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The History of Ironing (Part 1)

Filed in: News


When at Sewroo we got our latest professional photos taken for the website we also got some great shots of some old irons that we have and so it has got me thinking for months that I should write a piece on the history of ironing. I’m not going to lie, I found quite a lot of what I read to be a little dull to say the least so I’m going to try to enlighten you on the history of how the ‘Domestic Engineer’ successfully got clothes smooth through the ages a bit more light-heartedly over a two part article.

From what I’ve read stone, glass and wood smoothers were the most popular throughout the world as the first smoothers and used well into the nineteenth century despite Western Blacksmiths creating smoothing irons in the late Middle Ages. So basically, people were still ironing the hard way long after an easier way was discovered. All I can say is thank goodness for the internet as that sort of delay would not happen now. Despite not minding the chore of ironing I want to be one of the first to know when there is robot that will iron for me and I’ll happily keep it set up with a great Sewroo ironing board cover. As much as I don’t mind ironing when I read that many Viking women’s graves were discovered with simple round linen smoothers in them it got me thinking……of all things that may go with me to the grave…I DO NOT want one of them to be my iron!

In Medieval times there was a more commercial version available to the wealthy called a ‘screw press’ which was a large apparatus that could flatten sheets etc and over time this evolved to also doubling as a storage location with underneath having drawers to store excess linen. I had a bit of a ‘light bulb’ moment as at 29 years of age I often refer to my linen cupboard as a ‘linen press’ and sometimes people look at me strangely but when I was younger I lived with my grandmother and that’s what she always called it. I assume now that this term was actually derived from this device.

This concludes part 1. The second part of this article will be released on our website on Thursday 1st May. Don’t forget to check out our Mother’s Day Bundles and our gorgeous new Butterfly fabric in our signature double-sided ironing board cover.