number of reported comments against it . Example: "I missed my bus because I got ironshirted by that post about Remember Me".
posted by storybored at 8:39 PM on March 11, 2010


Iron Man, Iron Man,
Does whatever an iron can
Presses pants, any size,
Sprays out steam, from his eyes
Wake up!
Here comes the Iron Man.

Is he hot?
Listen, whore,
He's got three settings, maybe four.
Can he swing, from a cord?
He does, and the warranty is void
Who cares?
There goes the Iron Man

In the back of a closet
Next to the washing line
His flat pointy head
Is caked with rust and lime

Iron Man, Iron Man
Not that useful Iron Man
Bulky and lame
He's ignored
Useless without an ironing board

Cheaper than a dry cleaner
But he might scorch your wiener
Sod off, you Iron Man

(Sung to the tune of "George of the Jungle")

-- Roger Ailes (not that one)
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 8:44 PM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I liked the 'do up one button before you iron the front' trick. I will try that out.

The shoe shine was dubious, though. He appeared to use the same cloth to apply polish and shine it off, which is just... appalling. And he didn't give the polish a chance to rest. Not to mention the absurd amount of creams, polishes and gadgets he used, when all you need is two brushes, two cloths, a tin of polish and a little water.

I did like the finnicky, stylised gestures he made to mark out each stage of the polish, though. I sort of do that too, if no one's looking.

I'm now looking forward to getting home tonight so I can polish a pair of shoes. Oh dear.
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 2:39 AM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Sung to the tune of "George of the Jungle")

Shouldn't that be sung to the tune of the Spider-Man theme song? Or it there a "George of the Jungle" that I'm not familiar with?
posted by Kabanos at 6:57 AM on March 12, 2010


Shouldn't that be sung to the tune of the Spider-Man theme song? Or it there a "George of the Jungle" that I'm not familiar with?

The "sung to the tune of" bit is an additional joke.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 7:55 AM on March 12, 2010


Ah. Must have over-starched my sense of humor.
posted by Kabanos at 8:11 AM on March 12, 2010


Here are some shirt ironing robots for those who are dying of robot deprivation after watching the video in the fpp.

I saw a shirt inflator. I saw no ironing.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:51 AM on March 12, 2010


I usually make sure to buy blended polyester shirts because:

If you're going to wear a polyester shirt, you might as well just say fuck it and wear a t-shirt instead.

If you're gonna do the thing, you might as well do it properly.

This struck me as the video equivalent of Irving Penn's Small Trades series of photographs.

Which always struck me as a rip-off of August Sander's work.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:29 PM on March 12, 2010


This guy is like the White Death of wrinkles.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:37 PM on March 12, 2010


*blinks* Oh. OK. Put me down for "was expecting something more than a Japanese dude ironing a shirt" too.

I mean, at least it could have been EXTREEEEEEME!
posted by ZsigE at 5:28 PM on March 12, 2010


I'd like to see the guy iron the shoes.

I must admit I was fascinated by the ironing of the shirt. Sort of like watching a stock car race. I kept waiting for him to burn himself or the shirt. Unfortunately, no matter how talented he was, it was still worth only 99 cents if you pay in advance.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:03 PM on March 12, 2010


I just watched it again. It's still awesome.
posted by chunking express at 7:51 PM on March 12, 2010


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